Guest Speakers

Dec 17, 2017, 13:28

Guest Speaker: 3 Basics to Harnessing Restaurant Big Data

Say a menu item doesn’t sell. Is it overpriced, poorly described, not satisfying to the customer or a combination of these? To understand the basics of restaurant-performance management systems, here are three key teachings that would be part of any 101-level course on the topic.

By Dave Bennett

In the restaurant business, competition is fierce and plenty. Owners use various types of operational strategies to stay ahead of the curve and keep profits streaming in. Measuring restaurant performance is a critical ongoing activity—to see how operations are going today, and to reveal opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and unit profitability in the future.

Strong restaurant performance-measurement systems require vast amounts of data. Your data tells you how things are going, and you, in turn, use that data to make decisions. For instance, let’s imagine that your data is telling you that customers aren’t ordering a certain menu item. Is it overpriced? How does it taste? How is it described on the menu? Armed with that knowledge, you can decide how to respond: Remove that item from the menu, which will also streamline your inventory; offer it as a limited-time offering with a new menu description; or lower its selling price to see if that boosts sales.

Guest Speaker: The Hypocrisy of Teaching Knife Skills

Naturally, educators must stress to their students the critical importance of proper knife skills. But, says this chef-consultant, the reality in the workplace doesn’t always match what we teach. (Don’t miss the YouTube video link.)

By John Reed, CEC, CCA

After addressing a group of culinary students at an ACF state competition, I sat back and thought about my words and the content.

In the skills portion of the competition, one of the four disciplines is “Knife Skills.” It requires a competitor chosen randomly from each team to perform this culinary skill. The competitors must dice an onion, cut julienne and chop some tomatoes, among other things. As judges, we critique the competitors on the accuracy of the cuts and compare them to a known standard.

One of the standards is a molded plastic form with the exact dimensions of the named cuts that are mounted to a board. I describe it as the original “3D APP.” You can look something up and then stick it back in your pocket. If you have ever been to culinary school or attended these competitions, you may have seen this guide or are at least familiar with the names of knife cuts that are common in a professional kitchen. In some cases, students spend hours fine-tuning their skills, such as lining up their little sticks of carrots in a row like little Napoleonic soldiers. A sight to see!

Guest Speaker: CAFÉ Wants Your Best Practices in Sustainability Teaching!

The deadline to submit your entry in the 7th-annual CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Award program is April 1.

By Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, HAAC

The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts and the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) are accepting applications for the 2015 CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Award.

Sustainability, once dubbed the “wave of the future” for the foodservice industry, is the reality today.

The CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Award, which since its inception has been sponsored by Kendall College, is the first national award to recognize high-school and professional culinary-arts and baking/pastry programs for their commitment to practicing ecological sustainability on campus and/or integrating innovative teaching of sustainability in the curriculum.

Kendall has dedicated itself to sustainability in its classrooms and operations since 2005, and even more gratifying than the value we’ve reaped on our own campus has been the privilege of sharing our knowledge with other educators and learning from them. That is the impetus behind the CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Award.

Guest Speaker: Tech Is the Trend of the Year—and Next Year, Too

Of all the trends reporters and firms who generate copy near the end of each year, Baum+Whiteman is oft overlooked. Yet where U.S. F&B trends are concerned, arguably the company’s principals have their collective thumb on the proper pulse of the nation most firmly. So when they say tech is king in 2015, you can take that to the bank.

Courtesy of Baum+Whiteman

Forget cronuts and Negronis. Forget quinoa and kale. Short of putting food into our mouths, technology is upending the way dining out works. Electronic wizardry once hummed quietly in the background ... but now we’re immersed in “front-facing technology” or “guest-facing technology”: all sorts of devices and programs that interface directly with the consumer. More restaurant companies experiment with tablets ... letting guests order food and drink from their tables; play games while they’re waiting; then pay with smartphones ... meeting a waiter when an order is delivered, or when it’s time for a refill from the bar, or for upselling desserts. Tables turn faster by eliminating downtime during which little happens and customers start fidgeting.

Guest Speaker: On Sale Now! Apple Baking Advice

A primer on baking with apples, from someone who should know (or at least knows whom to ask).

By Wendy Brannen

I know that Bed, Bath & Beyond is a great resource for purchasing household goods—and for 20% off, at that, with those ubiquitous coupons—but until recently I didn’t realize the big-box retailer has an excellent blog.

Above & Beyond” blipped on my radar when a fun and friendly freelancer called to ask me about baking with apples for a consumer blog story. That’s also when I realized, “You know, I work for the U.S. Apple Association. I really should know more about baking with apples!” Thus, I tried to go “above and beyond” to find out a little more from a handful of subject-matter experts.

Jane Bonacci is a dear friend and food blogger from San Francisco who has a tsunami-sized love of food—and creating good food recipes. I love her advice for a simple-but-saucy baked apple. (No crisps or crumbles needed here, folks!) Says Jane, If you want to make baked apples, leave them whole, peel them about halfway down from the top, leaving the bottom half with peel on for structure. Remove the core and fill the hole with hard sauce—Oh, my!”