I was going to write about Michel Roux’s Service last week, but the first two episodes seemed so different that I decided to wait for another week before trying to collect my thoughts. Coincidentally the two episodes a week scheduling means that we’re now at the halfway point so it seems a fitting point to write about it.
The premise is simple, Michel Roux is fed up with the quality of service offered in British restaurants and can’t understand why front of house service is not considered a profession to aspire to. He informs us each episode that he has “a team of 25 front of house staff and only one British Maitre D’ “. In a bid to do something about this he has selected eight young candidates to undertake an eight week training course culminating in them taking over a service in his own restaurant. Two will then be given scholarships to continue their training.
The candidates are, as you may well expect, a mixed bunch. With ages ranging from 17 to 24 and backgrounds including a history graduate, a teenage mom and a kid from a council estate who had an ASBO, between them they’ve had minimal experience of working in the service industry. In the first episode they all appear to be approaching the opportunity with a fair amount of enthusiasm but by the second episode attitudes and a lack of desire were starting to appear. By the end of the episode one candidate was asked to leave, a decision I fully agreed with. By the end of four episodes there were still seven candidates, though I’d have kicked at least one more off if I’d been in charge!
Each episode sees the candidates experiencing a different type of setting and a challenge that often seems to be at least a little unrealistic. In the first week when they’ve been taught only the very basics and spent one shift spent shadowing the front of house team at Zizzi they’re left to run an entire evening service, unsurprisingly lots of things go wrong. The most recent episode saw the team working at an exclusive manor hotel, their challenge was to provide the service for a busy bank holiday – talk about tipping them in at the deep end.
At the halfway point I expected to have a fair idea of who the two scholarships would be going to. I think I have an idea of who I would give them to, but Michel Roux appears to be able to see things in people that I can’t. I’m certainly going to enjoy watching the rest of the series to see whether he comes round to my way of thinking or not.