Exclusive Q&A: On a Gastronomical Retreat with Loic Esposito, General Manager at Me@OUE

November 25, 20168:39 am1757 views

Talent crunch has least sparred any industry and dining is no different either, the manpower crunch has made restaurateurs work smarter to stay on top of the game, while treating customer’s palates to delightful experiences and food camaraderie.

Taking you through a culinary experience in time, Loic Esposito, General Manager at Me@OUE – Singapore speaks to HR in Asia, on what it takes to retain star talent with Singapore’s only culinary destination for romantic food-lovers who like to experience three distinct menus – French, Chinese and Japanese in an open-concept kitchen.

He also spoke at length on the challenges to thriving in the exciting dining business in today’s times, while appreciating the fine skills of chefs to revel in warmth and graciousness at Me@OUE. Read on…

Loic Esposito, General Manager at Me@OUE

Mr. Loic Esposito, General Manager at Me@OUE in Singapore

  • With the manpower crunch affecting the dining industry, how has consistent service standards helped Me@OUE stay on top of the game?

Me@OUE has been “lucky” to have a strong opening team and a very low turnover. After three years of operation, some staff members have left to pursue other opportunities which are quite normal. It falls on us, the managers, to ensure all new staff joining our team are properly trained and follow our service standards, requirements and policies.

This is done by having a progressive introduction to the team. All new team members will work in different positions to have a full understanding of what we do before getting started to work in their intended job roles. We impart the necessary knowledge of food and beverage during our weekly staff trainings.

  • What are the techniques and strategies followed at Me@OUE to boost staff retention, and ensure clear communication through right channels to avoid ambiguity right from the floor staff to the kitchen team and senior managers?

There are no “techniques” but just a close management at every single level. I believe in an open management, where I develop a strong relationship with my staff and encourage my managers to do the same. This instills a lot of confidence in the team and promotes an open communication amongst all levels and departments.

Some of the staff have been promoted to management level to ensure there is no gap between the staff and the managers.

  • What are the recruitment strategies followed at Me@OUE considering the global talent crunch impacting the F&B industry in Asia Pacific?

Not really “strategies” but I guess not focusing entirely on the resumes and formal qualifications. It is important to believe in people’s capabilities and their ability to learn through close guidance and proper training.

I am proud to say that Me@OUE has staff that have joined us from humble backgrounds and not necessarily from the glamorous dining establishments and have excelled here. We strongly believe in giving people a chance, who have the passion and the right attitude.

  • How are the challenges faced by Me@OUE today, different from those faced by the brand during the initial launch phases in 2013?

It’s very important to have the initial core team have very strong leadership skills. This allowed us to build a strong core for the new team members that were added slowly and gradually.

While a few of the original team members did leave, the majority has stayed and I can confidently say, I can count on them to keep the level of service I wish to have.feature-image-11

  • Tell us more about the work ethics, standards of quality and philosophy of Me@OUE to achieve success par excellence in the dining business?

I think knowledge and passion are a key to all good performances. When you have the knowledge, you gain the confidence which allows you to bring your personality to each table.

I still tell my staff to “have fun” with their guests and make them feel comfortable. To be able to do that, you need to be confident with yourself and with your knowledge. Then it is your own personality that you need to bring to your guests.

Everybody has a different personality and that’s what makes the difference from our staff to another one. Passion is the other key. So if you are not passionate with what you do, you will not be able to perform well and bring that extra factor to your guest’s experience.

See: Corporate Retreats: An Enriching Experience

  • What are the innovative employee-friendly HR policies enacted to retain star talent within the company?

We have internally promoted a few of our staff members, which demonstrates to the team that if they do well they have a chance to progress.

Also, by managing in a very open way and being close to our staff, you can resolve issues before they become too big and affect the team/restaurant too much.

  • As the rooftop restaurant serves three distinct menus – Japanese, French and Chinese, how do you ensure workforce management is at its peak to ensure quality and prompt delivery of service to visitors during peak hours?

Since our opening, we now know how to anticipate busy periods, rush time etc (specially lunch with time restrictions). When we are busy and battling time, everybody has to work faster but smarter – this does not mean we are compromising on our guest experience. It’s just being efficient.

  • How do you keep the team of 30 personnel motivated to perform and excel every day? What is the work ethos at Me@OUE?

As mentioned earlier, the staff needs to have fun with their guests and make them feel comfortable. Then they also need to be able to “read” their guests and know what kind of lunch or dinner they are looking for.

Once that is understood then they have to adapt the way they will approach and serve the tables. I think we have a fun concept where our staff along with their guests can play around with 3 different cuisines.

Then it all comes with their own recommendation. Our set lunch changes every two weeks so it is also interesting for them to see new creations that often.

  • Training chefs to hone their culinary skills, and ensuring tantalizing experience to customers, how difficult is it to manage three different cuisines (not fusion) and maintain standards of excellent service quality at all times?

Chefs will always get better by cooking and creating more. We have three teams, so one per cuisine. Offering three different cuisines allows all of them to experience and learn different way of cooking while they still improve their own skills. They can be inspired by some techniques or ingredients used right next to them.

By doing so, we have to stick to classics and not do too much fusion, as it will not serve the purpose of our concept. Every restaurant faces the same challenge and you have to be able to adjust, learn from experiences, and always push yourself every day with new challenges. Every day is a new challenge but also every table, guest or plate is.

Also read: AccorHotels Answers: Challenges to Women Leadership in the Hospitality Industry in APAC

Feature image credit: citibank.com.sg

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