Dish of the Day: Mastering the art of hospitality

Dan Doherty

DuckWaffle english breakfas 300x225 Dish of the Day: Mastering the art of hospitalityWhat is hospitality? Things so simple as giving a smile, remembering a customer’s beer of choice or replacing your sides if your partner has been on the phone for 10 minutes. Hospitality is something that is so easily taught, but rarely mastered.

It is simple – but so many places get it wrong. I’m the first to admit that at my restaurant we aren’t perfect either, we’re still learning. But it is, without doubt, one of things we focus on most. Why? Because bad services lingers in the mind much longer than a perfectly-executed dish. So when I’m looking at potential employees, I’ll choose a hospitable character over one with loads of experience, any day.

So now, as I sit here, in a tiny restaurant in the hills of the Amafi coast (the less touristy bit) and hear the bar tender say “now, what can I offer you? You had wine already, right?” I think about all the London restaurants I’ve visited which could learn a trick or two.

This is our first time here, so it’s none of this ‘it’s who you know’ business. The hospitable mentality is just there: “you chose us, you chose to eat in our house, so what can I offer you to say thank you?” Hospitality in its rawest and finest form. It may cost them a measure of Limoncello (home made, so very little) but I’ll remember the gesture. We go to another bar and order a Campari. Welcome comes in the shape of some olives, crisps and some little pastries stuffed with salami. I wonder if they make any money on the drink, giving away so much – but again it is just a natural gesture from the bartender.

When you work in this industry, you realise that it’s incredibly hard to make ends meet. Wherever you are, rent, staff costs, food and beverage costs blah, blah, blah, it’s the same old story. But all of us in the industry – proprietors, head chefs and restaurant managers – needs to remember that these small gifts of kindness may not look so pretty on your profit and loss – but when you are on the receiving end, they make you feel so special that you may just go back.

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