Name: James Boden
Restaurant: St Hugo
Location: South Australia
“My service philosophy is taking away any pretentiousness from the service of wine so the customer feels relaxed and comfortable”
I was inspired to become a waiter… due to my interest in wine. Once working as a sommelier, I knew it was the profession for me and worked hard on developing my skill set. I started at Rockpool Bar & Grill in Perth and it was definitely a quick learning curve; the challenge and pace was difficult but rewarding.
I love my current role because… I’ve been involved in starting the wine program from scratch, which is exciting and rewarding. The philosophy of St Hugo is completely focused around wine, with the food matching each wine rather than the other way around. This gives us a great story to tell and being able to take the time to build rapport with each diner in a relaxed environment is rare, but cherished.
A great waiter is someone who… shows their passion and personality while still remaining professional. A customer wants to be relaxed when dining in a restaurant, just like if they were being hosted by friends. When a waiter shows their personality, it means they’re confident in their job and it is second nature to them. And when a customer sees passion in someone else, they get caught up in that passion and want to experience it as well.
One change I’d like to see in the industry is… to see more people believe that working in the restaurant industry is a respectable profession, rather than something to earn some money while studying. In Australia, we do not have enough professional waiters and I believe this is because of the stigma attached to the profession.
An industry leader I admire is… Sebastian Crowther. As a Certified Sommelier, I understand how hard it is to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier while living in Australia. He has the perfect manner for a sommelier, with a laid-back but efficient style that I pride myself on.
By the time I’m 35, I’d like to… be in charge of the visitation and public relations aspect of St John. Showing customers the best aspects of our company and the Barossa Valley wine region would be a privilege.