When we meet for a chat, Milda Zenkeviciute the Manager of Carluccio’s in Esher, is wearing a mid-green top which perfectly matches her striking mid-green eyes. She has a no-nonsense air of disciplined efficiency and natural authority. However, she is a pleasure to chat with and we’re soon exchanging all sorts of ideas. Originally from Lithuania, she loves working at Carluccio’s because she believes in the products – nothing but the utmost, freshest ingredients are used to serve up delicious meals, wines and coffees.
Milda’s professional journey from waitress, deli assistant and into management took her from Walton-On-Thames, via the close-knit community in Tunbridge Wells and then on to Esher where she has been for about a year, so she is well-placed to carefully and diplomatically comment on her experiences! She sounds almost surprised when she tells me she hasn’t met a single rude customer in Esher and says her current clientele are the politest she has ever met.
All staff who join Carluccio’s receive many hours of intensive training. For example, to qualify as an assistant on the delicatessen counter takes over 30 hours of lessons on the wide range of breads, cheeses, meats, wines and sauces. Trainees learn about the history of coffee, which was very apparent when I had previously spoken with Alex, the Assistant Manager. He was able to explain to us the huge variety of coffee bean and how different blends result in different flavours and textures and about the regional variations throughout Italy.
In Milda’s case as a manager, her training took her on a non-stop 3-day tour of sun-drenched Sicily to visit two wine producers. She saw first-hand how the grapes are grown, the vineyards harvested and of course she tasted the wines. She learnt the vital art of combining foods with complimentary wines.
There is a steady flow of customers to and from Carluccio’s, with a mix of families and professionals arriving for breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon meetings over coffee and of course dinner. However the busiest times are before and after Race Day at Sandown when the town is dominated by hundreds of race goers and local residents tend to stay at home.
Milda is proud to say that most staff stay at Carluccio’s for many years. In fact one member of front of house has been working at the restaurant in the days before Carluccio’s took over when it was still El Torito’s. Frankie has been there for 7 years, closely followed by Grazyna, who has been there for 5 years. Chris and Franco are both in their second year. Grazyna recently had a baby boy who is barely 5 months old yet already on his feet and displaying a predisposition for football!
All of the staff are looking forward to the festive season. A food tasting event is scheduled for Thursday 8th December when everyone is welcome to pop in and sample various Italian delicacies. The team at Carluccio’s, Esher look forward to meeting and greeting you soon!
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