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New BBC2 show seeks talented hotel and restaurant service staff

The challenging job of service staff is finally being recognised in a new BBC2 show. Michel Roux's Service, beginning Wednesday 12th January 2011, will see eight newcomers to the industry competing for two places at the prestigious Academy of Food and Wine, to train as a Maitre D' and sommelier. The eight 17 to 24-year olds have never worked in a hotel or restaurant before, and are all currently looking for a career. The programme aims to show the public that becoming a top waiter or sommelier is a valuable career in itself; indeed, front-of-house staff are less respected in Britain than anywhere else. As a result, many of the country's top restaurants and catering establishments are forced to employ staff who trained abroad to attain the level of knowledge and refinement necessary. Indeed, spotting the wrong type of spoon or creased tablecloths at twenty paces is no mean feat.

Tough tests

Michel Roux Jr. certainly knows a thing or two about good service. The son of Albert Roux and nephew of Michel Roux Sr., he took over their iconic Le Gavroche almost twenty years ago, and led the restaurant to three Michelin stars. He is no stranger to television stardom either, having appeared on the judging panel of Masterchef . Speaking of his young protégées, Roux told the Independent: "I was under no illusion that I could turn them round in two months, but I wanted to inspire and teach the basic skills: laying the table properly; polishing the cutlery and glasses; the necessity for clean toilets, so very important." In the final showdown of Michel Roux's Service, the eight youngsters are to run an evening's service at Le Gavroche itself. The London restaurant employs around 60 people, but according to Roux, "perhaps five per cent" are British. With the impending immigration cap causing problems for the restaurant industry, it's hoped UK job hunters will soon wise up to the benefits of a career in a luxury hotel or restaurant.

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