2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap-Up: Business Seminar: Day Three
Business seminars this morning started off with a panel discussion intent on revealing the tricks of the trade in The Art of Running a High Volume Restaurant
. Managing editor at StarChefs.com Will Blunt
peppered guest chefs Mark Andelbradt
, formerly of TAO
in Las Vegas, Franklin Becker
of Abe and Arthur’s
in New York, NY, and Scott Boswell
of both Stella!
in New Orleans with questions designed to get at practical tips. The chefs agreed that a system must be in place if your restaurant is serving several hundred covers per night, or even 1,500 covers per night, as is the case at TAO
. Scott Boswell shared his experience having to hire a development team in order to shave ticket times from 40 minutes down to nine minutes, 45 seconds. Franklin Becker added that part of that development includes putting special emphasis on prep, including having two staff members whose sole responsibility is to prep 30 pounds of crab cakes each day. The gentlemen then shared their cheat sheets for menu development. At TAO
, they discovered that marinades guaranteed proteins with locked in moisture, while at Abe and Arthur’s
they baste their proteins in bulk to seal in moisture and flavor. Chef Boswell called these tricks of the trade essential and Chef Andelbradt added that quick-cooking proteins such as scallops or Arctic char instead of salmon make a big difference. When Blunt asked the chefs to chime in on this year’s theme at the ICC, Art vs. Craft, his question was met with enthusiasm. Chef Becker spoke about his refusal to compromise when it comes to high volume cooking, and the adrenaline rush that comes with it; Andelbradt commented that a high volume restaurant was a different mind game, and agreed that it provides a rush. In the end, the chefs agreed that there is room for art, but that in the game that is high volume, crafting a system is key.
In Keeping Lawyers Out of Your Kitchen, Debra Guzov, co-founder of Guzov Ofsink, LLC, a New York City based law firm, shared her input on the gamut of legal issues faced by the restaurateur. She was joined by Brenda Steers, an insurance guru and founder of City and Suburban Lifestyles Restaurant Insurance Market. Together the women discussed protecting your name, your restaurant name, and your intellectual property. Protecting yourself against sexual harassment and food safety suits is also vital. Vigilance policing trademarks can help to avoid the fate of the yo-yo, the escalator, and butterscotch- whose brands disintegrated from lack of enforcement. They also emphasized the importance of the employee handbook as a means of clarifying contractual obligations.
By Kathleen Culliton and Jessica Dukes