The Top of the Tops

Face to face with Nigel Frost, Executive Head Chef of London Hilton Metropole

The man who knows a thing or two about Conference and Events food in a residential conference hotel. His operations serve up to 2000 or more conference food to grateful clients; he generates exciting themes such as “a UK market dining experience” for delegates to appreciate….
As I enter Nigel’s office, I am intrigued to learn more about the man who manages all the food that keeps Hilton’s 24hour guest operations ticking but especially, I wanted to know more about how he enjoys producing food for conferences and events and where he got his inspiration from.

Who is Nigel Frost?
After working at the then Mayfair Park Lane, now Sheratons, Hilton Park Lane he joined the London Hilton Metropole after he was lured into the place by former Lonhro boss Tiny Rowland. He stuck with it when the former Scottish hotel company led by Sir Reo Stakis took over and later sold it on to the Hilton Group. This means that for 19 years he has been manning the 24 hours, 7 days a week
operations, serving breakfast,

lunch and dinner at this 1054 bedroom hotel which serves breakfast to guests daily from 6.30am to 10am weekdays and from 6.30am to 11am at the weekends.

How many chefs work with Nigel?
70 chefs all ‘pool’ together to carefully manage the food and beverage function of London Hilton Metropole’s 24 hour operations including the restaurants and 3 further outlets.

How does Nigel ‘drum-up’ ideas to make the event a memorable one especially where food is concerned?
Nigel Frost makes it a point to meet with his client so that he can understand the project they have on hand and what foods would be suitable for the occasion. After the initial meeting, he will make some suggestions and between him and the client they will finalise the food choices which he will then take back to his team to develop.
For Nigel, the meeting with the client is not so much as to simply work out figures and numbers and work out how many plates fits into those numbers. He likes to make his clients feel special. He also thinks that it is important that food for meetings and events create a bonding between participants.

Nigel has been creating themed settings for conference and events clients who have come to really appreciate them. How are these developed? It all happens with an excellent communication with the client. "I like my clients to feel special so as soon as I know the purpose of their event, I suggest some themes to make the day really special and then if they like it, we agree on something; it usually turns out to be very spectacular for the day".

Where have all these ideas come from?
The Thanet College trainee has come a long way after his training. He spent some time in Germany, Singapore where he learned about the use of cheap labour and great customer service and returned to the UK to work in the Londonderry Hotel, The Metropolitan, Park Lane, Hilton, the then privately owned Park Lane, Piccadilly as sous-chef to head chef before taking his present position.
So who was his inspiration?
He greatly admired and learned a lot from Oswald Meyer, Head Chef at Park Lane, Hilton the customer orientated genius who got him into a routine of ensuring that the client enjoyed their time with food in the hotel.
At the then privately owned Park Lane, Piccadilly, decisions were made instantly and he learned a lot about working for a private company; hence his ability to see things from the customer’s point of view.
What he would do, if he had a free hand in his profession?
Nigel would like to develop an eating experience with fish – simply any fish; keeping it simple and retaining all the flavours. Fish is his passion.

What is the succession planning behind Nigel and his team
Nigel Frost and Mark Southall
Nigel’s operations takes on two apprentice chefs each year. The apprentice usually stays on for at least two years so that they can appreciate the role of a chef. Suffice to say that they do not usually leave and Mark Southall who is his third year with Nigel tells us why.
Mark says: “Nigel has encouraged me to enjoy the work of a chef, learn the trade but especially appreciate things to do with hygiene, flavours and above all, teamwork”

What is Nigel’s vision?
He simply wants to continue to do what is best in making the industry a success.

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Executive Traveller 2003