A shared passion for food and the pursuit of a more personal dining experience is set to drive a new service culture at the award winning Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC).
Building on the momentum of a stellar reputation for world class catering during its 20 years of operation, BCEC has moved to restructure and bolster its food service offering.
The restructure and creation of new roles of Food & Beverage Service Director and Assistant Food & Beverage Service Director will have a strong focus on innovation and raising the bar of the Centre’s already high service levels.
John Gaudin whose lifetime career has been in Convention Centres and Hotels in Australia and New Zealand has been appointed Food & Beverage Service Director. John has previously worked at the Centre in the role of Food & Beverage Manager and more recently was General Manager of Food & Beverage for a division of Ardent Leisure.
John, who believes food service should be people driven and not process driven, says his objective is to take dining experiences at the Centre to a new level. “Certainly food is the main component, but the experience is the sum of all parts – it is the high standards of personal service, the ambience, the warmth and friendliness of the hospitality.
“Each person will have a different experience. The same fabulous meal might be served to 1,000 people, but it’s the service that can make the difference – our approach, our response, our flexibility, our personality, are all key.”
John who acknowledges the Centre is already a market innovator when it comes to its Food & Beverage product, wants to inject some of that innovation and creativity into the Centre’s public catering, raising its profile and elevating the public catering experience for visitors to the Centre.
John believes the Centre is without peer in the banqueting space and wants to achieve that sort of positioning for public catering.
A former triathlete, John now concentrates on riding his bike at least 100 km a week to keep fit and he says to provide a balance to his love of food. “I like any food that is authentic and made with real passion, whether it is the local Thai or Indian restaurant – there has to be ethos in the kitchen.”
Simon Schlegel, the Centre’s newly appointed Assistant Food & Beverage Service Director is someone also familiar with BCEC’s food and beverage product, having been Catering Manager for the recent G20 Leaders Summit at the Centre.
Simon, whose background has been with Hyatt International group both in China and Canberra, said his role with the G20 was the experience of a lifetime in terms of being able to have an influence on the single most important meeting Australia will ever host. And it was during his time at BCEC working for G20 that he became impressed by the family atmosphere at BCEC. “It was the culture of the place. I wanted to become part of a team who obviously loved turning up for work every day.”
Simon and John share a love of sport and outdoors and a passion for good food. “I’m a traditionalist when it comes to food. I love fine dining and French cuisine, but with a slightly modern infusion.”
Simon, who initially wanted to be a chef but says he did not have the natural culinary flair describes himself as a people person. “I love meeting and talking to people which is why I love the service side of the industry.”
His idea of a great dining experience he says is always having everything you want prior to when you actually need it. “Anticipatory, intuitive, flexible – thinking outside the square and moving forward with it – that’s the secret.”
Simon’s personal mission at BCEC he says is to help create the extra wow factor into the dining experience for clients. “That extra little something when people walk away they will talk about the amazing food but also thinking – Wow that whole thing was impressive!”