One day, Carlos received a message that a family member was opening a hospitality school in Estoril (Lisbon). Carlos did not hesitate and applied immediately. During his course, Carlos had the opportunity to do an internship at Casino Estoril. A massive entertainment and leisure complex, with multiple F&B venues serving 1200 people per night. The mentors, that Carlos had the opportunity to work with and learn from, were the F&B director Paulo Bretão and Executive chef Eduardo Barreiras. It was here where his passion for F&B grew.
After graduating, Carlos had a brief internship experience in Asia, where he and many of his graduation colleagues planned on starting their career. Unfortunately, many had to return to Portugal, due to mandatory military service. Although this saddened Carlos, his heart and passion for hospitality stayed.
Starting his F&B career as a restaurant manager, located in the newly founded urban development “Expo 98”. An ambitious project with modern residential, entertainment and food court complexes. It did not take long for Carlos to be invited as an F&B director by the big shopping brand El Corte Ingles.
“The F&B department in El Corte Ingles consisted of 16 different restaurants. From Fine dining to fast food, 1 take away and an average of 4000 covers/meals a day. Not to mention a total of 300 staff members.”
The business operated 362 days per year: including Christmas and workers day Carlos added. The management was divided into two semesters, like the seasons from the clothing designs. Spring and Summer, Autumn and Winter.
“Management was done mainly by direct contact, most of my days were spent walking around checking the outlets, Back-office and front office.”
In 2016, Carlos was invited as a Chief of Operations Manager in a very ambitious project, JNcQUOI. This project had the particularity of creating an unique gastronomic concept, that focused not only on the international side but also included the hospitality scope. JNcQUOI Avenida is an upscale restaurant, a bar, a gourmet deli, a wine cellar and a luxury men’s fashion store with a made-to-measure service and a portfolio of the most prestigious names in fashion and accessories.
When asked what the most amazing experience was on working in such a concept, the answer was clear:
“Menu building and tasting. It was the most playful and serious part of the job, we would discuss food costs and menu building, while also taste dishes and do beverage pairings.”
But such a project does not come without challenges. Managing to balance the design and art of the restaurant with its operational activities. Having a small Back-office and one way in and out for all the logistics. And finally, the biggest one: people.
“Handling people is the biggest challenge. From recruiting, selecting, creating training schedules, etc.”
Carlos continues by explaining; the biggest challenge with people is trying to make them excel and show their talent and attitude. According to Carlos it always is a question of attitude, the rest we, as managers, can teach them.
The most important for people is to know the concept they are working in. They need to Live it and Love it, that is the motto. Engagement and performance evaluations must be made frequently to keep up with the quality of service and work. We are all human beings and have different lives and problems, and management needs to understand that to have success in managing a team.
Currently, Carlos is a F&B lecturer at the same university that saw him graduate. Although the school is closed due to Covid-19. The lectures and meetings are online.
When we ask for a plan, Carlos responded with the idea of launching a Portuguese pastry concept that focuses on creating and distributing internationally, traditional Portuguese pastry products.
Also, he mentioned a book; My recordings of food and beverage. It is my first book, which will have the participation of colleagues and students. It will be targeted not only at students, but also young entrepreneurs that plan on entering the restaurant industry. Carlos emphasized; It is not an easy business; it is very tough.
The best advice that Carlos leaves for everyone in the hospitality industry;
“Consolidate the basis with hospitality education and take any potential internships either supported by the school, or my initiative. Work in different hotels/restaurants to get as much experience as possible. If possible, in different countries. It is always important to know about different work cultures.”
Author: Manuel Amaral