August 06, 2018
But what about cocktails? You may be surprised to learn there's more to mixed drinks than aperitifs and digestifs!
August 07, 2017
It has been said that to be the best, you must learn from the best.
Ask yourself what does it take to be a culinary genius like Joel Robuchon – head chef at Harmony-Lafayette restaurant in Paris at 28 years old and attaining his first Michelin star and has been named chef of the century all before he’s 30.
What about Alain Ducasse, Wolfgang Puck or Anthony Bourdain? What are the habits that these top chefs use that we can take inspiration from?
Habit 1: Planning Is Essential to Success
Great chefs think ahead - from cooking to the financial responsibilities of running a kitchen. The best chefs are highly efficient - they know exact ingredients, where all the utensils are, and how they’ll pace themselves during crunch time. They also understand how to make and save money.
Habit 2: Become the Master of Your Time
When cooking, time is everything. Time management is crucial - utilise your minutes and seconds. A highly efficient kitchen will reduce stress for everyone and keeping diners full and satisfied.
Habit 3: Focus on the Task at Hand
Your office is full of fire, knives and people and you cannot afford slipups. Eliminate distractions, pay attention and keep your mind focused. This skill takes a good amount of discipline, but is essential.
Habit 4: Organisation Is Key
Staying on top of things is crucial. The best chefs not only know exactly how many minutes it takes to prepare each dish in the menu but also how to direct servers in and out of the kitchen.
Habit 5: Innovators Are Always Learning
How do chefs keep ahead of the game, stay innovative and creative? Simple: they're always learning. Great chefs study cooking methods and cuisines of other culture, they experiment, they are constantly on a journey of discovery.
Habit 6: Conscientiousness Pays Off
This comes in many forms: food quality to kitchen practices, personal and food safety, and presentation standards. Top chefs make it a priority to scrutinize everything that goes into their kitchen – from start to finish.
Habit 7: Keep Things Simple
Many great chefs spend hours refining and perfecting their key signature dishes. “Quality over quantity” – offer food that is of top-notch quality, rather than creating a huge variety of dishes that are of mediocre standards.
December 02, 2016
On the flip side, the business of food is highly risky, the factors making it so are:
- Labour and ingredient costs are high
- Long hard hours
- Negligible returns
Depending on restaurant, food to alcohol sales can be dangerously low, weighing in at 80/20 to 90/10 in many Asian countries.
In Western counties sales ratios ranging 70/30 and 80/20 are more common.
to many restaurants a golden revenue opportunity is being lost by either not having a cocktail offer or having one that’s so old school that no one orders them.
Plating and serving food takes time, effort and money by comparison, serving a quality cocktail takes less effort, time and product costs to return Gross Margins of over 80%.
Many restaurants price cocktails at around the same price of starters (entrees).
Imagine the dramatic impact on your business if you could serve in $ equivalent terms double the value with a starter/cocktail combo. Most likely the 2 together would generate more $ than the sale of a main meal by itself.
Too many restaurant businesses leave money on the counter.. take the risk out of Riskaurant by offering or upping your cocktail offer.
October 17, 2016
While on a recent overseas trip it got us to thinking... a seasoned traveller is often provided with some of the most interesting and varied snap shots into emerging trends percolating the hospitality world.
One commonly re-occurring theme restaurants and bars are adopting is a “deconstructed” or simplified menu.
Subscribing to the “less is more” school turns confusion into an easy experience by simplifying that decision process. When you think about it, the menu kicks off the entire experience… and first impressions count!
Of course, if a guest likes pages of choices pick a menu that has simplicity whilst actually presenting a larger array of options. Less is more should be smart.
After all, “less is more” suits the world we live in. Deconstructed food and drink menu design literally means we trust someone else to make a better choice for us. In a world where we constantly cram more into our busy lives – more hours at work, more hours on the move, more travel, more to buy, more to see, more to do - this is a moment of simplicity and ease for the customer.
Still not sure? How about tacking a black board of seasonal specials onto your menu options?
And if that doesn’t convince you, think of it this way: paired down selections create faster order turnaround times, which means fewer server created mistakes and less wastage…
November 05, 2015
In the search for emotional as well as inter connected experiences, Millennials are increasingly making choices based on how they “feel” or make others feel.
Very much rooted in the less is more genre; consumers are now actively seeking options where quality, authenticity and provenance seamlessly live.
Helped by the myriad of cooking and lifestyle shows filling the air waves, educated consumers are changing their year round eating and drinking habits. This experience we call enter-dining
Some of the arising consequences of this food and drink fest: food choices becoming healthier with accompanying beverage choices becoming more premium!
ProConsumers (the name given to the educated, experienced, serious minded home consumer), are investing in more expensive craft beers, wines and spirits to improve dining experiences by better delineating between flavours, taste and context.
Degustation menus are being homed, with more consumers understanding that cocktails can be enjoyed as an individual solitary occasion as well as a perfect accompaniment to a series of courses, surpassing other more typical prepared bottled alternatives such as wine.
Stirred drinks such as Manhattan’s, Negroni’s and Martini’s together with a whole bunch of rediscovered classics are being taken from the bar and replicated at home.
The rise of bar cocktail culture with the knowledgeable bartender at its lead can be credited with the renaissance now seen where cocktails, lifestyle and entertaining experiences merge to provide for more memorable and enjoyable occasions!
May 07, 2015
The kitchen and bar, in a modern hospitality business, operationally speaking pull in different directions, creating a paradigm rather than a clearly defined singularity of purpose and outcome!
This paradigm we refer to is a tug of war created unknowingly between the Kitchen/Bar.
The contrast boils down to:
“What’s WATCHED in the kitchen tends to be WASTED in the bar”.
The WATCH versus WASTE paradigm pivots around 2 different philosophies each altering individual operational imperatives, training and arising metrics.
Kitchens are tremendously expensive enterprises, with tight margins. Produce, protein and labour costs are finely balanced in an economic pas de deux, whereby the slightest hiccup, mis-costing, mis-portioning may very well blow any profit on a meal out of the water!
Bars seemingly operate differently: what costs so little per serve/shot is sold at very high multiples, requiring far less time and energy to produce a profitable result.
Given the economics, management is very focused on closely watching what’s valued the most… things which are undervalued are more likely to be taken for granted and wasted!
The issues between the Kitchen and Bar Operations can be broadly contained to 6 key differences:
- Chefs tend to be formally trained (scientifically) at culinary schools, whereas bar/beverage people tend to learn on the job.
- Structure, measurement, precision are vital to operating a profitable kitchen. Consistency is the outcome sought... yet flip this to a bar and measurement is not critical, drink balance and inconsistency is rife.
- Bars can be notoriously lax compared to strict chef imposed process and controls. A lobster tail goes missing in the kitchen and a wild chef is on the hunt... a bottle of booze goes missing there’s a grunt or huh!
- Kitchens invest in tools which save, assist and control; whereas bar spending is confined to guest facing serve ware. Bar consumables are not compared, cross checked for value, quality and performance; whereas in the kitchen, kitchen consumables are.
- Chefs do inventory daily or multi-times a week, in well run bars this may be done weekly, mostly monthly (if at all).
- Accountability in the kitchen is extremely high... every scrap, drop, grain is watched and accounted for, whereas it’s more laissez faire behind the bar.
If you are an independent or multi-unit operator the news is not all bad as there are specialist inventory control companies such Barmetrics and Bevinco offering intensive on-going management control systems to help.
Compare your kitchen and bar operations... once the analysis is done, it makes sense to impose kitchen discipline in your bar. Try it... what do you have to lose, other than money, inventory and reputation!
March 18, 2015
We’ve all eaten steak right?
What’s more obvious than serving steak to a guest… (of-course steak being an allegory for any product or service!)
Well to be honest there’s a lot that can be learnt!
Check out a Landry’s Seafood restaurant in the US… see what their servers are trained to do!
Here’s the process… a steak, cooked your way is delivered... the server has one request … “please cut your steak NOW to confirm it’s been cooked the way you like it.”
Why; to ensure a customer receives exactly what they ordered...
KAPOW! Instant customer feedback, satisfaction!
On occasion if a steak is under or over-cooked... no need to call back the server to get action, it’s done on the spot, no customer frustration involved!
How easy is that! Making the customer feel heard, solving issues before they’re hijacked into problems.
Go to almost any other restaurant... a server returns to their guest after a meal is commenced, belatedly asking “is everything OK?”
Pre-empting customer experiences by being attentive, anticipating questions or needs before they’re asked are the building blocks to create legendary customer experiences, whether you sell food, cocktails or even bar tools!
March 03, 2015
We have a lot to be thankful to France for... most of which is exported!
In the realm of hospitality we’re indebted to France for 2 concepts: Mise en Place and Esprit de Corps.
Most hospitality workers are familiar with Mise en Place, “everything in its place” as a methodology for bar, kitchen set-ups so that the right tools, spacing, products are within the right distance to the work performed.
Esprit de Corps: the common spirit existing in the members of a group inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honour of the group.
A newer concept that should be equally at home within the hospitality world resting at the epicentre of the guest experience; we call it Esprit de Coeur.
Sitting at a new year’s degustation dinner waiting to bring in a new year... we were greeted by as many servers and specialists as there were courses to be had.
The cuisine was excellent, however depending on server, the energy level and enthusiasm of each person left a type of energy residue impacting the flavour of each course... noticeable increases in flavour seemed to occur when 2 staff in particular... the sommelier and one special server, were involved.
Whilst these 2 individuals acted separate to each... each had a natural enthusiasm, radiating from their hearts to their smiles, changing their body language as well as demeanour! There was the feeling that no amount of money could compensate these 2 pros for the total love of their craft and the guests they treat.
Being NYE what seemed even more remarkable, these two were not with their loved ones; making their enthusiasm extraordinary!
The natural desire of 2 hospitality professionals to radiate positivity, share knowledge, provide care without thinking… transformed a tremendous meal and occasion into a life changing experience.
So now let’s attempt at creating a definition for Esprit de Coeur...
Esprit de Coeur: a love affair of service and care emanating from an individual’s innermost desire is to help and serve others; transforming hospitality experiences into moments turned into occasion, irrespective of whether they are or not!
What do you think!
September 10, 2014
Provenance is the event horizon authenticating a product’s journey from start to finish.
History, heritage, pedigree; serve as the assurance to guarantee consumers favourable experiences.
With consumers increasingly becoming more curious about health impacts of food and drink, will more attention flow towards greater product transparency...?
The WHERE (it’s from) will become less important than the WHAT (it’s made of!)
Grab any soft drink can, beer bottle and most packaged food, flip it around to discover a long list of chemical ingredients. Everything is there to be seen from how much sugar, fat, preservatives etc. etc. is used.
The broader thought: informed consumers make better decisions!
If you’ve got an allergy, a health issue.... diabetes, heart disease, weight or cholesterol issues: read a product’s “discovery label” to decide whether that product may have harmful impacts!
Taking this thought one step further: will activist consumers make demands on regulators to enforce stringent labelling transparency on more product categories?In the not too distant future, could pressure be forced on the Wine industry to declare contents and chemical composition of Wine? What would the spill-over effects be on the Spirit industry?
Under these circumstances can the most pure Spirit brands still advertise as being the most pure, the most natural if a chemical analysis is forced onto its outer packaging.
Could new Prohibitionists (the anti-liquor lobby) force greater alcohol restrictions and higher taxes in the pursuit of their self-righteousness?
Here’s a thought: governments (in a democracy) require Legislation to restrict or prohibit things, however it’s the public service at the behest of Government who can proscribe regulations (declaring something to be or not to be) bypassing the legislative process and public scrutiny!
When the day comes for the Wine and Spirits industry to become label transparent, marketing fundamentals relied upon for hundreds of years will also change from amazing storytelling, mystique, provenance and pedigree to that of plain old cardboard facts?