Xavi Alba: The Importance of the Restaurant Room

Xavi Alba is the  Director of Operations at elBarri, the gastronomic group led by Albert Adrià & el Grup iglesias. Professor of the  Master´s of  The Gastronomic Revolution of Gasma he has recently participated in the  #SeminarioExcelenciasEnCasa to talk about the importance of the main room in the resataurant. Next, we reproduce the article published in this regard in Excelencias Gourmet.

Xavi Alba shares with us his vision about the figure of the room staff, specifically the waiters, in these times when gastronomy is at its peak. “Cooking has evolved by 200% in recent years, cooks are stars… And this is fantastic because it makes people consume more, that they are interested to know what happens inside a restaurant whose cook they know.”

Xavi explains that it is very common, both by the public and the kitchen professionals themselves, to focus on the relevance of the chefs and to put the room staff in the background. However, we must not forget that a restaurant is a team; and that neither living room without kitchen nor kitchen without living room can satisfy any diner.

Much more than to serve

According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, which Xavi consults for this video, a waiter is “a person who has as an office to serve consumptions in restaurants, bars, or other establishments”. While he claims that this is not, in itself, misguided; yes he thinks that’s not all that comes down to a waiter’s work. To prove this, he explains in detail all the service to a table at Tickets, the restaurant of the ElBarri Group where he started as a waiter nine years ago.

Tickets service begins as soon as the customer approaches the door. They have hosts and hostesses that welcome customers into the hall, pick up their jackets or packages, and guide them to their table. There, immediately after sitting down, they are presented with their waiter. Tickets policy, an informal and close catering concept, it is for each waiter to come by name. “Very good night, welcome to Tickets! My name is Xavi and I’m your waiter.” Thus, the first barrier of coldness between the diner and the room staff is broken; and helps generate interaction between the two.

Gain the trust

The latter is especially important because, although Tickets of course offers a la carte food, 90% of its customers choose to taste a surprise selection of dishes from the menu. This selection is designed by each waiter at the moment, after talking to each table, and is adjusted throughout the meal or dinner to add, withdraw, or vary dishes depending on the reaction of each diner. To do this, the waiter must have the confidence of the diners: he must be able to answer all his doubts about what they will eat and how, he must know his food intolerances, tastes, interests and gastronomic curiosities…

And you must accomplish all this in just five minutes. In addition, and according to Xavi this is the most important part, you must do it with love, passion and closeness. To do this, what matters most is to look into their eyes, talk about each dish with emotion as if it had just been presented, and, in the words of Albert Adria, that the waiter “believes what he is saying”.
The final pearl of wisdom left to us by Xavi Alba is this: we must never dismiss customers with one goodbye, but with a see you soon. “We have been colleagues of our customers in the time they spend in our restaurant. We accompanied, smiled, had a good time… The figure of today’s waiter goes far beyond being a dish carrier.”

Below you can see here the full presentation in the #SeminarioExcelenciasEnCasa

Below you can see here the full presentation in the #SeminarioExcelenciasEnCasa