Fred Sirieix might be best known for matchmaking daters in the First Dates restaurant, but a new series sees him partner young Brits with a career in luxury hospitality through a series of tests and challenges at the five-star Les Roches Blanches Hotel in Cote d’Azur.
In Fred’s Last Resort, Sirieix coaches 12 young hopefuls in the art of customer service at a luxury resort as they cater to hotel guests’ every whim, from fashion shows to oyster tasting, doggy photoshoots to superyacht service.
Fred, 51, revealed how the contestants’ trials took him back to his youth working in the hospitality trade; the experience was sometimes painful.
“I’ve done a catering college in France, and I came here (when) I was 20 in the UK, and worked my way up from the kitchen porter to a commis waiter, head waiter,” said Sirieix. “So what you see me do in the show is what I have done all my career.
“I mean, the first day and the second day…it was so frustrating. There’s much more than what you saw on the episode, the detail’s been kind of toned down a little bit – it was really, really difficult that day.
“But at the same time, also, it took me back to my youth, when I was 18 and when I was working in Monte Carlo down the road during the summer season, and I was just like these kids.
“The difference with me, though: I wanted to be the best. And what I didn’t know, I made up for it with my attitude and my hard work. You didn’t see that always with the guys…”
Sirieix hopes the series will also shed light on an industry in crisis.
“It could help inspire people or answer some questions,” he added. “We have a huge staff shortage in the industry. And this staff shortage started long ago. In 2012 I started National Waiters Day to help promote the industry. Then in 2016, obviously, Brexit – (almost) 50% of the staff demand power comes from Europe. Now they don’t come from Europe any more…you’ve got to replace them with something.
“The other thing, also, with school and education is the career adviser – they never advise on hospitality.
“Now, one of the reasons they don’t advise on hospitality is because also the hospitality industry doesn’t help itself, you know, there’s a lot of talk of long hours, low pay, blah, blah, blah. So this has to be discussed and has to be sorted with the industry.”
Fred’s Last Resort, E4, Tuesday, 9pm
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