I found working at Burnt Truffle quite nerve racking for a long time. It was a big step up from my previous work at a rugby club so I was definitely out of my comfort zone! I was always stressing that this would be the shift I would massively F** up; that’s just my nature. But that never happened and I’m now supervisor and that’s all thanks to Em for providing great training and instilling the confidence in me that I am good at my job. The atmosphere between the staff and also with the customers is great which makes coming to work enjoyable. It’s like one big fam! We all help and support each other!
I mainly love how much I have gained skill wise and developed as a person from working in hospitality. You meet new people every single day and you have to engage with them, make them feel comfortable and give them a great experience. This is not easy especially if you have difficult customers. If I get a table that are a bit quieter or stand offish towards me I put effort into smiling, engaging with them to see if I can change their tune and put a smile on their face by the end. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Going to two different restaurants allowed me to learn different things from each. At Noble Rot I learned a lot more about wine. We had an intense wine training session in the morning which I absolutely loved!
Learning about how the terroir of wine can really influences it’s taste and character. One thing I was surprised about at Noble Rot was that they didn’t open the bottle of wine at the table. They presented the wine to confirm it was the right bottle they were after, then took the bottle back to the bar where they opened and tasted the wine to check it wasn’t corked. The wine was then taken back to the table where they also were offered a taste before pouring. This surprised me mainly because I always thought there was a bit of showmanship in opening and then pouring the wine at the table, and it was often a chance I would take to talk to the customers or guests. However, their reasoning being that they don’t want to present corked wine to the table, especially at a wine bar, makes perfect sense.
I saw and tasted a lot of new and interesting things at Pidgin and experienced first-hand how seemingly bizarre food match ups really worked. With such complex and often delicate food combinations it was vital here to understand the wine and their pairing with the meals so they complimented the dishes. Despite the complicated and ‘fancy’ food with that Michelin star status the service was surprisingly casual and relaxed. It reminded a lot of Burnt which was nice.
The guests and therefore service was definitely different between both noble rot and pidgin. Noble rot being a central restaurant had a lot of customers who were lunching between work, or meeting after work. Whilst most were polite they didn’t want to engage much with the waiter. Therefore, the service was more about being swift, making the customer comfortable and give them a smooth sailing service. They used a runner relay the food from the kitchen and wine from the cellar, up and down the stairs, which allowed them to be very efficient. They also had a separate host and also a wine float who did a lot of running around with drinks. This definitely worked in Noble rot but wouldn’t really be applicable at Burnt.
Pidgin being more out of town gave it a bit more of a chilled vibe which was reflected in the customers who were more engaging with staff. The service style was very similar to bunt, casual and friendly but informative. Everyone had their assigned sections but would also help with seating, polishing, clearing and anything that needed to be seen to. Being a set menu with some quite complicated dishes the food need explaining when placed at the table, and I got to get involved with this during my time there and I really enjoyed that.
The customers up North are definitely chattier than down South though! Every night at burnt people are asking me questions not just about the restaurant and the food but about me and my plans.
One thing that was common to Noble Rot and Pidgin was a briefing before service which allowed all the front of house as well as the kitchen to go over the plans for the evening, anything that is possibly different and reiterate people’s roles for the night. I definitely think this is something I would like to bring back to Burnt. Not only does it allow the front of house to regroup and organise themselves it’s also a great chance for the front of house and kitchen to communicate which I think would definitely make for a smoother running service.
I really enjoyed working at both restaurants and have already followed them on all forms of social media which will allow me to keep updated on how the restaurants are going. I would definitely love to come visit both of them again as a customer and would jump at the chance to work with any of them again! I like to do some writing myself when I have the time so will be writing a blog about my experiences at www.jesslyonadventures.wordpress.com hopefully both restaurants would give it a read so they can see in depth of what I thought of this experience!
I would definitely recommend this programme to others. Not only have I learnt more about wine, food and service but I have put myself out of my comfort zone and survived which always helps build your character and ability to learn and adapt in the future! Couldn’t thank Emma, Anna the TMRW project and the support from Liberty wines enough. It’s been an amazing experience!