(A): What made you get into the hospitality business? Tell us a bit about your journey?
(S): “My dream job has always been in this field. Back in primary school, when the teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, I always answered, “a waitress.”. During my undergraduate studies, I majored in Hospitality Management. My next step was to enroll in a Culinary School to become a chef. Next I studied wine and traveled the world learning from the best. However, I would say that my time spent working at Per Se with Thomas Keller had the greatest influence on my career. Those lessons, the knowledge, and the friendship I gained there are priceless, and still drive me today.”
(A): You have been in the hospitality industry for many years. What is your take on it? In what ways are you trying to change it?
(S): “There’s no denying that working in the hospitality industry is challenging. The hours are long and the pay rarely reflects the effort we put in. There are many people in this field who find it difficult to balance work and life. This is particularly true of the younger generation. Furthermore, hospitality has never been seen as a sought-after job role and many people regard it as merely a stepping stone after college to earn a supplemental income before they get to where they are most interested. Fortunately, there is a lot of romance surrounding hotel and restaurant experiences. Our strategy is to not replace people, since it is our people that make this industry tick. We have, however, moved away from phone reservations and now everything is booked online. A waitlist is now run purely online where as soon as a seat is available, all guests are informed straight away, versus back in the day, a person would have to call each and every guest one by one. “
(A): What keeps you going in the face of all the obstacles and setbacks? What makes you keep going?
(S): “Our restaurant is one-of-a-kind. My husband and I have always worked in the hospitality industry, with the ultimate goal of owning and operating our own restaurant. We’ve always been ambitious, and achieving the top Michelin rating is one of our goals. Above all, it is our passion for food, drink, people, and all things related that drives us to do what we do. We are always striving to be better. We never see what we are doing now to be the best. We want to get out of bed in the morning and do something better than we did the day before. We are not afraid of change, and we are constantly striving to provide a better experience for our guests.I believe that having an internal drive to improve is far superior to looking for external reasons to drive change.”
(A): Many people look up to you as an inspiration. But where do you find your inspiration?
(S): “Thomas Keller is one of my inspirations. In everything I do, he has taught me the art of finesse. The pursuit of perfection and the importance of looking after your staff. It is important that I carry on the legacy that he has instilled in me. I believe that if I continue to do what he has taught me and am successful, I will be able to give the people who worked for me the tools they need to be successful as well.”
(A): What are your thoughts on women working in this industry? What advice would you give to men and women seeking to achieve a work-life balance?
(S): “Women have definitely broken the glass ceiling in this profession, in my opinion. I believe it is primarily due to the fact that we simply require capable bodies. No one would be crazy enough to pass up a woman who is equally talented, skilled, and experienced. I also believe that women are more detail oriented, calmer, and nurturing, which makes them a perfect fit for what we do in this industry.
When it comes to work life balance, we are in a somewhat tricky situation. This is a difficult question because we, as an industry, have yet to figure out how to allow men and women to find a balance between work and family. I don’t believe this is just for women. Personally, I am still attempting to find psycho-social and emotional support in my career.”