A Friday Chat With Searcys’ General Manager Bruno Pelletier30 April 2021
Having grown up wishing to be a fashion designer, Bruno jumped careers while studying and followed an industry in hospitality instead. For the past eight years, he has worked for Searcys, working his way up the business to recently be appointed as General Manager at St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar. The iconic venue has an extensive list of wines and Champagnes, paired with seasonal menus specialising in contemporary British classics, and a variety of experiences ranging from the Staycation Afternoon Tea (served in a suitcase!) to Champagne masterclasses. This year, as well as juggling the successful relaunch of the stunning terrace, Bruno has taken the time in lockdown to rediscover a childhood passion for sewing.
Bruno, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to work in this industry
Since the age of 12, I wanted to be a clothing designer – Jean Paul Gaultier was very popular at the time, and it was my passion. Then, at 15 I decided to go down a totally different direction and went to a boarding catering school to become a chef. That was not a good idea either, but eventually, I discovered the restaurant floor was the place for me. The final and seventh year of study was a sommelier qualification, and I discovered that that was what I really enjoyed. Then it was time to start working, and I joined the team of a famous Michelin star chef Philippe Etchebest’ MOF’, who today is the French version of Gordon Ramsay, on presenting Nightmare in the Kitchen. The location couldn’t be better as the Michelin star restaurant was in the beautiful village of St Emilion near Bordeaux. In 2006 I decided to leave France and learn English, so I made my way to Birmingham. Here I went to work at Simpsons Restaurant. I started as a commis sommelier and left the venue five years later as a restaurant manager.
Tell us about your career with Searcys
I’ve been part of the Searcys business for the last eight years: my career here started at the REP theatre in Birmingham, which was a bit of a whirlwind as in a year I very quickly went from Restaurant Manager to Deputy General Manager. I then moved to The Gherkin in London, where I had the role of being Deputy General Manager for a year and a half. Then I spent nearly two years at the Champagne Bar in Westfield London, and finally, I ended up at St Pancras by Searcys. Step by step over the last 4 years, I climbed the ranks and was eventually promoted Drinks Ambassador for Searcys. Then only a few weeks ago, I was awarded the position of General Manager. You always need to be ambitious, though, and for my next step, I see myself one day as Operations Director.
What do you enjoy most about this line of work?
I enjoy being in close contact with the team and the day-to-day organisation – being up to date on all the Health and Safety implementation. Over the last year, I’ve learned so much about the finance, sales and marketing sides of hospitality. Most recently, something I’ve come to enjoy is learning about beverages, as there is always something new to read about or to discover.
What’s your favourite dish and why?
Thinking about St Pancras Brasserie, in particular, I would say straight away the burger. Fair enough, you might think it’s just a burger, but the house dressing inside is so yummy and bring lots of flavours. More generally, ever since I was a child, one of my absolute favourites has always been a tasty and creamy rabbit in Dijon mustard sauce.
And what about your favourite drink?
There is nothing better than a gin and tonic, if I’m honest. The two most recent gins I’ve discovered are ‘Dandelion and Burdock Gin’ from Berkshire Botanical, and a French one (of course!) from Normandy made by a Calvados house, called ‘Le Gin Carmina from Christian Drouhin’. I also always love red wine from my favourite French region of the Languedoc, especially a Saint Chinian or a Faugères. And last but not least, Champagne. I’m a huge advocate of the Searcys Cuvée – we serve it at St Pancras, and we have an extensive list of wines and Champagnes which I am very passionate about.
What are you working on at the moment?
It perhaps doesn’t sound that exciting, but after five months of lockdown, I have been working on the risk register matrix. I’m putting it all into one document, including the certificates, and linking it to an action plan and maintenance costs. Now I’m finished with that, I am now moving on to the wine side, and I am creating a template for beverages, which will be the same for all venues and can be managed centrally regarding cost prices and stock level.
And most excitingly, we are reopening St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar on Monday 17 May. We are launching a ‘Staycation afternoon tea’ which is served in a suitcase and includes a selection of crowd-pleasing savouries, freshly baked scones, decadent sweet treats, and limitless Champagne options available. The 98-meter long Champagne Bar has views over the historic St Pancras International Station and Tracy Emin’s poignant artwork “I want my time with you.” It’s a really magical place, and I’m so pleased to welcome people back.