5 secrets to delivering world-class hospitality from Odette’s leadership duo

Chloe Vialou-Clark - 26/04/2022

Lauded for exquisite French cuisine presented in a beautiful and refined setting, Odette has long been a fixture on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. While the restaurant is ranked at No.8 and named The Best Restaurant in Singapore in 2022, the Odette team also adds the coveted Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2022 to its glowing list of accolades.

Speaking to 50 Best after the reveal of the award, which was announced at in-person ceremonies in Bangkok, Macau and Tokyo, Odette’s chef-patron Julien Royer and operations director Steven Mason share insider tips on developing a truly exceptional dining experience

1. Remember that every guest is different

Julien Royer: We always put hospitality as the heart of what we do. Nowadays, good food is not enough. You need to go the extra mile. Each guest is different, each table is different, and that's why we’re so passionate. It’s about entertaining every single table the way they want – and that’s not an easy task.

Steven Mason: The key is personalising the service. If guests are here for a romantic dinner, we want them to think, ‘that was the perfect location for the evening’; if it’s a business lunch, then we hope to provide the most professional service they’ve ever had. 

2. Keep one ear to the ground

SM: One of the smallest but most important things that we do at Odette is listen. We listen to the table’s conversation; we listen to what people are asking us. I grew up in an age of SOP [standard operating procedure] – you do this, then that, and then you’re done. But at Odette, we are changing direction and thinking about the details: what’s the best pace for the guest? Is it their first experience at the restaurant? What flavours do they like? If they like citrus, we might mention that we have a citrus desert on the menu that day.

JR: In a restaurant, everyone expects to be served and spoken to in a certain way, but we want to go the cut above and make things special. What we’re trying to teach our team is how to listen and make judgement calls for each table, every day.
Inside Odette, located in the National Gallery Singapore

3. Express yourself

JR: Service needs to feel like it’s coming from the heart. It can’t be overthought. We always focus on genuine hospitality and bringing joy to people through food and service. That may seem like the basics of the job, but it tends to be forgotten sometimes. One thing we look for when we’re recruiting is curiosity – you can learn the restaurant skills, but what sets our team apart is their mindset for hospitality and the sparkle in their eyes.

SM: One piece of advice that I wish I had been given when I started in the industry is not to take things too seriously. Some guests might be scared of the idea of fine dining, and we can make them feel comfortable by disabusing them of notion that fine dining is always intimidating. Spontaneity and building a genuine rapport with your guests is so important.

4. Take inspiration from the world around you – and from your roots

SM: If you’re in the restaurant 24/7, you’re not seeing anything new. To be innovative and bring ideas to the table, you have to see and experience new things all the time. I recently went back to Devon to taste some English wine and am working on combining it with our current menu.

JM: I try to go back to France twice a year. It’s so crucial to go. When you’re a young chef, you think you always need to stay in your kitchen, but it doesn’t work like that. When you take the time to go out and explore, you can handpick produce, speak to chefs and farmers, and come back with so much energy, which makes you more creative.
Royer's dish: Hokkaido uni and iwashi duo

5. View the kitchen and the dining room as one

SM: We’re one team and we can’t do our jobs without each other. It’s not supposed to be a war between front- and back-of-house. That mentality of togetherness and helping each other to provide the perfect experience for our guests is what makes us successful.

JR: A great dining experience is not just about the chef and the food that comes from the kitchen. Every little detail makes a difference: the feeling of a tablecloth, the quality of a chair, the music, the temperature, the passion for a great wine list. That’s why this award is so meaningful: it puts a spotlight on the importance of hospitality – something that has been sidelined for many years – and it’s a celebration of the entire restaurant.

The latest edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced on Tuesday 29th March at live ceremonies in Bangkok, Macau and Tokyo. Browse the website, join the community on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, visit us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with the latest news and announcements.