News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Teresa M. McAleavy, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 13, 2004 - Bernard Martinage's mission is to make setting tables, serving cheese, and pouring wine a career that requires credentials.
He founded the for-profit Federation of Dining Room Professionals in 1998 to give restaurant workers in the "front end of the house" a chance to purchase various training materials and digest them at home.
The Mahwah company then certifies dining room staff after candidates pass various online tests, and, in some cases, submit videos that demonstrate their ability to do such things as pour with panache, serve from a side table, or gracefully answer customers' questions.
"There's a little bit more than 500 culinary schools in America that offer degrees and programs for the kitchen, and only one or two with a program to learn how to deal with customers in the dining room," said Martinage.
"Clearly, there is great need for this." Martinage has a degree in culinary arts and table service from the Culinary School of Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy, France, and has taught service classes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
The president of FDRP also wrote "The Professional Service Guide," a how-to book published in English and Spanish.
He recently discussed how his business works.
QUESTION: What does running FDRP involve?
ANSWER: We have memberships for restaurants, individuals, and students of culinary schools, which grant a discount on our products and includes a subscription to our magazine, Pro-Success, which is 100 percent dedicated to the dining room. We also offer books and complete instructor kits that schools and restaurants use to certify their employees and students through us.
Q: What is your business model?
A: Our main source of income is the certification programs. We also have income from membership.
A full-membership is $135 a year. It includes discounts from our trade partners, like the Culinary Institute of America.
Q: What certificates do you offer?
A: We have two associate-level branches. Each costs $41. One is a certified dining room associate and the other is a certified associate wine steward.
[Clients] acquire from us the book and a complete instructor's kit. It's for schools or restaurant management that want to train and certify their students or staff.
We also have certified dining room professional certificates. Those materials cost $220 for non-members and $176 for members.
We have certified dining room captain certificates, for $500 for non-members and $400 for members. The certified dining room master is $1,100 for non-members and $880 for members, but you can buy upgrades for less as you complete the training. Each certificate builds on the next.
Q: Why is this important?
A: I believe that in 10 or 20 years from now it will be a requirement for someone to be certified to work in a restaurant because the business is very competitive.
There is a need for proper service in the hospitality industry and there is an incredible potential of making a very good career in the dining room.
It's an incredible lifestyle and you can make good money. Forget about college, a good captain in New York City makes over $100,000 a year in tips and salary.
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(c) 2004, The Record, Hackensack, N.J. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.