Famed maitre d’ Fred Sirieix has attacked the low-skilled label attached to workers in the hospitality industry as “totally wrong”.
The manager of Michelin-starred restaurants and matchmaker on First Dates has criticised the UK government’s categorisation of many in hospitality as low-skilled, and urged politicians to promote the sector.
Sirieix has called for greater appreciation of the industry which has given him a 30-year career, claiming a better image of hospitality would help tackle unemployment, and give young people valuable skills and a sense of vocation.
He said: “When you think that, for example, the Government has labelled the hospitality industry as low-skilled very recently, and you look at this programme and you go ‘my God, if this is low-skilled I don’t know what high-skilled is’.
“Totally wrong, totally wrong. There is so much that you need to know and learn.
“It’s just incredible how much you need to know.
“When we have been labelled low-skilled it’s such a shame, because we are one of the biggest industries in the country.
“I think they should not be describing us as low-skilled, full stop.”
Sirieix is the general manager at Galvin At Windows at the Hilton Hotel in London, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and has displayed his skills as a welcoming maître d’ in First Dates.
He is now embarking on a second series of My Million Pound Menu, helping would-be restaurateurs pitch their projects to win funding to open a restaurant in Manchester.
Sirieix believes that hospitality is not about servility, and that staff at restaurants can have a fun career and learn important and transferable skills.
He said: “People believe it’s upstairs downstairs, and nobody wants to be downstairs anymore.
“But it’s not like that anymore, it’s so exciting and there is so much to learn.”
Sirieix will be showing the intricacies of the restaurant trade in My Million Pound Menu on Tuesday January 8 at 8pm on BBC Two.