Tales of a Bridezilla: A Caterer’s Worst Nightmare
As joyous as weddings are, they often present uniquely disastrous situations for wedding caterers and those behind the scenes.
Allergic reactions, miscommunications, and botched attempts at veganism are just some of the surprisingly common predicaments an unfortunate wedding caterer may find themselves responsible for. Any experienced wedding caterer will know how quickly things can go wrong—and as a result, how swiftly even the most elegant of brides can turn into a terrifying bridezilla.
Weddings are monumental affairs, with stakes so high that tension-fueled errors are nearly inescapable. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to prepare for and resolve them with grace.
In this post, we’ll look at some common wedding caterer catastrophes and how you can prevent them from spoiling both your own and the happy couple’s big day.
4 Common Wedding Catering Problems To Look Out For
Without proper planning, there’s no short supply of wedding catering disasters waiting to happen.
Food is often the last thing on a bride’s mind, which is why full responsibility and preparation are so important for caterers to undertake.
Here are four of the most common wedding catering disasters to be wary of:
1. Misunderstood Dietary Needs
On top of guests who may have serious nut, egg, dairy, shellfish or other allergies, you’ve got vegans, gluten-free followers, and people who won’t consume refined sugar—just to name a few. Misunderstood dietary needs can ruin a wedding and even lead to hospitalization.
If someone suffers an allergic reaction or just consumes something outside of their diet because of catering negligence, you’ve got a potential lawsuit on your hands. Not to mention rather justifiable vitriol from the families and guests present.
2. Insufficient Food Supplies
The last thing a bride wants to have to do on her special day is to explain to her guests that they won’t be getting any dinner. If a caterer isn’t privy to the correct headcount at a wedding, it may lead to some very disappointed guests, and as a result, a very upset bride and groom.
3. Cold Food
Weddings are often vulnerable to delays and mishaps which draw out the event to be longer than originally expected. Food that’s prepared for a 1 PM lunch may sit for an hour or two before guests even sit down, leading to an unappetizingly cold meal at 2 PM.
If a caterer doesn’t account for some time delays, it will negatively impact the food quality. Wedding food should always be fresh, warm, and prepared within very close proximity to consumption.
4. Late or Tardy Service
In contrast to cold, stale food, food not yet prepared or too few staff who are unable to prepare and serve it on time present the opposite problem. By the time guests have sat through a ceremony, some speeches, and possibly several venue changes, the last thing they want to do is wait for their food.
Late service leaves a very poor impression on guests, and can quickly turn the atmosphere of even the most beautiful wedding sour. If a bridezilla is lying dormant within the blushing bride, tardy, irresponsible service will wake it up.
5 Solutions To Remember
Despite the many traps waiting to snap up unsuspecting caterers, there are certain tactics you can use to ensure they never have an opportunity to arise.
With the right attitude towards planning, preparation, and communication, you can successfully avoid e en the worst disasters.
Here are four solutions to the above-listed problems that every wedding caterer should have in their arsenal:
1. Thorough Communication
When it comes to catering for a wedding, we can not emphasize enough the importance of clear, thorough communication. Caterers need to know all about the big day, and even aspects like the color scheme and flowers are important considerations. But the biggest concern is allergens and dietary requirements. The only way to avoid serving your bride and her party food that could cause harm or go against their diet is to discuss their needs at length well before you develop the menu.
Make sure to collect information on every allergen and diet-restricted guest who is attending, and prepare accordingly. Be ruthless in your commitment to exactitude. And don’t forget to label every hors d’oeuvre on the table with their respective contaminants if this is a concern.
2. Meticulous Inventory
The only way to prevent a stock shortage is to take a “more is more” approach to inventory. Most caterers and banquet events have a standard of about a 10% to 15% allowance for additional guests above and beyond the guaranteed number. Be sure to discuss this with the bride and wedding organizer and make it emphatically clear that you will only have enough food for this number of people.
Impromptu, unlisted invites often get sent out, and brides are notorious for making last-minute changes to their guest list. Leftover food is a much smaller problem than insufficient portions. If there is substantial food left over after the meal, it can get donated to staff, a nearby shelter, or simply given to the bride and groom’s family. Just be sure to include the extra food costs in your budget and the final bill.
3. Backup Burners
Because despite a schedule, one can never truly know when the guests will be ready to eat. In the event of a delayed ceremony or a fainting groom, the food must have a way to stay warm and fresh until everyone is ready to sit down and tuck in. Even great plating won’t make up for ice-cold food.
Backup burners should be a staple for any caterer, but this is especially true for weddings. Portable burners are easy to travel with, simple to set up, and well worth the cost for the value they bring to just about any catering job. Hot meals equal happy clients.
4. Trained Employees on Standby
Having several reliable staff trained and ready to go is essential for a successful wedding meal. Hiring a few extras in case of a rush might seem unnecessary, but the value and efficiency they bring are certainly worth the effort.
Make sure your employees are all professional, prepared, and well-trained to prevent avoidable hiccups and ensure that you’re delivering smooth service to expectant guests.
At the end of the day, all a bride and her guests want is to be fed well, and on time. With enough preparation, proactivity, and attention to detail, it’s possible to elude even the most monstrous of bridezillas.
If you are thinking about opening a small bakery or starting an online pastry shop, you might be asking yourself: Do I need a pastry chef certification? While getting a formal education is not a strict necessity, a certificate has many advantages that can launch your career and ensure you succeed. Please read on to learn more about the importance of pastry certification and the benefits that come with it.
The world of baking is full of small details and technicalities. The secret to delicious cookies and other baked goods is not only in the ingredients but the skills of the chefs and the minor details they pay attention to in perfecting their craft. You need to learn these skills and techniques if you are serious about baking. The question is if you will master them with the help of certified teachers, or from blog posts and trial and error.
If you decide to learn by yourself, you have to count on your dedication and commitment, which can be harder than it sounds without a well-educated tutor to guide you. You may think that you will dedicate all your free time to learning these techniques, but you will probably need someone to push and motivate you.
Learning by yourself can also be very risky and time-consuming. Many of the available tutorials are not created by expert pastry chefs, and not all of them give you the correct information. It is also tricky to know where to start and where to go from there. On the other hand, a curriculum created by trained professionals is laid out in such a way to make the most of your time and give you the correct information so you can become a successful pastry chef.
Benefits of Getting a Pastry Certification
Learning accurate techniques in a time-efficient manner is not the only perk of attending a formal pastry course. You do not have to go to the top culinary schools in the world to get a certificate. A credible local school will do the job and give you a pastry chef certification that has numerous benefits. Let’s look at some of these benefits.
Learn All the Skills You Need
Formal training and pastry certification will give you a more expansive skill set and prepare you thoroughly for your future business. Some of the topics you can expect to learn in most pastry programs include:
Food safety and sanitation
Food preparation fundamentals
Baking techniques like laminated doughs, cookies, pies, and custards
Cake baking and decoration
Plating and pastry arts
Learn the Science Behind the Techniques and Build Good Habits
Pastry schools not only teach you the necessary techniques but the scientific reasons behind them. Once you learn why you have to rest your dough for a certain period, mix specific ingredients, or bake at a particular temperature, you are less likely to make a mistake. Even if something goes wrong and the result does not turn out as you expected, you can use your knowledge and find the source of the problem to prevent it from happening in the future. Applying what you learn correctly under the supervision of instructors will also lead to you building good habits that you will practice for the rest of your culinary career.
Starting in the baking business does not require you to have a pastry certification. However, if you are a beginner and plan on getting employed, it will be harder for you to do so without something to show to prove your knowledge. A pastry certificate can go a long way toward making your chef’s resume shine. It can set you up for success by proving to the employers that you have the necessary basic skills and discipline to thrive in this business.
A pastry chef certificate is beneficial even if you plan to start your own business. It can show potential investors that you know what you are doing and can grow a successful business.
Start With Connections
One of the best advantages of getting a pastry certificate is the people you meet during your program. Your fellow, like-minded classmates can help you on your journey to getting a degree and even play a role in your future success as a pastry chef. Your instructors, who will most likely be professional chefs, can become lifetime friends and mentor you whenever you need help. Therefore, attending a course will give you more than just an education. It will help you build strong relationships with pastry enthusiasts in the industry and grant you access to other chefs which can be beneficial throughout your career.
Additional Certifications You Must Have to Start Your Pastry Business
A pastry diploma is not the only certification you need for opening your baking business. There are other safety-related certifications you must have to be able to run your business legally and avoid being shut down. Here are two of them.
Food Safety Certification
You must obtain a food safety certification before you open your bakery. To receive this certification, you must attend a course on general safety practices, foodborne diseases, proper storage techniques, and ingredients and equipment handling. After completing the course, you have to pass the qualifying exam to prove you are ready to run your own business safely. Without this certification, you put the lives of your customers and the overall success of your shop at risk.
Bakery Site Inspection
Getting a certificate from the Department of Health for the site of your pastry shop is also a necessary step before you start baking. Health inspectors must check the physical place where you plan on setting up shop, storing ingredients, and baking to ensure they comply with safety regulations and are at the minimum risk of spreading foodborne illnesses. If you start a baking business without this certificate, authorities will shut you down immediately.
Get Pastry-certified for a Successful Career!
Pastry chefs have thrived with and without certifications, but getting one can be a great addition to your resume. It can give you the credibility and knowledge to run a successful pastry shop. So take the first step toward obtaining a pastry certification today and ensure your long-term success!
10 Factors to Consider When Choosing Restaurant Kitchen Equipment
Most restaurant owners understand that the type and quality of the equipment in their commercial kitchen is bound to affect the quality of food they serve. What’s more? Quality equipment can help you save on energy costs and even water bills – provided you choose the right models from trusted manufacturers. While choosing restaurant kitchen equipment for your establishment might seem like a tedious task full of research and comparison, we’re here to give you some essential tips so you can select the best pieces of machinery in your commercial food business. Continue reading to know the ten most important factors to watch out for when selecting equipment for your restaurant.
1. List Out & Understand Your Kitchen’s Needs
The first step in outfitting your kitchen with the best restaurant equipment is to prepare a list of all your needs. Take into consideration what you intend to serve your customers, the number of customers you plan to serve, and the types of food you want to offer. These factors will give shape to your list and help you when choosing equipment.
2. Decide on Your Kitchen’s Design
Your commercial kitchen space and its layout are bound to determine your equipment choices and how efficiently it will perform during operations. Consult with your chefs, planners, and designers to ensure you have an elegant layout for your kitchen that helps your workers function comfortably and with speed.
3. Invest in High-Quality Equipment
Make no compromise in the quality of equipment you purchase for your kitchen. It is always advisable to invest in trustworthy commercial kitchen equipment as it helps you save money in the long term. High-quality products often come with legitimate warranties, service plans, and allow you to cut costs on utilities. The old phrase, “You get what you pay for” is especially true when purchasing restaurant equipment.
4. Consider the Kitchen Space Available to You
It’s important to measure both your kitchen area and the area occupied by each piece of equipment to help you build an organized cooking space. A cluttered and cramped kitchen with extremely large equipment will hinder your staff during work, on the other hand, small equipment incapable of handling your needs will end up slowing down work and eventually – delivery.
5. Food Safety Requirements
Verify all the equipment you purchase against the existing food safety norms in your area. Breaking health codes and food safety statutes can warrant hefty fines and sometimes even entails jail time. Do your research and consult with a legal advisor in case you’re unsure about food safety laws.
6. Value Speed & Energy Efficiency
Equipment speeds are very important when you’re running a high-volume operation. This is especially true in the case of food processors, ovens, and grills as these pieces of equipment decide the turnaround times for a good portion of your orders. It’s also extremely important to procure energy-efficient equipment. They cut down your power consumption and allow you to claim benefits for running a greener restaurant.
7. Ascertain Warranty Periods
It’s important to verify all the warranty agreements at the time of purchase to avoid incurring charges later on. It’s always wise to verify the warranty period provided by your dealership with the manufacturer so you can rest easy when you need to get your equipment serviced or repaired. Create an Excel sheet that documents all your equipment and their warranty timelines as well as contact information.
8. Make Cleaning & Maintenance an Easy Task
Cleaning and maintenance are necessary for all commercial equipment considering the nature of materials they deal with on an everyday basis. Regular cleaning and servicing ensure your equipment lasts for a long time and works in the best state. Create cleaning schedules for all machines with your restaurant manager to help distribute the task among all your staff.
9. Look for Water Saving Features
Equipment that conserves water is not only good for the environment, but it also helps you save on utility bills. Since a commercial kitchen is a very water-intensive operation, it makes both fiscal and ecological sense to cut water usage wherever possible for all business owners.
10. Understand Building, Fire, & Health Codes
It’s important to consider the building, fire, and health codes of the area your restaurant is located in. Since these statutes vary in each location, it would be wise to get in touch with the experts to understand these codes and comply with all of them when outfitting your restaurant. Non-compliance with these laws might lead to penalties and fines, so ensure both you and your staff are well-versed in all local area building, fire, and health codes.
Equipment for a commercial kitchen is integral to the quality of offerings it puts out. Customer satisfaction and your establishment’s reputation rely on the type of equipment you use. This makes the task of choosing restaurant kitchen equipment an immensely important one as it directly impacts the success or failure of your establishment. Be sure to consult with your accountants, designers, chefs, and legal experts in addition to this list to ensure you procure the equipment best suited to your needs.
Damon Shrauner, Senior Sales Consultant and VP on B2B Sales at CKitchen, working in the foodservice equipment sector since 1994. With his expertise in market analysis, product placement, sales, and project management, he will always tell you what to do for the best of your business.
Why Restaurant Video Marketing is a Worthwhile Investment
Many restaurant owners ask why restaurants need video marketing and is it worth the investment. Making up 82% of all website traffic, online video is predicted to be the leading source of web content for 2022. It is a well-known fact that video marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage audiences and amass online traction, but how does this popular form of online marketing translate into the restaurant industry?
For years, restaurants have relied on the tantalizing visuals of food and food production to engage with the public eye. But the transition from static images or posters to refined (and highly competitive) video content leaves many restaurateurs feeling daunted and unsure of how to move forward.
Video marketing is the meeting point between evocative food visuals, trending online themes, and a foundational understanding of video technology.
These three things combined can create powerful content that draws online audiences in and compels the public to invest in your brand. Video marketing has proven to be highly effective in growing online followings, improving website traffic, attracting media attention, and gaining customer loyalty.
The statistics available on the popularity and effectiveness of video marketing means that restaurants can no longer ignore it as a method for connecting with the general public and generating high ROI.
Even though the production of video content may seem pricey or time-consuming for restauranteurs and chefs lacking experience in this area, learning the basics of video marketing opens up a world of opportunities. These opportunities can prove monumental in the building of your brand reputation.
What Makes Video Marketing So Effective?
Before we get into the technicalities of video marketing, let’s discuss its relevance to the online marketing industry and what makes it such a driving force behind customer engagement.
Video marketing uses the naturally appealing visuals of food and food preparation to tantalize viewers and generate curiosity about what the consumption experience might be like. It also uses storytelling to illustrate each step of the food production process, from original conceptualization to physical creation.
There are many different ways to go about using video marketing in the restaurant industry. Things like restaurant walkabouts, chef’s perspectives, recipe development, dish preparation, and even simple close-up shots of food all perform exceptionally well on social media platforms.
In fact, views for food and food preparation on YouTube have increased by 170% year-over-year. People eat up video content about food – and who can blame them? Food sits at the epicenter of community culture. It’s something that unites people from every corner of the globe.
If your restaurant can tap into the increasingly high demand for quality food videos, amassing a loyal, active audience both on and offline will become much easier.
What Does Great Video Marketing Look Like?
The first step is to define your marketing plan. If you don’t have a background in video content development or marketing, knowing where to start can be difficult. However, the information available on this topic is widely accessible and easier than you think. Especially with the support of online tools and tutorials.
When creating video content for your restaurant, there are four main components to keep in mind.
Content – What kind of content do you think your current followers will like the most? You could film the preparation of a popular dish, a brief interview with the chef, a foraging expedition, or a compilation video of various whips, sizzles, splatters or drizzles that gets viewers salivating.
Style – Your content style is the character and heart of your restaurant brand identity. Is your restaurant cute and quirky, or traditional and elegant? The brand identity of your chef or restaurant should always be represented in your video content.
Length – The length of your videos should be dependent on where you upload them, and why. An Instagram reel is limited to 1 minute, whereas Tik Tok allows up to 3 minutes.
Facebook’s limit is 240 minutes, and YouTube doesn’t have a limit. If you’re going to post regular, bite-sized videos, let Instagram reels and Tik Toks be your guide. Longer, more episodic videos would be best uploaded to YouTube or Facebook.
Quality – The quality of your video content should be consistently high. Online consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to food videos, so they will direct their time elsewhere if yours does not meet their quality expectations.
One of the best ways to create high-quality video marketing content is to consume it yourself. In order to create video content that is likely to perform well, you will need to develop a strong understanding of current trends, themes, and styles present within your restaurant community.
Stand Out with Creative Ideas
Restaurants that embrace unique themes and strategies for video marketing tend to perform better over time. Here is a list of creative yet easily executed video marketing ideas to make your restaurant stand out amongst the crowd:
Tell your brand’s story
“Day in the life” vlogs
DIY popular dish instructional
Head Chef interview
Delicious close-ups compilation
When it comes down to it, your video content should make viewers hungry, excited, and curious about your restaurant’s food. The sexier, the better!
Finding and Cultivating Talent Online
There’s no shame in admitting that you either have no interest or proficiency in the art of video marketing. There is a surplus of trained and amateur professionals out there who both understand and love the process of creating high-quality restaurant video content, and hiring them is easy.
You can find thousands of accomplished freelance video marketers for hire online. Although salaries are highly dependent on experience, the average hourly pay rate for a hired video marketer is $30, and the average monthly salary ranges between $1,500 and $4,000.
If hiring somebody else is not currently possible for your restaurant marketing budget, internal training is simpler, easier, and less expensive than you might think. Through websites like the Dan Institute and Filmora, just about anyone can learn how to make visually stunning and impactful video content.
Video marketing is so much more than just surface-level attraction. With the right strategy in place, this visually-focused form of marketing can turn online viewers into loyal real-life customers who understand your brand mission with newfound clarity and appreciation.
2022 BBQ Trends and What to Expect in the New Year
Oh, the smoky and sweet flavor of an amazing BBQ. Doesn’t it just make your mouth water instantly? There’s not much food-wise that beats the tantalizing flavor of meat cooked over an open flame or smoked in a well-seasoned smoker. It’s a culinary art that many people take very seriously. If your happy place is standing over hot coals making some delicious BBQ or want to improve your BBQ menu, then you want to find out the latest trends and tips to make it a fantastic experience that you’ll brag to your friends about. This goes beyond a basic slab of baby back ribs and BBQ chicken to explore flavors and chef-driven recipes that will surprise and delight. Here are the best in 2022 BBQ trends and what to expect in the new year.
International Fusion Flavors
Chefs all over America are infusing new and interesting flavors that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of being associated with BBQ culture. Specifically, for 2022, a sustainable spice company Dutch Spices predicts that Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American spices will be a big hit with BBQ flavors.
For example, that could mean a Thai red curry marinade for a rack of ribs, a chimichurri sauce as a finisher, or using liberal amounts of the seasoning spice, za’atar, which is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. Za’atar is a dry blend combination of savory herbs like oregano, cumin, toasted coriander, sesame seeds, and sumac to give it some extra tang. It’s the perfect complement to dry rub chicken thighs over an open flame or BBQ turkey legs.
Out of the Ordinary Meats
Think outside of the box with meats that are anything but chicken breasts and ribs. That includes less popular and inexpensive cuts like the tri-tip, pork steak, or even beef tongue. It’s all about the technique of how you BBQ, as opposed to securing just the right filet mignon or St. Louis style ribs, that everyone has had a million times before.
At the other end of the spectrum, more and more people are leaning into grilling and BBQ that’s plant-based. Although, that may seem like the complete opposite of what a great BBQ should be to most traditionalists.
Plant-based BBQ that’s tasty enough to satisfy even your non-vegan friends is a challenge, but with a recipe that features BBQ cauliflower steaks from Ree Drummond of the Food Network, it just might be your new favorite way to enjoy vegetables. You just have to try it at your next gathering to understand.
New BBQ Restaurants Everywhere
Some patrons don’t know how to make the perfect BBQ at home, thus why one of the biggest trends of 2022 is new BBQ restaurants popping up everywhere. There’s an influx of innovative new chefs that are taking BBQ to a whole new level. Some of the newest places to try in 2022 that are already doing exceptional work are 2Fifty Texas BBQ in the metro D.C. area, Jon G’s Barbeque in North Carolina, and Hurtado Barbeque in Texas. Each of these restaurants was voted the “Best New BBQ” by Southern Living Magazine for 2021.
New 2022 BBQ Trends Gear and Gadgets
Every year, the popularity of BBQ food rises, as do the trends of new BBQ gear, grills, and smokers. Pellet grills are becoming increasingly popular, and BBQ grill manufacturers are doubling down on pellet grill innovation and improvements. Expect to see more smart technology included into these grills, such as virtual assistant integrations like Alexa, as well as additional mobile app integrations and automation.
Instagram Tips for Chefs to Improve their Instagram Following
Want to establish a cult following for your culinary biz without spending a dime? Instagram is the vehicle to make it happen. Here are a few Instagram tips for Chefs to increase their following.
Social media has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for brands and businesses in almost every industry. The culinary realm is no exception. In this Instagram-obsessed era, expanding your culinary brand’s online presence and visibility is more important than ever. While paid advertisements and word-of-mouth are great, forgetting to optimize your social media to elevate your brand would be doing your profession (and bank account) a major disservice.
As a chef in the modern world, cameras are as essential to your craft as a spoon and chef knife. While consumers have always loved eating and photographers have always appreciated the beauty of food, Instagram has changed food culture forever. Thanks to Instagram, amateur-friendly editing apps, viral content, and the birth of IG influencers, it’s easier than ever for anyone to be a food critic with magazine-quality photos and captions.
There is no doubt that the digital foodie-craze is here to stay and chefs would be smart to learn from it and cater to it when running their business. Knowing how to harness the power of Instagram can cultivate a larger following, bring in more customers, and elevate your brand in ways that simply weren’t possible just a few years ago — all for free and at the touch of your fingertips.
Here are some ways for chefs to stay Instagram-able while working in the kitchen and bring more customers to your table:
1. Switch to a Creator Profile
Using a personal account for your business means you’re missing out on valuable features that could optimize your exposure. Switch your account to a creator profile via your settings to unlock exclusive features like insights and ads. These features aren’t available on a basic personal account and give you the tools necessary to maximize your reach on Instagram. For instance, you’ll be able to analyze your audience’s behavior and optimize your content to boost the demand.
2. Use Hashtags
Speaking of optimization, killer content is just the start. Hashtags can be a driving force in getting your posts in front of more eyeballs so use them. There are over 178m pics tagged #food on Instagram and over 56m tagged #foodporn. Like these, there are thousands of culinary-related hashtags relevant to your chef-stagram. Take time to do a little research and find the ones that make sense for you to help you reach even more people. Some common hashtags include: #chefslife #chefsofinstagram #theartofplating #artofplating #foodart #chefstable
3. Take Better Photos
This is probably the most important of our Instagram tips for Chefs. Instagram is all about aesthetics and visual storytelling. Lucky for you, you don’t have to double as a professional photographer to get swoon-worthy food pics on Instagram. The right lighting, editing app, and filter can go a long way. Watch a few tutorials and try experimenting with different kinds of posts till you find what works. You’ll know you got your visuals right when you start noticing a boost in your engagement rates. Pro tip: think of a theme or format for your Instagram grid (your profile) and stick to it. For instance, maybe your thing can be that all your photos are taken from overhead with every other photo being a chef-related quote. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative!
4. Interact with your Audience and Other Creators
Don’t just post it and forget it. To stay Instagram-able, you have to take time to engage with your followers. Not all influencers and content creators put focus on doing this, so putting effort into engaging with your audience can set you apart from other creators in your niche. Use poll features for recipe suggestions and content feedback, to ask questions about ingredients, or to reply to comments and tagged posts. Don’t neglect other creators either — tag your favorite brands, interact with influencers, and build relationships. You never know when your favorite brand might hook you up with free merch (like your favorite chef’s knife or apron) in exchange for some love on your account and vice-versa.
5. Stay Active
Consistency and frequency are key in being successful on Instagram. Make a content creation schedule and stick to it. By doing this and posting regularly, you can use teasers to engage with your audience by keeping them waiting for your “Friday Night Dinner Recipes” or “Craft Cocktail-of-the-Day”. When accounts get too passive, they lose momentum and people move on. Stay active and stay consistent to keep their attention.
As a chef, mastering Instagram is simply part of the game today. While it might take a little trial and error at first, you’ll find that you can be Instagram-able without having to master digital marketing and photography. Most importantly, remember that while it is a tool for your business, it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun with it. Just like you experiment with recipes, don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to Instagram. Who knows? You just might be the next viral sensation.
Customer complaints can sometimes be an unavoidable part of running a small business, but they can often be especially common in the dining industry. Almost everyone who walks into your restaurant thinks that they are a qualified food critic, and thus, diners have opinions about the job you’re doing – good or bad. Knowing how to deal with a difficult guest can turn their bad experience into a great experience.
The pandemic has altered the dining landscape. More than 10% of restaurants in the US have closed forever due to COVID restrictions. Most of the remaining restaurants have been forced to redesign their operations and make difficult compromises, cutting staff and modifying menu options. It may be challenging to meet customer expectations while doing more work with less staff and earning less revenue due to continued socially-distanced seating arrangements and constant sanitizing.
Still, it’s possible to resolve customer conflicts as they arise using the strategies outlined below. But first, it helps to understand why some customers get upset. Check-out this Infographic by Clover for a simplified version of this article.
Why do some Customers Behave Badly?
Conflicts can crop up for any number of reasons, but most issues you’re likely to face stem from one of the following broad categories:
Frustration over personal circumstances – such as trouble at home or pandemic fatigue
Anger over policies – such as mask mandates, limited seating capacity, or dress codes
Poor quality service – such as mixed-up orders or long wait times
Not being heard – such as when a waiter dismisses a complaint
Although the underlying reasons might vary, the basic steps for dealing with a difficult guest are the same.
1. Listen to the Diner’s Complaint
The first step in dealing with a difficult guest is to calmly listen to everything the customer has to say. Doing so is crucial for understanding why he or she is upset – and for determining how best to resolve the issue. You’d be surprised how often letting someone vent helps to resolve problems on their own. Make attentive listening the number one priority for every member on the team. Listening is the foundation of conflict resolution.
2. Restate the Issue Clearly
The next step involves demonstrating your understanding of the situation by repeating the issue to the customer in your words. This lets the customer know you’re paying attention and that his or her voice matters. Clearly restating the problem also helps build empathy and rapport.
3. Resolve the Issue Quickly
Despite thin margins, restaurants may have some leeway when it comes to using perks to deal with a difficult guest and diffuse tense situations. Whenever possible, offer some type of compensation to satisfy angry customers – whether it’s complimentary drinks, dessert on the house, or 10% off the bill. However, sometimes these types of offers aren’t always deserved. There might be a policy in place that can’t be changed to suit a customer’s demands. For example, mask mandates were a common sticking point that many restaurants had to deal with, often for legal or regulatory reasons beyond their direct control.
In these situations, it’s best to explain why the policy exists and that your hands are tied. If it’s possible to offer perks to defuse the situation, do so. Sometimes, even this doesn’t work. You’ll have to move on to the next conflict resolution step.
4. Rely on your Managers
“I’d like to speak to your manager please,” are words no employee wants to hear. You should view this as an opportunity, since supervisors:
Have more training and experience in conflict resolution
Have more flexibility to offer freebies
Just as important, managers also have the authority to ask customers to leave if and when necessary. Sometimes, this is the only way to deal with a difficult guest. Asking a disruptive customer to leave might not be a good experience for that person, but it creates a better atmosphere for everyone else. Moreover, removing unreasonable diners allows your waitstaff to focus on the needs of those who add value to your business.
While it’s not possible to make everyone happy, you can help reduce unnecessary conflict in your restaurant by implementing the strategies above. For even more conflict resolution tips for your growing business, be sure to see the accompanying resource above.
Author bio: Mihir Korke is Head of Acquisition at Clover Network, a leader in small business credit card processing and POS systems. Clover specializes in restaurant, retail, and personal and professional service payment solutions. With desktop and mobile POS systems, contactless payments, solutions for curbside pickup and online ordering, loyalty and rewards, Clover has multiple solutions to meet your business’s needs.
When creating a chef resume, it can be challenging to showcase your culinary & management skills to the maximum capacity. It is a tricky subject to work with as it is absurd to simply write out all the different dishes and cuisines you know how to cook or all the kitchen management skills you are proficient at.
So how will your chef skills get the recognition it needs?
We know that the work of a chef is much more than just serving food. It may come off as a bit strange, but it is due to management and innovatory skills that a chef moves forward in their career.
If you are a chef at a loss of what to write in your Culinary Resume, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 tips to make your Chef’s resume shine.
Chef Resume Format
To be a well-known chef takes time and effort, dedicating your time at a local restaurant first and then working your way up. As time goes on, your experiences will become refined and more valuable.
For this reason, a chef’s resume is best written in the reverse chronological resume format. You can do this by listing your most recent work experience first and going backward.
It is the industry standard, is recruiter-friendly, and compliant with the applicant tracking system (ATS), a software that is used by recruiters to screen through resumes faster. Check-out these examples of resume layouts.
In your chef resume, the summary section is the first piece of information that describes your career trajectory, so make sure that it is loaded with the important information.
Here is where you can impress the recruiter to stay on your resume. By categorizing information and maintaining a good cluster of work experience, awards, or honors, you can achieve an eye-catching summary.
In about 4-5 lines, you can write your resume summary by:
Using concise sentences that are not complicated in structure
Starting with power verbs instead of first-person pronouns like I or We
Writing your achievements in cause-effect methodology
Quantifying your accomplishments and listing any honors or accolades
Being a comprehensive brief or your entire career trajectory, draft it engagingly.
It can be quite an exhaustive list if a chef decides to list all of their skills. The key idea here is to categorize information effectively and give an umbrella term for a certain group of skills.
One important point to note is that it is better to list them as individual skills than as verbs. For example, Recipe Diversification sounds miles better than Diversifying Recipes.
Now, is this not a more justifiable list of skills for a chef? You can add a lot more by assessing your areas of expertise and capitalizing on that!
Though there are plenty of chefs with a prerequisite degree in culinary arts, most chefs make the transition from other jobs to cooking out of passion or the will to explore.
Now that we place value in subject-specific education, if one chef has a degree in culinary arts and another chef has two or three certifications in french pastry, a pastry shop will consider the other person more due to their detailed expertise on the matter.
It does not matter if they are theory classes from Udemy or full-fledged baking courses from a culinary institute, list your certifications in the following format: Certification | Certifying Authority | Time period
You can also use these certifications to list any achievements or awards you might have received.
Your work experience section can include full-time, part-time, or internship opportunities unless you want to separate them into different sections.
Instead of drafting a wall of text, there are certain ways in which you can enhance the readability of your resume. Some of them are:
Try to maintain a cause-effect methodology and wrap up an idea in one sentence. Try not to overexplain and keep it concise.
You can use multiple one-liners and provide bullet points if you have multiple achievements in one area but try to skimp down on sentence length.
Start with Impactful Power-Verbs
Instead of starting with first-person pronouns like I or we, you can begin your sentences directly with power verbs such as Conducted, Executed, Spearheaded, and so on, as it denotes authority, management, and a degree of responsibility straight away.
Note these two sentences. On the one hand, we have a normal-looking sentence: * I helped the Mexican cuisine team and increased daily productivity
On the flip side, here is an elevated version: * Supervised Mexican cuisine team to achieve a 15% increase in daily productivity
Grouping and Highlighting
You can achieve a far more readable resume by categorizing information, providing titles, and highlighting any important information. Doing this will help the recruiter understand your career trajectory, and it does not get lost in the wall of text.
You might have plenty of skills as a chef, but knowing how to utilize them on a resume is what will get you the job you have been searching for. Here’s what you take from this blog before you start writing your chef resume:
Use the reverse chronological resume format to list your experiences from the most recent and backward
Summarize your resume by using short sentences written in a cause-effect relation
Add all your certifications in the designated section by using the given format and list any achievements in another, if required
Do not repeat your skills and group common skills under a bucket to make way for other skills as well
List your work experience in a bulleted list and categorize them by the function you undertook
By following these tips and matching them with your job description, the chef coat at your favorite hotel is not impossible to get after all!
Dining at Chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea restaurant in Chicago has been on my bucket list for many years. This year 3 friends joined me to dine at this highly acclaimed restaurant. Alinea is one of only 14 restaurants in the entire US that has 3 Michelin Stars, and since 2015 Alinea has consistently been ranked among the top 50 best restaurants in the world .
Several years ago I was planning a trip to Chicago and 3 months ahead of time I tried to get a reservation at Alinea…no luck, you had to book 6 months out to get a reservation. This year because of COVID they were closed down like most restaurants in the US. So when they began reopening I was able to book with as little as a 2 week notice. The only hitch was that in April you could only book for 4 people…not 1, not 2, it had to be 4. This is probably in order to maximize their seating capacity since during restrictions capacity was at 25% or 50%. So I contacted a bunch of friends until I had 4, then I grabbed it.
Because of their high demand, they also have the luxury of charging you upfront at the time of booking. No refunds, but you can transfer your reservation to someone else. Most restaurant owners would love to be able to set these conditions! But it makes sense for an establishment that is in such high demand. There is no reason why they should tolerate a “no show” reservation. They are in high enough demand that they can set the rules, and I was happy to comply. The final price was $315 including 20% service charge and tax. Then I added the first tier wine pairing plus a couple of whiskeys…$255 w/ tax and gratuity.
The menu lists 8 courses, but some had multiple sub-courses, so if you count the number of dishes used for the progression of dinner, then there are 16 individual courses.
This post simply documents my experience…it is not a critique (who would critique Grant Achatz?!)
Course 1 –
Picholine, Gold, Blood Laurent-Peppier, “Cuvée Rosé,” Champagne, France NV
Bay scallops, picholine olives, grapefruit, onion (shallots?). The sauce had a fabulous opalescent sheen to it and had a consistency which coated everything, as opposed to a sauce which is poured over everything but then the sauce settles. This sauce encompassed, almost suspended, all the components. And the wine was a perfect match, enhancing the dish, refreshing the palate.
Course 2 –
Arctic Char, Maple Syrup, Fish Sauce Smoked Char Roe, Carrot, Smoke Domaine Galévan, Grenache Blanc Blend, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Southern Rhone, France 2018
This was a very cool presentation because the first part was presented on the top of the glass, and then the second part was contained in the bottom of the glass, perfectly suspended there until you flipped the glass over. Top: Sous vide Arctic Char, seared half way on top edge but still rare on the bottom, topped with a thin layer of a brûlée-like crust of maple syrup laced with the umami essence of fish sauce. Bottom: Lightly smoked Arctic Char roe, mildly sweet carrot pudding, charred oak barrel tea turned into a gelatin to suspend all these ingredients.
Course 3 –
Alaskan King Crab, Mantou Maryland Blue Crab, William Deas’ Jo Landron, “Le Fief Du Breil,” Muscadet Sèvre Et Maine, Loire Valley, France 2009 et Magnum
The Left Crab dish: King Crab over a Mantou Steamed Bun. The Right Crab dish: Blue Crab Bisque which was intensified in flavor by using crab roe in the infusion. The flavor of the bisque was so wonderfully rich and full it evoked a face-splitting smile on my face…I wanted more! This recipe apparently is inspired by She Crab Soup by William Deas.
Course 4 –
Challerhocker, Périgord Black Truffle, Mustard Russian Cabbage Soup Brussels Sprout, Bacon, Beet Trimbach, “Reserve,” Pinot Gris, Alsace, France 2016
This was a multi-course dish with several stunning interactions with the front of the house team. First, the Russian dolls were placed in front of us, each of us had a different crafted doll. Beside that, a bowl of chilled bright red beet puree laced w/ brussels sprout leaves and edible flowers. We were told to leave the beet dish until last.
We were first told to open the Russian doll. Inside was a very flavorful 2 oz shot glass of chilled cabbage soup (with a backbone flavor of chicken stock) laced with an oil on top.
While we enjoyed the cabbage soup, a complicated, spotlessly clean hand slicing machine was wheeled to the end of the table. A server held a warm head of cabbage which had been sous vide in bacon fat, roasted, charred, and then smoked, which he then put onto the machine and sliced into thin linguini-like “noodles”. These were then turned with a fork to form a small bundle of cabbage noodles and place in separate dishes.
The dishes were placed in front of each of us and another member of the server team approached with a small pitcher and poured a creamy sauce of the Challerhocker cheese over the noodles. As the bottom of the pitcher was reached, a sauce of Périgord Black Truffles began pouring out, creating a black lacey effect over the white Challerhocker sauce. The flavors and textures of this dish were mesmerizing.
Lastly, we were invited to finish the dish with the chilled beet puree laced with edible flowers & brussels sprout leaves. This dish cleansed the palate of the creamy cheese sauce, the lightly smoked cabbage, and the Périgord Black Truffles, opening us up for the next dish.
Course 5 –
Cauliflower, Cheese, Black Curry Kistler, “Les Noisetiers,” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California 2019
This course featured a perfectly steamed cauliflower stem pressed into fresh cheese curds dressed with a cauliflower purée, black lentil and black sesame curry with garum masala. The black “crisp” was thin and crunchy, acting as a cracker for the curds.
According to Chef Grant’s Instagram page, this dish was inspired by British Steak and Oyster Pie. Left side of plate: Seared 7X Ranch Wagyu Beef. Right side of plate: oyster custard, onion, oyster mushrooms and oyster leaf tart. Hand-crafted onion ring on top. Center: Guinness-Worcestershire sauce.
In the oyster shell: poached “beef oysters” and mignonette.
This was another multi-dish course. At the beginning of the course, before anything was set before us, the ring of black rocks was placed on the table and set on fire. We were told that it would have meaning later in the dining experience.
The first dish consisted of Venison, Poi, and Pineapple. The venison chop was paired with Poi which is a Hawaiian dish made from the fermented root of the taro which has been baked and pounded to a paste. Next to both of these was a Pineapple “Lei” decorated w/ edible flower petals.
On the yellow plate was the Haupia, “Spam”, Allium dish. Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut pudding, Chef Grant topped this with his version of spam and garnished it with Allium which can be any of a variety flowering plants including onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives. (sorry, didn’t catch which one he used).
In the clear bowl in the back was the Venison, Kukui Nut, Seaweed dish. Unfortunately I don’t have a good description for this dish (should have used a voice recorder!). As a note, Kukui nuts have a flavor similar to Brazil nuts.
Coconut, Black Bread, Banana Chutney At this point, the ring of fire had burned low. A waiter took a pair of tongs and extracted 4 cleverly hidden (hiding in plain sight) black “rocks” from the ring of black rocks. But these 4 were actually a Black bread made with black sesame seeds. They were place on plates along with a coconut pudding and banana chutney (under the violet petal).
For the finale one of the sous chefs came out, put 4 triangular shaped plastic sheets on the table, and decorated each of them for the dessert course. This is now a classic for Alinea and I teased her (the sous chef) that it is an iconic thing and they could probably never stop doing it. Then I asked how they were selected to go to the guest’s tables to paint this course. Did they take turns…draw straws…assigned to do it…want to do it or hate to do it (most cooks don’t like the spot light in front of guests). She demurred from an honest reply and said something professional instead.
The restaurant business is tough, especially when it comes to managing costs. If you are a chef, restaurateur, or food service manager then you know that food cost control is essential in order to be successful. Every chef is judged on a financial basis by his/her food cost. If your food cost looks good then you are in great shape, but if your food cost is bad then you could be in a heap of trouble.
But how do you manage it? Food cost control can be difficult to keep up on, especially when you already have so many other things on your plate. It requires constant monitoring and adjusting. A food cost problem could be the result of over portioning, incorrect recipes and/or costing, excessive waste, a bad inventory process, an accounting error, a misunderstood sales mix, or so many other variables.
The most important thing for you to know is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to be able to customize your approach based on your specific needs and circumstances. Fortunately, Chefs Resources has the articles, video tutorials, and chef-friendly Excel tools that can help make this process easier.
Here are 4 helpful tools available on Chefs Resources to help you find and resolve food cost problems.
1. The 40 Thieves of Food Cost
If you have read the 40 Thieves of Food Cost then you know that solving the problem can be very complicated because there are so many possible areas where food cost can go bad, many more “possibilities for error” than many chefs or managers even realize.
The forty thieves is a step-by-step process that will help you identify the root cause of a high food cost, or a fluctuation in food cost. It’s a tried and true method for analyzing the many variables that go into figuring out why your food cost is too high. You don’t have to be an expert in accounting or finance to use this guide, although it is lengthy it is easy enough for anyone who has ever run a restaurant before.
Use the 40 Thieves to identify the specific issues you need to focus on, and at the same time gain a better perspective on the areas of food cost control that you & your team already excel at. And also use it to impress upon the staff the importance of managing all aspects of the restaurant.
2. Accurate Recipe Templates
There are many different programs for recipe templates out there. However, as a chef I prefer using Excel because it is such a powerful program to use and you can not only write the recipe but also cost them out too. Another benefit of using Excel is that you can put multiple recipes in each workbook, so you can have all the recipes of a feature dish including the starch, a special vegetable preparation, the sauce and so on in separate tabs all in one Excel workbook (seem image below).
Whether you’re a small family-owned business or the owner of an international restaurant chain, calculating your recipe cost is essential to the profitability and survival of your restaurant. When calculating your plate cost, you want to be sure that you include every food item which goes into it (duh! But people often forget things…) Items which tend to be overlooked are the incidentals such as the free bread & butter, the ketchup, the fryer oil for French fries, a side dish included with an entrée, or the chocolate you give each guest with the bill. These are items served with each meal but they’re not charged for, yet you need to figure them into your food cost.
Items such as rolls & butter are often included in the recipes for all entrees, thus accounting for the cost of them. Ketchup may be worked into the recipe cost for a burger, or perhaps into the recipe cost for French fries. The cost of fryer oil can be worked into the cost of all fried foods, or perhaps evenly distributed to all entrees, especially if the guest has a choice of sides which may include a fried food option.
Another commonly overlooked aspect of recipe costing is yield percentages. Do you really believe that you will always get 100% yield from your mayo bucket, your salad dressings, your #10 can products? Is the crew really going to use a rubber spatula to get 100% yield? Doubtful.
And what about vegetable yields? If your recipe calls for 8 oz of onion is the cost of the discarded root and skin factored in? This is known as AP (As Purchased) cost -vs- EP (Edible Portion) cost. Apply this to all your vegetables, beef, chicken, seafood, etc. If you trim these items and have loss due to the trim then that yield percentage should be worked into your recipes otherwise they will always calculate a cost which is lower than your actual cost, and therefore your actual food cost percentage at month end (period end) will always be higher than you expect. Check-out our plate cost template to help get more accurate recipe costings!
Inventory management is one of the most important components of managing your food cost. Controlling your month end food inventory and food cost is essential both for your business as well as for your own professional reputation. It is amazing how many managers & Chefs don’t know the value of shelf-to-sheet counting -vs- sheet-to-shelf counting and how this one technique can be responsible for major shifts in food cost.
Don’t just give your inventory to the accounting department and trust that they will do things correctly! I find errors in accounting software and/or methodology every month. Very the numbers, cost extensions and process before and after final closing.
Controlling your end of month food inventory revolves around four specific tasks: correctly taking inventory, verifying credits & transfers, verifying the pre-closing process, and reconciling discrepancies. This series of articles will go over each step in detail so that you can be confident in knowing what needs to be done when it comes time to close out the month.
4. Know Your Sales Mix!
If you’re not measuring your sales mix, you’re missing out on a key metric that can help you understand how profitable your business is.
Sales Mix is an important part of the restaurant industry and understanding it will allow for better decision-making in all aspects of your menu and running a successful restaurant. It’s also essential to know what percentage of your revenue comes from each dish & category (appetizers, entrees, etc.) so that you can make informed decisions about pricing, marketing, menu development and more. This will allow you to make more informed decisions about pricing and product selection in order to maximize profits.
Sales Mix is an evaluation of your Theoretical Food Cost based upon total items sold for a given period. Based upon what you sold this should be your food cost…assuming no waste, no comps, no mistakes, etc. Sales Mix calculations also often compare the theoretical food cost with actual food cost, as well as the margin generated from the items sold.
Tracking & understanding the relationship between Theoretical Food Cost, Actual Food Cost, and Margin gives you a significant advantage when it comes to evaluating restaurant health and swings in Actual Food Cost from period to period. Read more about Sales Mix to understand why a “bad” food cost is not always a bad thing!
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