In France there is a competition for being the best maître d’hôtel in the country. The maître d’hôtel is the person who runs the restaurant in the diningroom.
Often overshadowed by the chefs in the kitchen, the maître yet has a key role that this contest aims to promote, highlighting the excellence of the knowledge-how specific to the maitre: the kindness of his reception, his ability to put you at ease and guess your expectations, the range of its knowledge throughout the service, attention to detail, elegance and know how tho manage his team. “You have to be a star in everything!”.
The first thing the ten participants have to do is to dress a appetizer buffet in a beautiful, luxery way. “6 guests will enjoy a champagne or other beverage of your choice, which you can promote. This drink should not last more than 30 minutes. Champagne and 5 pieces of appetizers per person are provided.. “. It’s clear that you don’t put 6 plastic cups on a campingtable
Then they had to make a Crêpe Suzette, something you do normaly near the guests at table with sugar, orange zest and Grand Marnier. This was followed by the third test to see whether the maitre is able to manage a conflict between a chef and a waiter played by two actors, which reveals the ability of diplomacy and conflict management of the candidate.
After a little break, at 8 o’clock the big test started, serving a table of 5 people (of which one is a jurymember). Of course it was not made easy for the candidates with tricky scenarios etc.
And this was not the end, the next morning there were oral tests about the English language and general knowledge. And that is taken seriously in France, here are big books available with sample questions like:”When was the end of the era of the king after Louis XIII ?” (1715 of course).
After all these tests and examens there can only be one winner! This year Kevin Chambenoit has the honourful title of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France Maître d’hôtel of 2015. Félicitations !!!! He is F&B director of the Bristol Paris . In this luxery 5 star hotel in Paris there are 6 people working who won this prestigious competition (in different areas in different years).
Funny to know that monsieur Kevin participated in the test in solidarity with four colleagues and to see where he stood. “If you want to be demanding to your teams, you have to be strict with yourself. Lead by example.” How cool! A very interesting and inspiring interview with Kevin Chambenoit can be read here in French and here in Google translated in English
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Here another video about the contest