Hotel F&B Observer Blog

Hotel food and beverage professionals share experience, skills and commentary. These hotelier blogs reflect a variety of unique career perspectives and real-life workplace stories, observations and opinions.

Kerfuffle in the Kitchen and other Stuff(ing)

Passionate explosions in an early morning prep kitchen probably occur more often than not. First cook in the kitchen starts up the ovens, cleans the left-over greases from the grill area, and sets the staging for food preps of the day. There’s also similar fluidity to the common tasks required of each line cook and garde manger.

Occasionally when staffing schedules cannot sufficiently meet seasonal demand during peak season (think Spring Break, for instance), the prospect of seeing the GM working back of the house stations might provide the necessary assist on demand. Suffice it to say, the GM then moving along to wait tables, serve, and connect with the diners plays a very responsive PR part when all is accomplished to voluntarily move the orders as expeditiously as possible. In certain brand properties this motivational pull (volunteering to service outside of one’s ordinary station, regardless of managerial hierarchy at the property) is called “Snap.” It’s part of this restaurant’s business model, and its all-around effectiveness is a great marketing and public relations tool. (See the recommended reading below.) Read more of this >>


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Stormy Weather: Thyme to Play With Your Food

There’s a storm coming, and you have a full schedule. The hypothetical given is that this is NOT Day One of the storm, rather the week of a weather dynamic headed in your direction.

Today you have a full schedule: Morning buffet breakfast for the Community Economic Development group in the hotel courtyard (65 seats); power luncheon for the University Advisory Board in the private dining room (14 seats); and an evening annual membership reception for the Chamber of Commerce (225 seats). You can thank your reputation and excellent group sales staff for keeping your schedule fully booked. You’ve probably found it useful to have your additional chefs de partie on call for heavy workloads, yet space is limited in the kitchen to cook everything on pre-orders as well as the regular dining call-ins for room service. If your hotel is set up with a catering kitchen, this would be the ideal time to use it for your specialty (pre-cooked) menus and buffet service, while the main kitchen retains orders for service to the main dining room, room service, and any ancillary dining spaces under your helm. Read more of this >>


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Humble Pie

All too often I speak with colleagues in the restaurant or retail business baffled by the loss of customer base.  For the life of them they cannot figure it out. They add product, change advertising methods, and make numerous updates to get customers in the door, but the real problem is they can’t keep them—no return interest.

They either refuse to notice or they simply don’t see that the problem is closer than they think.  Truth is that it is often their greatest investment—the staff. While lack of training is the first thought that comes to mind, you will find there is another staffing issue that customers find offensive and reproachable.  So what is it? Arrogant behavior, too superior to serve, expressed with a haughty facial expression and lack of attentiveness. Read more of this >>


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Offal Challenge

Remember what we ate when we had to use ALL the animal, because we couldn’t afford to waste anything, unlike the more commonly found fare in your supermarket prepackaged, precut foods and meats section. I am certain that some of you well do remember eating dishes prepared with entrails, offal, and other “spare parts.”

In a world of costly prime cuts—beef rib, tenderloin, and racks of lamb—it’s easy to forget about the more economical, but less lovable parts of the beast: brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, marrow, necks, shanks, tongues, trotters, and, oh, yes, testicles. Read more of this >>


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Super Foods

Now that the State Fair is over (see my earlier blog) and after splurging on some 60 foods on a stick, I can conclude that all but perhaps a handful of them are not good for the human body if consumed in large quantities.

In order to encourage our employees to eat healthier, I recently partnered with our human resources department to offer healthy recipes to team members. These recipes are easy to prepare and feature simple ingredients. Ninety percent of our team members are not culinary professionals, and everybody has a busy life. Therefore, I created recipes which anyone should be able to do in 30 minutes, with ingredients readily on hand. Read more of this >>


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A Pirate Gives Back

“Take what you can; give nothing back!” — a pirate toast

I was thinking of this quote over a beer in our lounge.

A few months back, San Diego did remarkably well in the World Beer Cup with several medals and one brewery taking the prize as small brewery of the year. Given the explosion of great quality, local beers I thought it was important that my little hotel get out in front of this swelling wave and we brought in brewers for tastings, eventually moving all our tap heads to the locals.

As we were tasting, I thought, “Wow, it might be fun to invite a bunch of these breweries and a bunch of chefs here to throw a beer and food shindig out in our garden area.” Just a simple thought, but that thought was enough to weaken my anti-pleasant immune system, and I found I had come down with a moderate case of philanthropy. Read more of this >>


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So, You Inherited a Kitchen

It’s a familiar scene: New company takes over distressed property; veteran staff exhibits an uncomfortable blend of fear, apathy, resistance, and obsequiousness. Weeks pass, menus change, “new and improved” systems are implemented, yet inconsistency and mediocrity perpetuates. Why?

In speaking with fellow chefs who have braved the task-force world and/or have become turn-around experts, three common barriers to excellence emerged. Read more of this >>


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The Clock Never Stops Ticking

“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

I remember a time when I would have said, “If I could just shut my door and not deal with all these associate issues, I could get so much done.” Between budgeting, forecasting, corporate reports, schedule reviews, brand updates, audits, the daily deluge of e-mails, and the 20-30 other things that come across my desk on a daily basis, it would make sense to let everyone else run the show. Then I could focus myself on what I am responsible for.

In this lies the conundrum: As leaders in the world of F&B, our very core knows we could never allow ourselves to be taken out of the action. Removing ourselves from the nitty-gritty controlled chaos would be like trying to remove one of our organs. It becomes a part of us, a part that we thrive on. Read more of this >>


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