Alan Hill, Gleneagles, Scotland

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th May 2014
Alan Hill is the Director of Food and Beverage at Gleneagles in Scotland. He has been at the resort since 1989 joining as the Executive Chef from The Savoy Grill in London. He has held a number of positions at the resort including Food and Beverage Manager, Hotel Manager and currently Director of Food and Beverage. During the past 25 years he has had the privilege of hosting and overseeing some of the most prestigious and secure events any property might have to deal with, including the G8 and the third largest sporting event in the world, the Ryder Cup, which Gleneagles will be hosting again this year.  Alan Hill   How many staff do you have in food and beverage at Gleneagles? Across the whole of Food and Beverage we have in excess of 300 ‘team players’ which covers all the restaurants, bars, events, food and beverage support services, kitchens and staff facilities. How much could that increase at busy times like when you are hosting the Ryder Cup? Very little as we work an ‘annual hours’ system which allows us to retain a high headcount but flex the hours the team players work, in line with business needs. Even with something like The G8? Large events such as The G8 or Ryder Cup bring their own opportunities and challenges. The work is very much done in the pre planning and once this has been done, it is only the unexpected that you need to look out for. In some ways it is easier to manage than your normal working patterns as this can be much more unpredictable than a major event. For The G8 for example each area was zoned and we knew what we needed to deliver months ahead of time which also gave us much more time to look at what skill sets needed to be in place on the resort. This meant we had a number of functional team players available, such as HR – that week we needed limited HR services so that team were allocated to other parts of the business where they could support the operational team such as in the media centre. How many covers would you serve at such big events?  At The G8 for example we delivered over 4,000 covers per day breakfast, lunch and dinner. To cater for these numbers across the resort you need very good partnerships with your supply chain. In the case of the upcoming Ryder Cup, we will set up an offsite production kitchen at one of our key suppliers, Simon Howie, who has a unit some nine miles from Gleneagles. This allows us to produce 24 hours a day and also helps with security and deliveries which is very restricted through these periods. We also request all our other suppliers deliver their goods to this point too where I have a Gleneagles goods received team present. GleneaglesSecurity must have been pretty severe for things like the G8? Very much so, checks for the G8 began over one year out from the event. As for the Ryder Cup we had to first vet and then accredit all team players. Internally we only had team players who had worked with us for more than two years in any sensitive areas. Each area was broken down into bit size pieces where we allocated individuals who only then had to look after that part of the event and didn’t have to worry about any other part of the event. The same team players will be with the same guests at the Ryder Cup throughout the week focusing 100% on that part of the service delivery. How do you spread yourself across the various outlets and businesses within Gleneagles? Gleneagles is built up around a number of experiences on offer – rather than looking at bar, restaurants, golf courses as separate entities, they all need to work together to deliver a seamless experience to the guest. A customer does not see the business built up out of many departments; they see it as one large overall experience and we need to set our business out in a way to deliver that. Even outsourced parts of the business need to be seen in this way. Some 15 years ago I was able to get Andrew Fairlie to choose to open his restaurant here at Gleneagles, again this is one part of an overall offer we have and both teams need to work and support each other equally. Is there much scope for team players to move around the business? Very much so, it is vital for the business and we get great customer recognition as well as retaining skills in the business. For example we have our food and beverage training services manager, Katie KyrousisKatie Kyrousis, who did her internship with us and now has worked across all parts of food and beverage; she has also entered a number of awards and skills Competitions where she represented the UK in the World Skills and now she is the Training Ambassador for World Skills which again brings back a wealth of knowledge to share with team players. Her partner husband Angelos has worked through all the formal dining areas which has led him to become the manager of one of our restaurants called Deseo. It is also important that where possible team players move between teams. If I take a young man called David Novak, he began his career in food and beverage, then moved to front office and now has recently moved back to food and beverage in a much more senior role than he left. Your first role was as Executive Chef; was it a difficult decision for you when you moved from the Kitchen? At the time yes but Peter Lederer supported me in that change albeit it was a very brief conversation - “Alan I think it’s time you became the Food and Beverage Manager”. In hindsight his timing was perfect for the business and me personally as a new crop of team players were able to grow through the business. However those first few months I felt very naked not wearing the chefs whites which I had done since 17 years old. It was a total change not being the person with a tall white hat and having to deal with customers in a suit – in some ways that white hat and coat was a comfort blanket, a statement that I was an expert in my field. I would encourage any Chef to make a similar move as there are so many positives to bring to the business and yourself as an individual. Want to be in charge of a hotel like Gleneagles? Then take a peak at our jobs board

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th May 2014

Alan Hill, Gleneagles, Scotland