Alan Cook, Manager of The Montagu and The Churchill Bar & Terrace, joined us to explain how his 30-year career has taken him from pot washing to London’s finest hotel bars.
How did you begin working in hospitality?
My passion for the hospitality industry began at the age of 16, when I arrived in the UK from my homeland of Zimbabwe. It was then that I started work in a restaurant in Scotland washing dishes and preparing the salad bar, before being promoted to waiter.
30 years later my career has allowed me to work with some amazing teams in fantastic bars from The Churchill here at Hyatt Regency London to The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, The Lanesborough, The Hempel Hotel and The Playboy Club. One of the highlights of my career has to be working on special private events for the Queen, including her 80th birthday party.
How long have you been managing The Churchill Bar & Terrace and The Montagu?
I joined Hyatt Regency London as Manager of The Churchill Bar & Terrace in October 2012. Then in 2015 I took on the managerial position at The Montagu restaurant, The Churchill Bar & Terrace and kitchen team.
What is the best part of your job?
Oh that is so hard to say, as I actually love it all. I so enjoy creating fun and exciting promotions, from the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea we are currently hosting, to working with the team to create amazing cocktails at The Churchill Bar & Terrace. Spending time with my team is another highlight, they are wonderful and are always eager to learn and develop further, which is incredibly rewarding for me. Then of course there are our fantastic guests. Many of whom I have known for years and love welcoming back, as well as getting to know the new ones who walk through our doors.
What are your favourites on the menu?
My favourite cocktails on the menu at The Churchill Bar have to be the ‘Teapot Cocktails’, which were created with a link to the prohibition era when alcohol was being secretly produced and consumed in hidden locations. Our Teapot Cocktails are served table-side in vintage silver tea sets creating a truly unique experience. All of our cocktails have great stories behind them relating to Winston Churchill, and come with their own recipe cards.
At The Montagu, my favourite dish is the Crispy goat’s cheese, baby courgettes, artichokes and watercress pesto, but we have just launched our new summer menu so this is likely to change to another favourite soon!
What is next for The Churchill Bar? Any summer highlights?
To celebrate summer, The Churchill Bar has transformed its terrace area in to an English garden, and our team have created an array of exceptional summer cocktails including the ‘Eton Mess-Take’, which is our creative take on the Eaton Mess. We are also offering a series of specialised picnic hampers, where guests can choose from a selection of traditional picnic treats to enjoy on our terrace.
Do you spend much time around Marylebone? Any favourites?
Not enough time really, but when I do I really enjoy it! When I am on Marylebone High Street, I can’t help but pop in to La Fromagerie for a quick cheese fix, The Ginger Pig for some of their amazing meats and then I always seem to find something I never knew I wanted in The Conran Shop!