Founded in 1971 and operating in 22 countries, Servair is the leading French company and third largest in the world in the field of catering and logistics in air transportation. This is where Jean-Baptiste Grillet has worked since graduating from Vatel in 2006, first as a Supervisor and now as a Project Manager.
Can you tell us how you built your professional project? How did you go from wanting to work in hospitality to your current job?
I knew that I wanted to work in a hotel and restaurant, ever since I was in high school. In spite of this, I did a general scientific high school program, thinking that I’d maybe change my mind in the future, but on the contrary, that convinced me even more. I had several interviews and entrance exams when I applied to hotel management schools and Vatel was the one that I preferred.
At Vatel you didn’t have to take an extra year of prep school to start your first year of courses and start working on your Bachelor’s degree, which wasn’t the case in all the schools I applied to. Vatel trains you for three years in theory and practical application of this, directly in application structures and internships with tuition fees that are much lower than many Swiss hotel schools. In addition to that, Vatel had already gone global in its development and was recognized all over the world.
Vatel was three years of sheer happiness. I couldn’t even tell you what my fondest memory was because I’ve got so many of them.
So then what happened?
After I graduated with my Bachelor Vatel, I started working with Servair. I had known for a long time that after graduation, I wanted to work in this company - and a lot of my Vatelien friends can confirm this! As my dad works at Air France, I had heard about this subsidiary for ages and knew that famous chefs with stars in the Michelin guidebook participated in drawing up menus of meals to be served on board, either with Air France or other companies. A challenge for these famous people but even a bigger one for me, as I wanted to join this company while remaining loyal to my hospitality roots and training.
So how were you hired at Servair?
I had to “fight” for this. I thought it would be easy with a Bachelor’s degree, but it took much longer than I expected and I regret not having done a Postgraduated diploma at Vatel, because today I know that I would have been promoted much higher and more rapidly. I started off at the very bottom to arrive at my current job as Project Manager thanks to the Corporate Chef, Michel Quissac.
What does your job consist in?
Since 2013, I’m a manager and create our nutritional offer for foreign airlines: ANA, OMAN AIR, SINGAPORE AIRLINES, QATAR AIRWAYS, etc.
Generally speaking, my work consists in creating new menus and renewing them with the assistance of the Corporate Chef. Then I present information I gathered during presentations to customers about the cost, for example, to other departments such as Purchasing and Sales.
- First of all, a sales rep contacts me to create future menus for a customer. Depending on the specificities and cost goals, we create a Lunch / Dinner / Breakfast / Snacks, etc. food file, for each different class: First / Business / Economy.
- Then after the presentation and with the help of the Corporate Chef, I’m in charge of feedback that will go into our IT system so that the center that will produce these menus will have all the required information (products to order, recipes, etc.)
In your opinion, what three qualities does someone doing a job like yours have to have?
- An appetite for knowledge. In this job you have to be curious and open to specialties from the entire world in order to constantly be dynamic and innovative.
- Organization and thoroughness. Times between the offer and demand are often short and a mistake can lead to huge consequences.
- Reactivity. You have to be able to respond quickly to last minute customers or if a supplier has a stock outage.
Anything else you’d like to say?
When I think back about Vatel, I think about my friends and myself wearing our uniforms. The Vatel uniform is a high point in our education, bringing us all together! With my Vatelien friends, we can’t deny that without it, we perhaps would not have felt that we all were in the same family.