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Alumni Portrait – Julien VALTON 

Holder of the European Diploma in Hotel Management in 2001, Julien Valton has been working as Maître d’ at the Radisson Blu in Nantes since March 2017. He proclaims his love for his profession, highlighting its key developments.

Picture of Julien Valton, Alumni from Vatel Bordeaux at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nantes.

You’ve been working as Maitre d’ at the Radisson Blu Nantes since March 2017. Why such stability?

I really enjoy my job because of the variety and versatility of the tasks on offer. They include a field side and a more strategic side such as:

  • The smooth running of the catering service, particularly during events such as our dinners in the dark or with our snack formula. We also offer a breakfast option with local products such as gâteau nantais, curé nantais cheese, etc.
  • Managing the cost of food and drink stocks, promoting the 7 appellations of the Nantes region
  • Provision of services for our 8 seminar

The Radisson Blu offers me working conditions that suit me perfectly. Indeed, my working hours are from 7.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, so I can spend all my weekends with my family.

What changes have you noticed about your job as a maître d’?

From my point of view, the major changes since 2017 have been in 3 areas: technology, communication and social issues.

Firstly, technological developments have led to the introduction of iPads, which allow multiple orders to be taken. They improve communication with the kitchen in terms of the number and type of dishes available. The advantage of all this is that you can concentrate on additional sales (cocktails, wines, coffees). The widespread use of the digital menu via a QR code makes it possible to change a dish or a price at the click of a button, ensuring that customers have an up-to-date menu. We are keen to teach people how to use order forms, which require them to structure their thoughts and be rigorous. These outline the questions to ask customers: drinks, starters, main courses (with or without wine) and desserts. We keep several paper copies of our menu for our customers who are less comfortable with digital tools.

Secondly, the explosion of social networks has revolutionised communication with our customers. Following up on reviews or messages on The Fork, TripAdvisor and Booking, among others, is still very important. Indeed, it’s a question of respect. Each department head must respond to those that concern his or her department. We also make a point of personalising each response.

Lastly, the profession of maître d’ needs to be reinvented in line with social expectations, particularly for the younger generation. Working on a Saturday night, on Valentine’s Day or on 31 December makes people less keen to work in this sector. I can understand that. For example, to attract them back to our professions, we could imagine a four-day week, with a free weekend every third weekend.

You graduated from our European Diploma in Management in 2001. What does this training still mean to you today?

I did a chemistry A-levels, then a work placement in the kitchen gave me the desire to continue in this sector. A number of schools turned me down because I hadn’t studied hotel and catering beforehand. I was so passionate that I applied to Vatel Bordeaux and I’d like to thank the school for accepting very different profiles like mine.

Thanks to Vatel’s highly recognised training, I have never waited more than a month to find an internship or a job. Being able to apply what you’ve learnt in class through periods of practical experience reinforces the quality of the training.