A restaurant is more than its menu.
The people who guide you to your table, take your order and serve your meal are just as important as what comes out of the kitchen. Service can make or break a culinary experience.
Hunter Culinary Association has recognised this with its First Creek Front of House and Rising Star scholarships, in addition to its Brett Graham Scholarship for promising apprentice chefs. At the association’s Spring Seasonal Lunch at Margan Restaurant on November 12 they have secured two special guests passionate about both.
Restaurateurs Anna and Alessandro Pavoni know more about the hospitality industry than most. Together they operate four successful Sydney venues: Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio.
A cooking demonstration by Alessandro on the day will give guests a rare opportunity to see Italian cuisine prepared by a chef who loves contemporary flavours and techniques but is committed to safeguarding Italian culinary culture.
Anna is a founding board member of Women in Hospitality who grew up on the Central Coast.
“My first job was washing dishes when I was 14. The one which I’d consider my first ‘proper’ hospo job, though, was working at Terrigal Thai for an amazing and strong woman, Toy Samingkaew, who still runs the restaurant today,” she said.
“She’d be pushing 85 and she’s still on the floor and managing the restaurant. She’s amazing. She taught me the responsibility of the hostess – assign tables, meet, greet, seat. That was it, I was hooked.”
Pavoni is keen to promote the hospitality industry in its many guises, with a particular focus on women.
“Hospitality has a reputation for being unfriendly for women because at the end of the day, yes, children come along and yes, women have traditionally had to deal with that but far out, life does not just stop when that happens,” she said, laughing.
“We need to highlight the many career paths available in this industry. It has many different facets and opportunities. We want to keep all these amazing women in the workforce of an industry that is desperately short-staffed.”
Pavoni’s top five tips for people hoping to pursue a career in the hospitality industry? “1. A positive attitude – it’s amazing how far this will get you. 2. No problems, only solutions. 3. Never go anywhere with empty hands or close off your peripheral vision. 4. Network. 5. Keep looking for personal development and learning opportunities – life has a funny way of throwing opportunity to those who do.”
Tickets to the three-course seasonal lunch at Margan on November 12 can be booked by emailing Angela at Hunter Culinary Association on firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting hunterculinary.com.au. All are welcome.