The aim of this report is to document the activities undertaken, learning outcomes and achievements accomplished during my year as Gold Service Scholar. This is the first in a series of four quarterly reports commissioned by the Trustees of the Gold Service Scholarship (GSS). The activities are listed in chronological order:
Professional Wine Service by WineEd, 12 March
I was hoping that this semi-finalist prize would be a good refresher about wines in general. This one-day seminar fully met my expectations as it covered the winemaking process, viticulture, different components of wine and the resulting different styles of wines. More importantly, this workshop was particularly helpful as it was tailored to people that work in the industry. The main focus was on using the gained knowledge in order to recommend wines as well as sales and customer care relating to wine. This was a very helpful learning opportunity ahead of the WSET level two that I am taking in early June.
A Special Evening with Diego Masciaga, 19 March
I was looking forward to meeting Diego Masciaga and learning more about his philosophy of service as well as reconnecting with the fellow finalists. This first Team Gold Event turned out to be a truly special night. Diego’s humble nature, passion for service, knowledge of our industry, motivation to develop people and willingness to share success were extremely inspiring. Before, during and after that Q&A session, a fantastic dinner at the Goring Hotel provided a great platform to not only see the fellow finalists and trustees but also to meet and connect and with previous finalists. This event totally exceeded my expectations and set the bar very high for future events.
Dinner at The Waterside Inn, 1 April
This dinner and overnight stay was a Scholar prize and the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. I had heard a lot about The Waterside Inn and was particularly excited to find out more about this establishment, where the service is just as well-known as the culinary side of it. I was not disappointed.
The quality of the food was fabulous, but what impressed me, even more, was the outstanding service provided by Diego and his team. I would best describe it as perfectly synchronised, perfectly paced and with incredible attention to detail. It became apparent why this restaurant is so prestigious and I doubt that I had ever experienced better service before. This experience fuelled my excitement for my stage at this establishment.
Hildon Water and Chewton Glen Visit, 5 April
I was aiming to learn more about a natural mineral water bottler and the competitive landscape in the water industry. Also, I was excited to learn more about the offerings of one of England’s most prestigious countryside resorts through this finalist prize. Additionally, this day was a great opportunity to reconnect with some Trustees and the fellow finalists.
I had never visited a water bottler before and so it was interesting to learn what makes waters different as well as Hildon’s history and philosophy. A highlight was to see and understand their automated bottling system, which was fascinating. The tour was very interesting and I particularly liked that our guide was very open and shared challenges that Hildon and the industry as a whole are facing.
After a short drive through Hampshire’s beautiful countryside, we arrived at Chewton Glen where we enjoyed a delicious lunch. Thanks to a site inspection, we were able to see all parts of the hotel. I was impressed by the innovative treehouses, modern spa and the commitment to the on-site growing of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Chewton Glen is a great example of a hotel that does not live of its past reputation but ensures to stay fit for and relevant in the future.
Scholar Lunch, 10 April
The Scholar lunch was fantastic meal during which my employer was able to meet with the Trustees of the GSS, learn more about the competition and the programme, which I will be following this year. I was absolutely impressed by the quality of both, culinary and service we experienced. It was an unexpected eyeopener in terms of the level at which establishments like private banks, insurances, and clubs must operate at.
Other than connecting my employer with the GSS Trustees, my second aim of the day was to choose the Scholar Prizes, which happened after lunch. I am so grateful and extremely excited to conduct stages at a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, at The Waterside Inn and at Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace Garden Party, 15 May
The Buckingham Palace Garden Party was another finalist prize. I was mainly curious about the style of service, which I had imagined to be very traditional, to see the china and glassware of the Royal Household and to understand how a large-scale event like this one was organised and managed.
The day started with an introduction to the team, with which I was working on the day and an overview of the departmental structure. Following that, I was shown around the garden by a senior manager of the catering company Ampersand. He explained the different structures that were constructed for the Garden Party, the workflow of his teams, the intended guest journey and the challenges involved in catering to such a large number of guests in a relatively short period of time.
After lunch, a few last preparations in the Royal Tent had to be completed, a moment during which I learned more about the equipment used as well as its historical and sentimental value. On an exclusive tour, I was shown around the entire Buckingham Palace including the White Drawing Room, Picture Gallery, Grand Staircase, Ballroom, Throne Room and many more. Shortly after, already changed into my footman uniform, I attended the final briefing of the event. I was honoured to greet the guests at the door and welcome them to the Garden Party. Once the service started in the Royal Tent, I was offering beverages to the important guests of the Royal Family.
Seeing members of the Royal Family live was a very unique moment. Beyond that, I was impressed by how well the entire event was organised and how smoothly it was running, which without a doubt is the key to success with such a large scale event. The team of the Royal Household inspired me greatly with their professionalism and warm sense of hospitality. Thanks to them, I was introduced to a very traditional style of service, something I was not used to before. Overall, it was a day which I would summarise as a once-in-a-lifetime experience which fully exceeded any expectations I may have had.
I would like to thank all Trustees for their support during the first quarter. It has been a delight to get to
know you better.