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.

Seasoned Hospitality Instructors: A Dying Breed

Seasoned Hospitality Instructors: A Dying Breed
Hospitality U. would like to introduce a recent addition to the university staff – Professor John Smith, EdD.

- Professor Smith comes to us with 30 years of teaching experience. His education credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Food Management and a Master of Science in Hospitality Systems Management. His Educational Doctorate Dissertation analyzed technology systems in the foodservice industry. Dr. Smith has co-authored five hospitality articles, has been published 4 times in The Hospitality Chronicles and chaired numerous University Boards.

Pretty impressive educational background for Dr. Smith. However, did you notice what was missing from his impressive resume? Did you notice the one major thing you would expect someone instructing the future generations of hospitality managers to have? How about Real World Experience?

A couple of times I have contemplated going back to school to complete my Doctorate degree. Every school I researched had numerous faculty with very impressive educational curriculum vitae. However, trying to find institutions with professors /instructors with years of industry experience proved to be very difficult.
Universities today are focused primarily on educational background. The new wave of instructors are career students who transition over to career instructors.

While the educational component is important, wouldn’t you think it was important to learn from others who have managed employees, climbed the ranks, and have been immersed in hospitality cultures? This question is coming from someone who has 4 college degrees & 1 university certificate.

Maybe it’s me? While I realize the focus on the doctorate degree is to position yourself in some type of teaching capacity, I still find the idea of being taught by someone who has a fraction of the real world experience a lot of us do, a strange concept.

Hopefully major hospitality universities will not forget the importance of educating students from those who have been there themselves. While I understand the educational requirements placed on the hospitality schools by their overall universities, I would hope that both the universities and hospitality schools within those universities do not minimize the value of true industry experience….regardless of area of study. Hopefully for future students the idea of seasoned hospitality instructors will not be a dying breed. Until next time….

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The Power Of Purchasing Power

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about the fast food giant, Wendy’s. They decided to launch a new menu that included Blackberries. While it sounds simple enough, that sourcing endeavor took 3 years and involved more than 30 growers. When implemented, this will have a ripple effect on the Blackberry Market.

While operations like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and others may not seem like operations that would have any association to a hotel food and beverage operation, in some cases the decisions they make can and do affect your bottom line.

When you consider that McDonald’s alone feeds over 1% of the world’s population on any given day (roughly 70 million people per day) you are quick to understand how decisions they make impact the economy.

Let us take an example of the Avocado. As a chef you decide to make a new menu featuring the wonderful Avocado. The following month the Avocado becomes trendy so a few fast food / fast casual operations decide to create features as well. From the time your menu rolled out you could realistically see prices for your featured product jump from $5-$20 per case over a relatively short period of time. Depending on your price point, this could break your profitability for that menu.

Some brief points to take from this discussion on The Power Of Purchasing Power are:

• Understand the basics of supply & demand
• Understand how large buyers affect the market
• Understand that the food market includes hotel, restaurants, country clubs, B & I accounts, grocery, C-stores, fast food, fast causal……starting to get the point?
• Realize that purchasing power/volumes, not the prestige or quality level of your operation, dictate pricing. The More You Buy, The More Purchasing Power You Have.
• Most importantly, do the research on the items you place on your menus

Until Next Time…

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2015 Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Symposium

The Boutique Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA) is hosting its 2015 Leadership Symposium at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California, from October 21-23. The theme this year is “Boutique Inspiration… Independent Spirit… Lifestyle Leadership.”

Hotel F&B’s President and Publisher, Jeanne Bischoff, will moderate a panel discussion called “Where Does it Come From? The Demand for Local Ingredients” with Geoffrey Sagrans, President of Localecopeia–an organization that connects regional farmers with nearby foodservice operations. Sagrans is also Assistant Director of Materials Management at The Breakers Palm Beach. Additional chef panelists will be announced shortly.

Other panel discussions during the three-day symposium include: Boutique Lifestyle Executives; The Blurring of Brands; Hospitality Tech; Evolving Retail Strategies; Online Travel Agencies and Boutique Hotels; Digital Marketing, Customer-Facing Luxury Product Lines; Boutique Hotel Finance & Development Update; plus much more.

The 2015 BLLA Hospitality Awards gala will also take place during the symposium on October 22. For more information and registration details, visit:

2015 Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Symposium - Home Page | Online Registration by Cvent (dragged)

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Menu Trends: Your Own Personal Farm

47b7ce23b3127cce98548a374a0800000027108AasmTRs4ZObBuying ingredients here and there from local and regional purveyors, to work into menus, is now common practice, but have you considered arranging with a local farm to more or less be your hotel’s own farm? This type of relationship allows a hotel to blow up the old backyard garden concept to a very beneficial extreme.

Shortly before Executive Chef Adam Mali left the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco earlier this year to become regional executive chef, Twitter, at Bon Appétit Management Company, we spoke with him about F&B at the hotel—which since has been brought under the Loews umbrella and rebranded as the Loews Regency San Francisco. Regardless the moves made by Mali and the hotel, in its ownership change, since, a key F&B partnership the Mandarin held is a good case study for looking at a bigger picture in local sourcing.

Brasserie S & P at the Mandarin had been known for using fresh local foods on menus. But sometimes a relationship with a supplier can grow beyond mere purchasing. The hotel established a partnership with a farm an hour north called Canvas Ranch, which would grow what the Mandarin wanted.

“We get to suggest things and plan crops together,” Mali told us in February. “The vegetables are some of the best I’ve ever encountered. It goes along with what we’ve been doing in terms of sourcing locally. They’re excited to do this for us. It’s a beautiful farm. It’s coming onto our restaurant and banquet menus. One of the things we do that’s a little more innovative than some is that we’re incorporating this into our banquet menus. Even if it’s a corporate function, people are excited about where the food comes from.”

This type of extreme partnership—essentially turning a local farm into a major, semi-exclusive supplier—is similar to the arrangement at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, which partners with a local farm to basically be their own personal supplier, rather than just selling them a few things. The relationsihp allowed Mali at the Mandarin to do more local product in banquets, because he could get more quantity, he said.

Think of it as adding a new department to your hotel F&B: the supplier department.

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Where Are We Heading With The Egg Market?

Whether reading about it in the New York Times or discussing it with colleagues at work in passing, you have probably heard about shortages in the Egg Market.

As a quick background on this, a number of chickens have been stricken with the Avian Flu. This highly contagious influenza can kill entire flocks of chickens. Prior to this, one of the last major Avian Flu outbreaks was in China. Many of their farms had poor sanitary conditions causing the quick spread of the disease. Various strains of the influenza virus exist in birds. However, the mutated strains are the ones accounting for the bird kills. Another factor leading to the spread of the disease is the proximity of the flocks to one another. With our wonderful factory farms chickens are basically on top of one another. This allows for the efficient spread of the disease. A New York Times articled cited the killing of some 38 million infected birds.

The primary effect of this decline in supply is with liquid and processed eggs. When you consider that most manufacturers and hospitality operations use some type of liquid or powdered egg product, the impact is far reaching. Buyers are trying to source alternative product overseas. However, supplies from these supply markets take time to arrive into the states.

It is simple economics. Supplies have decreased while demand increases. Eggs are used in countless culinary applications. Add to the mix that egg product consumers are scrambling for alternatives, buyers are trying to stay ahead of the market and a little panic thrown in, we will have to see how the next few months present themselves. Since April, the wholesale liquid egg market has spiked some 300%. Market experts predict much of the same until the supplies are somewhat stabilized. Some reports I have read estimate market stabilization in upwards of 18 months.

The real irony with the story is that shell, or whole, eggs have not seen the same market spikes. Of course this will change with the supply shortages. However, shell eggs provide an alternative. Maybe now is the time to start buying those Free Range Eggs you looked at before? Consideration just needs to be given to the additional labor needs in switching to this specification.

Until Next Time…

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Where is the Real Food?

Last week I went to my first school foodservice trade show. I did go in knowing who the target audience was. However, by the third aisle that eureka moment did hit.

The first two aisles were covered with pre-made, pre-packaged and highly processed foods. There were beautiful displays of chips, candy & fruit drinks. The chicken nuggets looked great. I believe they did actually have chicken in them. One stand was decorated with multi-colored energy drinks. Soft drinks decorated another booth with very creative marketing. By the second aisle I had passed Tony the Tiger and the Lucky Charms mascot a few times. People were lining up to take pictures with them. I quietly wondered if any of these people ever explored the ingredient list of a box of Lucky Charms. Spoiler Alert!!!…….It is a box of colored sugar with a number of preservatives.

By the third aisle I quietly said to myself….”Do we really wonder why our children are dealing with the health / obesity issues in this day & age?” We all know that children are not as active as they should be. However, a daily intake of pre-made, pre-packaged and highly processed food doesn’t even give some children a fighting chance. The subject of increasing fresh produce into the schools with limited budgets is a discussion for another day. The idea of just providing some basic whole, un-processed foods is not. Just introducing a plain grilled chicken breast over fried chicken nuggets once in a while would not break the bank. It would do wonders for some children who rely on their school meal as a prime source of their daily caloric intake. Some children living in “food deserts” never even see produce unless it comes out of a can. Read more of this >>

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The Pricing Game

During my career I had the unique experience of working for a GPO (Group Purchasing Organization). This particular GPO focused on children’s summer camps. Coming into that position from my former position of procuring caviar, fish from around the world and prime steaks made my tenure at the GPO a real interesting one. Instead of buying Single Malt Scotches or a first growth Bordeaux I was purchasing tater tots, frozen premade pizzas and “bug juice.” We were working with camps that paid vendors on Net90 payment terms and foodservice distributors that knew they were the only delivery option available to some of the camps. Read more of this >>

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Chipotle – Writing The Recipe For Success

If I would have told you 10, 20 or 30 years ago that industry giants like McDonalds, Burger King, Red Lobster and Olive Garden (to name a few) were going to someday deal with some of the same growth issues as mid-priced table service operations I would have been laughed out of the room. I would have been told that the industry giants had a business plan that could weather any economic storm. However, these people would have not yet known about the Gen X and Millennial generations. This younger demographic has seen a spike on the economic map. This generation runs at a faster pace. They don’t enjoy the traditional extended meals their parents did. They want instant gratification. This group also desires to know their food; to eat less processed and more real food. They are more focused on what they fuel their bodies with. This younger generation is not afraid to spend a little more money to get what they want.

A number of organizations have taken note. No better example of this than with Chipotle Mexican Grill. This Denver-based fast casual operation has a streamlined menu offering focusing on fresh, real food served quickly. What started as a small operation back in 1993 has grown into a worldwide business powerhouse with a cult-like following (much like that of Starbucks).

In my favorite Q & A format, Danielle Winslow, Chipotle Public Relations and Marketing took some time out of her busy schedule to educate us on Chipotle’s Recipe For Success. Read more of this >>

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