Now here’s a Success Story that will have you licking your lips: it’s Diane Vervin’s, a Vatel Lyon 2013 alumnus, who has been the “Telesales - Sales Representative” in England for La Compagnie des Desserts. Yum yum!
“I graduated magna cum laude from high school, specializing in literature, and many Ivy League schools would have accepted me. But my choice was quickly made: I wanted to attend a school that would teach me how to do a job, in a field that I would really love working in.
When I was little, I was lucky to be able to travel a lot, and we stayed in all sorts of hotels and ate in famous restaurants: hotels and restaurants have always fascinated me. So when I discovered Vatel, with its teaching concept and curriculum, I jumped at that opportunity. Vatel was the only school that I applied to, in all fields. When I was having my interview, the Head of Studies asked me what other schools I had applied to. And I told her: “none at all, I want to go to Vatel Lyon!” I was admitted and I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree there.
One of the key points about Vatel is that it is not only specialized in restaurants and catering, but also in hotel management, and that is a real asset. Weeks of theoretical classes were followed by weeks of practical application allowing us to learn quickly, thus becoming credible for our first internship in a company. Each hotel where I interned, Hotel Mont Blanc**** in Chamonix, Hotel Bloom*** in Brussels and Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere***** in Paris - all had a lot of esteem for Vatel interns and for their knowledge, hospitality towards guests, proactivity and autonomy. Vatel is perfect: prestigious, with relevant courses, top quality faculty members and international outreach.
I’ve lived in London since I graduated in 2013 and now I’ve adopted the culinary and hospitality trends of this country in which we still have the “French art of hospitality” in luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants, which still remain very traditional and conservative. People use French words, and respect French codes and table arts, and are very attentive to any little whims guests may have.
Today I’m employed as the “Telesales - Sales Representative” in the English branch of “La Companie des Desserts,”, a company that produces and supplies restaurants with a range of homemade ice-cream, bread, pastry and sophisticated desserts. My job has four key parts:
- customer service and sales,
- stock management and sourcing from French production hubs,
- following-up on late payment,
- drawing up the marketing and prospection strategy.
What I really like in this job is that I was able to discover another facet of my sector of activities, as a supplier. This job is really relevant in my career projects: discovering other parts of the hotel and catering businesses in order to learn all the tricks of the trade, and one day be able to open my own company, that will be tailored to my personality, inspired by my international trips and habits and needs of the demanding client base that I’m used to working with. Today I appreciate the wealth of my past experience and this allows me to step back in my present job and to adapt myself to my current customers. Now I really understand the differences and similarities between French and English customers.
London is always on the move, and people don’t always take time to sit down for lunch or for a coffee break like we do in France. So what really works is “to go” items, and today people are looking for practical and high quality products. So most restaurants will be offering a “to go” menu, and internet sites like hungryhouse.co.uk are specialized in listing these restaurants and linking consumers to caterers and restaurants to facilitate exchanges.
But more importantly, you’ll be seeing English coffee shops on every street corner: this is a smart food trend where Baristas are trained to make sumptuous latte coffees that you enjoy with a sandwich or pastry. This sector is thriving and little independent coffee shops play David against Goliath with large chains such as Starbucks, Caffe Nero or Pret a Manger and it’s a win-win situation. I, myself, was trained as a Barista to learn how to make and serve these delicious latte coffees, just a week after I arrived in London.
What I like the best is that England has succeeded in imposing two meals as benchmarks mixing modernism and traditionalism on the other side of the Channel: brunch and afternoon tea. It’s really interesting to note that brunch has become a popular type of meal, one that can be adapted to everyone’s tastes and you can have several types of brunches, whereas the afternoon tea, or “high tea”, as it is also called, is still considered to be a distinguished type of meal, a very trendy afternoon snack.
Today all restaurants propose “high teas” where you have a glass of champagne and a very good tea, while nibbling on little sandwiches, scones piping hot from the oven with clotted cream and jam, and tiny cakes. Don’t you think it’s about time that France adopted a little bit of “English know-how?”