Organised by Fred Sirieix, the legendary general manager of Galvin at Windows, National Waiters Day 2013 takes place on Sunday 23 June and is a chance for the hospitality industry to celebrate the work of staff members who, according to many experts, can make or break a restaurant.
The day is also a chance to inspire people to consider jobs in hospitality and in particular to think about a career in front of house which can be a lot more varied than people outside the industry realise.
The role of the maître d’ is one which many members of the public don't fully understand - the best in the business know everything about their diners, from table preferences to dietary requirements; have fabulous attention to detail and seamlessly lead their waiters through a busy service.
Arguably, there is none better in the capital than Paulo de Tarso who helped open Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in 2010.
BigHospitality's Luke Nicholls spent a morning before service in Knightsbridge with the man himself and discovered there was a long list of tasks which Paulo tackles before the doors are opened to the general public:
- Carrying out extensive restaurant checks from the position of the tables to the brightness and direction of the lights.
- Meeting the reservations manager to discuss the day's bookings and need-to-know information such as window table requests, special guests or dietary requirements.
- Meeting the general manager and executive chef to discuss the day's menu.
- Briefing staff on service tips, the day's expected diners and testing them on their knowledge of the menu and upcoming events.
If you are currently looking for your next front of house role or you are looking to recruit a fantastic waiter for your restaurant visit BigHospitality jobs. There are currently 251 front of house roles being advertised.
Of course BigHospitality captured just a snapshot of Paulo's working day, he really comes into his own when greeting and dealing with guests - so what would people find most surprising about his job?
"The knowledge that goes with it," he said. "You really have to know everything that goes on, not only in London and worldwide in politics but knowing what is happening in the stock market and what events are occurring.
"You need to be able to talk to your customer about every single aspect of what is happening in their world," he added.
With National Waiter Day aiming to change perceptions and encourage people to consider jobs in the industry, we asked Paulo for his top tips for success as a front-of-house professional:
- Develop an attention to detail - my wife calls me Jason Bourne because I notice everything! Every little part of service is important and needs to be done well.
- Consider the restaurant environment - the position of the tables and chairs and the brightness and direction of the lights can affect how comfortable a diner is.
- Know your guests - be aware of regular diners who are returning so you can give them a special experience and remember people's preferences - they will have a much better experience in your restaurant.
- Read your guests - I read someone's handshake and smile. If a diner is clearly in a rush accommodate his or her needs and amend your service accordingly.
What is your business doing to celebrate National Waiters Day? Let us know by leaving a comment below and don't forget to check back on site later in the week for our round-up of events.