Audrey Hepburn is right, and this quote helps me a lot during my internship in the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi which is currently under rebranding to become a Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The Emirates Palace is a seven-star hotel renowned for its luxurious design and service accommodating stars and VIPS from all over the world. Knowing this I felt that it was going to be a challenge coming here to do my 6 months internship and start to work in a hotel where the service needs to be flawless.
I started my F&B internship in the new Italian restaurant, which is part of the hotel, called Talea by Antonio Guida. He is a two Michelin Star Chef at Seta, which is a restaurant in Mandarin Oriental Milan. Talea is the first restaurant he opened, and Luigi Stinga is his representative. I am very happy to have joined this team during the pre-opening so I could learn a lot about what is going on during the phase of opening a new restaurant.
To start a smooth operation, we obviously got training about the food and drink menu as well as how to take care, talk and deal with guests. The closer we moved to the opening day the more nervous I got. I was put as a captain which means managing 4 to 7 tables in a section. For me, this was a challenge. I had some experience in F&B but more as an event employee and a food runner in Les Salons, the restaurant of St.Gerlach in Houthem. However, I never managed a section of tables by myself.
The restaurant had a soft opening where we mostly served our colleagues to test the level of service we can deliver. A few weeks later we had our grand opening.
Day by day I grew stronger and more confident in managing sections and how to take proper care of the guest being supported by the managers and the team. During the training and the service itself, I asked questions all the time to make sure I did the right things. It helped me a lot and it is something that the Masterclass at HMSM also taught me: Ask questions, take extra steps independently, and do not step back from the challenge one is facing.
I made mistakes as well, but I learned from my managers to remain calm and not freak out because the next time it always went better. I truly grew by accepting mistakes and the managers allowing us to make them.
I enjoy every day I am on the floor working together with my team as they make working even more enjoyable as we grow together and support each other wherever possible to deliver high service quality. I love seeing the smile on the guest’s faces and delighting them with small touches. And I love seeing guests coming back to the restaurant because they truly enjoyed their experience in Talea. For example, one couple stayed in the hotel for 14 days and they were coming to Talea every evening, always sitting at the same table and always getting my service. I got very positive feedback from them which I highly appreciated, which pushed me to work consistently and with passion daily. On their last day, I wrote them a small card saying thank you and looking forward to seeing them again at the end of the year. Another touch they highly appreciated.
My internship is a life lesson. I realized the changes in me personally and professionally by being open-minded, curious and by delivering service from the heart. This is a value of the Emirates Palace as well. Never stop asking questions and doing an extra step for the guests and the team shows that you care and makes you valuable. Lastly, never step back from a challenge that might seem impossible because it is possible. If you want it and if you stand behind it with passion, the openness to make mistakes and learn you can achieve a lot!
Valentina about her F&B internship at seven-star hotel The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, where she works as captain in the new restaurant.
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