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Maître, the role of the room manager

Who is

The room manager or Maître is that professional figure who ensures the smooth operation of the food service. Together with the chef and bartender, this head of service represents the food & beverage management staff.

The Maître is in charge of the dining room and also the manager of his entire brigade (wine chef, chef de rang, commis, etc.) both in terms of the actual service and the hours and shifts that take place in the dining room.

He collaborates with the director and the food service manager, from whom he receives directions to make the quality standard of service high.

The Maître sets up and directs service, takes orders, and continually maintains rapport with customers making sure everything is running smoothly.

Together with the chef de cuisine and the director, he plans the menus, with the aim of choosing what he thinks best suits the needs of the customers and to avoid possible repetition of dishes in the short periods. It is necessary in this case to have knowledge in elements of gastronomy, restaurant market, food service management (customer relationship, offices…), elements of enology with an overview of the wine market and sales techniques.

Its activities have mainly an organizational focus.

She is in charge of the aesthetic appearance of the room, directs and supervises the work of the waiters in the dining room, coordinates room service with kitchen workloads, trying to optimize service; she is also dedicated to welcoming customers, presenting the menu and wine list, advising on choices.

Finally, it collects any pointers, compliments or complaints.

A good Maître d’hotel also performs in preparing dishes by the lamp, using the flambé technique. This technique involves cooking the dish in front of the eyes of the customer who requested the order.

The Maître, due to the high technical-specialist level, generally finds its place in medium-high category premises, where a certain standard of quality and refinement are guaranteed.

The second Maître is also a head of service, performs duties similar to those of the Maître and is required to fill in for the Maître in case of absence or special situations.

His presence, as well as that of a possible third maître d’, is expected only in larger hotels.

It is fair to mention that the Maître’s profession also subjects them to rather intense work rhythms and irregular schedules, often involving the sacrifice of Sundays and holidays.

Skills needed

The person must be able to perform room and table setup for restaurant, arranging and aligning tables and chairs according to reservations received and venue guidelines.

Must be prepared to go over plates, cutlery and glasses; set up customer tables and serving tables with linens, cutlery and pottery appropriate to the products and service; arrange decorations and ornaments.

Knowledge of room set-up techniques is needed, with ability to apply criteria for seating arrangements, table setting techniques, and apply food hygiene and safety regulations.

The Maître must also be able to carry out the customer reception of a restaurant, first organizing the reservation management service, so as to ensure the quality of service according to the defined standards.

Must greet customers in style and escort them to the tables, explain the menu and wine list, resolve any customer complaints, and accommodate their comments.

May propose changes to be made to the menu and wine list. It is necessary in this case to have knowledge in elements of gastronomy, restaurant market, food service management (customer relationship, offices…), elements of enology with an overview of the wine market and sales techniques.

Skills required relate to application of customer reception as well as sales techniques; techniques for serving food and beverages, application of criteria for pairing beverages and dishes.

It is important to know the rules of room service, such as processing orders, using computer tools to manage them, and how to collect the bill.

The dining room manager must be able to manage the coordination, delivery of the entire food service, arranging for the serving of meals and beverages, the manner of receiving and transmitting orders, and the control of the cleaning and tidying up of tables. Food service management and room service techniques are the elements to be aware of. The ability to apply room service rules, order fulfillment techniques (catering) and use computer tools for order management is required.

Requirements for entry to the role

Attendance at a Professional Institute for Hotel and Restaurant Services supplemented by internships and extensive field experience is preferred.

In many regions of Italy, there are training courses for learning the techniques and knowledge inherent in the role.

In many cases the clientele is foreign. For this reason, it is appropriate to know one or more foreign languages. Organizational behaviors require accuracy and customer orientation.

Decision-making, relationship management–including negotiation–and the ability to administer operational teams are additional preferred requirements. There is no particular mandatory requirement.