A round table at FENAVIN 2007 has analyzed the role of waiters in the Spanish restaurant industry
The role of restaurant professionals has been the theme of the exposition and debate that has taken place within the frame of FENAVIN 2007, with reason of the round table that took place this morning in lecture hall 2 in the Dionisios Pavilion. Mariano Castellanos, President of the National Federation of Restaurant Professionals, has exercised as presenter and moderator of this debate in which José María Pérez Pascual, Technical Professor of the Hotel and Restaurant Trade and Francisco Patón, Director of Food and Beverages at the Hotel Villa Real and Hotel Urban have also participated.
Pérez Pascual, who counts with extensive experience in the world of Restaurant Professionals, is the author of the book 'Hostelería: Técnicas y Calidad de Servicio' (Hotel and Restaurant Trade: techniques and service quality) and of several academic programs that are used for Professional Training. Apart from a diversity of manuals and monographic courses; he is also a Collaborator with the University Rey Juan Carlos College of Tourism, adviser for different sector companies and he continues to exercise as a professor.
Pérez Pascual has provided his general outlook of what professional competence of restaurant professionals should be, including the multitude of necessary skills that are needed to offer quality service. In his opinion the current crisis that the sector is undergoing finds its reasons in the slackness of many entrepreneurs and a lack of attention on the part of the administrations towards this professional collective. However, the scarcity of restaurant workers with a general view of all the productive processes involved in their work was also underlined. A qualified restaurant professional must master a multitude of tasks, further beyond those that are obvious in any restaurant. For Pérez Pascual the idea is similar to what an Orchestra Director does: "the restaurant professional must be aware of the 'score', of the characteristics of each one of the 'musicians' and their 'instruments' and, finally, the restaurant professional must be capable of balancing all this out to perfection".
Francisco Patón, professional who has received numerous awards and recognitions, amongst them various in different editions of Madrid Fusión, has also contributed to the debate with a different approach, indicating that the main problem is one of image: "of course, neither the institutions nor the press is very concerned about this noble and complex profession. However, Spain is a 'country of waiters'. Apparently anybody can be a waiter, yet this does not come anywhere near the truth".
During his intervention, Patón, who started in the profession at the very bottom and has covered all the professional levels, referred to the values of the current service. He indicated that above all there must be attitude, aptitude and psychology, apart from perseverance, meticulousness, bettering of oneself, concentration and skill. One must know how to confront this task with daily effort, which is not free of difficulties and one must enjoy know-how and training in everything that must be done, apart from having something as fundamental as common sense.
In Francisco Patón's opinion, "not everybody is cut out for this job. It is not merely a matter of learning a series of techniques and putting them into practice. There is much psychology involved and sensitivity and one must have an abundance of experience". "We have to put ourselves in the place of the client and treat them exactly how you would like to be treated".