The brainchild of Fred Sirieix, general manager of Galvin at Windows, National Waiters Day 2013 was designed as a day to highlight the work of the UK's waiting staff and to flag up the career opportunities that being a waiter can deliver.
Hospitality careers charity Springboard came on board to lead the event and staged a series of activities in Brunswick Square over the weekend which culminated in a number of waiters in full uniform dashing around the park with a full tray of drinks.
The race was won by Forte, a waiter at Galvin at Windows, while Natalia Chmielwski from Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons was the first waitress across the line. The Le Manoir waiters were the first full team to complete the race and Joao Correa from London's La Brasserie was named Best Dressed Waiter.
Hotels, restaurants and pubs and bars across the country took part in the initiative: from holding workshops for local school children to sending staff members back to the floor and even recruiting sportsmen to become bartenders for the day.
National Waiters Day 2013 - Photo Slideshow:
The Art of Service
Hospitality businesses got involved in a number of innovative ways in order to celebrate National Waiters Day 2013:
- BaxterStorey hosted an interactive version of Sirieix's Art of Service board game in Brunswick Square.
- Springboard set a trio of challenges, including napkin folding, for visitors to the day's main event in London.
- Martin Nisbet, Almeida Restaurant & Bar head chef, took on the role of restaurant manager for the day.
- D&D London invited its FOH staff members from a number of its venues to two introduction to wine tastings with master sommelier Nicolas Clerc at the Le Pont de la tour wine cellar.
- Cafe Spice Namasté asked its customers to rate their waiting staff - the waiter with the best score won the Waiting Staff Challenge and was awarded a meal for two at Cyrus Todiwala's Heathrow restaurant.
- Brasserie Blanc and Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons organised a taster day for potential apprentices who spent time with waiting staff to learn more about the rewarding career opportunities that life as a waiter can bring.
- New Street Grill treated all its staff members to a luxury meal.
- Prezzo asked all its executive team to return to the floor and become a waiter for one shift only.
- The Jolly Cricketers in Buckinghamshire held its own front-of-house tray race.
- The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, invited school children into the venue for a day where they were shown front-of-house service skills.
Just days before Wimbledon kicked off, the team at the One Square bar & restaurant at the Sheraton Edinburgh Hotel recruited South African tennis ace Wayne Ferreira who became a barmen for the day.
BigHospitality also got involved with the fun - our very own Luke Nicholls spent a morning with Bar Boulud maître d’ Paulo de Tarso to learn more about his job for this exclusive behind the scenes video.
Sirieix, who dreamt up the original plans for the day, said he was keen to celebrate the work of all UK waiting staff no matter what kind of establishment they ply their trade in.
"It has always been my philosophy to work with the best and to do my best always," he said. "I believe in hard work and in the beauty of discipline to achieve one’s goal. There has never been a more exciting time to join the hospitality industry, there are opportunities everywhere for those who want them and who are prepared to do what it takes."
Key sponsors for the day included Bunzl, BaxterStorey, Badoit and Zenith Hygiene as well as Springboard who wanted to highlight the range of 'dynamic and vibrant careers' the industry offers.
Anne Pierce, chief executive of Springboard, said: "The proceeds raised from the initiative will go towards enabling Springboard to develop and run an exciting programme for schools to encourage young people considering a career in front of house."
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 245 front of house roles being advertised.