Now nearly halfway through their training, Michel Roux takes his group into the world of five-star hotel service on a busy bank holiday weekend.
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Service, for the most part, in this country is pretty bad.
It is surly, it can be slapdash.
Great restaurants need great front of house.
-Michel Roux is renowned for his passion for great food.
-Table 8 here.
But now he's on another mission.
I have a team of 25 front of house and only one British maitre d'.
-We need to find more British waiters.
-Michel's challenge is to take a group of young people
who have never thought of a career in front of house and prove to them that it can change their lives.
It's not just about delivering food.
I want people to come into our industry and take pride in serving.
Now, halfway through, the trainees are on a fast track from the high street to fine dining.
You are good enough to do this.
Ultimately, Michel wants them to be good enough to take over service
at his own 2-Michelin-starred restaurant, where he will reward the candidates with most potential
with life-changing scholarships, launching their careers.
Give your all as a young waiter and what you get back is immense.
Last time, Michel's trainees took responsibility for serving at some very special occasions.
This is more me, what I'm meant to do.
-But now they're about to meet their most demanding customers, at a 5-star hotel.
I don't feel at ease here.
For the next four days, they'll be waiting hand and foot on the guests.
Good morning, sir. How are you?
-And with round-the-clock service, there's nowhere to hide.
-I can't deal with it. I can't deal with the people. They're too...
-They're very nice.
They're not. They are not nice.
Welcome to one of Britain's most exclusive and beautiful country houses.
Bovey Castle, a luxury hotel and sporting estate set in the heart of Dartmoor National Park.
People come from all over the world to enjoy luxurious accommodation and personal service 24 hours a day.
With suites upwards of £500 per night,
their motto is the customer can have what they want when they want it.
-This place smells of money, but above all do you know what it is renowned for?
Customers come here paying top dollar, big money, because they want service, they want the best.
They want service that's there, it happens.
Yeah? That's what they're famous for.
Everybody that works here is on call.
So far, you guys have changed a lot.
Now we've an even bigger challenge. You have to change even more.
Managing director Jeremy Rata has 34 years' experience in the hospitality business.
He'll be overseeing all aspects of the trainees' tuition as they join his 55-strong front of house team
for the busy May half-term holiday.
Right. Welcome, everybody. Welcome to you all.
You're going to be learning quite a lot. We've got some very high standards that we like to maintain
and we hope you'll help us achieve what we like to achieve and that we can help you.
In four days' time, Jeremy has agreed to let the trainees run evening dinner service at the hotel
-under Michel and Fred's supervision.
-This is sweet!
The hospitality industry is vast. It's important for them to understand all aspects of service.
Some of them might take a liking to this style of hospitality.
The hotel has 65 bedrooms and 22 guest lodges in the grounds,
all of which are served 24 hours a day by the hotel staff.
Before the trainees are set to work, Jeremy wants them to see what his guests pay for.
-It's like a mini-flat, isn't it?
-A big flat!
This is a massive, massive step up. Five star is,
you know, the highest level of service that you can get
but also working here, what is expected is just a whole different ballpark.
You have to be on it all the time. Everyone's going to have to keep everyone else in check.
James isn't the only one sizing up the challenge ahead.
I'm gonna try to be posh, do the best that I can.
Real posh people and me don't get along, I don't think.
I don't think they like me. Even if I put on a posh voice,
I still don't say my Ts... and I'm still...common.
If I can pull being a posh person for a couple of days,
then that's good enough, innit?
You look out here and see woods.
I'm used to looking out windows and seeing burnt-out cars.
I'm not used to this environment, but it's good. A lad like me
don't get an opportunity like I've got or come from my estate back in Leeds
to something like this.
The scholarship at the end of it, I've been thinking about it a lot.
I've been thinking a lot about that scholarship.
I know in maybe 10 or 15 years I could be a manager at somewhere like this or whatever.
Being in Michel's hands, I'm in the best hands, so I'm going to work my hardest.
For them to fully comprehend how service in a five-star hotel works,
the trainees will be given the same tasks that regular staff perform day in and day out.
For the next four days, they'll be with the paying guests morning, noon and night.
-You girls looks nice.
-I look disgraceful.
-You look nice.
18 of Jeremy's front of house staff are dedicated to meeting, greeting and checking in guests.
He's about to add Michel's novices to the team.
The welcome at Bovey Castle is the very first thing our guests get so it's most important.
-Are we still tying ties here?
-Shall I wait for you, then?
Good. So the welcome is what you're about to learn, OK?
We spend a lot of time getting this right. When people drive in here,
they're already inspired by this beautiful building. And where we can lose it is on the welcome.
But Jeremy's guests don't always arrive by car.
There's a helicopter arriving here with some important guests.
The important points - open the door, big smile, radiant smile.
-I've never opened the door of a helicopter.
-Don't worry about it. That is a mere detail.
-Welcome to Bovey Castle.
-Did you have a nice journey?
-- I'm Ashley. - Tom. How was the view?
-It was really great.
-A beautiful day.
-Absolutely. Perfect. The ultimate way to travel!
-Have you got any luggage at all?
-Unlike restaurant diners who leave at the end of the evening,
-these guests will be under the trainees' care for the duration.
-Hello. I'm Ashley.
-Did you enjoy the flight?
One thing that is very important in service
is knowing when to step back and stop. The initial contact, doors were opened, big smile.
Welcome to Bovey Castle, weather great. And then quickly move on.
I was a bit worried at one stage that you were starting to talk just for a few seconds too long.
That applies in restaurants as well. Knowing when to stop.
What you don't want is the food's on the plate and he's thinking, "Why don't they leave me alone?"
It's the same thing. Knowing when to stop.
I'm really encouraged. Good start.
A successful greeting, but despite Jeremy's praise, not everyone is feeling upbeat.
-Why do you look so unhappy, Nikkita?
-Cos I'm cold.
-Cold? It's sunshine.
Well, I don't know why.
Smile. It's beautiful here.
-There's nothing to appreciate. A load of grass.
-Where do I start?
Far from inspiring her, the opulent surroundings and wealthy guests make Nikkita feel ill at ease.
-It ain't happening.
-Of course it is.
-Nobody's ever seen potential in me. There ain't none there.
We're all seeing it now. I've had an ASBO, but look what I'm doing now.
I'm progressing every day and realising my success. You need to do that as well.
Just smile and realise the potential you've got and what you're doing.
I've come from nothing and I'm doing this.
-You don't want to break the mould?
-No, I just don't see it.
-You're scared of change.
-I don't want to be a different person. I like the way I am.
-I like the way that you're going.
-I don't want to be a snobby person thinking I'm better.
I'm not going to change the way I am. I've come from a council estate. Nothing will ever change that
and who I am and who I was back then, but obviously you've got to try to move forward from it
and get over it, sort of thing.
I don't want to change as a person, but I want to change my ways. There's nowt wrong in that.
Just say, "Hang on. I can do a lot better with my life." And we all believe in you.
Nikkita's had a tough upbringing, she's got a two-year-old child.
It shouldn't be used as an excuse. She's got a lot of attributes that we need in our industry.
She's got a great smile, an extremely good memory, she's intelligent.
She's got it. If she wants it.
Nobody knows what I'll be like or anything I do.
I'll still be Nikkita who got pregnant at 16 and will just do the same thing.
A leopard never changes its spots. I'm a single mum and my baby's dad is a joker.
That's how it will always be. Always. And I'll always be... nothing.
Lunchtime. And the trainees have a full afternoon's work ahead of them.
As many of the guests are families, dining in the privacy of your own accommodation is a service on offer.
-Come on in, boys and girls.
-Under General Manager Federico, James, Brooke and Danielle
will help serve a private lunch to a family on their 18th visit here.
So Martin will be helping you to do the set-up over here.
-Enjoy. See you later.
Private dining like this is a long way from a bustling restaurant.
They're paying for service, for a private chef, private waiters.
So it's like they want the atmosphere of eating in their own home, which is why they've got a chalet,
but this is not informal dining. It's laid out like a banquet.
We're here to provide that high level of personal service.
Initially at least, it's back to familiar territory for the trainees.
This sounds really pathetic, but I'm proud that I can do this.
People might say it's easy, but it isn't, to have it set out perfectly.
I'm proud that I can serve people and talk to people in the right way when I want to.
And people appreciate it. These eight people will appreciate it.
-The service in the lodge is excellent.
-Second to none.
It's like staying still in a five-star hotel, but having the privacy and ability to relax
and enjoy it as a family.
They're coming into your accommodation, your private area,
and you shouldn't feel you need to get involved with anything.
You should relax and feel you're in good hands.
You're getting restaurant service in your home, which you expect.
-Thank you very much. Hello, everyone.
Despite the intimate setting, the actual service should be the same as in any restaurant
and under Martin's instructions the trainees can put into practice the skills they've learnt so far.
We've got focaccia, French white baguette, white roll, brown roll.
Being British, I think, you know, for myself,
it does feel a little bit unnatural.
I don't feel completely at ease here.
There's the potential here of looking down on us because we're serving them.
-How's it going?
Yeah, good. Good. It's a little bit intimate.
-A bit strange.
-A bit strange?
-I don't feel completely comfortable with it.
-You are in their face.
And it is very, very personal.
It's almost as if you are part of the family, but you have to stand back,
whereas in a restaurant you're employed and it is different.
I don't see it like that.
I don't feel part of the family. I feel like their staff.
I've never felt like that in a restaurant we've been in at all.
It is a different challenge to restaurant service and that's why we're here.
That's why I brought you here to see a different aspect of service and it's very personalised.
The intimate setting may be making James uncomfortable, but Brooke has no such qualms.
I didn't see me, like, a year ago, here. But I am.
I love it. I really was a little bit of a bad person.
I wasn't going on the right way and now I am.
And it's all thanks to this. I'm in a place where I would never have been without this.
I'm doing things that I would never have done. I'm a better person for doing this.
This really is a step up. It's a big test for my trainees.
I've done hundreds of these special parties.
Outside catering, for me, I just love it.
What I love about it is that you are in contact with the customer directly.
You can feel, you can breathe, you can know exactly what your customer wants.
James was really put aback. The only thing getting him through this is the training he's had.
He's doing it automatically, just going through the motions. But he's not enjoying it.
The challenge of service at the hotel marks the halfway point in Michel's ambitious project
and he needs to find out how his trainees are thinking about the future.
-How's it going?
-I've been a bit disenchanted today, I think.
-You didn't like that at all.
-I felt really uncomfortable.
It wasn't just the intimacy thing.
-It was the fact they were young, they were my age.
-The servile nature of it.
It was more a "snap your fingers" environment. I didn't like that.
It depends on the customers you're serving, but when you are in somebody's house, in effect,
it is a totally different feeling to a public place like a restaurant. Not everybody is suited to that.
How do you think you're doing overall?
I've reached a point in my life where I need to start having a passion for something.
I'd love my own brasserie or bar.
I don't know where or when, but in five years, doing something like this,
-the doors hopefully will open and with a lot of hard work, maybe that could be possible.
Early evening and as guests prepare for dinner,
the hotel staff prepare to serve their 160 customers.
In 48 hours, the trainees will be running a dinner service by themselves.
Tonight, they will be shadowing the main staff roles in the Edwardian Dining Room
to learn how service here operates.
My trainees are going to have to really observe well tonight
because in two days' time, they're taking over this place and it's got to be perfect.
On the floor tonight, six waiters, all experts in a different aspect of fine dining.
For most diners, the evening's performance usually begins
in the bar with cocktails and a perusal of the evening's menu.
-How would you like the rib-eye, sir?
-I have my steaks medium-rare as well.
After drinks, the customer is taken through to the main restaurant,
seated and introduced to their waiter.
This is Istvan. He will be looking after you. Enjoy your dinner.
Runners bring the food orders from the kitchen and the waiters serve it to the tables.
Never leaving the restaurant floor means the waiters never have to take their eyes off their guests.
Tonight, Niki will be shadowing at the cocktail bar.
That's enough cranberry there.
Ashley will be learning how to take orders and escort diners from the bar to the restaurant
and the other trainees will be on the floor.
The service is formal.
Staff are expected to follow conventions such as always serving from the right.
Service tonight is at a real leisurely pace, family-orientated,
but they all expect to be served from the right and cleared from the left
and to get the right food in front of them, so their expectations are very high. Very high.
Having observed the technique, it's now Nikkita's turn.
-Did I serve it the right way?
-But that's the right.
Don't confuse me like that. That is the right-hand side.
If you serve it like this, you will show your back to the guest like this
and you are from the guest's left side.
If you serve the food like this, you can tell her, "Enjoy it."
-You put it down from the right side.
-I don't serve like that. I serve like that.
-But still your body is turning away from the guest.
Yes, it is. You cover your own body with your hands.
With Nikkita confused, Michel steps in.
I served it like that and I did it wrong.
You've got to get it in your mind - not serving from your right hand,
but serving from the right of the customer.
What's the difference?
You're less prone to lean over the customer, whereas here you can go round.
I'm just going to drop their food in their lap!
From the right.
Like that? Like I'm hugging them?
-Yes! If that means you're going to remember it, as if you're hugging them.
-OK, like I'm hugging them.
I have to say I think they've done really, really well.
I don't see any of them struggling with the need to communicate to our guests in a positive manner,
but honestly, very good, I think.
I had the crepes and they were to die for.
Brooke, I like. She's got a big smile on her face.
Everything seems to be done with charm and with style.
She certainly has the right "can do" mentality.
And you can see customers actually warm to her.
-Would you like any water at your table?
-Still or sparkling?
Ashley's great. Yeah, he's really good.
He, out of all of them, has probably got into the anticipative service more than any of them.
I've seen him do more things without being asked than the others.
I think he views this as his chance to really make some progress and I think that's pretty good.
In two days' time, the trainees will be taking the place of Jeremy's regular staff
and being in charge of dinner service will be their responsibility.
7am and breakfast service is up and running.
Most five-star city hotels have dedicated room service personnel.
Here, no such roles exist and all front-of-house staff are required to perform this most intimate service.
For Danielle, James and Brooke,
their first job of the day is to help general manager Federico with the breakfast orders.
In a country house hotel like this,
guests who order room service expect the same level of service in their room as anywhere else in this hotel.
It has to be perfect.
If there's one thing missing like the marmalade or anything,
-they'll see it and they'll be upset for the rest of the day.
-Oh, my God!
Michel and Federico will be monitoring the trainees' interaction with the guests
to see how attentive they are.
Room service, please.
-Good morning, Mr Kirby.
-We've got your breakfast. Would you like it just in here?
They shouldn't put the tray on the floor.
One of them should be holding it and the other one... Look at that!
They could trip over that.
The tray's back on the floor now. Oh! Just don't do that.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you very much.
-I think they've been in there already too long.
-Yes, I agree. A little bit too long.
-< Have a good day.
-Thank you very much.
Don't slam the door.
How did that go?
Service early doors is bang, in, polite, "Have a nice day, your breakfast is here, goodbye."
With one service under their belts,
the trainees check their second breakfast order from the couple who arrived in the helicopter.
Grapefruit segments, fruit salad.
Brown toast, breakfast tea.
We're going to go up again?
Say, "Room service." James can go in.
I'll go in before James and lay the tablecloth down.
-Good morning, sir. How are you this morning? Is it all right if I come in?
That was good. That was assertive.
Knocked on the door, "room service, good morning". Bright and cheerful.
-Your morning paper, sir.
-Thanks very much.
Would you like your tea served in bed, sir, madam?
-Over there, please.
-Yeah, that's good.
-Is it possible to change those into segments?
-Yes, of course.
They've reacted very well.
They've immediately dispatched Danielle down to the kitchen.
It wasn't a "no". It was, "Yes, I'll see the chef immediately."
Six minutes later, Danielle returns with the correct grapefruit and the warm smoked haddock.
-Did you think I was ages getting a segmented orange?
-They asked for eggs as well?
-And poached haddock.
Good morning. How are you again?
-Was the poached haddock for you?
Could we have some hot toast?
-Yes, no problem.
-They want hot toast now.
It's not good going back to the room three times, especially first thing in the morning.
Room service... Again.
-There you are, madam.
-I'm now missing a side knife.
-Are you really?
-I am. I haven't got a side knife.
-That's fine. I'll go and get you one.
Three times you had to go in.
-Hang on, no, four times.
-Four times in 15 minutes.
-Is that how long it took?
And I still think she's not 100% satisfied
because she would have liked warm toast with her fish and her egg.
We should have seen those two mistakes.
Yeah. Did it say "segments" anywhere? No.
It should say on the check. Does it not?
Yeah, it says it.
"Grapefruit segments." Oh.
That's why normally there are two steps of checking.
The chef checks and then you guys check each tray normally to avoid that problem.
So, yeah, a few errors.
Customer reasonably satisfied, but not...
-I think they were sick of the sight of me.
-I think they were.
Definitely horses for courses.
I love serving in restaurants. I get a massive buzz off it.
This morning and yesterday, no buzz at all.
I felt uncomfortable and felt a little bit like I shouldn't have been there.
She had a lot of requests, but people are paying a lot of money to stay in this hotel,
so she was right in doing so.
I don't mind at all. She could have asked me to go down two more times and I wouldn't have minded.
With Brooke embracing the world of five-star service,
Michel is keen to know how she's been finding the whole experience.
How do you think you're doing in general?
-Have you noticed yourself change?
-Yeah, I've impressed myself.
I have changed in my personality and how I think about things.
A month ago, I'd be like, "I'm not going there, full of snobs,"
but they're as down to earth as me and you and everyone.
If you do embrace this industry and the hospitality part of our industry,
what bit do you think you could play in it?
I don't know because I want to do it all.
Obviously, I want my restaurant. That's what I'm doing this for cos I want my restaurant at the end of it.
And to me, every aspect that we've done so far and every aspect there is will help.
-So you've got a little bit of ambition?
-Hell, yeah. A little bit. I am all ambition, me, Michel.
Back inside, Michel has decided
that either Tom or Ashley will be in charge of the 60 cheeses on the trolley tomorrow evening.
They always lay out the cheeseboard in a fashion, so you've got your hard cheeses here.
You've got your washed rinds... They're normally a bit slimy on top.
They're usually the ones that really stink a bit. They're quite strong. You can tell.
You've got goat's cheese together and over here, blue cheeses.
Let me show you how to cut the cheese first of all. Never use your fingers on the cheeseboard.
Always use your knife and your fork to point to the cheese and use the fork to hold.
Be firm and go through it like that.
You've got yourself a nice piece there. Don't be too generous.
And try and arrange it on the plate so that it looks nice.
If somebody wants, for example, this cheese here, whatever it is,
if they ask for it to be grated over the plate, what would I say to them?
No, there's no way they'll ask for grated cheese.
When you have cheese at the end of the meal, you just have pieces of it.
I find it much easier to eat grated cheese than a big slice of it.
-That's just me and there will be other people like me, won't there?
-I don't think so.
-You're one of a kind.
-You are unique.
Right, blue cheese...
First, it's Ashley's turn.
-How would you like your cheese?
-Let's have this. Yeah, Bath Soft.
-How much would you like?
-You don't ask the customer that.
-So I just give them it, yeah?
-Look what you've given me.
-I thought you could eat it all.
But that's not nice. The nice bit is the gooey bit in the middle.
From my point of view, the rind looks better than the inside of it.
At least I'm being honest.
-The Spanish one...
-Next up, it's Tom.
There you go... Oh! A little bit thicker.
-Sorry about that. < That's too thin?
-A bit too thin.
As with all service, Michel insists that his trainees know what they're serving,
even if it's not to their personal taste.
When people say, "What's the Little Stinky like,"
you could say, "It's not called Little Stinky for nothing. It is a strong cheese."
But don't go, "Eugh, it's horrible!"
It would be nice on toast, that. No!
Do you not like it? No.
-I love it.
-It's really nice.
Right, Ash, how do you think you're doing so far?
I'm not too sure. I've come out of my shell a bit more.
I didn't expect to wake up, drive here, then the next day, welcome someone from a helicopter.
That doesn't happen to someone like me from where I'm from.
You don't get that opportunity of what's in front of me. You don't see it.
I'm embracing it in a way, all the things that are coming.
We all have our ups and downs, all seven of us,
but me, myself, I'm trying to have more ups than downs at the minute.
There's a lot of hard work and a lot of serious work, obviously.
It does take dedication and hard work to get to the top, but you can get so much satisfaction out of it.
Carry on being yourself
because the Ashley that I see now could be going places.
May Bank Holiday weekend, one of the busiest times in the hotel's calendar.
With the all-important dinner service being handed over to them this evening,
the trainees' mentor Fred Sirieix arrives to help polish their skills.
-Good morning. How are you?
Fred's first job is to observe Nikkita and Ashley as they greet guests at the front door.
I think you look quite nice. Do you really, Ashley?
Are you blind, Ashley? No, you look nice. You do.
Under Fred's watchful eye, they'll be expected to greet the Bank Holiday guests
with the warm welcome that the hotel prides itself on.
-Nikkita, be aware. People are coming.
Nikkita, you could have wished them a good game of tennis.
-I didn't know they were playing tennis.
-They have rackets.
-I don't look at tennis rackets.
-You have to look at the people and tailor the welcome to them.
Don't smile then(!)
The people here are all stuck-up and snobby and think that they're better than you...
And if I was doing the door, I would just move around.
-We've been told that one person has got to stay on this door.
-Sure, but not literally on one spot.
You can be like this. You can go looking there, look, you know, look there.
-There's nothing to look at.
-There's beautiful greenery.
-I've seen it all. It's green.
-Nikkita, what is your problem?
-Nothing. I'm just saying...
-Please, can you stop this attitude, OK?
I've had enough. Stop.
-Nice to see you.
-I did smile.
-Do you think "hiya" is appropriate? "Hiya"?
Would you like me to change my whole vocabulary?
I'd like you to change this, yes. Not "hi". "Good afternoon."
-Good afternoon, sir. How are you?
-I do say "good afternoon", but I say "hiya" as well.
Nikkita is impossible. She is not interested to learn.
Either she changes or we have to take her off the door. This can't carry on like this.
"Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but..." Come on, Nikkita. This is not Little Britain.
Have you got a problem with saying "good afternoon", "good morning"?
No, I do say "good afternoon", but I don't say "good afternoon" over and over again.
-You do if it's different people.
-You've got to.
-I can't do it. I'm not posh.
-Posh is not bad.
-Posh is bad. I'm not posh.
-It's about being polite and respectful. It's not about anything else.
-Keep smiling, Nikkita. Come on.
I'm trying, but there's no-one to smile at.
Stop saying and keep trying.
-Don't say you keep trying. Do it.
-I am doing it. I'm trying to carry on doing it.
-Close your eyes and trust me. Trust Michel.
By 3pm, the courtyard is bustling with new arrivals.
Nikkita and Ashley will be the first faces they see.
Ashley will take you through to Guest Relations.
-It may have been a trying afternoon...
-Did you go quad biking?
-Yeah, we did it yesterday and Tuesday.
-Tuesday as well?
-It was really fun.
-You two are lucky. You know that?
But by the end of their shift, Ashley and Nikkita have cracked the formula to meeting and greeting.
-Did you have a nice drive?
-Yes, thank you.
-I'll take it in for you.
-Welcome to Bovey Castle. I'm John.
-How was that?
-Good. Well done.
Nikkita, spot-on, girl. Well done. Nice smile. Made them feel welcome. Nice to see it.
Late afternoon and the hotel must ready itself for dinner.
The trainees regroup to be allocated their roles for tonight's service.
-First off, Niki, you're behind the bar tonight.
Nikkita, you will be helping behind the bar because there will be a big rush between 6 and 7,
-then it will be on the floor.
-I've got a really intimate dinner for two for you to look after.
-You're on your own. How more intimate can you get?
-Three's a crowd, isn't it, Chef?
-You are working on the floor.
Ashley, you're going to be working the cheese trolley tonight. Tom...
-You are on the floor.
That leaves us Brooke.
-Brooke, you are our maitre d' for tonight.
-< Well done.
-It's up to you to make sure that everybody is pulling in the same direction.
One more thing.
It's a great day. Beautiful weather.
-So all your tables will be outside here on the terrace.
Snappy, prompt service, on time, with a big smile.
OK, let's go.
Michel and Fred are hoping that with only a few covers each,
the trainees can cater to their guests' every whim.
Niki, you will be predominantly behind the bar making the cocktail,
and Nikkita will be on the floor greeting, meeting the guest.
You've just got to be constantly aware of what's happening.
Six o'clock, cocktail hour, and the guests start to arrive in the bar.
Would you like to take a seat? This is a table for two over here.
-Here we have our cocktail list.
The bar needs to make everyone's cocktails at the same time.
-Another order's coming.
-And the girls are struggling to keep up.
It's just so slow. They need to be much, much quicker.
-Excuse me. Could we have our drinks?
-Yeah, I just need to put some ice in there. That's all.
Nikkita's in a bit of a strop now. There she is, shaking her head. Why can't she just get on with it?
All too aware that a bad start can ruin the entire evening,
Fred drafts in Ashley to make sure that the customers aren't sitting without drinks.
There's no drinks yet. Just wait.
The couple with the two kids, they've ordered more than 15 minutes ago.
They need more energy and urgency in the way that they do their work and they will be fine.
But at the moment, it's very slow. Slowly, slowly, slowly.
The mint mojito and the Cosmopolitan is for you, yeah?
-The mint mojito is lovely. I had one yesterday.
-I really enjoyed it.
-That's my boy!
-Would you like another drink?
-He was walking past, he saw the lady was...
-That gives me goose bumps.
-"Another glass, madam?"
Yeah. Right, OK, that's fine.
Ashley has done some great stuff. It's great when he asked this lady if she wanted another drink.
This is the kind of stuff that they keep missing and he got it. This is amazing.
Do you need a hand?
In the grounds, James is preparing the gazebo
for a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, catered for by a dedicated chef.
I've got to be able to read the people I'm looking after
and the old caveat that three is a crowd is very appropriate here.
So it's about subtlety for me today. This is a test of my ability to handle intimacy with the customer.
Back in the main hotel, Nikkita is still trying to catch up with the drinks orders
when she receives an unexpected request.
Is this your food order for outside?
-Can you take our food order?
-If you want.
-Take the order now and when she wants to be seated, I'll take her out.
-Is that OK?
Struggling loads. I always struggle. Every day.
-Yeah, that's perfectly fine.
Nikkita's a big worry for me. She's...unfathomable.
What's the attitude? Just take the order. Take it and move on.
I don't know what to do with her.
How do you do this? Do it. Just do it. I want to go home. Move.
What are you doing?
Nikkita, Nikkita, this way.
Get your spirit back.
-I didn't do anything right. None of it was right.
-Don't worry. We're learning.
You did some good things and you did some wrong things.
I can't be in there. I can't do it.
-You can. You're doing it.
-I can't deal with the people.
-The people are too...
-They're very nice.
-It is all in your mind. They are very nice people.
I'm telling you for a fact they're not.
Seven o'clock, the start of dinner service.
On the floor tonight, Danielle, Nikkita, Ashley and Tom with Brooke overseeing as maitre d'.
-With only five tables, the trainees will be in charge of just one each.
-Can I get you any bread?
What would you like? Brown roll, white roll and focaccia?
With such a small number of guests, Michel expects perfection.
Nikkita before just kind of lost it completely. We'll see what happens.
It's scary tonight. Very scary.
One-on-one service is a big test for James.
-Good evening. Welcome to the Summer House. I'm James.
The way he copes with this challenge could help him decide whether this aspect of the industry is for him.
If you'd just like to take a seat in the snug... I'll be serving you champagne in a moment.
My job here is just to see to any of their needs and not get in their way.
They'll not have a good evening if I'm standing in the corner like a plum.
That's not going to help them feel any more relaxed.
Back on the terrace, a lack of communication between the bar and restaurant
is causing customers to go thirsty.
-Are you all right for drinks?
-They're just waiting on their drinks now.
-They haven't got their drinks yet?
-They've been in there waiting to be ordered for 10, 15 minutes.
-There's a lot of tension. A lot of tension.
-They're very stressed.
-Brooke, can you get someone to...? I've got all these orders waiting.
-Yeah. I'm going to get someone to come and do that.
Brooke has to calm down now and really realise what she has to do and take charge, full charge.
Being a maitre d', a real maitre d' is about leading the team. She's not leading the team.
Three Budweisers and sparkling water. Don't take the sparkling water. Brooke needs to get them a big one.
And it's going to Table 3. Table 3.
-Did you order three beers?
-I didn't think you did.
-Ashley, speak to Brooke.
-Why are there three Budweisers?
-Who's it for?
-Oh, my God! Come here. It's not three Budweisers.
It's one Budweiser and it's Table 3.
Meanwhile, at the gazebo, James's anniversary couple are halfway through their starters.
What I find awkward is that because I'm there to provide a service,
I have to be watching them all the time. It's a bit voyeuristic.
I'm trying to stand out of their sight line, so I can still see their plates
and see when I need to clear and top up and all the rest.
I was trying to look at the table, but kept on catching his eye,
then when I caught his eye, I didn't know what to...
What do you do? You smile and wave or ask a question?
It's not the most comfortable situation.
James's guests have finished their starters.
On the terrace, the trainees have caught up with the drinks orders.
Cabbage and new potatoes?
And the main courses are starting to come out.
Oh, look at that. Thomas has no cutlery on the table for the main course.
Oh, no, the customer is pointing it out.
-He has to go all the way back over there with the food, get the cutlery and come back.
-It will be cold.
It's a disaster. For this table, it's a disastrous experience.
They're struggling tonight.
-You can tell it's a bit tense.
This is the least amount of customers they've had to serve, but we want it to be perfect.
It's been far from perfect. It's been such a nervy start.
But they should know by now what they're doing.
-Would you like me to clear the bread plates as well?
Have you been here before...? Have you?
You're not meant to clear them yet.
They've just asked me to. OK.
Brooke, come here. Is my name Brooke? No.
I mean Nikkita. Come here.
< When a customer asks me to clear the plates, I'll clear the plates,
so don't tell me to do something in front of them.
She doesn't want to be here.
Standards continue to slip.
Tom and Nikkita have been serving from the wrong side again.
After all that rigmarole with Nikkita of left, right, left, right,
serve from the right, clear from the left.
-Would you like new potatoes?
-There you are.
Oblivious to Michel's criticisms, the team soldier on towards the dessert course.
-Spirits are high, yeah.
But Tom is not keeping up with the orders arriving for his table.
This is not what I like to see.
If this was a normal service, I would be shutting them down, throwing them off
and putting a new team on it in double-quick time.
I'm not comfortable. This is not what I want my guests to experience in any way, shape or form.
How long have they been sitting there?
For ages. Who are they for? They're for my table.
Come on then. You can't serve it like that.
They've been there for ages. Why did no-one tell me?
Someone just said, "Who are they for?" I said, "I don't know."
My desserts were sat there. No-one told me about them.
I've had to tell Table 5 who I've not given the best service to tonight.
But what can you do? A smile will take me a long way!
As a chaotic evening reaches its final course, it's time to wheel out the castle's trademark.
Ashley should go now to the table and say to people, "Would you like some cheese before your dessert?"
It is an opportunity to make the customer happy and make the business happy.
That's what he needs to you. Let's see how successful he can get.
Would you like any cheese?
-She was looking at the cheese.
You don't scream in front of everybody. You're not in a motorway caff.
DEEP VOICE: "Any cheese?" "Ham and cheese!"
Go over there.
I hope they don't... I hope they don't want some cheese.
Please do not drop... Where's it going? Just here.
Oh, this stinks!
What ones have you tried that you like?
I've tried this one. It's really strong at first,
but I had a bit of port to neck it back with, so it brought down the flavour a bit. I did like this one.
So should I neck some port when I have it?
LAUGHTER I'd say yeah.
It's not all Little Stinky.
-Would you like some port to go with that?
-Yes, I'd love some.
The cheese course is a chance for Ashley to demonstrate some of the product knowledge he's picked up.
There's quince jelly and chutney. Do you know what that is?
-It's pressed fig with walnuts.
The banana bread and butter pudding? If you like bread and butter pudding and bananas, you'll like it.
I don't like bread and butter pudding and I'm not keen on bananas.
Would you like some of the Little Stinky?
I'll try a little bit.
-Tidy that up.
And at last, Tom's couple get their crepes suzettes.
There we are.
However, incorrectly served.
I'll just bring that out for you as well.
What side are you supposed to serve from?
Right-hand side. I've been serving from the left-hand side.
Every single plate you have put down tonight, you have served from the left.
-You have gone all the way round the table to serve on the left.
My common sense and basics have been nowhere tonight.
-Enjoy your cheeses and your desserts.
-And your port.
-Thank you very much.
-Sorry about the time it took.
-We got there in the end, didn't we?
As the cheese course draws the meal to a close,
at the gazebo, Michel drops in to see how James has coped with the challenge of one-to-one service.
-Everything going well?
-It is a beautiful setting.
It is a beautiful setting and we've had a very good meal
with very nice...attentive, but unobtrusive service.
-And it's been a joy.
-I won't disturb you any more.
-Enjoy it all. Thank you.
The guests are very happy, very happy. They said service couldn't have been better.
It's been there when they've wanted it
and when they didn't want any service and wanted to be left alone, they were left alone,
so I think he's understood exactly what is required.
I pushed him purposefully today into intimate dining,
but he's done it and he's done it well.
The thing I've realised about intimacy and the dining experience tonight
is that in any situation, you've got to be a bit human and people will be human back.
I'm not sure this is for me,
but I liked the challenge and I think I've risen to it.
Back on the terrace, Ashley continues to share his newly acquired culinary knowledge.
He chose my wine and he chose my pudding wine,
so now I'm going with his cheese.
-Use a napkin.
That's ridiculous what's just come off.
Do you want to taste this one?
You don't have to eat it all, obviously.
-Would you like to cut me a little piece?
-That's what I'm going to do because it's...
-Are we having any biscuits?
-I've got some biscuits there.
-Can I taste that Stinky one?
Smell that. Smell this.
Ashley really is hilarious.
-He is so natural.
-So, so natural.
People believe in him and he gets away with murder.
Oh, God! LAUGHTER
-We just need to polish him up.
-He'll be fine.
-He'll be fantastic.
Uh-oh! Now what?
-I'm glad it's almost finished because it was very difficult to take.
They've got to give 100% and tonight they gave us 10%.
The customers don't deserve it and we don't deserve it. Certainly not.
As the sun goes down on the terrace, the trainees wait to hear Michel's verdict.
They didn't do very well at all tonight.
I am disappointed.
I wanted them to up their game, to refine their skills, but do it properly.
If Nikkita had been working for me tonight as an employee, I would have told her to leave.
There is no way you can be so cold and rude to your customers.
But I believe in her. I believe there's something special there and I want her to succeed.
I cannot lay into them at the de-brief.
They know deep down that they didn't perform well tonight
and I just cannot... I've got to give them some hope.
I don't know where this is going to take me and how long it's going to take me,
but Nikkita, you said that I looked mardy,
I can't hide my emotions. I'm like you.
And I wasn't very happy. Not very happy at all.
Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm expecting too much out of you.
Maybe it was a dream of mine that after four weeks I could turn you around
and expect perfection.
I'm a perfectionist. I don't even need to tell you it wasn't perfection tonight.
So I'm not going to dwell on it. Pointless. Pointless dwelling on it.
Because there's a lot more exciting things to come.
And I want you to do really well
and I want each and every one of you to come on this journey
and cross that finish line together.
All of you.
And I'd be very, very disappointed in myself if I didn't get the best out of all of you.
Next time, the trainees will have to learn a whole new set of skills.
If you listen to me, you won't burn yourself or cut yourself.
As they take centre stage, performing in front of their guests.
You'd have a job finding a lamb that size.
At some of London's finest restaurants.
-A very expensive bottle - £20,000.
-Do not drop it!
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011
Email [email protected]
Michel Roux is on a personal mission - to take eight young people who have never considered a career as front-of-house restaurant staff, and prove to them that it is an industry that can change their lives. In just two months, he wants to take his trainees from the high street to the high end - learning skills that will enable them to take over service at his own two-Michelin-starred restaurant. Ultimately Michel will choose the best two trainees and award them life-changing scholarships.
Now nearly halfway through their training, Michel takes his trainees out of the restaurant, and into the world of five-star hotel service. Over a busy bank holiday weekend, the trainees' challenge is to serve the high-paying guests at an exclusive country house hotel in the heart of Dartmoor, where the motto is 'the guests can have what they want, whenever they want it'.
Some of the trainees, like Ashley and Brooke, are eager to show Michel how much they want one of the two scholarships he will be ultimately awarding. They throw themselves into meeting and greeting the high-paying guests, the 24-hour room service and the challenges of formal dining.
But for other trainees, the demanding guests and the opulent surroundings make them question whether a career in high-end service can ever be for them. Single parent Nikitta feels out of place and ill at ease. Privately educated James bristles when asked to serve a family in the intimate setting of their own guest chalet; 'I feel like their servant'.
Michel wants his trainees to pull together and take over a very special evening service; the hotel guests all wish to dine al fresco. Out on the terrace every mistake will be amplified and there is nowhere for the trainees to hide.