Since the maitre d’ is the head waiter and master of the establishment, they need to be friendly, efficient, and managerial in nature. If you just want to take orders from someone else, this is not the job for you. But if you enjoy leading, want to establish yourself as a head waiter or restaurateur, it might be worth looking into. Maitre d’s at some well-know restaurants have obtained a type of "celebrity status" in some circles, such as Beverly Hills or New York. See What is a Maitre d’ here.
A maitre d’ typically has a certification in the culinary arts, and may or may not have a degree from a university or college. It would certainly improve your chances, however, to get as much education as possible in the field, to prove to potential hotel or restaurant owners that you have a wide variety of skills. A maitre d’ normally has to juggle a large number of tasks at once, such as greeting customers, handling complaints, helping with orders, and communicating with staff, etc. Most have a certificate in hospitality services.
An Alternate Route
An alternate route to becoming a maitre d’, other than getting a certificate in food services or culinary arts, would be to just work as a waiter for some time (perhaps 2-3 years) and establish yourself as a highly sought after waiter by customers. Excellent waiters are often noticed more by both management and customers, and they tend to be the ones a manager chooses, when moving someone into the position of maitre d’.
Steps to Becoming a Maitre d’
In order to become a maitre d’, you need to plan carefully, and establish yourself as an excellent waiter in the food service and hospitality business. Here are some additional steps to take that may help you along the way:
1) Get a degree or certification in food services and/or hospitality. The career actually falls into the "hospitality" field in most cases, but it is also in the food industry. Know both fields well and you will find more opportunities. Choose a degree or certification option which focuses on the food services aspect, as well as the public relations aspect. You will need both to succeed.
Less than high school
2) Become a "star waiter." Get a job in a well-known establishment, such as a restaurant or hotel which a lot of people frequent. Go around to people on a regular basis and see if they want anything else, greet them always with a professional and courteous smile, and make it your goal for them to go home happy. If you give the customer a pleasing experience, they will probably comment to the manager and this will get you noticed faster as a potential maitre d’.
3) Connect with several establishments for potential employment. Some examples which may provide a good background for future work as a maitre d’ include: restaurants, hotels, bars, and other public places.
4) Work on your resume and update regularly. Keep a record of the places your served as a waiter and emphasize to a potential employer that you have diverse experience. Most maitre d’s have a variety of experiences behind them, which is one of the things that makes them able to handle anything that comes up.
5) Make the customer your number one priority. Remember that a maitre d’ is in the hospitality business and that means putting the customer first. Do your best to please the customer and you will be well on your way of establishing the traits necessary to become a successful maitre d’ d’.
Being a maitre d’ is not for everyone. The work hours may be long (nights and weekends), you may have to put up with unfair customers, angry employees, or other unpleasant situations. But, if you are a friendly, gregarious person, and enjoy making people happy, this career may be for you! So get your education first, get experience waiting those tables, make an impression, and you’ll do it! And remember, the customer is always right. But happy customers also tip higher!