Robert Rose, restaurant manager, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

The Staff Canteen

Robert Rose is the restaurant manager at the three Michelin-starred, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Robert Rose is the restaurant manager at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the iconic three Michelin-star Chelsea restaurant where Gordon Ramsay used to ply his trade and Clare Smyth now heads the kitchen. Robert first got into waiting at Dorset’s Harbour Heights Hotel where he worked his way up to food and beverage manager. After a year spent travelling and working throughout Europe, he moved to Daniel Clifford’s two-Michelin-star Midsummer House, again starting as a waiter and rising to head waiter. After a year he came to Royal Hospital Road specifically to work with the legendary Maitre D’ Jean-Claude Breton, a dream he’d harboured since watching Boiling Point as a youngster on TV. He was recently awarded the Master of Culinary Arts for restaurant service.

How would you describe the philosophy towards service at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay?

Royal Hospital Road interior
Robert Rose

We want to create the ultimate dining experience with the highest level of quality and the highest level of accuracy with all the details done as perfectly as we can get them, but we also want that feeling like it’s your local neighbourhood restaurant where you can go back time and time again and you know everyone and it’s familiar and friendly. It can be quite difficult to get the balance between the two and it’s something that we’re quite proud of and we get regular positive feedback about that. We have so many regular guests that we know. We have guests that we call regulars who only come once a year but we call them regulars because we’ve all been here so long; and the regulars don’t just know the front of house, they know the chefs in the kitchen as well so it’s a real community.

Who are some of the other core members of the service team?

Jean-Claude Breton
Jean-Claude Breton

The restaurant director, Jean-Claude, is an iconic maître d’ and one of the best the UK has ever had. He’s been here for 15 years and he was director at Aubergine. He met Gordon while working at Le Gavroche back in the day. We also have Jan Konetzki our head sommelier who was voted UK sommelier of the year 2012. The three of us have been together years – Jean-Claude and I eight years and Jan joined the team five years ago, so we have a really strong core. We also have an assistant manager, Enrico, who worked here as a waiter between 2000 and 2003 when we won the third star and rejoined us recently. Our head waiter, Daniel is also a rising star, I predict great things for him in the future. One of our commis waiters, Mouhamed, has been here four years and he’s the nuts and bolts of the kitchen; everybody relies on him. He gets all the chefs their coffees in the morning and

Jan Konetski
Jan Konetski

comes in everyday with a huge smile on his face. If anyone phones in sick he does twice the amount of work. He’s considered one of the most important members of the team.

How did it feel to be awarded the Master of Culinary Arts last year?

It was really good and kind of unexpected. It was the first time I’d done it and I didn’t really know what it was before going in for it to be honest. I didn’t expect there to be quite as much work involved as there was but in actual fact I had to spend about a year training around my normal job. So at the weekend I’d just be carving countless chickens and ducks. I got sick of eating chicken!

What was the process of the MCA itself like?

Best end of Cornish lamb with confit breast and braised shank, navarin of summer vegetables and vitelotte potatoes from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Cornish lamb

There were about four or five stages. Initially you submit an essay about you, what drives you and what you love about service. We also had to make an example newsletter that we could give to our staff; that then decided whether we were eligible to enter the MCA. Once you get through, you go to the first round which was a number of different tests like a written test with questions on your menu and wine list, then there was taking a booking over the phone. Then we went through to the semi-final at The Connaught which was more of a practical round, making two cocktails from a list of ten, blind tasting four different wines, decanting a bottle of wine, carving a duck, carving smoked salmon, and making a beef tartare at the table. It’s a real all round test of everything you have to do in the restaurant. You also have to be fluent in two languages to do it. The final was serving a table of four and a table of three at Le Gavroche.

It’s very much one team at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay rather than a kitchen and front of house team working to different agendas; why do you think so many restaurants still have that culture and what can we do to overcome it?

Robert Rose
Robert Rose

I think it’s about looking to the leaders. We always look to the people we aspire to be like, so I look for example to places like Per Se in New York and Louis XV in Monaco and go and watch how they run their operation – all those places work together, none of them have any barriers between the kitchen and front of house and they’re all a hundred percent focussed on the guests.

Is there anything the industry can do to raise the profile of the foodservice sector?

I think it needs to be shown that it’s a very healthy career to have that can also put money in your pocket and that is extremely important to the country overall. I think it’s often seen as a job you do when looking for another job or while you’re at uni in the evenings; there are a lot of places where that’s the case, which is fine, but there are also lots of places that take it seriously and where it’s not a second job, it’s a lifestyle

Lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep's milk yoghurt sorbet from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Lemonade parfait

and it needs all of your commitment, but where the rewards are huge and the feeling you get from doing it is incredible.

Have you ever had any nightmare experiences with guests?

No we’re very lucky here to have some great guests and, touch wood, we’ve never had a major problem here – apart from when I spilt a whole cappuccino over the cheese trolley in front of Gordon on my first day – that was a nightmare!

Did you get it in the neck?

Yes, quite literally! But I haven’t spilt a single cup of coffee since that day so I guess I learned from it!

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th March 2014

Robert Rose, restaurant manager, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay