WORDS BY STEPHANIE AIKINS
The name Sven Almenning is already synonymous with ‘education’ to many in the industry, but the owner of Speakeasy Group has taken it one step further with his latest project.
Almenning has collaborated with some of the industry’s greats to establish Ananas, a portal offering online training courses, in the hope of creating a benchmark for the industry.
“The industry doesn’t have a benchmark or an educational journey that people can follow when starting in hospitality. Because of this, bartending is considered an unskilled profession by most people, including many venue owners themselves,” Almenning told Drinks World.
“I believe the industry is being held back because of this reputation. People don’t stay in the industry long. They love working here, but they don’t take pride in their work because the message that it is an unskilled job is constantly reinforced by the guests, the other staff in the venue, and management that often don’t offer training opportunities.”
Ananas’ Basic Certificate has been created to fill this void in industry standards, the aim being that one day all establishments will expect workers to have passed the course, alongside their RSA, before working on the venue floor. It may seem like an ambitious aspiration, but it is obviously a training tool many venues and individuals in the industry are desperate for, with the Facebook page already garnering 2,000 likes in a month and people signing up from across the globe, according to Almenning.
“As someone who owns six venues and oversees 130-odd staff, it’s something I’ve been crying out for,” said Almenning. “Every venue I’ve shown it to has said, ‘I need this!’ It’s a need we’ve identified from our front, and if I need it I know others need it.”
Two levels of training certificate are currently on offer, Basic and Intermediate, with Advanced to be added soon.
The Basic modules cover fundamental wine, beer, spirits and cocktail knowledge, along with standard hygiene practices and customer service skills.
“This is about sharing knowledge with staff that will help them recommend drinks, understand the questions being asked to them by guests, teach them how to make sales and up sell, and allow them to work faster and better. It’s all about actual, practical knowledge that is going to help you work in a venue,” said Almenning.
The Intermediate course will hone these skills further, starting bartenders on the path towards a profession in the trade, before the Advanced modules will up skill those looking to pursue competitions, leadership or brand ambassador roles.
At the Advanced stage, bartenders can choose from courses focusing on specific beverage categories. Experts from across the globe have created the content in each of these certificates, including tequila expert Phil Bayley, gin authority Simon Ford and former President of Sommeliers Australia, Ben Moechtar. Almenning, who already has extensive experience in operating training programs in the industry, has then worked together with education academics to create courses that promote knowledge retention.
Almenning says the purpose of the platform is two fold. Not only will it allow bartenders to create an online profile of completed courses that can act as or complement a CV, but it can also be used as a management tool for internal training. Once a venue creates its own profile, it can monitor the courses that have been completed by staff as well as upload content and curate specific courses on aspects such as knowledge of the local area and/or food, wine and cocktail menus.
“Ananas is designed to raise the bar in the hospitality industry and retain talent by creating aspirations for people,” said Almenning. “I want to show those starting out that you can pursue this path and travel the world with the profession if you keep training and learning.”
Check out Ananas or sign up for free here.