What started as a desire to find places that reminded him of his home in France, as Benoit’s career in hospitality has developed, it’s a passion for people and the theatre of front of house that motivates and excites him. Having recently been promoted to General Manager at Colbert, we caught up with Benoit to find out a little more about his journey, as well as what he is looking forward to most about his new role…
How did you get into hospitality?
I came to London when I was 19 and was instantly drawn to the gastronomy scene here, having previously worked in IT and programming. I began my hospitality career managing a small French deli in Wimbledon and then went on to work at a Breton restaurant in Richmond – I loved being in environments that reminded me of home but were new and exciting. Then a colleague of mine left his role to begin working at Colbert and I immediately knew I would follow him. I started at Colbert in 2017 as a Senior Waiter and instantly knew this would be the place that I would be able to build my career in the industry; there are so many amazing people to learn from and there is never a quiet day.
What drew you to working front of house?
I love that working on the floor in a restaurant feels like a show of sorts – a form of theatre. Looking at all of the finest details, the team and I are creating a welcoming atmosphere and attempting to evoke a positive reaction from our guests – it’s a very exciting environment to be in.
Along with this comes the people I’ve worked with. There has always been wonderful people around me who have pushed me to learn. I remember, my first ever shift as a waiter was disastrous, I thought I was going to quit on my first day! However, my colleagues, even that early on, motivated me to work harder and persevere – and I’m so glad they did!
You’ve recently taken on a new role as General Manager here at Colbert – what are you most looking forward to in this new role?
Since I started here, I’ve felt an enormous sense of pride and ownership over the brand and our role in this brilliant local community, and so naturally I relish the opportunity to be able to preserve this legacy and the restaurant’s amazing tradition.
If you had to choose just one dish from the menu, what would it be and why?
Escargots. I love the way we serve them here compared to France – there’s less fiddling and more garlic butter. What more could you want?!
What have been your career highlights to date?
There have been so many highlights at Colbert. Opening the summer pop-up in Sloane Square and getting to work cross-functionally with people I don’t normally work with, like the marketing team for example, was really interesting. I was able to learn about new aspects of the company, and the industry at large, like branding and menu design – making me realise how much goes into making this restaurant so special.
When you’re not at Colbert, where can we find you?
I wish I could say at the gym, but it’s more likely you would find me at the latest restaurant opening, speaking to the teams, and finding out how it all works. I just love being immersed in the industry.
And finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to anyone looking to work in hospitality?
I’d be lying if I said it was easy, but that just makes it all the more rewarding. If you really immerse yourself in the job and the wider industry, you’ll learn so much and develop so many transferable skills. That’s the great thing about hospitality, it’s so vast, you could learn the ropes on the floor and then make the move into bartending, or training, or even marketing; there are so many possibilities.