Home' Hospitality Business : HB DEC 2016 - JAN 2017 Contents Take
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For more information on our brands and products
please visit www.moffat.co.nz – and refer to our
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To say that Calombar is works hard is an understatement. He’s as hands-on as he can be at each of his
restaurant concepts, given the significant filming and promotional commitments that come with being
one of three judges on MasterChef Australia – the Channel 10 reality TV programme which first hit
the small screen in 2009 and has been the catalyst for significant growth in the restaurant industry.
Like many restaurateurs, Calombar is said today’s diners are more educated and enthusiastic
than ever, and as excited as he is about this progression, he admits that his focus has shifted from
being customer- to staff-centr ic.
“I never used to be too conscientious about my staff; I’ll be quite honest,” he told Hospitality.
“I used to lead with an iron fist. I don’t do that anymore. For me, it’s 100 percent about my staff
... The customers will get looked after by my staff. Don’t get me wrong – I’m in there everyday
and I’m around customers. But what I’m trying to say is that I’ve got a responsibility to really
look after my staff, every single day.”
So what changed? What prompted his shift from dictator to democrat?
“I guess I just got to the point where I was sick of everyone whinging about their staff, and
me starting to talk like that as well. I don’t want that. My industry is a beautiful place. If I’m
negative, negativity breeds negativity. I don’t tolerate it.”
Calombar is acknowledges that recruiting and retaining the r ight people is a significant
challenge in the hospitality industry, but unlike many operators, he feels that by and large, the
problem lies with the employer, not the employee.
“It’s a massive issue because we make it an issue. I’m sick of the excuses. I’m sick of hear ing
‘we can’t hold onto our staff; they don’t want to work.’ Well, why don’t they want to work?
We’ve got to understand that the industry has changed dramatically and if we don’t change with
it we’re going to be left behind. I am not going to be left behind.
“We’ve started to implement four day weeks at The Press Club ... They’re not doing the 100
hour weeks that I used to do. I don’t want them to do that. It puts pressure on your relationships
and on your life outside of work.What I want is not that bullshit word ‘work/life balance’. That’s
rubbish. I want them to love their job so much that when they’re coming in, they are so pumped
and excited,” he said.
The Press Club staff socialise together on their days off, Calombar is sends them on off-site
training days with different food producers, and will even take them to the opera. Regardless of
whether they’re the kitchen hand or the restaurant manager, everyone gets a daily Order of the
Day runsheet before they get to work, filling them in on what needs to be achieved that day and
the role they’ll play; and the staff meals are nutr itious and most certainly sit-down occasions (“I
don’t want them standing at the bench with their asses hanging out.”).
Build a good culture, stay connected with your people and be invested in their lives – both
personally and professionally, and as an employer you will reap the rewards, he said.
“Take young George in our kitchen, for example. He’s a red headed boy who’s 19 and was on
Junior MasterChef series one when he was 10.We’ve put him through Hellenic Republic and he
just started at The Press Club last week.We’ve got a plan for this kid.We’re not going to throw him
into the deep end.We’re not going to bur n him out.We’re going to be smart about it.We’re going
to have a programme, and we’re going to make sure we have a constant connection with him.
“I don’t buy into the ‘let's sit down and do an appraisal’ approach. I mean, what the hell is that?
Appraisals should happen ever y day, on the job. It means listening to your people. Every day is a
new day, and every day your staff have gone through something different.You don’t know what’s
happened at home; you don’t know what’s happened on the train. Every day is an appraisal and
we need to listen to them.”
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