An interview with Abigail Rose, Restaurant Consultant
After completing a law degree Abi decided to follow her passion for food and secured a position training under Raymond Blanc, she worked at La Manoir and was involved in the opening of the first Petit Blanc. Throughout her career she has worked with various high profile chefs and helped open up new restaurants and turn around failing ones. Abi also opened and managed her own award winning gastropub 4* hotel and gallery in Oxford.
Abi now works predominantly as a restaurant Consultant helping businesses to improve quality, maximise productivity, drive revenue growth and deliver cost savings.
What is your earliest food memory?
Cooking with my mother. Jam tarts, I believe. I burned myself on the filling. I didn’t learn, and managed to recreate almost exactly the same burn – blister on the end of my finger whilst making creme caramel at age six. C’est la vie.
What started your love of food and drink?
My love of food and drink was started by being a bit of a weird eater. As a consequence I just tried all sorts until my palate kind of opened, and then onwards and upwards!
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
My earliest childhood ambition was to be Wonder Woman; to such an extent that I thought I could fly and I have a rather nice scar reminding me that I can’t.
What prompted you to move from law into the hospitality industry?
Law is an interesting and intriguing subject to study and I have a huge interest in such, but to practice: very doldrums and a ‘bad news’ subject. Hospitality is a gift: you have the chance to change someone’s day from bad to good. The food, the wine, the ambience, the treats, the yumminess, the experience. It makes my soul sing.
Has your law degree helped you in your job? If so, how?
Law teaches you to look for the cracks, but it is also a good conversation starter, or finisher!
What was it like working for Raymond Blanc, what did you gain from working under his direction?
Gosh. RB is an amazing mentor. He always takes an interest, and keeps you just slightly under his arm as long as you’re in the field. His work ethic is one I constantly marvel at and his curiosity for life is a constant inspiration. There is an extended RB family ethos and we are scattered all over the world but we are all slightly connected through him. You feel a wonderful level of confidence and have an amazing foundation to build on. He gave us all that, we’re really lucky.
What key things have you learned whilst working in this industry?
Never to judge a book by its cover.
What do you love about working in this industry?
No day is the same. The sector is constantly evolving, and this is a part of the great joy, the whole sector is a joy to me.
What are the drawbacks?
The hours, but I believe the sector has now become hyper aware of such, especially with the recruitment issues. This is something we all need to challenge. Working sixty to seventy hours plus a week does not benefit the business, nor the individual. Work/life balance is crucial to retaining and maintaining your staff. The long hours don’t work. We all need to think around this, and ensure it doesn’t become routinely expected again. It’s quite simply wrong.
What skills do you consider to be essential to work within the hospitality sector?
Essential attributes to this sector vary widely from role to role. Leadership qualities, plus a genuine caring and interest in other humans is a huge help. Seeing the little things, and an ability to pivot in a second helps hugely.
What type of projects do restaurant consultants typically work on?
Consultancy is the same in most sectors; a bit like taking your car for a service or a tune up. We go in with fresh eyes and spot the issues which could be holding your business back, check through your financials (if requested), costs, forecasts; everything and anything you’d like us to. Our job is to streamline your business in order for it to run more efficiently. Fresh eyes, who know what they’re doing, are invaluable in this profession.
It’s been really tough for the hospitality industry and lots have had to diversify their offering. Do you think the government has done enough to support the industry or do you think there is something else they could be doing?
Quite simply, no. They won’t be doing anything else to help us, so were back to helping each other, as we always have in this business. There’s great competition in this game, but when the chips are down, we do tend to all try to help each other as much as we can.
What’s your go to food when working?
Flapjack. Brilliant stuff! Keeps your energy levels high for ages.
What’s a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner for you?
I don’t really eat breakfast, nor lunch, but I’ll have a mid morning oat bar. Supper is my meal of the day. I love the ceremony of making such, and your appetite builds. The kitchen is the heart of our home and where we love cooking, kind of together at the end of the day.
What are we most likely to find you doing on your days off? How do you relax?
To relax it’s always cooking, reading, cycling, crazy dog walks and meeting up with friends.
In what place are you at your happiest?
Attempting to surf whilst away in either Cornwall or Anglesey. It can elicit a huge amount of giggles and a great reminder that it isn’t as easy as it looks.
If you could only have three utensils in your kitchen, what would they be?
Only three? Sharp kitchen knife, my big lipped pan (oven proof too) and my favourite wooden spoon.
What is your favourite dish to order at a restaurant/pub?
My favourite dish has to be… I’m sorry… it’s impossible! I eat everything! I think my favourite dish changes on an almost daily basis.