Home' Hospitality Business : HB OCT 2015 Contents Hospitality BUSINESS | October 2015 | 21
Currently a duty manager at Woodpecker Hill in Parnell, Ash
Visvanathan could well be the poster boy for the ideal hospitality
professional. Hard-working, talented and passionate, he’s always
worked with industry champions; learning from the best and
achieving great results for his employers and himself. A recent
stint at The Crew Club on the Viaduct Harbour, followed more than
a decade with the Monsoon Poon restaurants in Auckland and
Wellington where he graduated from restaurant manager to partner.
Ash is now well settled in Parnell, working with the multi award-
winning team of restaurateur Mark Wallbank and chef Che Barrington
at their latest venture, Woodpecker Hill. And it’s predictably delivering
exceptional South East Asian fusion barbeque cuisine, and service to
very grateful Parnell-ites and other eager diners.
WHAT DRIVES AND MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK?
It sounds clichéd, but just doing a good job; when customers and
staff both experience a great service, where everyone is happy
and leave ecstatic.
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR HOSPITALITY COME FROM?
When I was very young, a favourite uncle managed large hotel
resorts in Sri Lanka. Holidays were often spent with him as a
guest, where I saw hotels’ inner workings and I was fascinated. I
loved the fantastic buffets and being exposed to all kinds of food,
and early on I knew hospitality would play a part in my life.
I studied Science at university but it wasn’t where I saw a career and
when I started working part-time in hospitality, I found I had a passion
for it. I had great teachers and my training was all ‘on the job’. The
majority of my learning and mentoring, I received from Mike Egan,
Nicola Richards and John Lawrence from Monsoon Poon. I was lucky
to be at the right place at the right time, working for the right people.
DO YOU FIND YOUNG HOSPITALITY WORKERS AS COMMITTED
TO SERVICE AS YOURSELF AND YOUR PEERS?
Definitely, however, ambition to ‘progress up the tree’ can be a set
of blinders preventing some from mastering great service skills.
HOW DO YOU THINK NEW ZEALAND HOSPITALITY
STANDARDS COMPARE INTERNATIONALLY?
We’re great at bringing back concepts and new ideas from
overseas and in most cases punch well above our weight on the
world stage. There has been exponential growth in new venues
lately but skill and staffing levels haven’t kept up. So there’s a
deficit of knowledge and skills that’s required and staff aren’t
getting the grounding needed to grow the industry further at this
HOW ARE YOU FINDING YOUR NEW LOCALE
AND WHAT ARE THE MOST EXCITING INDUSTRY
DEVELOPMENTS YOU’VE SEEN LATELY?
I love the community feel of Parnell and the locals have really
embraced us. They want us to succeed, as there hasn’t been a lot
of choice for them lately. We’re at an exciting time in hospitality in
Auckland – standards have been raised and we’ve seen amazing
new concepts and fit outs. We’re all being pushed harder and that’s
a good thing.
MARK WALLBANK AND CHE’S BARRINGTON’S
VENUES ARE EXTREMELY POPULAR AND FAST
PACED. IT TAKES SPECIAL WORKERS TO COPE IN
THESE ENVIRONMENTS – WHO’S BEST SUITED?
We look for people who are hardworking, quick, have a good
understanding of Asian food and cooking procedures, a strong
skill base, fantastic work ethic and a sense of humour! We also
train and mentor the right people without experience.
WHERE DO YOU GO TO RELAX AND WHAT STYLE OF
HOSPITALITY DO YOU ENJOY WHEN YOU’RE OFF DUTY?
I usually exercise to relax or zone out a little with no contact
for a while. I love casual dining, a simple burger or curry with a
great craft beer or glass of wine is just the ticket.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO ANYONE SERIOUS
ABOUT HOSPITALITY AS A CAREER?
Do your time, align yourself with good employers and
reputable operators. Be honest with yourself and your
employer and have an open dialogue about your goals and
ambitions and together you’ll more than likely achieve them.
Be prepared to make sacrifices too. You may not be able to go
to every 21st
, concert or New Year’s party but your commitment
will shine through and success can only follow. And have fun
while you do it! I
Winner of the 2015 Lewisham Outstanding
Maître d’ Award, Ash Visvanathan, Woodpecker
Hill: “I was lucky to be at the right place at the
right time, working for the right people.”
Links Archive HB SPT 2015 HB NOV 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page