The digital edition of the January 2010 issue of Chef Magazine is now online through the Chef Web site. This digital edition features all the same great content as the print edition, plus online exclusives for center-of-plate recipes. To access the issue, click the icon below. You can also register on the Chef Web site to receive e-mail notification when each new digital magazine is available for viewing.
"Going green sounds easy, right? Well, in a large-scale operation, like a 400-plus-room hotel, it's not that easy. As executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Southern California, I started to move toward being green and more sustainable in the kitchen as part of a larger resort-wide program. The first step was to put together a Green Team and conduct a full kitchen inventory. I wanted to see what products could be replaced with more environmentally friendly ones. The result of my inventory was eye-opening. Styrofoam seemed to appear out of nowhere: the kitchen, room service, the outlets and banquets. Even the employee dining room had Styrofoam cups."
--Rob Wilson, executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Calif., "Industry Voices," January 2010, Chef Magazine
"As we peer into the future, we can already begin to make some forecasts about the elements of a meal in the coming year.
"American cuisine. Everyone, or at least some, believe American cuisine is the future (though trying to define American cuisine is as difficult as trying to pet a porcupine). Airline food. Ranked healthwise on a 1- to 5-point scale, with 5 being the healthiest: Continental Airlines, 4.5; American, 3.75; United, JetBlue and Delta, 3.5; US Airways, 2.5. Allergies. Eleven million Americans suffer from allergies. Researchers at Emory University, Atlanta, will be making significant progress to finding a solution to the problem. Appetizers will morph into little meals."
--Irena Chalmers, "Future food," "The Last Word," January 2010, Chef Magazine
This article is the expanded version of "Staffing for success" (page 9) of the January 2010 issue of Chef Magazine.
RealFood Consulting is a full-service consulting firm for operators in the food and beverage industry. Working out of Boston, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, RealFood's team of experts equip foodservice clients, which include both established and start-up operations, with the tools and know-how to refine their business models and improve the operational efficiencies of everything from accounting and inventory practices to management and menu development.
Here, RealFood president and founder Ed Doyle--a Culinary Institute of America alum with 25 years of foodservice experience--discusses some best practices for training and grooming new employees.
Chef Magazine: How does RealFood work with operators to help them improve their employee-training practices and employee relations in general? Doyle: One of the things we find a lot of our clients do as a starting point with us is what we call an operational opportunity audit. ... We'll do everything from going through your financial systems to spending a day in your facility watching you work with your team--evaluating customer experience, going through all of your systems, seeing what's in place for your training, monitoring controls, staffing, basically every aspect of how you run your business on a day-to-day basis. We'll then start looking at the customer experience side of it. From there, we're able to evaluate the facility and identify your areas of opportunity. And we basically put a full report together for the client saying, "Here's what we saw that was wrong, and of the things we saw that were wrong, here [are] the ones we'd tackle first, and here's how we'd tackle them." So, we're not only identifying what we saw, but we're also identifying solutions. For our clients, the best starting part for addressing problems is a fresh set of eyes, especially for our mature operators, who, after looking at the same problems for a long time, have just become kind of numb to them. We're able to come in and look at you and the absolute, but also benchmark you against your peers. What are best practices that we're seeing? How are you measuring up against the best operators we've worked with--what do they do that can help you?
Chef Magazine: Given that customers are still selective with their dining dollars, how important is a motivated, well-trained staff to the success of a foodservice operation? Doyle: Now, more so than ever, the loyalty of the customer is determined by how welcome they feel and the level of hospitality you're able to deliver. We have clients that are actually up in this economy, and they're the ones who are able to deliver rabid customer loyalty, tremendous value, incredible consistency and a true experience of hospitality. If you have a high-turnover, transient staff, or you're not training properly ... you probably don't have a strong, positive culture, and you're just not going to be able to retain customers.
Chef Magazine: So, stability and consistency from employees directly benefit a restaurant's bottom line? Doyle: I don't think anyone can expect to be successful for the long term without stability, without culture, without really having a sense of what it is that you're delivering to your customer. You look at how a local independent can differentiate itself from chains--that's the key piece. It's what makes you special: the fact that you deliver something that a chain would have a hard time delivering because on a multi-unit basis, you going to see work culture differ from store to store.
Chef Magazine: What advice would you offer an operator seeking to revamp his or her employee-training methodologies? Doyle: The first thing is you need to determine what it is you're trying to provide your customer. To define customer experience, you need to first define what you want to be for the customer. The question we always ask is, "If I'm a customer, and I call the hostess, [and say] 'Can you tell me about your restaurant?' What do you tell me?" So often, they can't answer it. What we need to do is dig deep and find out what you want to be and what you want people to think and feel about your restaurant. And then, everything decided from that point should be a choice made to meet that end goal.
Chef Magazine: How does that advice change when you're dealing with a start-up building and hiring from scratch? Doyle: Frankly, it's easier to advise a start-up. To change culture is like stopping a cruise ship; you've really got to stop the bad habits and build on the ones that are working, but also redefine yourself while you're still running your restaurant. You know, like the old analogy of fixing the car while you're driving down the road. But if you're a start-up, you can really define yourself early on, and that's one of the things we stress--getting involved in operations and strategic planning as you're starting up. You want to be able to put systems in place before day one that will help you do those jobs well.
Chef Magazine: Is there a different approach for training and team building for kitchen staff versus front-of-house staff? Doyle: So often we focus on that separation--the front of the house versus the back of the house--but the solution to overall efficiency is building a broad team culture and building a philosophy that's customer-centric, where everyone in the restaurant is focused on one thing and one thing only: delivering the top customer experience. So, if you can build that as the culture that exists within the four walls of the building, it really helps bring everyone together. That's really the challenging part, because, frankly, I can teach anybody how to wait on a table or improve how they cook. But to deliver genuine hospitality is something that's really special and unique. The only differences between the front of the house and the back of the house are the nuts and bolts that you're teaching. So, to be able to build a culture that the nuts and bolts part of the business can fit into, that's what is going to deliver success and then build teamwork, which will also help minimize turnover.
Chef Magazine: What are some common areas of improvement for employee training, and what steps can the average restaurateur take to address them? Doyle: I think the number one thing is not really training people. Taking a new hire and putting them side by side with another employee is not training them. That's not giving them the building blocks to be part of your team. You want to make sure that you're setting people up for success by giving them all the tools, so you need to have a consistent training and orientation plan in place that everyone starts with. ... Having someone come in on their first day of work, and say, "Bobby, this is Susie. You're going to be working with her for five days, and that's your training." It's atrocious, and we see it all the time. It's rampant throughout the industry. You can't rely on your staff, who have their own responsibilities, to train new employees. If you do, you cede control of your culture. ... You also need to constantly evaluate the training process itself, improving upon it if need be. It's not a static environment; the restaurant business is anything but static. So, every training process and every procedure needs to be constantly updated and improved.
Chef Magazine: What other employee-training advice can you share? Doyle: People think they can't afford to train people. The reality is you really can't afford not to train people because the expense of turnover is incredible, recruiting people is constantly a challenge and you're jeopardizing every one of your customers by having people on the floor who either aren't trained or are new employees who aren't really ingrained in your culture. So, to have a stable workforce and to do everything you can to keep people trained, motivated and excited, is the key thing to really delivering hospitality. So, I don't think anyone can put a value on what it means to have a well-trained employee because if you're not training people, you're just leaving money all over the table. There is a direct correlation to your bottom line.
Allfish was established to help shape more economically and environmentally sustainable fisheries and aquaculture operations, particularly in developing countries. Projects funded by Allfish will be designed to promote good fisheries governance, sustainable fishing practices, effective aquaculture methods, ecosystem preservation, responsible marketplace actions and engagement in global policy debates.
"Allfish was established to help seafood industry organizations, including small-scale producers and fisheries authorities collaborate effectively," said Stan Crothers, chairman of Allfish and former head of New Zealand's Ministry of Fisheries, in a statement. "We're not in the business of creating new polices or telling fledgling producers what to do. We're here to share resources and knowledge in order to promote responsible fisheries." 0
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