Meet Jatin Parmar MIH, F&B Manager at Rockcliffe Hall. Read about how his career started in India over twenty years ago, and his views on what the key issues in the hospitality industry are today.
You are currently working at Rockcliffe Hall in the North East of England. Tell us a little bit more about the venue.
Rockliffe Hall is an AA-rated 5* leisure resort in County Durham. Rockliffe Hall offers 61 spacious guestrooms and suites; two bars; three restaurants including the flagship 4 AA Rosette restaurant ‘The Orangery’; 12 meeting and event rooms; an 18-hole championship golf course; and a 50,000 square foot, award-winning spa and wellness centre, a Spa Garden and a 20 metre indoor swimming pool. Work is currently underway on a £750,000 investment to transform one & half acres of land, adjacent to the main hotel, into an exciting, multi-functional parkland for guests called Mischmasch. This includes a Wonderland Nature Trail & Sculptures, a large Eco Adventure Playground, Interactive Water Fountains. Another main feature of Mischmasch will be six Arctic Pods, featuring different indoor experiences. It’s due to open in Summer 2018.
You have worked at some of the best restaurants in the UK including Restaurant Sat Bains & L’Enclume. What’s been your career highlight?
Every day is a highlight as it is always different and exciting; however working at Fairmont, being one of the two staff members to get clearance to look after Tony Blair (PM), Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach) and 20/30 other delegates for the Northern Ireland Peace Talks in St Andrews was pretty special. One of the longest and the most tiring weeks of my career.
Did you always plan to work in hospitality? What attracted you to this industry?
I come from a line of businessmen from Mumbai, India – a country where luxury 5 star hotels are for actors, cricketers and tourists. I asked my dad if I could go travelling, with him being a businessman, his answer was “no problem, however with your own money”. So I naturally got attracted to the bright lights and massive chandeliers of the hotels. I was expecting to wear a nice suit, look handsome and answer a few questions. The whole dream shattered, when I got asked to polished cutlery and crockery for 1000 guests until it was time to go home. No suits and bright lights, just a small room with an apron and plenty of polishing cloths. Twenty years later I still adore this industry.
What personality traits do you absolutely need to succeed as a restaurant manager?
It is a combination of being a leader and a manager. A successful manager needs to be both a strong leader and a good manager to get his team on board to follow him towards his vision of success. You also need to have a lot of commitment, passion and patience for what you do. It is a tough but a rewarding industry.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in their hospitality career?
Learn – learn – learn every day. Learn the trade from the ground up, basics are extremely important. It is important to be a good waiter or a commis chef before you can become a supervisor/manager/head chef.
You were one of the finalists for Restaurant Manager of the Year. How did you find this experience?
It was an amazing experience as it takes you out of your comfort zone, it challenges your expertise as you get asked questions which are not necessarily from your kind of restaurant environment. It is also gave me an opportunity to meet some amazing people and contestants.
What gives you the most job satisfaction in the workplace?
I like to invest in the people, be it staff or guests. The awards and accolades will naturally follow. A hand written heartfelt thank you letter from a guest always makes my day, as penmanship is quickly fading away. It is also great to see some of my staff members/ex-staff members who go on to achieve great things in their own careers.
How important is to network and attend events in this industry?
This amazing industry is incredibly small and we pretty much all know each other in some ways or another. The bond can only get stronger. Attending events is a good way to learn from like-minded individuals and share experiences. Often it leads to many opportunities and potential ways we can work together.
What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing right now?
For me it is about the 2 S’s. Staffing and Sustainability, I think the shortage of good staff is not only a British thing or a Brexit thing, it is universal. This industry needs to be a bit more ‘green’ by redesigning the products and services offered, for that we need fewer environmentally harmful or resource-depleting raw materials.
As a company sponsored member of the Institute of Hospitality, which areas of membership have you used?
I am a fairly new member (February 2018). I am working my way through the website and love reading the HQ magazine which is packed with news and relevant articles.