Julie's Story: How To Be A Food And Beverage Manager
by Aimee Chanthadavong
Posted: September 21, 2016
Julie Davaine never planned to work in hospitality - and in fact previously worked in communications for artists, photographers, and theatre directors.
But she fell in love with hospitality when there was an opportunity to move from Paris to Sydney, and still continue to work in the industry.
Now, 10 years on since making the switch, Julie has spent the last seven years working her way through Merivale.
This is where she is now Food and Beverage Operations Manager at Coogee Pavilion, a position she was recently promoted to from restaurant manager.
“I was lucky enough to be hired as a food runner at Hemmesphere when I arrived in Sydney, which is where I started to work my way up,” she said.
"Before opening Coogee Pavilion, I was managing a small wine bar in the group called Ash St Cellar. After working there for two years I was ready for another challenge. This resulted in working at one of Merivale’s biggest venues."
“It was initially a challenge to adapt, changing my style of work completely, going from a team of seven to a team of seventy. It was at Coogee Pavilion where I developed my interpersonal skills to become a more effective manager and leader.”
An average day in the office
According to Julie, she spends most of her days at Coogee Pavilion overseeing that everything from front of house to back of house is in smooth running order.
“I usually catch up on emails in the morning, check where are we sitting, and plan my day, week, month."
“After this, I would attend a meeting with the kitchen or management team to discuss how to drive improvement. By lunch I would ensure I’m on the floor with the team, greeting guests, helping out and being really hands on with the team. The afternoon is usually left for another meeting or training session. If I’m working the night shift I’m getting ready for dinner service.”
A recipe for success
Julie said working as a food and beverage manager has given her the opportunity to learn about herself personally, while progressing professionally, including knowing how to stay calm when a situation arises and how to handle working under pressure, recalling some of those moments as some of her greatest achievements to date.
“There will always be a solution to any problem, and 90% of the time a simple smile and genuine approach will be the answer.
“On a professional note, it is amazing to run non-stop for almost 15 hours a day and still have a team who are working so hard to ensure the guest is having the best experience.
“On the other hand, when I was at Ash St Cellar, it was a lot more personal in your approach with the customers. I knew almost all my guests by name. They would come in for their morning coffee, business lunch, after work drinks or sometimes bring their families along for dinner. They felt the venue was as much my home as it was theirs.”
Advice for food and beverage students
Julie believes some of the most important attributes a food and beverage manager needs to have includes being effective, approachable and driven.
At the same time, she advised those who are looking to get into food and beverage management need to love food and beverage and people.
“It is a dynamic industry; however, it will give you so much in return. You will never be bored and every single day is different. That’s what makes it the dream job,” she said.
“The best advice I received was to always work as a team and make sure you include people around you in your thought process. When you are under pressure, keep smiling, stay calm, and be approachable.”
Ultimately, though she believes the best part of the job is being able to pass the knowledge and the passion she has for food and service to her team.
“The best part of the job is being able to share this passion with the young wait staff, coach them and teach them to be the next manager superstar. You are constantly surrounded by amazing talents, such as the chefs, bartenders, managers, and collectively you create the experience of the venue.”
When asked about what the most significant change she has seen when it comes to food and beverage jobs in the industry, she said: “I would say the biggest change has been around the focus on people and their behaviours. How to make sure everyone is at their best to produce the best outcome.”