The Fly Says: Embrace Scarcity
In my last post, “Fly on the Wall: Two Chefs,” I challenged my sous chef to collaborate with me in an effort to address some of the current economic realities affecting our F&B lives. The post generated quite a bit of buzz from fellow colleagues, and we were challenged by the magazine’s editor to briefly address some potential solutions to the new norm.
Over the next seven weeks, we will be implementing initiatives at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North based on our “Fly on the Wall” discussion. We’d like to share them with you.
Week 1: Embrace Scarcity
Week 2: Sell like a Team
Week 3: Build a Culture
Week 4: Learn from the Streets
Week 5: Walk, Don’t Spin
Week 6: Attract Rookies, Build Rock Stars, Set them Free
Week 7: Sharpen your Excel
In 1776, legendary economist Adam Smith penned, “No complaint ... is more common than that of a scarcity of money.” Indeed, business is founded on the very idea that competitive entities will leverage scarce resources against one-another. Why then, is it, that our first tendency as employees and managers is to waste time complaining about what we don’t have?
Where did cassoulet originate? Scarcity. Sausage? Scarcity. Arroz con pollo? Scarcity. We need to apply the magic of our culinary frugality and creativity to expense management and capital budgeting. Create something from nothing—or better yet, make “nothing” (read: simple, minimalist) marketable/sellable.
White space is an important concept in plating food, and we are quickly learning to analogize food presentation to kitchen management. Our first step? We left a recent meeting embracing scarcity, promising to no longer complain about it—and committed to the following:
1. Throw away or liquidate everything that doesn’t work or that is ugly, dated, cheesy, chipped, dented, or dinged. Take a real, revised inventory of what is usable.
2. Scour all banquet menus for time and cost-wasters. Have a list of your team members handy. If skills don’t exist, scrap the item. If time doesn’t equal money, scrap the menu. Every item should be a money-maker (think the production of each item through, with your cooks' skills top-of-mind). See the results of item No. 1, above, and make sure you can serve your items on something presentable.
3. Re-design menus based on what works, and I mean that literally. Who doesn’t have at least one non-functioning, relic piece of equipment that collects dust until the day before the auditor arrives? If you don’t have BTUs, don’t saute. Kettle broken? Not likely to get replaced soon? Think vinaigrettes and relishes.
Please feel free to post more solutions to the scarcity issue here. We'll all benefit from new ideas.