Commended Finalist, Robin Tola, reports on his Stage at Waterside Inn

After being nominated one of the 8 Winning Finalists of the Gold Service Scholarship 2023 , I was awarded with several prizes that would allow me to learn and develop my professional career under several aspects.

One of them was to spend a week of Stage in one of the iconic Restaurants across the United Kingdom. When the choices were presented I had no doubt, The Waterside Inn.

Since I arrived in London and started my career in the Hospitality Industry, I always heard about the Waterside Inn. An institution, the oldest retaining three Michelin star restaurant outside of France, one of the most iconic food destinations in the world and definitely well-known for being masters of service. As soon as I arrived I was greeted by Frederic Poulette, the General Manager. He straight away made me feel like part of the family and after introducing me to the team, showing me through the premises and giving me an introduction about the full operation, which includes a number of rooms for guests to book with their culinary journey, I understood why this place had held his bar high for so many years.

The restaurant is located in the beautiful little village of Bray, not far from London. It lays on the river Thames with a little wharf that allows guests to access the Restaurant from their own boats.

The atmosphere is magical. The Layout of the Restaurant is elegant but not pretentious.

During the day the natural light coming through the big glass doors that overlook the river gives the restaurant a vibrant but relaxed atmosphere while in the night, the dimmed lights give the room a feel of elegance and set the terms for an incredible dining experience.

The front of house team, led by Frederic, Dean and Marco showcases an incredible service with seamless hospitality. Details are part of this Restaurant’s DNA and a welcoming and warm culture is at the top of the priorities.

I had the chance to assist actively to different services such as lunch and dinner service, shadowing Maitre d’Hotels and Sommeliers, as well as helping with private events hold in one of the numerous PDRs that are available for guest to have a more personalized experience. Every morning, before service, Frederic would prepare a training focused on tableside service, which could have ranged from preparing a Cheese trolley, Carving Sole and Turbot, flambéed Crepes Suzette, to the iconic Duck a la Presse. Only to have him sharing his experience and knowledge with me is something I will treasure.

It is extraordinary to see what the Roux family managed to build throughout the years. Starting with the Roux Brothers, Albert and Michel, who migrated from France to England with nothing more than a dream in their pocket, achieving more culinary prizes then any other in the United Kingdom and passing on the passion and tradition to Michel’s younger son Alain, who now is running the business for the past 20 years.

Alain Roux is a great Chef but most importantly a great person, that makes his team, his guest and whoever walks through the Waterside doors feel part of the family.

I cannot be more grateful to the Gold Service Scholarship Organisation for this amazing opportunity. I learnt so much in only one week and not only on a professional side but also personal. Being able to exchange ideas, experiences and knowledge, create connections and friendships with other professionals is a lesson itself. It allowed me to see things differently and understand different views of this amazing industry.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank again the Waterside Inn family for a great hospitality and for sharing their view, expertise and knowledge. The GSS organization for supporting young professionals like me and the sponsors for making all this happen.


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