Ullswater, Cumbria United Kingdom (PressExposure) June 26, 2008 -- Teams from all six of their hotels attended what was the first AA Rosette Academy in Cumbria to purely focus on one independent Cumbrian hotel chain.
This year marks a century of service from the AA and they have introduced positive changes in the way they work, adapting to what the current market needs. They are now more approachable and interested in working with chefs and front of house teams to help hotels achieve higher restaurant ratings. Their AA Rosette Academies have had great success over the last two years and their 2008 training programme appealed to Kit Graves, Director of Lake District Hotels because it was very interactive, included blind tasting sessions and provided constructive guidance on the 16 criteria against which the AA assess food.
Kit Graves said âwe are a little cocooned in the Lakes, and it is sometimes difficult to be inspired by new things. It was quite innovative to bring the AA Rosette Academy to us and we included as many key staff as possible, not just our Head Chefâs. With 22 staff at the training, I believe we are the largest group the Academy has visited in the Lake District â highlighting our commitment to training and producing great restaurant food.â
There were 21 modules on the day which included seasonality and local sourcing as well as issues like technique versus flavour and industry awareness. The course is an excellent way to test chefs against industry best practice and to see how they compare to the countryâs top chefs who score around 63%. Lake District Hotels chefâs scored very highly (up to 59%) and they came away very motivated.
Mike Ward is Head Chef at the Lodore Falls Hotel where he manages a multi national team of 14, he said âIt was a very inspiring day and gave an insight to what they are looking for to achieve rosette standards. For the blind tasting we used nose clips and were blindfolded before tasting the samples â it demonstrated just how reliant we are on using more than one sense to enjoy our food. It was also very useful to see which new trends and methods they focus on and the way they like the menuâs worded â something I will pass on to the younger members of our team. Seasonality and local sourcing is also high on their agenda; we do take this in to consideration, but we also have to remember itâs about balancing improvements with what we know our customers want. â
The AA Rosette Academy aims to motivate front of house teams as well as Head Chefs. All 6 Restaurant Managers were at the Academy including Cath Serginson who has been Restaurant Manager at The Borrowdale Hotel for 30 years. âMy day on the course was something quite different. Having worked in the industry for a long time it was very enlightening to see the advancements in technology which can be achieved by such passionate and accomplished chefs. Amidst a list of criteria, the course advocated using fresh local produce - which I do agree with, however some of the criteria make it very hard to achieve and maintain these coveted awards, as it depends a lot on your market and your location. Having met other head of departments on the day I saw teams who have already achieved a lot and am sure with such commitment and dedication we can achieve more in the future.â
Kit Graves was very clear about what she wanted to achieve, âThe Academy is about motivation, learning and using the right bits to improve the dining experience in our restaurants. Rosettes would be icing on the cake, but we are also realistic too. We have table dâ haute menus which by nature, change daily making it difficult to manage if you are trying to attain a rosette; likewise, we are proud of our silver service at the Borrowdale Hotel, but as far as I know, no silver service hotel has a rosette. Each hotel team had time together at the Academy to work out what was most important to them and I am pleased to see that they are incorporating the most relevant parts of their training already. â
Gary Wilson is General Manager at Inn on the Lake. He summed up the day by saying â The course was very rewarding and helped everybody gain a better understanding of what the AA inspector is looking for when assessing restaurants for the rosettes awards. We already have one rosette at the Inn on the Lake, we can achieve our next one and that is what we are working towards.â
The Lake District Hotel group includes The Inn on the Lake at Glenridding, The George Hotel at Penrith, The Skiddaw Hotel and the Kings Arms in Keswick, plus The Lodore Falls Hotels and the Borrowdale Hotel in Borrowdale.