Food&beverage Manager His role in the hotel and his prospects
I n a hotel, the food and beverage manager has the highly sensi ve job of managing and looking a er the en re catering department. This profession which developed in the USA to tackle the difficulty of finding a professional figure capable of looking a er the room department (accommoda on) and a manager capable of taking care of and making catering (food& beverage) profitable, is no easy task. These are two key areas of the hotel that deserve different voca ons and a en ons from experienced, tested and specialised people, both capable of understanding numbers and able to organise the workforce of the departments we have just men oned, but with a sensi vity and an almost feminine opera ve style, a typical and essen al value in the field of hospitality. These figures and skills were created and then developed within large chain hotels such as the Hilton and Intercon nental, whose complexity required both economic and quality control. A synthesis embodied by the food & beverage manager, who controls the quality and quantity of all the activities connected to the catering sector, from the contractual management of the staff that oversee purchases, inventories, freshness, to the supervision of food production and the management and optimisation of costs. Without forgetting the menus: he must be wellversed in food specialities, the wine cellar, wine list, liqueurs, as well as crystal, glasses, crockery, tables and chairs. The skills required of this figure are infinite and difficult to find concentrated in just one person. In Italy, therefore, we are hunting for a sort of unobtainable uni
corn. With no disrespect to the ten who have succeeded in obtaining the qualification! One op on in seeking out these figures would be to study the staff of large hotels with 300400 rooms with at least two catering offers (in addi on to breakfast, banque ng and room service) belonging to large interna onal chains, with a team of assistant food & beverage managers who could adapt to Italian roles. Because in Italy due to the training methods, types of internship, size of the hotels and deficiencies in hotel catering, it is not possible to train and test this figure that is o en confused or part of the du es of the execu ve chef and restaurant manager. The significance and importance that cooks have within the hotel organisa onal structure means that it is o en the execu ve chefs who also occupy the role of food & beverage manager. The chefs who also deal with the economic situa on, the budget and the management of dining room staff, room service and banque ng are a boon, however, a wide range of responsibili es makes it almost impossible to elegantly and appropriately look a er the fundamental component of hospitality and catering services: customer sa sfac on. What can a general manager of a hotel do then? If F&B managers cannot be found, who could the GM assign to manage the staff, costs and revenue of the F&B sector? It is, first and foremost, a ques on of defining the skills that in Italy are held by a handful of chefs, maître d’, and restaurateurs. And these are the skills requested by major hotels and the main interna onal chains of a poten al food&beverage manager: – legal knowhow related to administra on, collec ve contracts (sectorrelated collec ve bargaining agreements), the governance of human resources and rela ons with suppliers of raw materials; – an indepth understanding of market
ing and digital elements (community management, social media, merchandising, etc.); – administra ve skills (accoun ng and cost control) and ability to read a financial report (crea on of value, performance indicators, etc.); – computer skills on “internal” (warehouse management, etc.) and “external” management systems (no ons of graphics for the presenta on of orders, menus, wine list, etc.); – indepth knowledge of the wine &
spirits sector; – extensive exper se (to deal with maître, restaurant managers and chefs) in terms of mise en place, service equipment, cooking techniques and product maintenance; – empathy, in the sense of par cipa ng with the sen ment of today’s guests ... Evermore “complicated” (vegans, coeliacs, people on macrobio c diets, allergy sufferers, etc.); – strong management and leadership skills, star ng with the iden fica on of talents to their enhancement. Even if you find these skills, or many of them embodied in a person, the much soughta er F&B manager cannot win the compe on with a chef already nominated “execu ve”. The la er will always tend to impose the service, style, his taste and dominance of the kitchen over business and the economy of catering and banque ng. In short, the chef usually does things his way ( like ar sts do) and expects everyone to align themselves with his vision. Finding the fundamental balance is, therefore, the job of the general manager, while the owner in person has the difficult task of understanding the essen al role (or otherwise) of the F&B manager, the value of the execu ve chef (whose talent and ambi on should be tempered), to make sure that the catering sector (and the whole hotel) func ons like a wellrehearsed orchestra, with the few soloists (allowed) involved in team work to produce the perfect performance.
Il responsabile della ristorazione deve intendersi anche di specialità alimentari, di can na, di carte dei vini, di liquori ma anche di cristalli, bicchieri, stoviglie, tavoli e sedie. The restaurant manager must be well-versed in food speciali es, the wine cellar, wine list, liqueurs, as well as crystal, glasses, crockery, tables and chairs