When I received a phone call asking if I would make eight suits for eight contestants in a television series little did I realise that it would become such a compelling piece of viewing, and that I would play a cameo role in the last programme.
Michel Roux Jr assumed the mantle of his father at the world famous Le Gavroche Restaurant in London’s Mayfair some years ago. It was the first restaurant in the UK to receive three Michelin rosettes, and it was Michel’s crusade to improve the standard of front of house service throughout the hospitality industry that prompted the idea for the series.
In the UK we are almost drowning in the number of food programmes all fronted by so called celebrity chefs, but this was different. As we talked about my role in the programme it became obvious that there were considerable parallels between the philosophy behind high class dining and my own profession.
In both cases, the high standards of quality and suitability are a given; in fact in one of the programmes they talked about tailor-made dining. What sets our respective businesses apart from other similar providers is the quality of the relationship one builds with one’s client or customer. High quality dining and bespoke tailoring are both about creating memorable experiences.
And for the eight young contestants, in the same way that they were given gustatory experiences to complement their growing knowledge of ‘front-of-house’ management, they had the opportunity to find out what it means to experience the process of bespoke tailoring, and the care and attention which accompanies it; something which was quite alien to one or two of the contestants.
The series is rather a triumph. It showed not only the thought and precision which lies behind high class service, but also documented a life changing transition for a group of young people. They were transformed from a somewhat unruly, disenchanted group of individuals into a team of open-minded young trainees who understand the place of the finer things in life, and with a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for even more experiences.