A welcoming career.
IT'S not just the chef and waiting staff who can be the difference between a mediocre and a first-class dining experience - another vital ingredient to the mix is the maitre d'.
Also known as front of house, they are effectively the face of the restaurant and the first to greet the customers.
Overall, it is their job to make sure guests have a good time while dining in their establishment.
THE LOWDOWN The first task of the maitre d' is to meet and greet diners and make sure they are seated at a table to their liking.
If there is a wait for the table, they may be required to indulge in some polite small-talk, so a friendly and personable nature is crucial.
Once guests are seated, the front of house ensures there is a member of the waiting staff available to take orders for the table.
To be a good maitre d', it's all about service and knowledge so you should be prepared to offer advice on the menu and wine list if necessary.
You may be required to take payments from customers, while inquiring if the food and service was up to scratch.
Unfortunately, satisfaction isn't always guaranteed so the maitre d' should be able to deal quickly, professionally and effectively with any complaints that arise.
There's plenty to do behind the scenes as well, from making sure the restaurant is clean and ready for business to taking reservations over the telephone to consulting with kitchen staff on that day's menus.
Sometimes it's the smallest details that can make the biggest difference, such as remembering regular customers' names, favourite tables and dietary requirements.
It's a career that could lead to working in a top restaurant or travelling the world on a cruise ship but it takes a certain type of person to do the job well.
You should be calm and confident and able to work under pressure, have a genuine commitment to delivering great service, good problem-solving skills and a professional yet friendly nature. THE PAY Maitre d' salaries will largely depend on the location, the type of restaurant and your own experience.
An hourly rate of PS15 to PS25 is typical, while those with experience and who work in a top restaurant could command up to PS40,000 per year.
And don't forget about the tips - if you're good at your job, chances are you will be rewarded handsomely by satisfied customers.
THE TRAINING A university degree or further education isn't usually necessary to embark upon a career as front of house, although you should possess good literacy and numeracy skills.
Completing a relevant food or hospitality course could give you the edge when it comes to job-hunting.
City & Guilds offer a NVQ Diploma in Food and Beverage Service, while the Wine and Spirit Education Trust run courses for those looking to brush up on their knowledge of fine wines.
THE CONTACTS Hospitality Guild, www.hospitality guild.co.uk Wine and Spirit Education Trust, www.wsetglobal.com City & Guilds, www.cityandguilds. com
SERVICE WITH A SMILE Being front of house is a key part of the dining experience