I had the pleasure of talking to Francesco Bartolomei Talbot General Manager this week about his time at the Talbot Hotel & Restaurant and how business is generally at the moment.
‘I was previously at a very different corporate hotel in Kingston upon Thames and have been at the Talbot now for 9 months. It’s taking time to build the team and areas that need to be developed, but the atmosphere is starting to buzz and it’s great to see the Hotel full every night’.
So what challenges do you face as a hotel restaurant?
The main ones that spring to mind are our competition- there seem to be new places opening all the time, so trying to make our menu different and interesting and trying out new ideas for our daily Specials. We tend to change the menu twice a year but we’re not tied to certain recipes and our team of chefs have free reign to try different recipes which are seasonal and inventive and fresh. We also face challenges with staff due to our location but at the moment have a good range of staff of all nationalities that we encourage to try different roles within the hotel to grow and develop with the business.
How do you keep the menu fresh and varied?
We offer different special dishes regularly which our team of chefs devise, trying to use local ingredients. In Italy it’s termed 0km sourcing, which effectively means we try and source local ingredients within a close proximity to the Hotel – so we source our meat from local butcher Connisbee who’re in Horsley, some of our cheese from Norbury Blue in Albury (both types and the dirty vicar – don’t ask the origin of the name!), local gin from Sherlock and Sons in Ripley, and we have recently added the Greyfriars Rose Reserve to the wine menu as does our sister hotel The White Horse Hotel in Dorking.
Where do you think the trends will be for this Year’s party season, and what do you offer that’s a bit different?
I think the trick is to offer something reasonable, as often employees now have to make a contribution to end of year parties, and offer excellent standard of food served well and make guests feel that they’ve been looked after well. We have a special suite (The Wisley Suite) where we host Christmas parties which include a gala dinner, music and a disco – as that seems to be the most popular party request. We offer shared party nights, Christmas menus and are open for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve Gala dinner and New Year’s Day brunch and day time menus. And if you don’t want to drive home, we offer special accommodation packages.
For more information please contact the hotel directly or visit the web-site: www.thetalbotripley.com