„Being in a position of privilege, you have a duty to lift others up” is what Asma Khan, owner of the Darjeeling Express restaurant in London, said in the sixth season of the famous Netflix series Chef’s Table while describing her father’s upbringing which defined her as a person.
This statement best describes what Raise the Bar is: Coca-Cola HBC Adria’s small contribution to the hospitality community in building the generations to come after us.
While it may be inferred from the above that Raise the Bar arose out of pure altruism, the truth is that there’s also a selfish objective behind it. After four years of working in this industry on the distributor side, I started to ask myself way too often what I was leaving behind as a legacy to the hospitality community which has had a key impact on my personal development. The answer to that question is Raise the Bar.
The project itself was maturing inside me for almost two years, it was waiting for the right moment and the right people to back it. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to recognize the right moment and team to evolve an idea and turn it into reality.
With all the ups and downs of the hospitality scene in recent years, the quality of the offer and service has increased. Take the number of restaurants with international acclaim, for example, or how much more attention is being paid to seemingly simple things like serving something in the right glass or using quality ice. In the past few years the industry has been ahead of consumers with its ideas and desires several times, so initially conceived concepts were abandoned. Apart from the right time and the right team, sometimes it takes a bit of patience for consumers to understand and buy what we offer them. Personally, I expect the quality of the offer and service to continue to increase. The entry of new generations, generations that build their habits less “outdoors” and more in a restaurant or café, into the world of gastronomy will further contribute to this.
With the further increase of quality in the hospitality industry, the importance of investing in the workforce is becoming and remains the denominator around which all of us in the industry need to gather. Our task as a generation is to popularize hospitality professions, to leave behind people who will be better and have better prerequisites than us.
Although the results of our work and the Raise the Bar program will only be visible in a few years’ time, they will be a reflection of what we are doing today.
Until then, we look forward to individual successes that are slowly turning into a collective success. More than 50 young people have so far been given the opportunity to progress thanks to the Raise the Bar program. When I see them behind the bar or in the kitchen with a smile on their face doing what they love, I’m happy, and when I hear their superiors complimenting their work and approach to work, I’m certain that we are on the right track.
That’s why I’m calling on you to help us to further expand the hospitality scene:
All those of you who are just starting out in this industry, strive to absorb knowledge while being humble and patient at the same time. The preconditions you have for development and success are immeasurably higher than those your predecessors had.
All those of you behind the bar, in the dining room or kitchen, you can be supportive by selflessly sharing knowledge with new generations.
All those of you investing in and running hospitality outlets, you can help by providing development opportunities to your people, which sometimes also means recognizing the moment when a person needs to be promoted or needs help in finding a different environment.
All those of you enjoying hospitality, you can be supportive by leaving your money in bars and restaurants that are developing quality content and service.
And most importantly, all those of you who are parents of children who want to work in the hospitality industry (who frequently lack family support), you can help by supporting your children in building a career by doing what they love.
Apart from the existing support for bartenders, waiters and baristas through our academy and for young chefs and pastry chefs through scholarships and high schools focusing on the hospitality industry, we have decided to also launch a blog whose first post you are reading right now and which you will hopefully visit frequently to read about new trends and the experiences of the best people in the industry. Our goal is for the content to be useful to you and to motivate you to continue investing in knowledge and a career in the hospitality industry.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Raise the Bar team who have dedicated their time and knowledge over the last four years to making this project better than initially envisioned.
Being in a position of privilege, you have a duty to lift others up.
Filip Verbanac, Premium Spirits, Coffee and HoReCa direktor at Coca-Cola HBC Adria and Raise the Bar project founder