MICHELIN Guide Ceremony 2 minutes 17 April 2024

Israel Perez of Victoria & Albert's is the MICHELIN Guide Florida 2024 Service Award Winner

Through consistency and preparation, here's the secret sauce behind the inviting service at Victoria & Albert's.

Congratulations to Israel Perez of Victoria & Albert's, the 2024 MICHELIN Guide Florida Service Award Winner!

To many people, "really good service" might mean picking up a fork the second it falls or making sure silverware is spotless. For Perez, however, really good service means knowledge, warmth, and hospitality. 

Through consistency and preparation, the team at Victoria & Albert's is able to create a warm and gracious environment that is attentive and personable.

Below, the award winner takes us behind the scenes on how he keeps his team calm, and what his favorite part of the guest experience is.

What is the biggest misconception about your role?

The biggest misconception about my role is the amount of detail that it takes to manage our operation. Our greatest contribution to the restaurant has been to identify and surround ourselves with the most talented people we could find who are passionate about achieving excellence for every level of detail. The talent is what makes the restaurant what it is.

How are you able to keep the team calm?

By being always prepared. Nothing happens by chance, and everyone is responsible for our common destiny. Everyone buys into the culture of learning something new every day. Consistency drives consistency; by having Chef Matthew with us for almost 18 years and myself for 20, our team is able to read all our cues even before we speak. Also, the team understands that being knowledgeable is not enough. We want to be warm and gracious, and we should always strive to be personable and attentive without being intrusive. 

What does "really good service" mean to you?

Knowledge needs to be equal to warmth and hospitality. We have developed along the years an obsessive commitment to excellence. Our team understands our incredible appetite for a flawless dining experience; without them, it would not be possible. We do not take anything for granted. Each step of service is defined, each ingredient is vetted then explained, and each stage of menu planning is followed by intense education before we proceed to its execution.

Kent Phillips / Victoria & Albert's
Kent Phillips / Victoria & Albert's

What's your favorite part of the guest experience?

When we end up making a special connection with someone that we meet for the first time. We are part of this incredible Walt Disney Company, and our favorite moment is when someone describes their experience as “magical.” It humbles us when we are able to make a difference. My second favorite is to be able to weave our story into our menu. Our legacy is never forgotten, and it usually tends to be what moves us forward.

What is a typical night at the restaurant?

In the past, I have described the experience as a dance. Not in a mechanical or transactional way, but in terms of everyone knowing how interdependent we are of each other to be successful. Like a whisper, each person knows where to be and what comes next.

Our reservations office meets with Chef Matt and me ahead of our guests’ arrival. The seating team memorizes all incoming guests and their special occasions. Servers learn the name of each of their guests and a million other little things. Most importantly, each day we try to celebrate each other.

Just like a dance, there are many tiny steps that come naturally after years of dedication. Everything is done with purpose, from the smallest microgreen facing south on the plate to a cutlery box following the same angles as the gueridon that it rests on. It takes months of dedication to get it, but it is beautiful when the tempo is perfect. 

Kent Phillips / Victoria & Albert's
Kent Phillips / Victoria & Albert's

Hero image: Israel Perez

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