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FOH Junior: Haechang Lee

Here, we introduce Haechang Lee, the Front of House Junior at Solbam. He aspires to share the essence of fine dining with a wider audience, particularly those who cherish special moments with their loved ones.

How did you come to work at Solbam?

Well, Solbam is actually my first job. Towards the end of college, I was serving in the military and developed a keen interest in wine and food, which got me thinking about my career path. Reflecting on my background in English literature, I realized I had a knack for serving people well. So, I decided to apply for a position at Solbam.

Did you have any influence from people around you in the hospitality industry?

Interestingly, no one in my family is in the restaurant business, and with my background in English literature, I didn't have a particular role model in this field. However, I've always found food and wine fascinating. I discovered that even the smallest details can dramatically alter the overall dining experience. So, I began to pursue knowledge in this area, using the money I saved from part-time jobs to further my understanding of the restaurant world.

Can you share your experience applying to Solbam?

While some people decide on careers in hospitality from a young age, I felt like I was starting relatively late. Therefore, landing my first job felt incredibly significant to me. I wanted to work in a place where I could connect with customers and be part of a growing team, which is why I chose Solbam. I was impressed by the positive reviews from patrons, and despite already having Michelin stars, I believed there was still room for growth. Moreover, the team's energy and camaraderie were infectious.

What have you been focusing on and learning at Solbam?

I'm still in the early stages of learning everything. Over the past three months, I've been immersing myself in the fundamentals of service, wine, and various other aspects of the industry. In fine dining, attention to detail is paramount, and I've observed how the manager, sommelier, and the entire team diligently ensure that every tiny aspect contributes to the overall experience.

If there are any difficulties you've faced in your new role, could you share about them?

Transitioning into my first full-time career has definitely come with a heightened sense of responsibility compared to my part-time jobs. Fine dining, in particular, demands meticulous attention to detail and a strong emphasis on human interaction, which can be nerve-wracking. While mistakes are inevitable, I've had moments where I wished I could have avoided them. Whether it was a mix-up with table settings or confusing water preferences, there's a sense of guilt and pressure knowing that I might have inconvenienced both my team and our customers. However, I'm striving to view these setbacks as opportunities for growth, pushing myself to become more meticulous and precise in my approach.

What's a typical day like for you at Solbam?

Our day usually kicks off around 1 o'clock, especially if there aren't any special events scheduled. As part of the front team, we begin by preparing for the evening service, sharing a meal with our colleagues, tidying up the space, changing into our uniforms, and making final adjustments before guests arrive. Prior to service, we gather as a team for a briefing, discussing any pertinent information about the evening's guests, including allergies or special requests. Once service begins, we interact directly with customers, catering to both Korean and foreign clientele, striving to deliver an exceptional Solbam experience. As the evening winds down, we wrap up by organizing glassware and other items.

What's your vision for the future?

My main focus right now is on solidifying my foundation in service and expanding my skills in both restaurant management and wine service. While I initially expressed an interest in becoming a sommelier when I joined Solbam, I've come to realize that my journey in this industry is just beginning. I look up to the manager and sommelier as role models, learning from their professionalism and dedication. Ultimately, I aim to become a respected member of the team, steadily working towards certifications in wine and continuing to deepen my expertise in the field.

How are you working towards achieving your goals?

Building expertise in service requires consistent dedication day in and day out. Alongside my daily duties, I'm continuously studying and reflecting on ways to improve. My immediate goal is to gain at least three years of experience at Solbam and progress within the company. I aspire to shed the label of being the youngest team member and establish myself as a reliable and knowledgeable presence. From there, I plan to pursue wine certifications and further enrich my understanding of the industry. Ultimately, I hope to leave a lasting impression at Solbam and become an integral part of its legacy.

What do you consider to be important in providing excellent service?

Initially, I believed that excellent service was primarily about being prepared and executing tasks flawlessly. However, my experience at Solbam has taught me that genuine warmth and adaptability are equally crucial. Every day brings new challenges and interactions with diverse guests, and it's essential to approach each situation with an open heart and genuine interest. Maintaining Solbam's unique ambiance while remaining flexible is at the core of exceptional service.

Anything else you'd like to share about your experience in fine dining?

Fine dining is truly a collaborative art form, where every member of the team plays a vital role in creating memorable experiences. I feel privileged to be part of this industry and am passionate about showcasing its allure to others. Whether it's the creativity of the kitchen team, the precision of the hall staff, or the appreciation of our guests, there's something inherently cool about the harmonious synergy that defines fine dining.


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