Flash-grilled: Karen Gruet

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Karen Gruet Le Manoir Gold Service Scholarship

Related tags: Front of house, Le manoir, competitions

The assistant restaurant manager at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire was recently named the winner of the 2019 Gold Service Scholarship.

What was your first job?
My first job was commis pastry chef, during a summer season when I was student, at restaurant Chez Chilo in Barcus, France.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Panettone (a big craving during my pregnancy)

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Barrafina in London. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
I really admire chef Michel Guerard, who owns the three Michelin starred Les Prés d’Eugénie  in France. I had the chance to work for him during a three-month stage and it was absolutely incredible. The attention to detail and the level of standards were very high. The place is idyllic. Michel Guerard was the first chef to introduce Cuisine Minceur and I always had an interest in healthy food and what is good for your body.

If you weren’t in front of house, what would you do?
I would be a pastry chef.

What is your biggest regret?
I wish I would have travelled more when I was younger, with just a backpack to discover other countries and cultures.

What’s the restaurant concept you wish you’d thought of?
I love the idea of pop up restaurants. 

Describe your service style in three words
Relaxing, joyful and efficient.

Most overrated food?
Sweetbreads and kidneys.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
I would ban bow ties and long aprons as part of a work uniform.

If you could serve anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
I am honestly happy to serve anybody.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard and be patient

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I love cooking. I often make a meal plan for the week and cook everything on my days off. Lots of variety. Often it is lasagne, or a stir-fry with prawns, or chicken pie. I spend a lot of time looking at food magazines for new recipes.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My grandmother’s rice pudding. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I know it is cliché but believe in yourself, as I'm not a very confident person myself. 

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Giving birth to my daughter was pretty eventful...

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I love to go to the spa and get pampered.

Tipple of choice?
Prosecco.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
I would probably have one of my mum’s classics: rabbit with white wine and mustard sauce.

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