The Un­sung He­roes

Singapore Tatler Wedding - - CONTENTS -

How does a ho­tel run up to five events a day? We ask Grand Hy­att for their se­crets

Be­hind ev­ery suc­cess­ful event, there is a small army of ded­i­cated peo­ple who make it their mission to en­sure that things run smoothly. Praise Poh talks to the peer­less team at the Grand Hy­att Sin­ga­pore and gets the lowdown on what goes be­hind the scenes of a spec­tac­u­lar ball or ro­man­tic wed­ding

One of the best luxury ho­tels in Sin­ga­pore, the Grand Hy­att has long been syn­ony­mous with top-notch ser­vices and ex­cel­lent qual­i­ties, mak­ing it the pre­ferred choice for host­ing all kinds of func­tions and events. The ho­tel is also com­mit­ted to help­ing guests cre­ate per­fect mem­o­ries dur­ing their time here in Grand Hy­att, and nu­mer­ous guests have been greatly im­pressed by the ho­tel’s im­mac­u­late at­ten­tion to de­tails that makes them feel spe­cial. Wed­dings, gala din­ners and mas­quer­ade balls are joy­ous events that we all en­joy at­tend­ing. While we’re busy par­ty­ing the night away, a team of ded­i­cated peo­ple at Grand Hy­att are tick­ing away back­stage, run­ning the show like clock­work – just to en­sure that even when mul­ti­ple events are tak­ing place at the same time within the ho­tel, noth­ing is left to chance.

Dur­ing peak sea­son, the ho­tel eas­ily man­ages up to five wed­dings or events in a day. With at least one wait staff serv­ing at each ta­ble, a ser­vice crew of at least 40 staff mem­bers is re­quired for a wed­ding din­ner of 38 ta­bles, ac­cord­ing to Jerome Pag­nier, as­sis­tant direc­tor of food & bev­er­age at the Grand Hy­att. He adds, “The kitchen crew usu­ally works with a brigade of a dozen chefs per event that ex­ceeds 300 guests. In short, more than 50 staff, from front­line to kitchen, need to be mo­bilised for just one wed­ding.”

STRIV­ING FOR EX­CEL­LENCE

In­deed, lo­gis­ti­cal prepa­ra­tions could eas­ily be a night­mare with so many events go­ing on at the same time. But ex­ec­u­tive sous chef Soren Las­celles is fully con­fi­dent that his team can take on any chal­lenge and eas­ily over­come them.

He shares proudly, “We have five dif­fer­ent restau­rant con­cepts in the ho­tel, and three sep­a­rate event kitchens, so we can ac­com­mo­date al­most any­thing any­time.”

To en­sure smooth op­er­a­tion and al­low time for de­liv­ery and stor­age, Soren ex­plains that the kitchen will place or­der for the re­quired in­gre­di­ents three days in ad­vance, fol­lowed by the nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tion and ac­tual cooking. Small-scale events are pre­pared on the day it­self. He adds that they al­ways do mock-up pre­sen­ta­tions of each dish, so that the culi­nary brigade of chefs on duty that day will be ab­so­lutely clear of how the dishes should look.

Work­ing hand-in-hand with the kitchen are the front­line staff – usu­ally the ones who make first con­tact with the guests. While it is im­per­a­tive for the ser­vic­ing mem­bers to present them­selves pro­fes­sion­ally in front of the guests, as­sis­tant train­ing manager Mil­dred Lau be­lieves that it is equally im­por­tant for them to dis­play gen­uine en­thu­si­asm for

“The kitchen crew works with a dozen chefs for an event that ex­ceeds 300 guests. In short, more than 50 staff, from front­line to kitchen, need to be mo­bilised for just one wed­ding.”

cus­tomer ser­vice. “The prob­lem-solv­ing mind­set can be taught, but pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm is found within, such as the pas­sion of an as­so­ciate show­ing through his or her smile when in­ter­act­ing with guests and col­leagues,” she shares.

Although one of the ma­jor at­tributes that Grand Hy­att looks for in their staff is a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, the ho­tel takes great pride in em­pow­er­ing their staff with train­ing, so as to equip them with the right skills to bet­ter serve the guests. Be­sides on-the-job train­ing, the staffs are also ex­posed to a wide va­ri­ety of cour­ses rang­ing from so­cial eti­quette and ser­vice skills to work safety and food safety man­age­ment. A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude may get a job done, but it takes a skilled per­son to ac­com­plish it with flair and ex­cel­lence – at least, this is what Grand Hy­att be­lieves.

UN­DER­STAND­ING THE NEEDS OF CLIENTS

With the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try get­ting more com­pet­i­tive in re­cent years, meet­ing the needs of to­day’s clients is more de­mand­ing than ever. For ex­am­ple, Soren and his teams are con­stantly be­ing asked to cre­ate spe­cial menus for the nu­mer­ous events go­ing on ev­ery week at all three lev­els of the event space at the Grand Hy­att.

Re­call­ing one of the most in­ter­est­ing themes his team had done, he says, “Re­cently we did an amaz­ing event called #Liv­ingGrand, which was a con­tem­po­rary Alice in Won­der­land meets Chi­nese New Year theme. There were ac­tors, sur­prises, amaz­ing food and wines, all in­ter­twined with live theatre. Sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar. Some of the high­lights of the night in­cluded an ar­ray of del­i­cate, mini desserts such as custard buns and bird’s nest tarts, served on a gi­ant hand painted wa­ter­colour scroll that stretched across the en­tire length of the ta­ble where

The Grand Hy­att takes great pride in em­pow­er­ing their staff with train­ing; they be­lieve a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude may get the job done, but it takes a skilled per­son to ac­com­plish it with flair and ex­cel­lence.

there were 20 peo­ple on each side.”

As for the great­est lo­gis­tics feat they had ac­com­plished thus far, Soren agrees that it would have to be the off­site cater­ing for For­mula One 2014. He con­tin­ues, “We catered food for over 12 com­pa­nies, both on the F1 cir­cuit as well as for ‘view­ing par­ties’ in of­fice spa­ces in and around the F1 area. This saw our team of chefs cooking and trans­port­ing food to th­ese lo­ca­tions, which had re­stricted ac­cess. We ac­tu­ally man­aged to cre­ate a cheese room in an of­fice space at One Raf­fles Quay, pre­pared and served a full din­ner buf­fet on lo­ca­tion within the F1 cir­cuit area, and even came up with a Kids’ Buf­fet, fea­tur­ing cup­cake dec­o­rat­ing sta­tions and burger as­sem­bly sta­tions.”

To be at the fore­front of pro­vid­ing what their guests want, says as­sis­tant public re­la­tions manager Ni­cole Loh, it is im­per­a­tive to un­der­stand their needs as well as be in touch with styles and trends. Hence, the ho­tel has to con­stantly re­fine and re­new their of­fer­ings to the guests. Ni­cole says, “For ex­am­ple, ev­ery year-end, we will be re­view­ing and re­fin­ing our wed­ding of­fer­ings and packages to en­sure that they meet the ev­ere­volv­ing needs of our guests. No wed­ding is the same, and that is a phi­los­o­phy we strongly be­lieve in at Grand Hy­att Sin­ga­pore.”

In spite of all the prepa­ra­tion work, man hours and on-ground ex­cel­lence they strive for, surely the ho­tel has met with dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions? Jerome smiles and says, “There is no such thing as a dif­fi­cult guest; it is only a mat­ter of un­der­stand­ing what the guest needs and wants.

“As an in­ter­na­tional ho­tel brand, we en­counter dif­fer­ent guests with dif­fer­ent back­grounds, view­points and ex­pec­ta­tions. This is why we cus­tomise so much of our ser­vices; be­cause we be­lieve we are re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing their event be­comes the best one they ever at­tended. We strive for ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ences and we en­sure we never fall short of that state­ment.”

FROM LEFT Guests at the #Liv­ingGrand event; pas­try chefs work­ing to­gether in the kitchen; Jerome Pag­nier, as­sis­tant direc­tor of F&B

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE Ni­cole Loh, as­sis­tant public re­la­tions manager; Soren Las­celles, ex­ec­u­tive sous chef; ser­vice staff metic­u­lously set­ting the ta­ble for an event; the dra­matic setup for the #Liv­ingGrand din­ner

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