Ten Questions With Natalie Diaz-Fuentes: Santo RemedioMon 09 2017 | admin
Mexican taqueria, “cantina and comedor”, Santo Remedio is one of this year’s most anticipated restaurant openings. Edson and Natalie Diaz-Fuentes’ are re-opening their restaurant in the second week of September, on Tooley Street near London Bridge.
Q1. How did you get started in hospitality?
When Edson (my husband and business partner) started doing events like Supper Clubs and Pop Ups I was always involved but I was adamant I would never leave my career as a journalist. Hospitality was Edson’s gig. Taking the plunge full time was a complete fluke. I was on maternity leave from my job as a broadcast journalist when the opportunity came up for Edson to open the first Santo Remedio on Rivington Street, and so I started by helping out with the design of the space, wording of the website, and coming in to meet customers at the beginning. But then I realised I wanted to ensure all customers had the best experience possible and felt like they were being truly hosted, which I knew I also had to transmit to all the staff, and that was when I decided it was something that I simply had to be 100% involved in.
Q2. What have you learned from this industry that you couldn’t learn in another?
I have always worked in high pressured jobs, but for me this industry has taught me how to juggle multiple issues at once, whether it be a key staff member off sick, while a sink is blocked and a crucial delivery may have not arrived, all while keeping calm and charming to ensure guests are having a fantastic meal and dining experience.
Q3. Tell us a little more about Santo Remedio and how the concept came about?
Santo Remedio came about because Edson and I wanted to share true Mexican flavours, dishes and ingredients with Londoners, and beyond that give them taste of modern Mexican culture the warmth of Mexican hospitality. And that is what we aim to do at our restaurant and cantina. When we started doing the supper clubs and pop ups a few years ago so many people still thought that Mexican food was burritos and fajitas and we wanted to share how incredibly varied, unique and complex the cuisines of this country’s many diverse regions truly is.
Q4. Let’s talk staffing: What do you look for in the best candidates?
People who really go above and beyond to ensure customers are looked after, taken care of and leave the restaurant happy. You can tell sometimes even by a candidate’s hello and smile that they may not have the technical skills, which can be taught, but that they will make customers feel welcomed and looked after.
Q5. What are your 5 ultimate interviewing tips?
Read up about the place you are interviewing at, to show an interest in what the business is about. It shows you really care about the job and are already looking at how you can take the company’s ethos on board which is vital to transmit to customers.
Q6. What is the worst thing you’ve seen a candidate do in an interview?
Spend the whole interview moaning about their current employer, followed by a blow by blow account of their divorce.I couldn’t wait to get them out the door!
Q.7 What is the best thing you’ve seen a candidate do in an interview?
They came in with a big smile, full of passion, energy and enthusiasm and also asked a lot about our restaurant and concept. I could tell straight away this candidate would be a fantastic waitress who would transmit Santo Remedio to customers, and this was absolutely the case.
Q8. What are your top 5 spots in London at the moment?
Som Saa – The fried Seabass with chillies and herbs, so moorish!
Kricket – the Bhel Puri or the Pumpkin dish so so yummy
Pitt Cue – Mangalitza is probably the best pork I have tried in my life!
The Wolsely – Kedgeree for breakfast in beautiful surroundings
Chick ’n’ Sours – the fried chicken salad with slaw is probably the best salas I have had in my life.
Q9. What is the best service you’ve ever had?
The best service I have had has always been where it is personalised to what it is the customer needs or wants. I was lucky enough to eat at some of the best restaurants in London when I was a child and remember that old school service was really about making your customers feel special! There are many examples but the latest was just last night when I went to Hawksmoor Borough. My 2 year old loves watching the bar staff shaking cocktails wherever we go for dinner. The barman saw my son watching him and then proceeded to make my little boy a Mocktails with 3 different juices, shake it up with incredible flair and garnish it with fruit and an umbrella. My son was totally enthralled. For me that is incredible service!
Q10. What’s next for Santo Remedio?
We have only just opened the first floor of our new London Bridge site, next step is opening the top floor Comedor where we will serve authentic Mexican dishes to share. We also want our downstairs Cantina to be a go to spot for Mezcal and Tequila cocktails as well as a nightcap as we have a late licence. London doesn’t have enough relaxed bars fora late drink, in the way New York does. And that’s exactly what we want to offer!