THE ROTA ARCHIVE

ZOE CHARLTON-BROWN - THE CONSULTANT

Zoe on the best thing about hospitality...

"THE PEOPLE YOU MEET, THE ENDLESS CHALLENGES, THE SATISFACTION OF OVERCOMING THEM, THE FOOD, THE WINE, THE JOY OF SEEING PEOPLE HAVING A GOOD TME IN AN ENVIRONMENT YOU HELPED CREATE. I'M INSPIRED EVERY DAY BY THIS INDUSTRY."

Follow Zoe on Instagram and Twitter.

 

1. What was your first job in hospitality?

Chef de rang at the Waterside Inn, Bray

2. What is your favourite cuisine to eat - preferably the opposite to what you work in?

Impossible to say. I love ingredients and brilliant cooking instead of specific cuisines. 

3. Which dish do you most associate with childhood?

My Mother’s Bramble Mousse made with blackberries from our garden.

4. What’s the soundtrack to your first love?

En Vogue, Don’t Let Go. I fell in love with a French boy on a school trip and I cried endlessly listening to this song when the time came to go home. 

5. What do you crave after a long shift?

Sometimes a hug, sometimes a stiff drink, sometimes both.

6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – what do you have? 

In an ideal world, Genmaicha Rare Tea and an omelette Arnold Bennett. In reality, a coffee that I invariably forget about and drink cold.

7. What is your favourite word?

Absolutely. On its own, but more often as an intensifier!

8. If you could go on a culinary extravaganza-eating holiday – where would you choose to do so?

At this moment in time, Sweden. 

9. All at the same time or coursed out?

Coursed out. 

10. What is the one area of working in a restaurant you wish you knew more of?

Pastry. I can’t bake. It requires far too much patience. 

11. What is the best cure for a hangover?

A swim in the lido or pond on Hampstead Heath – which one depends on the severity of the hangover. 

12. You’re allowed one shift drink – what is it?

An Americano made with The Collector Vermouth, and lots of it. 

13. What is the one thing which guests do that drives you mad?

I cannot cope with rudeness towards staff, it’s unnecessary and unforgivable. I always tell the staff that you never know what sort of a day someone might have had, and that most people who are a bit hostile at the beginning can actually turn out to be warm and wonderful, but some people think it’s their right to treat people who serve as servants. 

14. Do you have any rituals during a shift?

I don’t think so...I consider a good briefing fundamental, but that’s pre not during. 

15. What’s the last film you saw?

Spectre

16. Best thing that has ever happened to you in a restaurant? 

Meeting the small handful of people who have genuinely changed the landscape of both my personal and professional life are the highlight, without question. 

17. What’s your tagline/motto?

Not sure if it counts as a tagline, but I can frequently be heard prattling on about how no one is defined by what happens in times of calm – what really defines us is how we are when the sh*t starts hitting the fan.

I guess a motto I try to live by would be: “To get thine ends, lay bashfulness aside - who fears to ask doth teach to be denied.”

18. Photography while eating – yay or nay?

Sadly, it’s a yay from me. Just a quick snap though. Honest. 

19. Rank the following in order of priority: wine, food, sex

Wow. I couldn’t live without any of them – and priority depends on the time of day and the situation, I think. Sex and food share gold, wine takes bronze. 

20. What would be your last meal – drinks included.

A massive heap of fresh crab (normally I would say whole but since it’s my last meal, I’ll let someone else do the work) with some toast and Jeremy Lee’s mayonnaise, with an old bottle of Pol Roger. Then some lamb cutlets, washed down with a Dujac Vosne-Romanee. 

21. What makes you happy?

Loads of things. I’m not happy when I’m not making progress and I’m not happy when I’m worried, but apart from that, I’m happy. 

22. How do you relax?

By spending time with people I love. Usually with food, always with wine. It used to be running, but it would be disingenuous to say that that’s the case now, sadly…

23. What is the background on your phone?

The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner, one of my favourite paintings. 

24. Favourite Instagram accounts to follow 

@bjornfrantzen for interesting food

@paulwf for beautiful food and interior shots

@deliciouslystella for cheap laughs throughout the day

@tortuscopenhagen for hypnotic pot making. I’m a bit pottery-mad at the moment.  

25. What is the best thing about working in hospitality? 

The people you meet, the endless challenges, the satisfaction of overcoming them, the food, the wine, the joy of seeing people having a good time in an environment you helped create. I’m inspired every day by this industry. 

26. Which restaurant are you ashamed to NOT have eaten at?

Hedone. 

27. Who is the person you most respect in the industry?

There are far too many to mention, but Diego Masciaga at the Waterside was, and always be, an inspiration to me for his level of skill and unwavering dedication. I never even thought about going into hospitality until he offered me a job. 

28. What is your go to party trick?

I’m surprisingly good at juggling. 

29. Finish this sentence: I eat everything except ...

Kidneys. And I really think they are the only thing.