The camaraderie, discipline and learning experience of hotel work turned life around for a troubled young immigrant, who now thrives as a food and beverage server.
Koesti Koesdibyo admits he was a “spoiled rotten kid” in Indonesia — hanging out with the wrong crowd — when his mother decided he should visit his sister in Calgary. The sister, a housekeeping supervisor for the Four Seasons hotel there, got him a job in room service. In the six years he was with Four Seasons, Koesdibyo went from speaking no English and working as a room service attendant to working as an assistant maitre d’. “I just fell in love with Four Seasons,” he says today. “They were like my second family. They treat you well, train you well and want you to succeed.”
Training at the Four Seasons included food courses requiring Koesti to work on the line in the kitchen. “We plated the food, so as a server we knew exactly what was on the plate and what it should look like.” Customer service was emphasized by outside consultants. “We had a lady from Disneyland who taught us that there are two types of customers: internal, the people you work with, and external, the customer who pays.”
Upon leaving the Four Seasons, Koesti worked in a wine store where over the next four years he gained knowledge about wines, which translated into a higher confidence level and even better customer service. Then, on a trip to Nanaimo to visit relatives, he fell in love with Vancouver Island, relocated and sought further work in the service industry. Today, Koesti is a food and beverage server in the Cedar Dining Room at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort and Conference Centre in Parksville.
For anyone considering the service industry as a career, Koesti recommends being certain you enjoy serving the public. “If you don’t, it’s not only bad for business, its bad for you.” He also encourages formal studies. “Take courses in wine, cooking, service and communications. Find role models to study. Pay attention and be humble. And don’t be afraid to wash a few dishes before you move up to bussing!”