A service to remember

Oct 18, 2015, 08:04 IST | Phorum Dalal

The head steward at Zodiac Grill, which shuts next month, takes a 23-year-old walk down memory lane

Domnik Rodrigues joined Taj Mahal Palace & Towers at Apollo Bunder as an apprentice in its Indian restaurant, Masala Kraft. In 1992, he was asked to start work at Zodiac Grill, the most coveted classic French restaurant in town. Next month, Rodriques will oversee the restaurant’s last service as head steward.

Domnik Rodrigues shows how a serviette is used to hold a wine bottle
Domnik Rodrigues shows how a serviette is used to hold a wine bottle

When we meet him at Zodiac Grill on Thursday evening, he is dressed in a black velvet Sherwani. He smiles, bends slightly and apologises profusely for making us wait, without grumbling about having to come in earlier despite a late nightshift. “A steward is the front face of all the backstage action. It is our duty to serve food in the most graceful manner,” he says.

In spite of having worked at a French restaurant before, the training for Zodiac Grill was a back-to-school experience for Rodrigues, who recollects sessions on how to maintain a graceful stance and speak clearly. “We had a class with Sabira Merchant, too. ‘Stomach in and chest out’, she’d tell us,” says the 55-year-old about the etiquette czarina.

But no one had trained him on how to deal with star entries. “In my early days, I’d be star struck when people we read about in the papers walked in. Over time, you get used to it,” says Rodrigues, who weaved a story while concocting the famous Snake Coffee — a flambé coffee with cognac, liquor coffee and kahlua. “As I poured the liquor down an orange peel, the flame looked like a snake. I made up a script about finding a snake in a garden. We narrate it till date.”

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