Rushton Hall’s brand new Head of Food & Beverage Operations, Bruno Asselin, has a wealth of experience from award-winning restaurants all over the UK. Having worked with the likes of Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and served a lengthy term at the renowned Pennyhill Park, we are very excited to welcome him aboard at our 3 Rosette restaurant in Northamptonshire. As it is Bruno that will be taking the helm when it comes to all things food and beverage related from now on, we thought you ought to get to know him a little better…
How long have you worked in hospitality?
I have worked in the hospitality industry for 30 years.
How did you come to work in the industry?
I spent 2 years at catering school in Burgundy, then a further 2 years gaining a Sommelier Diploma.
What was your first role working in hospitality?
My first job in hospitality in the UK was at Le Manoir working for Raymond Blanc.
You’ve previously worked at such auspicious establishments as Le Manoir and Pennyhill Park. What were your job roles at each establishment?
I was Chef Sommelier to Raymond Blanc pairing wines and food and paired all the wines with each dish in his book “Cooking for Friends”. In 1991 I was the first European to gain a Master’s Degree Sommelier in California.
At Pennyhill Park I was Restaurant and Room Service Manager from 2007. In the 5 years that I was there we gained 5 AA rosettes and 2 Michelin stars making us one of the top 10 restaurants in the UK.
How long were you at each one?
I was at Le Manoir for 4 years and Pennyhill Park for 5 years.
What did you learn from these roles?
Raymond Blanc taught me to love to serve people and always aim for the highest standards at whatever you do. He is passionate about looking after his customers.
At Pennyhill Park I learned how to be a Manager and run a restaurant as a business, balancing the books.
What will you bring to Rushton from your previous experience?
I will help to assure that however busy we may be Rushton Hall will give a 5 star service. I want all of our staff to be proud to work here, be well trained and focus on attention to detail.
What can we expect from Rushton in the future?
We are aiming to get AA 5 Star rating for the hotel and I would like us to achieve at least one Michelin star because it grabs diner’s attention. I want Rushton Hall to be the best hotel in the Midlands and with the opening of our new casual dining restaurant next year we can offer much more choice to all of our guests.
For years, many hotel restaurants have struggled to entice non-residents to dine in them. How would you say the hotel restaurant sector has transformed over the past five years to further elevate this barrier?
People used to fly to Paris to find really good food but now the offering here is so good that people will stay in the UK for a weekend break. The Stableyard Spa here at Rushton Hall is a great draw for people who want a relaxing weekend break. With a great food offering too with our Afternoon Tea and Fine dining it all becomes more attractive and relaxing than flying to Paris.
What element of training would you say is the secret to maintaining high standards of service from your front of house restaurant and bar teams?
You need to instil in your staff a passion for customer care, service and it is important to know your guest. If we look at them as our guests and not just customers, then we start to feel a greater connection with them. My biggest achievement in my life is to have trained 8 people who have gone on to help gain 5 stars and Michelin stars for their hotels. The trick is to have attention to detail in everything and LOVE YOUR JOB.
What do you think will be the next ‘big thing’ in hotel dining and why?
Internet booking is already changing the way that we decide where and what to eat. Technology is also changing the décor in restaurants for example mirrors turn into TV’s or computer screens, so a fine dining restaurant can become a conference room. Potters now offer a service for you to either have your plates and cups with your logo on or they will even make them to enhance the presentation of a particular dish. Due to new technology this is now an affordable option for many establishments.