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Naomi's Blog

CONVERSATION IGNITER

By June 26, 2012 No Comments

Gregory calls me a conversation igniter.

He reckons I encourage people to talk – neighbours, flight attendants, people you meet in public toilets.

That came out wrong. Not people you meet George Michael style, but the people you have that awkward encounter with because you both get to the air dryer at the same time. Particularly at airports, where they now have that fancy thing you shove your hands into, but there isn’t enough room for two pairs, so I usually just wipe my hands and begin conversation about how loud it is and from there we talk destinations, airlines and what their policy is on cleaning their teeth during a layover.

So anyway, yes, I love the people and the kookier they are the better. This is why front of house is made for me. I get to chat with every single person who walks in the front door.

As a waiter I’m a disaster, because I get so caught up with the guest’s story about their missing pet iguana that I forget the other tables and before I know it, I’ve called the RSPCA looking for a substitute. But as a maitre’d that is my job. To find the pet iguana.

Oh, you get what I’m trying to say.

And now I’ve discovered another forum for conversation igniting…the reservation emails.

It’s sensational. By the time a guest turns up to dine at Hartsyard, we’ve already chatted about their health, who they’re coming in with and how annoying it is that Andy took the Key Lime Pie off the menu. Seriously people, give him hell. Lean in the kitchen window, he’s the one in the back left corner.

The only problem with this new found form of stranger-stalking, is that we own a small human who requires my attention all day until I wrestle her to sleep sometime after 1pm. Then I sprint to the computer and begin my correspondence, always in order of arrival and each one personalised according to the guests’ particular requests.

This sort of conversation ignition is rather labour intensive, but well worth the effort. I learn the most amazing things, but don’t worry I’m a vault. I’ve bandied about the idea of starting an anonymous hospitality blog, citing all the amazing things that happen in restaurants, but I’d feel rather like a Priest who’d broken a confidence, so your secrets go with me to the grave.

Just thought I’d explain why it might be that you don’t hear from me until late in the day, or until some bizarre hour of the night when I’m home from work and the babe is sleeping.

In other news, Terry gave us 14 out of 40 until someone at the Herald realised the subs had probably been retrenched, and gave us 14 out of 20 instead.

It was sort of funny at 12.13 last night to get 35% in a restaurant review.

But Terry’s review aside, there are other, far greater reasons for celebrating today. Reasons that go beyond critics approval, or booked-out Saturday nights, or three turns of the dining room.

Gregory has shaved.

That’s right. The beard is still there, but he no longer looks like a homeless Forest Gump.

Excellent timing Gregory, all the photos for the press have been taken now.

Right folks, it’s 2.49pm, Q will be up in a hot minute and I’ve got strangers to meet.

Stay dry!