E: How did you first get into the F&B industry?
A: When I was 19 and short of cash in Paris, I started working as a bartender. The guy who was meant to train me didn’t turn up so I was immediately on the bar serving hundreds of customers and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had to train myself quickly. It was the most insane experience and I lasted there a week! But I got a taste for hospitality, and I loved talking to customers, so I found myself a waiter position at the local tourist trap. From there, I worked myself up to management and refined my skills at different venues around France and later Australia.
E: What are your roles and responsibilities at Santanera?
A: As an owner, I take on many responsibilities, including overseeing effective recruitment and management of employees, operations, financial reports, checking health and safety regulations and, most importantly, ensuring there is a great atmosphere among the staff at the restaurant.
E: What’s a typical day like in your field of work?
A: My days are very dynamic, I could be assisting front of house staff in preparing for service, having a wine tasting, giving feedback about new dishes on the menu, or making sure the restaurant is clean and ready to operate.
E: What’s a typical day like when you have a day off?
A: I try to relax as much as possible and allow the day to flow slowly without making too many plans. Usually I walk my dog and then train at the gym in the morning, spend the afternoon chilling at home, and maybe visit a friend’s restaurant in the evening.
E: Who has been the most influential figure in your career to date?
A: During my first few years in the French hospitality scene, I got to work with two managers who inspired me to make this my career: Valentine Bauer and Nicola Bellini. Separately they taught me the importance of understanding every aspect of the business; from kitchen to table, and customer service. If someone was sick, they would step in and get their hands dirty washing dishes, assisting the chefs in the kitchen, and waiting tables. It was like Michelin-star training without a hierarchy, and I respected them for getting involved with everything.
E: Team player or team leader?
A: Both. I try to be a good player and a good leader.
A: Our employees. Everyone is hard working, kind, generous, focused, willing to learn, attentive to customers and responsible. I love walking into the restaurant and being greeted by warm smiles from our staff.
E: What is the most important trait to have in your work?
A: The ability to step in and help my employees with any task at any time.
E: What is the most memorable moment of your career?
A: Opening Santanera with some of my best friends.
Exquisite Taste Volume 39
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