To test his trainees, Michel sets up their very own pop-up restaurant in the exclusive surroundings of the Kensington Roof Gardens in London's West End.
Browse content similar to Episode 5. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
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.
Eight here. Table eight 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's an industry that can change all of their lives.
It's not just about delivering food.
I want people to come into our industry and take pride in serving.
Five weeks in, and the trainees are on a fast track from the high street to haute cuisine.
If we can do this, we can do anything.
At the end of their training, Michel wants them to take over service
at his own two Michelin-starred restaurant, where he will award the candidates with the most potential
life-changing scholarships, launching their careers in the business.
If you can give your all as a young waiter, what you get back is immense.
Last time, at a five-star hotel, service was around the clock, and there was nowhere to hide.
I can't deal with it. I can't deal with the people.
Now Michel wants them to put their mistakes behind them and take centre stage...
I mean, I'm going to take this on for life.
..learning to perform skills in front of their guests...
This is hot and sharp, so if you listen to me, you won't burn yourself, you won't cut yourself.
..silver service dining in some of London's finest restaurants...
Did you have a job finding a lamb that size?!
With over 50 Michelin stars, London ranks alongside Paris,
New York and Tokyo as a world centre of gastronomy.
Combining fine dining institutions over 200 years old and destination restaurants
run by the latest superstar chefs, it's the perfect city for Michel's trainees to take a major step up.
In fine dining restaurants, the waiter is on display carving,
and even cooking food at table.
That is what Michel wants his trainees to learn.
I'm going to be taking my trainees to some of the most glorious restaurants
in the world, and they're here in London.
They're going to be training and seeing how service has to be done.
It's a performance, it's an art form at the table.
Michel has asked for the trainees to join him at a restaurant that sits in its own gardens
on the rooftops above west London, to announce their next challenge.
What a place, hey?
I mean, we're in the centre of London, and there's a garden on a rooftop!
-With ducks in it.
-With ducks in it!
-I didn't even know flamingos existed in England.
-Well, they do.
Anyway, this place, it's an exclusive location, and very famous people use it.
It's also used as a pop-up restaurant -
"pop-up" meaning...anybody can hire it and use it as a restaurant.
This place here, in two days' time, is going to be your restaurant.
You are going to be running it.
Now, I know that the five-star luxury hotel
in the countryside wasn't the best of times for all of you.
But you guys have got skills, you have got great personalities,
so in two days' time, you are going to have to put all of this together,
waitressing and sommelier skills.
In two days' time, the trainees will be back at the rooftop restaurant to serve lunch to 60 invited guests,
and Michel has designed a menu that will push them to learn new skills.
Beef and lamb will be carved at table.
Dover sole needs to be filleted.
And crepe Suzette must be prepared in front of each customer.
To prepare his trainees for the challenges ahead, Michel is taking them to masters of the trade
at some of London's finest dining institutions.
-It's a step up from...
-The service at the first Michelin-star restaurant
we went to was...seamless, like, there was no...
We didn't notice the waiters, did we - they just crept in and out, everything ran smoothly.
Yeah, like ghosts, as Fred says. Exactly, ghosts.
And we haven't been like ghosts - we've been more like bulls in a china shop.
Michel has brought them to the historic Simpson's-in-the-Strand.
A fine dining institution for over 170 years, it has played host to such famous guests
as Vincent van Gogh, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
This is it - you can smell the tradition here.
The skill we're about to teach you is about theatre -
performing at the table.
It's a real art. Are you ready for it?
Service at this restaurant is a very British affair.
It revolves around the traditional act of carving roast meat at the table.
The performance directly involves the customer, allowing them to choose their own cut.
With over 20 years of experience, the trainees will be taught by master carver Gerry Rae.
-I see you're all here to learn a bit of carving.
-Today we're going to do lamb and we're going to do beef.
The lamb is going to be a saddle of lamb that's on the bone, and we're going to do a four-rib of beef.
-So, here, we have a four-rib of beef and we use between
10 and 12 a day, so we're probably eating about six whole cows a day.
-Oh, my God!
-That's obviously not a whole cow, though, is it?
You're quick(!) Right...
-We don't allow the oven to tell us what we're doing.
-It's like a kebab.
-What we're... It's not like a kebab.
-Don't insult his meat!
-Two things, right?
This is hot and this is sharp, so if you listen to me, you won't burn yourself, you won't cut yourself.
What I like to use is a flat-edged - usually a 10-inch - sharp knife. We use the whole edge of the knife.
What they say, as well, they say the perfect slice is 3mm.
So, as you can see,
straight down. Right, lamb...
Right, we've got a saddle of lamb.
God, that really is a saddle, isn't it?
Yeah, do you know where the saddle comes from?
We've got your three different cuts - we've got the rump here,
we've got the loin here, and if you flip it up underneath,
we've got the fillet. So we're going to just take the fillet straight off.
I'm going to flip it over... Whoa!
See, I told you, you need to be careful.
-How do you manage not to get juice all over the customer?
-Cos I've done it before.
This is why you're going to start doing it and get the practice.
So when we're doing the saddle,
we like to give everybody a couple of pieces of everything. There you go. Deep into the loin.
Now we're going to come down the loin. Just come in at a slight angle, just make a wedge.
Perfect, look at that. Beautiful.
So now we're going to get a couple of slices of rump as well.
-That's a lot of meat.
-In the Grand Divan,
people do like a lot of meat.
Tuck in, try that.
You need to know what you're carving, you need to taste it.
There's no use just going... and not tasting what you're carving or you're cooking.
It has to be tasted.
That's your fillet, that'll be the most tender part,
cos it's a muscle that doesn't actually do any work.
-Don't be afraid.
-Try some of this one...
-Got juices all over it.
-Right, guys, if you want to gather around here, we've got our Dover sole.
This is how you're going to fillet the fish - we've got a fork and a spoon.
Nothing more, no knife, nothing. Right?
'Dover sole is another one of the dishes that the trainees will be serving at table in two days' time.'
So, first of all...
let's get rid of any bones round the edge.
You don't want your granny choking on these, do you?
As you can see, the Dover sole comes in basically four fillets, on one big bone.
That's why it makes it nice and easy for us to fillet.
We're going to separate the fillets, the top two fillets first.
And now, if it's cooked right...
-Oh, my God!
-There we go.
-Do you have to do that in front of the customer?
-You need to be quick,
-cos if you're not quick, what happens?
-It goes cold.
Somebody with a bit of intelligence.
Now, over the course of the next 45 minutes, you're going to be carving,
you're going to be practising, and I'm going to be overseeing yous.
-So get yourselves some knives and forks again.
-How thick do I need to cut it?
-Can I cut it yet?
-Of course you can.
-You just need to practise.
-Go for it.
You're here to enhance the skills that you've already got.
The man's a bit scary - he looks like a psycho nutter killer,
with his big sharp knife and his sharpening blade.
And what if, Gerry, somebody asks for well done?
We show them the front door!
MICHEL AND GERRY LAUGH
A portion like that?! Our food costs would go right out the window.
Well done, that is a great slice!
Oh, I'm good at this meat thing.
It is a bit nerve-racking thinking, I've got to do it in front of somebody,
because you don't really want to be flicking meat juices at them
and cutting a piece of meat that's too thick or too thin,
cos they're just going to be like, "What are you doing?"
-Very good, well done.
I'm a professional meat slicer.
When you're serving someone and you get the order wrong or something
like that, you can get over it and you can sort the problem out.
But if it's carving the beef wrong, and you carve the beef in some stupid way,
then there's not really much you can do about it.
You can't go, "Oh, well, let me just go and get another cow."
Five weeks ago, 18-year-old Brooke was living with her mum and working
part-time as a school dinner lady.
Would you like any Parmesan cheese?
Under Michel and Fred's guidance, she was soon successfully meeting and greeting
guests in a top-notch curry house.
-Hello. Downstairs? Seven of you, yeah?
Brilliant, would you like to follow me?
-But moving into the world of fine dining was more of a challenge.
-They haven't got their drinks.
They haven't got their drinks yet. They've been in there waiting to be ordered for about 10-15 minutes.
Now she's out to prove herself.
-You've got a little bit of ambition, then?
-Oh, yeah, a little bit!
I'm all ambition, me, Michel.
That's too thin, isn't it?
No, you angled the knife out - don't angle the knife out, keep the knife straight.
-So what do you think, Gerry, how have they been going?
-I think they've been doing OK.
The biggest challenge they'll have is actually doing it at a table to the public.
It's all about entertaining your guest.
-And there has to be a certain elegance when you do it.
Because you can look very awkward if you're not confident.
Oh, dear. Oh, dear.
After a morning focused on the delivery of main courses, this afternoon,
the trainees are going to learn how to prepare an iconic dessert.
Michel has brought them to another fine dining institution to learn from one of the best in the business.
For me, service in places like here is all about performance,
not hiding everything behind doors in the kitchen,
and for the chef to take the glory, this is about artistry at the table.
No, we're not...!
-Have any of you ever been in there before? You've heard of it.
-Seen it on telly.
-This place is iconic.
It's where service is at its finest, it's where service is at its best.
Take a deep breath when we go in there, because it is quite unbelievable.
-People go for tea there and spend hundreds of pounds.
-Tea, all right?
-What in the world can you put in tea?
Hundreds of pounds on tea is unbelievable!
First opened in 1906, the Ritz in London is one of the most famous hotels in the world.
It's built its reputation on its stellar guest list and on the detail,
showmanship and ritual to be found in service.
Michel has brought the trainees to meet restaurant manager Simon Girling
to learn a skill that will call on all their powers of showmanship.
What we're going to do this afternoon is crepe Suzette,
which is probably the most popular dish in the restaurant, it's an absolute classic.
And you serve one, and everyone in the restaurant wants one.
I want you guys to watch this, watch it very carefully, ask questions,
because in two days' time, we will be asking you guys to cook this particular dessert.
-Before we start, a couple of little things - you may be cooking for two,
three, four people, but it's very important that you remember, you are representing the whole restaurant.
Very important that you stand up straight, you keep your feet together, you are part
of the ambience of the room.
You are not just on show to the people that you're cooking for.
So, so let's get started. First of all, sugar.
I recommend probably just one spoonful will be enough.
As soon as you start to see the sugar turning into caramel, we'll add the butter.
This can take a bit of time.
So this is maybe a good opportunity to have a little chat with your guests.
Because once the butter goes in, everything starts to happen
quite quickly, so this is a nice slot to have a talk.
OK, that's just starting to go...
It's the waiter's job to prepare the sauce, adding orange zest,
orange juice, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and then the pancake, before building to a theatrical flourish.
..brandy. Stand back.
Oh, this is the flame bit!
-There we are.
It's very important to keep the pan moving at this stage, cos we want to burn off all the alcohol.
So we now turn the heat off, and there we are, crepe Suzette.
There you are.
How long did that take you to make?
Er, I reckon about five minutes.
In a real restaurant situation, you can get orders for these coming through every 5, 10 minutes,
so you need to be turning them over quite quickly.
-Five minutes tops, yeah? Reckon you can do it?
It's very important that you don't start plating until that sauce is right.
Make no mistake, crepe Suzette is actually quite a difficult dish.
-The temperature control is crucial.
-That's it, well done.
It's very important that you don't put too much of the ingredients in the pan.
And the length of time that the sauce is cooking for
is all absolutely key to getting that perfect taste.
-That's it. Good, well done. Well done, you're doing really well.
-Oh, this is my time to talk, isn't it?
-To the customer.
-Hi, how are you doing? What's going on?
Presentation could have been a little better on one or two of them.
But what you've actually produced for a dessert has been very good indeed, I have to say.
Pour the lot in. Brilliant, well done, very good.
Turn the heat down a bit.
Michel will be choosing the two with the most promise at both crepe
and carving to carry out the service at the table in two days' time.
Oh, we're off.
Oh, I don't want to burn the Ritz!
I had this for pudding at one of the restaurants,
and she did it in front of me, and it makes all the difference, seeing it cooked in front of you.
Like Michel was saying, it's the fear at the table.
It does actually scare me, the thought of trying to flambe something in front of someone.
I did jump back when I just put the brandy in there, so if I had to do it in front of somebody,
I think I'd be very, very scared.
Before meeting Michel, Nikkita was a full-time mum to her two-year-old daughter.
Performing to the exacting standards of front of house hasn't been easy.
This is not right. I'd like you to go and change your shoes now, Nikkita.
-I haven't got any other shoes here.
-You get some. Off you go.
I'm going shopping.
With so much going for her, her temper may be the only thing holding
her back from a successful career in the service industry.
I can't deal with the people. The people are too...
-They're very nice!
-They're not, they're not nice.
But when she puts her mind to it, her infectious smile is winning her fans.
Nikkita's opened up, that big smile is there, and look at the customers, they're laughing with her.
Really enjoying it, I like it.
-I reckon that's good.
-Yeah, that's done, bruv.
When they started five weeks ago, none of Michel's trainees
had ever considered a career in front of house.
Now, over halfway through their training, they can assess how they're doing.
-I think there's been one or two mess-ups.
-I think we work better now, obviously.
I mean, if we were going to conduct a service, yeah, now,
like, we'd know where each other would have to go, I reckon.
-Play to our strengths.
How do you lot think you've changed in yourself?
I know I've changed a hell of a lot.
I think Ashley's changed the most, in terms of work ethic.
You're still the same person, but how you are when you work, you've transformed.
You're still the same personality-wise.
See, I've changed personality-wise,
my outlook to life, the way that my life is going to be, the way
my life is, how I am, how I deal with things, everything's changed.
I don't think your personality's changed.
You don't know what I was like before. I'm not...
In this situation, the first few weeks,
I wasn't as comfortable as I would be if I was back home with all my mates.
Thing is with me, I've seen the places where we've been and I've seen the places where you can go
in this industry, and that's why I think my work ethic has just changed like that.
Despite applying for over 150 different jobs, Ashley was unemployed before he met Michel.
His introduction to the restaurant world was fraught.
I don't think Ashley has ever been to a restaurant like this before.
Jesus Christ, this is stressful, man.
But soon he saw Michel's training scheme as his big opportunity,
not only to secure a job, but to launch himself in a career, and he's begun to excel.
The mint mojito is lovely, I had one yesterday.
-That's my boy.
A lad like me doesn't get an opportunity like I've got,
and a lad like me doesn't come from my estate back in Leeds to something like this, it doesn't happen.
So I'm going to work my hardest.
In 24 hours' time, the trainees will be running a specially organised
lunch service in the Roof Gardens' private dining room.
Michel has taken over the restaurant and the menu.
Beef, lamb, Dover sole and crepe Suzette will all be on offer, so his trainees can exercise their
newly learned carving and flambeing skills.
To help them prepare for their first silver service, their mentor, the Michelin-starred restaurant manager
Fred Sirieix, wants to tell them how their service should run.
Very important, you're going to have to work in teams.
What I want also from you is to keep your emotion in check, OK?
We don't want any panic, it's very important that when you feel that the emotions are getting too much,
breathe in, breathe out, and let the negative out.
So, what I'd like to do now, I'd like to do little bit of shadow restaurant work.
This is what sportsmen do.
For example, when you run the 100 metres, the night before, he's running it in his mind.
He's closing his eyes and he's running, and he has run and won the race in his bed.
I want you to do that now.
Do the service and serve the people in your head, and when they come, you've already done it.
It's like a re-run.
With the addition of carving and preparing desserts at table, time management will be imperative.
So he reminds the trainees of the concept of staggering.
Good afternoon, how are you? Please, sit down, take a seat.
-Thank you very much.
-Essentially, how a waiter ensures order during a service.
Glass of champagne, maybe? Perfect, lovely.
I write my order, I go and give it to the girl over there. Boom.
I'm looking towards the door if somebody's coming.
Keeping eye-contact with James and Nikkita over there.
Smiling to Michel. Lovely, everything OK, Michel, don't worry.
Seven minutes have gone, and they look ready. Normally it's ten minutes, but it's seven.
Oh, another table is coming in.
There has been a mistake and they are coming straight to my station.
So... Good afternoon, how are you?
Sure. So, James is coming to help me, to magic touch everyone.
How are you, good afternoon.
Good afternoon. Great, what can I get you to drink?
Glass of champagne? I write my order.
Take it to the girl. The things come.
I serve it, boom, boom, boom.
And now I'm thinking, I've got to take my order, OK?
-Are you ready to order?
-By getting to grips with staggering, waiters ensure that tables will
not all be looking for the same thing at the same time.
So now they are eating, another table will come.
You greet them, you ask them for the drinks, right?
So you've got a gap between each table.
They're having starter, just taken the order,
it's coming, and now these ones are having their champagne.
But every time you've got to imagine this as one block, boom.
10 minutes, another block, boom.
10 minutes, another block, boom.
If you do that,
that's it, we're on a roll.
Ahead of tomorrow's service, the trainees now need real experience
in a fine dining restaurant, shadowing the professionals.
As the Roof Gardens is a rented space that doesn't have a regular service, Michel has arranged for them to learn
at two top London restaurants, the Greenhouse and Texture.
At this level, wine is as important as food.
With carving and flambeing under their belts, Michel wants this exercise to focus on wine.
Nikki, Tom and Brooke will work at the one Michelin-starred Greenhouse, which serves modern European cuisine.
The floor here is run by maitre d' Jean-Marie Miorada.
A lot of people think that being a waiter is like being a servant.
It's completely the opposite.
It's a profession. I'm French, so in France you study to do this job.
You study two years, three years, four years, and you never stop.
At this level, you need to be on top.
You have to be more than perfect. Perfect is good, but not good enough.
I brought my trainees here really to experience quality service, service at its best.
They do it with panache and flair and skill.
And they've got to pick that up tonight, because tomorrow
they are going to be running their own restaurant.
Wine takes centre stage here.
The cellar boasts 2,000 bottles and is managed by sommelier Alex.
I've got an amazing and big list, big wine list, more than 3,000 different wines.
You've got 3,000 wines here?
Different wines. So this is the book, OK?
-And all of the ones in there are here?
So this restaurant has the largest wine list throughout the UK?
Yeah, exactly, and one of the biggest in Europe. It's massive.
£6,000, £8,000, £13,500!
Chateau Margaux 1982.
I've got some very expensive bottles, more than £20,000 for a bottle.
-Where is it, I want to find it...?
Yeah, for a bottle of wine, yeah.
It's a magnum of Chateau Petrus, 1961.
I bet that would taste nice.
The one wrapped up has got to be the £20,000.
This one, yeah. Soi, £20,500.
-Let's have a look.
So this is the one on the wine list, a Petrus, 1961, from Pomerol in Bordeaux.
And we put some clingfilm around, just to protect the label.
Has anyone ever had...?
-Have you had other bottles?
-No, I've got only one.
Just one bottle?! Do not drop it!
-You can, but definitely...
The other trainees will work at the recently Michelin-starred Texture, managed by owner Xavier Rousset.
-Nice to meet you...
It also has a modern European menu.
For the evening service, Ashley and Tom will be shadowing the food waiters.
Quick, hurry up, we have to get ready.
Nikkita and Danielle will work with head sommelier Erica Laler.
Before she will let them handle the expensive wines, Erica wants to
gauge their confidence by serving something more mundane.
-Shall I go first, then?
Just in that? That's only diddy.
No, no, no, in the glasses.
Oh! I was going to say!
-No, not like that.
-Oh, my God!
-You go first.
-Pour it in!
-No, I don't want to do it any more.
Oh, my days, you are backwards, I swear.
It's 7pm, and service is beginning.
Nikki and Tom are shadowing the floor waiters, each of whom is responsible for no more than four tables.
Brooke will be working with head sommelier Alex, helping him to serve wine to the entire restaurant.
If you can just check quickly your champagne trolley, if it's clean.
He's keen to get her describing the wines to customers immediately.
Can you present it?
It's quite easy, honestly. Would you like to...?
-Not really, because I don't want to embarrass myself in front of a lot of people.
If it was two people, I'd consider it.
People knows. I can be with you.
You do it, and I'll listen.
-I'm not French, I can't say it, it's not going to happen, ever.
At Texture, the sommelier works in the centre of the restaurant,
so that with each bottle opened, all the diners have a ringside seat to appreciate their skill and training.
Sommelier Erica gives Nikkita a lesson in decanting.
You take the bottle,
you take the decanter over the light.
Why over the light?
Yes, because you can look through the bottle, literally.
What you don't want to have is the sediment to come into the decanter.
So when do you see it?
It usually comes in the end, because that's why it's so important to never shake a bottle, handle it so.
There we go.
-That smells really fruity.
It does, it smells like strawberries.
Knowing that tomorrow's silver service at the Roof Gardens is
a real step up, Michel drops in to see how his trainees are performing.
Tonight you've been serving wines, you've been doing sommelier,
or shadowing and learning the sommelier position.
But you've also been opening and pouring bottles, which is great, well done.
No accidents, no problems?
No, I can open bottles now.
-You opened the bottles as well?
-So, Danielle, how's it going? You've been serving drinks tonight as well, haven't you?
Explaining what wine it was to them, and like saying what it was like, stuff like that.
And then I recommended some wine.
And then brought back three glasses of it. Excellent.
You hate being idle.
You like to be given a job and to be given responsibility.
I do, it makes me happy.
With service almost over, Michel travels the mile across London
to see how the trainees are getting on at the other restaurant.
Yeah, I know the position - the lady's number one, circle... Yeah?
-How's it going, Tom?
-Yeah, enjoying it. It's really fun.
-Your eyes are...
Yeah, I'm focused now, I'm really enjoying it.
-Good, well done, keep going.
-Got a nice team.
I spoke to the chef, and instead of the green asparagus, he can offer a fresh broad bean salad, fresh peas,
with a pink champagne jelly, er, pea shoot, fresh mint and fresh almonds.
We're very happy. Please do apologise.
-That's not a problem.
-I know that it's difficult.
-How's it going?
I just don't like the napkin things.
What napkin things?
-I feel intrusive.
-You mean unfurling the napkins?
Oh, God, nightmare, and I feel like my fingers are like this.... something obscene.
-I don't like it.
-Is it as bad as carving beef?
-No, give me the napkins.
-God, that looks beautiful, doesn't it?
-Give me the napkins any day.
24-year-old Nikki has found it hard to settle in any one job
since a family tragedy three and a half years ago.
The job I've just been doing was a temp, sort of admin job, and I did
feel like I was just sort of rotting away.
Since becoming one of Michel's trainees, she found her feet serving at big celebrations.
This is what I'm all about. I love this. I could do this all the time, definitely.
But five weeks in, she's still unsure if service is the right career for her.
I don't know, I've kind of been struggling a bit recently, just because
I just don't think I've improved.
Excuse me, sir, can I interest you in some bread?
Down in the wine cellar, Michel catches up with Brooke.
Michel, we held a bottle, what was like worth 20 grand.
Stay away from that bottle, all right?
Their eyes have been opened to what great service is.
Lovely, thank you.
And they seem to be really loving it.
Be gentle with it. Yeah. Again.
Very close. That's it. And it's done.
-Didn't go pop.
I love it.
I hope that this will stand them in good stead because this is what it's all about, service.
This isn't pompous, it isn't posh, as they say, these kids.
OK, it's high end, it's fine dining,
but it's reaching customers' expectations, and that's what it's all about.
I think tonight has definitely boosted my confidence.
Where we had to stand back, we were able to take everything in a lot more to a greater detail.
This evening has definitely taught me that when you try, you will.
You can moan about new things before it happens, and they're
scary and intimidating, but when you get down to it,
it can be real fun and open your eyes up.
Now that the trainees have experienced restaurants where wine is specially selected to compliment
the courses, Michel feels it's time for them to be getting to grips with tasting and recommending wines.
So far they've learned how to open and pour, but Michel wants
his protegees to be passionate and knowledgeable about wine.
It can take five years to train as a sommelier.
But a top restaurant would pay up to £50,000 for their services.
Five weeks ago, few of Michel's trainees were even regular wine drinkers.
So he's brought them to meet Laura Reese, who works at TerraVina,
a hotel in the New Forest that specialises in wine.
Despite being only 27, Laura is a winner of UK Sommelier of the Year.
I started at the age of 22 as a commis sommelier, trained from
the bottom to go towards assistant sommelier, and then head sommelier.
And of course it takes you around the world.
Oh, it does, yeah. I've been very lucky.
I've been to California, to Chile, Europe, to visit all these places,
and the vineyards are so beautiful, and the people that make the wine...
It's just an amazing experience.
Laura wants the trainees to understand that the sommelier is always on display at top restaurants.
Even the way wine is poured demands skill and judgement.
Every diner must get the same amount.
I tried that last night. It didn't really work.
It's practice, as well, for one thing.
Not even a millimetre's difference.
We're not talking a glass of wine in a pub or a wine bar,
where it's being sold exactly by the measure.
We're talking about enhanced pleasure in a fine dining establishment.
It's a very simple test, isn't it? Very simple test.
-But them two aren't that bad.
-They're not that bad, actually.
I think you could have been just a tiny bit more generous.
If you try to aim for this sort of bit here.
The widest part of the glass. Just before it starts to go in again.
Only 25% of the sommeliers working in the UK are British, and Michel wants to change this.
He will choose one of his trainees to receive an Academy of Food and Wine scholarship.
That's really, really good.
-So he can encourage a star of the future.
Very well done.
When they run their own service tomorrow, Michel will need one of his trainees to be the sommelier.
Another hugely important role of the sommelier is to sell the wine to the
guest, to make them dream, to make them want to taste the wine, and to want to enjoy the wine.
So you're going to go off into two groups.
I'll give you a bottle of wine each.
I want you to take this wine, discuss it as a group, but write
down in your notepad how you would describe it to the customer, how you would sell it to the customer.
If you think it sounds silly when you're writing it down,
don't worry, we're not going to take the mick.
The trainees are testing two of the wines that are on the menu at the Roof Gardens.
A Spanish Tempranillo, a robust red, and Austrian Gruner Veltliner, a fresh, dry white.
It's really vibrant, isn't it? It's lively.
As well as describing their different characters,
the trainees must decide what dishes they would best accompany.
It's quite dry but smells sweet.
It's a medium. It's not sweet wine and it's not really, really dry.
This is amazing. Nikkita, five weeks ago, didn't
want to know anything about wine,
and now she's actually enjoying it and finding a passion for it.
-Do you know what you should eat with this?
Let's get the feelings of the red wine table first.
I had that there was lots of tannin, it was bitter and dry, but quite warm and rich.
Deep, rich in colour, silky texture and would probably go with things like guinea fowl, possibly venison.
Let's hear the thought of the expert, Laura.
You're quite right. There's lots of dark fruit character, which does
indeed work very well with some red meat and dark meat, venison, beef.
That sort of thing would work wonderfully with it. Good.
Right, next one, the white wine.
-It tastes a bit appley.
-The 2008 Austrian wine, I think it's a medium.
Because when you smell it, you can smell the sugar in it, but
then when you taste it, it's not as sweet as you think it's going to be.
But I think it's got a bit of a citrus twang to it as well.
And it would go well with pastas with a cream base.
I thought that was great to recommend a creamy pasta dish
because if it was just a tomato pasta dish or a dry pasta dish it wouldn't go well at all.
With cream sauces, this is lovely, because it's got the richness,
but it's also got the acidity to cut through that cream sauce.
Descriptions, great, well done, all of you.
But if I was a customer, I'd want to be
sold the wine, because in real life, when you'd be a sommelier or a wine
waiter selling that wine, you'd have to be a lot more passionate and a lot more real.
You're not just reading a list. But well done on your descriptions.
Wine tasting was good. I enjoyed it.
I don't know if I could see myself being a sommelier.
Like, I was asking Laura if you have to like wine to be a sommelier.
She said that it's obviously an advantage if you do like it, as long
as you can describe the taste of it, then it doesn't really matter.
The customer doesn't need to know that you don't like wine yourself.
I think, for me...
I don't know. Although I would love the idea of having a wine bar at some point in my life,
I'm not sure learning those specific skills...
I think you have to be really passionate about it.
I felt a little bit like I didn't know what I was doing, which was the case.
The next day. And back at the roof gardens, it's time for the trainees
to perform on their own a service fit for a fine-dining restaurant.
They've got their work cut out for them today. I am worried.
There's over 50 people booked and they've got to deliver great service. And the pressure is on.
Today is a major step up from the services the trainees have performed before.
The customers all know about fine dining.
Most are regular restaurant-goers or members of dining societies.
They understand and expect service that is theatrical, knowledgeable and attentive.
I don't want my trainees to be embarrassed at the end of the day.
I want them to show off all the skills that they've learned.
And do it with elegance.
I want them to have a big beaming smile at 3:00 this afternoon and say, "Yes, we've done it!"
This is it, guys. In three hours' time, this restaurant is going to be teeming with customers.
Customers that want the best.
You're here to deliver that.
This is one of the toughest challenges you have had yet.
And I want you to rise to that challenge.
In this service, the trainees will be solely dealing with the restaurant floor.
A team of commis waiters will carry orders from the kitchen,
allowing the trainees to serve directly to the table.
Other trained staff will be running the kitchen and the bar,
so the trainees can focus completely on serving the tables.
Michel has limited the menu to one fixed starter...
The starter today is a goat's cheese mousse.
..a choice of three mains that they've been trained to serve...
We have shoulder of lamb from the Lake District.
We've got a fore-rib of beef, roasted.
..and finally a choice of cheese board or, of course, Crepes Suzette.
The mains will need to be carved and filleted,
the crepes prepared at table.
-So where's the team, chef?
-On the floor, I want Tom and Niki and Danielle.
Next we need two carvers.
Those two carvers are...
Ashley and Brooke.
Which leaves us the last two positions to fill.
James and Nikkita.
You're going to have to memorise these wines and explain to the customers exactly what they are.
And you won't be able to fool them. It's a big challenge.
Big challenge. The reason why I've chosen you is that I know that you are good at this stuff.
James, you're our maitre d' for today.
I look forward to it.
We need somebody with a calm head on their shoulders and somebody who can organise and muck in where needed.
But I want you to concentrate on customer satisfaction.
Cos that's what you're good at.
OK? Right, let's go and do it. Come on.
There will be 15 tables for lunch.
Fred has divided the restaurant into three sections, assigning Tom, Niki and Danielle five tables each.
I get to do my bloody pancakes! I'm so happy.
Brooke and Ashley will have key roles carving the meat and flambeing the crepes for all three sections.
Each course has had wine specifically selected by Laura to complement the food.
Before service, she gives Nikkita a run-through,
so with her help she can expertly serve the knowledgeable customers.
So this is the Blanc de Noirs. This is the one that I said was made from...
Red grapes, but it's white.
-Yes. Do you see it?
-There's a bit of pink in it.
Exactly. So it's made from black grapes from an area called Nelson in New Zealand,
which is in the South Island.
It's a very warm, very sunny area.
What wine are we serving with the lamb?
The pinot noir.
Just in case.
-Covering all ends, that's all.
-No worries. Go for it.
After they're mainly finished, clear,
crumbed, salt and pepper, menu. This is about being systematic. Tom, listen.
It's about being systematic and if you are systematic, it will help you control and manage your station.
If you don't do that, you will go in the wilderness
and you will get lost because you're thinking about too many thing.
You've got to concentrate one table at a time. Think about that. One table, one table, one table.
And if you do that and you create the space between the table, there's no problem.
With the floor staff drilled and Nikkita versed in the wine,
the carving team get their mise-en-place together.
I am excited. It's wicked.
We've been given so much responsibility and we're going to smash it. We really are.
Everyone's sort of a bit like, "What the hell is going on?"
It is slightly daunting what Michel's told us about the clientele that we'll be serving this lunchtime.
I'm feeling like I'm torn between reality and bordering on panic and sort of a blind optimism.
You come with me, you come with me.
My trainees now, mine. I want mine.
You feel that tingle at the back of your neck? You guys can do it.
-If anyone can...
-The first customers are here. Come on.
First customers are here. Go.
The trainees' first silver service has begun.
Just like a real restaurant, today's guests have been booked in waves.
Half are due to arrive at 12:30pm.
The remainder, 30 minutes later.
This should help the trainees stagger their service.
Maitre d', James, distributes the first guests between his waiters, so no section becomes overloaded.
This is Danielle.
She'll look after you.
I can take your coats for you.
Can I get you any still or sparkling water?
Niki. She'll be looking after you this afternoon. Have a lovely meal.
Tom. You've got a table.
This is Tom.
-He'll be your waiter for this evening.
-How are you? All right?
Brooke, sharpen your knife to make it look as if you're doing something.
-Do you know how to do it?
-Yeah, I do.
With water poured, it's Nikkita's turn to take centre stage.
Nikkita, tell me how you are, where you are.
I'm about to pour starter wines for that table in the middle.
As sommelier, Nikkita must share everything she knows about the wine.
Good. And smile. Don't panic. You're doing well.
And explain why they've been selected to complement today's menu.
I'd like to offer you a glass of our Blanc de Noirs.
It's a white wine made from red grapes.
From... New Zealand. It's 2008 vintage.
Very fresh to cut through the goat's cheese very well.
She also needs to remember her training and serve measures evenly.
I think you've got more.
-He's got more than me!
-Sorry. I'll top you up a little bit. Don't tell them!
When Nikkita focuses and really wants something, she can do it.
She's proving that to me today.
She's focused 100% on.
She's memorised all those wines and delivering the goods.
How are you? Are you OK?
20 minutes into service and the main courses start to come out.
This will be the trainees' first test of theatre at table.
-With Ashley carving lamb...
..and Tom filleting Dover sole.
Here's your sole. Do you want me to carve it for you?
Not only must the trainees show off their new skills, they must work together
to make sure both dishes are served hot and at the same time.
-He's got his lamb.
-Lovely. Cheers, mate.
There we are, sir. Sole for you.
And the lemon there as well. Fantastic.
Mains have arrived for a table of four.
It's time for Brooke and Ashley to do their carving.
One on the lamb, one on the beef.
Where would you like it?
With the carvers working in tandem, cue the arrival
of the sommelier with the suggested wine for the new course.
Hi. I'd like to offer you a glass of our...
Now, I'm going to be really awkward. I don't mean to be awkward.
But I would rather have a glass of white wine. Is that all right?
I'm really sorry, but it's a set menu.
-No, that's fine.
Thank you very much.
-She asked me for a glass of the white one. I was like, "I'm sorry, it's a set menu."
If she would prefer white wine, give her white wine.
Hi. I've just been reinformed that we are allowed to give you white wine, so I'll take that away.
I hate to be awkward.
It's special for you.
-Thank you very much.
-It's all right.
So far, the trainees are on top of their orders.
But the restaurant is still only half full.
Whilst the early diners enjoy their mains, the second wave of guests are arriving.
-I'll leave you in the trusty hands of Tom.
-Do you want me to get you some water to start with?
-Is that one OK?
-Thank you very much.
-It is a more delicate flavour.
Brooke just carved the beef. She did it very well with confidence. Good slices.
They managed to create the gaps between the table, which I was telling them about.
But we haven't plateaued to the top of the service, where it's going to be difficult.
So far so good. I'm smiling. I'm very happy.
One hour in and the restaurant is now full.
It's the point where all the guests need serving,
and where bottlenecks can begin.
Are you ready to order?
The new guests are finishing starters and need their mains.
Lamb, lamb, beef over here, yeah?
Those who arrived earlier are finishing their mains and need desserts.
Would you like orange segments?
Responsibility for serving the first crepes has fallen to ex-dinner lady, Brooke.
All of it?
And the juice as well?
You need to get it on full. Come on, you need to hurry now. Come on.
Bit more, bit more. That's it. Now pull back, that's it. Well done.
You've got it. You've got it.
Sorry, I just don't want it to catch on his suit or something like that.
-Just go for it.
-Well, it has been a bit generous on that one with the sauce.
You have to fight between you.
-There you go.
-Thank you very much.
-The dessert is successfully served.
-Excuse me, please, James.
But it took Brooke ten minutes, twice as long as it should have.
Not only is that too slow, but it's holding her up from
carving main courses to the second wave of diners.
Tough, very tough.
The carvers have got to start making the Crepes Suzette and there's going to be a bit of a backlog.
I can feel it.
I know it's going to happen. But when that happens, I want to see them all
coming as a team, I want to see James jumping in there and helping them out and all the others working together.
Brooke, table 11.
Table 11, two beef.
-Is it there?
-It's waiting, yeah.
Just watch out for that, Brooke, because I don't want the plates to get hot.
It's just this table here, love. And plates the other side, yeah?
Do you work in London?
I need two.
-Stay here. I'll get one.
-Do you work in London?
-I teach cooking.
You teach cooking?
With the pressure on, Ashley's forgotten the basics of food hygiene.
Sorry about the hands.
Let's finish it now. You flambe and let's go, it's finished.
-Now the brandy, yeah?
-Yes, let's go. Keep it clean.
Keep this area clean, OK?
Mind the flames.
That's it, that's it, that's it, that's it.
-How are you meant to get the flame up?
Tilt it, tilt it, tilt it.
With so many diners ordering Crepes Suzette, Ashley and Brooke are stretched to the limit.
They are waiting for Crepes Suzette over there, yeah?
Then you're waiting for meat here, I think.
-Maitre d' James steps in.
-I'm not going to hide it from you.
This is the lamb, madam.
It's the lamb.
You'd have a job finding a lamb that size.
Ashley is trying to carve the last of the main courses but the pressure is beginning to show.
Danielle, who's this lamb for?
There's only one lamb.
Well, James has just told me to cut it. Is there any more lambs in your station?
No, there's two soles,
-one lamb and a beef.
-And he's already got his lamb?
-Well, I don't know.
-Go and ask him yourself.
I've not cut it. It looks like beef, what he's got, Danielle.
-You need to keep on top of it.
-How can I?
-I've just been cooking Crepes Suzette.
-I'm not the carver!
Where's the beef for table one?
He's carving. It's there. But he's also got this table to carve as well.
-Oh, it's tough now, tough.
-It's tough, yeah. But James is pulling in
-He needs to.
-And he's in the middle of it and he's really helping, really supportive.
Thing is, he's got that big table, he's got this table
here, and now they're going to need the beef to carve over there as well.
-This is where James' leadership is coming in.
-He has to decide what's happening.
-Bring the plate back and then put vegetables on it, yeah?
I cant. I've put the thing on and everything... I'm just going to have to...
OK, no, no. Don't do that.
Listen to me, stop getting stressed.
All you need to do is get a little plate, a little plate, put the vegetables onto the plate
and just serve it like that, rather than just carrying them over to the customer, yeah?
-And where do you want me to get that?
-Get a little plate from the kitchen.
CLATTER Oh, Ashley, oh!
Once again, standards begin to slip.
Oh! Fingers on the pork!
Fingers on a knife. Fingers on a knife. Oh, my God.
-Don't put your finger on there.
-But as the later diners' mains are delivered...
-I do apologise for the wait.
..the bottleneck begins to clear.
-Beef wine's got a lot more tannin in it than this one has.
That's just it, it was tanniny.
You're quite right. Well done.
You don't like it when you're like... when you're drinking it.
This is a massive step up for them, massive.
But they're working really well as a team. They are working well.
And what's great is that they are communicating between each other, so they're working really well.
So the guy with the blue stripey tie is having beef, everyone else is fish.
Five weeks ago, 21 year-old Ashley was unemployed and had never thought of service as a career.
Today, he's preparing Crepes Suzette for the restaurant manager of the Ritz.
He's doing great. I mean, you take your hat off to these kids.
They've only been doing this for how many weeks?
I mean, the skills involved here,
you know, there would be less involved in a final of a national young waiters' competition, so no,
I think they're doing absolutely great.
Well done. Very good.
Very good. Silky, shiny sauce, fantastic.
He's done a great job.
I love it!
Considering, like, I got taught this yesterday,
I mean, I'm going to take this on for life.
I love this, this is wicked.
After two-and-a-half hours, the service is drawing to a close.
Michel canvasses opinion about the trainees' performance.
-Crepes Suzette good?
-Who cooked that one for you?
-Brooke, she's very good.
I think we need to commend Brooke.
She's done an absolutely brilliant job today.
I thought the wine was good as well. She's lovely.
Actually, one of my favourites. She was brilliant, she knew about the wine,
You know what, that's making my hair tingle at the back of my neck.
I'll tell you why.
-She actually doesn't like wine.
She doesn't drink wine.
She absolutely nailed that. Absolutely spot on.
As the guests begin to leave, they seemed satisfied.
But the final assessment of how the trainees have performed is down to Fred and Michel.
Little black book, let's just go through very quickly a few of the customer comments.
Overall, very willing, keen, yet obviously in training. That's fair enough.
Diners enjoyed the service, impressed with carving and Suzettes.
Nikkita, very knowledgeable.
They thought you were the proper sommelier.
Fantastic. Well done, you.
Yeah, I think that deserves a round of applause.
And when you set your mind to it, you can do it. You've proved it today.
Very, very happy.
I want to single out James for his impeccable performance.
I thought, James, you were there when you were needed.
You did it great, but also it was a great team effort, so well done.
Very, very happy for you guys, well done.
Guys, I'm impressed.
Today you delivered the goods. OK?
One or two little glitches but look,
I'm really pleased. You have taken a very big step up the ladder.
Use that. Use that good feeling for the next challenge ahead.
-Well done, my trainees.
-Yeah, your trainees.
-Isn't that sweet?
After last week, we needed a massive boost. We needed a confidence boost.
And we got that today. We massively got it.
-And everyone's buzzing.
-I feel myself changing...
in what I'm doing, the work, and I feel like more passionate about it than when I first turned up.
Cos I didn't know what to expect and all that.
But I have grew a lot in confidence over the past few weeks
and stuff, so, yeah, it's good. I'm really enjoying myself now.
I was very worried before service.
In fact, I even dreamt about the service last night.
And I woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning thinking "What are
they going to do and are they going to pull this off?"
But they pulled it through. I can't believe it.
I mean, it was a great job. It was, I think, the best service they'd done.
I feel relieved, and I feel a great buzz of pleasure because my trainees
have done a great job, and they've learnt so much from this experience.
Well, the aim was to give them their confidence back and, really clearly, they got it back, which is great.
And it's very important because next week is going to be tough, tough, tough.
Next time, the trainees face their tallest order yet
as Michel takes them to the spiritual home of fine dining, Paris.
You can't afford any more mistakes.
-No, we can't. I've just told everyone.
-Perfect, well done.
Taking over service in a two- Michelin-starred iconic restaurant,
their new skills will be tested to the limit.
It's going to be cold by the time they get this fish carved.
I hate this place. I can't stand it.
You are good enough to do this.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [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.
To test his trainees, Michel sets up their very own pop-up restaurant in the exclusive surroundings of the Kensington Roof Gardens in London's West End. He designs a special menu that will demand that they learn new skills; beef and lamb will be carved at table. Dover sole must be filleted. And dessert consists of crepe suzette that must be flambéed in front of the guests. The 60 guests who are booked for lunch are no strangers to fine dining. Food bloggers, restaurant critics and industry professionals, they will provide a robust test of the trainees' new skills.
To prepare them for the challenges ahead, Michel takes his charges to some of the most established restaurants in London. Under the guidance of head carver Gerry Rae, they are taught to carve and fillet cuts of meat at Simpsons on the Strand. Working with Simon Girling, restaurant manager at the Ritz, Michel's charges are taught the speed, judgement and finesse that goes into preparing crepe suzette. With a pan and burner, the trainees learn the correct proportion of brandy, orange juice, zest and sugar that go into making this iconic dessert. The Ritz standard demands that a crepe take no longer than four minutes to prepare. Any more and one guest will have finished their dessert whilst another is still waiting.