The future of dining room professionals in the current economic situation under discussion at FENAVIN
The objective of the round table 'Quality and Excellence in Times of Crisis' has been to make the experiences of diverse actors in the sector related with the activity of dining room professionals known, to thus adapt their offer to the current economic situation. Many participants have coincided on the fact that, now more than ever, more training and preparation must be exacted in the improvement of the offer to thus maintain the demand.
The forum, organized by the National Federation of Dining Room Professionals and coordinated by Mariano Castellanos, President of the National Association of Maître d'hôtel and Spanish Waiters (AMYCE) has counted with the point of view of the Head of Studies of the College of Gastronomy, Hotel and Restaurant Management and Tourism of Toledo, Ángel Ocaña, who has insisted on the need to enhance the prestige of this profession; and with the opinion of Dolores Cabezudo, of the UCLM, who has stressed the importance of the psychology of the dining room professionals so that the customer will encounter absolute harmony between what he would like to obtain and what he actually finds. The academic view has been closed by María Luisa Lesma, Representative of the Ferrán Adriá Chair at the University Camilo José Cela, who has explained that from this body "we want to encourage our students to reflect and we want to offer them knowledge of the new gastronomic techniques, by configuring a series of studies that will respond to both corporate demands, as well to social demands and those of the students".
The view of the hotel sector has been to the account of Íñigo Gorostiaga, Representative of Confortel Hoteles, who has proposed more flexibility, training, information, adaptation and anticipation as a recipe against the crisis. "The customer evolves and we must foresee these changes, and we must reinforce training of the staff in times of crisis and maintain communication open because, in the end, the team is made up by all of us".
On his part, Fernando Arenas, Representative for Costa Cruceros has outlined another point of view of the restaurant world, the one that offers service to 1500 people in each meal and that deals with those people on a continuous basis during the week. "In our case in these times of crisis we are trying to stay away from the price war and as a justification for this decision we are insisting on enhancing quality".
The most heterodox point of view has been provided by Juan Manuel Bellver, Editor-in-Chief of La Luna de Metrópoli, supplement of the newspaper El Mundo, who is of the opinion that this profession is not where it should be. "There is a lot of work to be done, we have forgotten all about dining room service and the crisis might just be a salutary lesson to start improving it". Bellver considers that there is a problem of style: "We still have to define what the Spanish dining room service of the 21st Century is" he categorically sentenced.
This opinion is shared by Rafael Ansón, President of the Royal Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, who believes that from a point of view of cuisine, Spaniards have distanced themselves from the French school, although this has not been the case with dining room service. "It is fundamental that the role of dining room service changes, today it must currently be capable of interpreting what the customer wants, and it must have general gastronomic culture, apart from knowing a lot about cooking and also about nutrition", he claimed.
Finally, Mariano Castellanos considers that as in any profession, in this business what reigns is the survival of the fittest and even more so in times of crisis, therefore, "we must be ready because only the great teams are the ones that will survive".
In that regarding FENAVIN, Castellanos was pleasantly surprised at the trade fair's evolution. "Ten years ago not many would have wagered on this trade fair and now it has become a national and international referent. From the National Federation of Dining Room Professionals we openly support both FENAVIN and ESPAÑA ORIGINAL, which is also a trade fair that is necessary and that I believe will enjoy the same success as FENAVIN, because the human team that is behind it is the same one".