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Restaurant Catering August 2011 $6.95 GST incl.

Simon says ... Why Simon Hill closed a successful, iconic restaurant to start all over again with Ortiga “I think the future of restaurants is to develop the cultural side, especially with the younger market” Four decades of wisdom from Warwick Lavis of Matilda Bay Restaurant

Upskilling staff, page 19 How to balance price and sustainability with seafood Coming through crisis, page 25 How and why to link POS and surveillance, page 29 Wine pricing that doesn't upset customers, page 36 New products, page 32

PRINT POST APPROVED PP: 255003/07314 ISSN 1442-9942

Official Journal of Restaurant & Catering

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August 2011 $6.95 GST incl.

In this issue ... Upfront


From the Association John Hart on what we can learn from old world restaurateurs, and Brien Trippas asks where the money is coming from the pay for new government regulations?

News and events Daily deals websites may actually work, according to new research; new IR website launches; and more...

Wisdom 19

Leader of the pack


What I’ve learnt


Crisis management

cover photography: richard whitfield


12 Cover story The Spanish main

Simon Hill has combined a methodical approach with a ‘passion before profit’ philosophy to create Brisbane’s most exciting restaurants

Finding managerial talent from within is the best way to go, but it’s never easy Warwick Lavis from Matilda Bay Restaurant + Bar explains why to care about location, technology and chefs After the tears when a flood or a fire has wiped out your business, what are the important lessons for dealing with a crisis?





Stuff 29

Missing links


New products


Sustainable seafood





Link surveillance to your POS system for a smarter approach to security

A 3-in-1 glassrack system where glasses are washed, stored and transported in one complete unit How do you strike the balance between good value seafood and sustainable seafood? How to manage wine mark-ups without upsetting your customers Michael McCann of Dreamtime Australia Design gave a Sydney revolving restaurant a new spin



from the association

Running for cover There’s still plenty to learn from the old world, like how to show customers the true cost of a meal


t was a great experience to have recently been able to take an extended period of leave and get to Europe for pleasure. This experience only confirmed that we do truly live in the lucky country and that, in particular, our industry is the best in the world! There were a number of things that I observed that may be of interest back in Australia. One, however, stands out—the practice (in Italy particularly) of levying a cover charge on every diner. It seems that most restaurants in certain parts of the country charged a cover charge (of two to three euro) that included the price of bread. This charge was, thankfully, clearly stated on the menu, and then had the taxes and service charges added to it. The cover charge seemed to be aimed a covering the fixed costs for the venue. It did not stop the waitstaff actively selling water, side dishes or canvassing for tips. The menu prices (and cover charge where applicable) ‘plus plus’ practice is pretty standard in every country I visited. Whilst this does add up when the bill is presented, it does show what the cost of the menu items really is. We have learned the lessons of great cuisine and culinary practice from Europe. Perhaps we can now learn some aspects of business practice. John Hart CEO, Restaurant & Catering

Restaurant & Catering’s mission: To lead and represent the Australian restaurant and catering industry. Restaurant & Catering Suite 17, 401 Pacific Highway, Artarmon NSW 2064 1300 RCAUST (722 878) Ph: (02) 9966 0055. Fax: 1300 722 396, Web: Restaurant Guide: Caterers Guide: Email: President: Brien Trippas (NSW) Senior Vice President: Kevin Gulliver (QLD) Junior Vice President: Terry Soukoulis (SA) Treasurer: Richard Harper (VIC) Chief Executive Officer: John Hart R&C is a federation of the following associations, working together on national issues on behalf of their members. Restaurant & Catering NSW Ph: (02) 1300 722 878. Fax: (02) 1300 722 396 Email: President: Ian Martin Restaurant & Catering QLD Ph: (07) 3360 8888. Fax: (07) 3252 7554 Email: President: Peter Summers

Restaurant & Catering ACT Ph: 1300 650 646. Fax: (02) 9211 3800 Email: President: Fiona Wright Restaurant & Catering SA Ph: (08) 8351 7837. Fax: (08) 8351 7839 Email: President: Terry Soukoulis Chief Executive Officer: Sally Neville Restaurant & Catering Tas Ph: (03) 6224 7033. Fax: (03) 6224 7988 Email: President: Phil Capon General Manager: Steve Old Restaurant & Catering Vic Ph: (03) 9654 5866. Fax: (03) 9654 5286 Email: President: Matteo Pignatelli Restaurant & Catering WA Ph: (08) 9328 7266. Fax: (08) 9328 7366 Email: President: Paul Buckman

Restaurant & Catering magazine is published under licence on behalf of Restaurant & Catering by Engage Custom Media, Suite 4.08, The Cooperage, 56 Bowman Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 Editorial Director: Rob Johnson Creative Director: Tim Donnellan Sub-editor:KerrynRamsay Contributors: Sharon Aris, Nicole Azzopardi, John Burfitt, Ben Canaider, Kellie Morle, Kerryn Ramsey, Danielle Veldre Commercial Director: Mark Brown Sales Director: Andrew Gray Direct: (02) 9660 6995 ext 502 Fax: (02) 9518 5600 Mobile: 0423 762 358 Email: For all editorial, subscription and advertising enquiries, ph: 1300 722 878 Print Post approved PP: 2255003/06505, ISSN 1442-9942 ©2011 Engage Custom Media. Views expressed in Restaurant & Catering magazine are not necessarily those of Restaurant & Catering or that of the publisher, editor or Engage Custom Media. Printed by Bright Print Group

7,661 - CAB Audited as at March, 2011 4 RESTAURANT & CATERING

photography: north sullivan

Restaurant & Catering

The bottomless pit As the government imposes more regulations and costs on us, where will the money come from?


t never ceases to amaze me that a succession of Governments think that our businesses are a well of funds that they can keep dipping into. The carbon tax is the latest assault on our operating margins. Restaurant & Catering Australia benchmarking data shows that the 3.6 per cent return on income has already been diminished to an average loss. The potential increases in electricity costs particularly, that result from the carbon tax, will place many more business below the line of sustainability. With the enormous cost increases we have endured recently, where does the Government think the money will come from? In the past many operators have absorbed the increases in costs that have been imposed through regulation. Even at the onset of the GST, many restaurateurs and caterers did not increase prices as much as they could. Given the current knife-edge profitability, this can’t happen this time. The ACCC has warned small businesses about misleading consumers about the impact of the carbon tax on business. Are we compelled to make price increases due to indirect carbon tax costs known to our customers? I don’t know about you but my well is looking pretty dry. When costs go up even further, I am going to have to pass them on to my customers. Brien Trippas President, Restaurant & Catering

Diamond Associate Member: HOSTPLUS

Platinum Associate Members: American Express International • Fosters Group • Westpac Banking Corporation

Gold Associate Members: Diners Club International • Fine Wine Partners • Goodman Fielder Food Services • Lion Nathan • Meat & Livestock Australia

Foundation Associate Members, and Associate Members: ALSCO • AON • APRA • Bartercard • Crown Commercial • H&L Australia • Luigi Bormioli


News &events

Daily deals change dining out Although they’re not always a success for restaurants, new research shows consumers are responding the right way to daily deal websites he value of daily deal offers has been revealed with nearly nine out of 10 diners indicating they would consider returning to a restaurant where they’ve used a meal deal even if there were no discount on their next visit. According to the latest American Express Dining Insights Survey conducted by Galaxy Research, almost two-thirds of diners are aware of daily deal offers and one-in-five have used them to purchase a meal. Those who dine out at least once a week have the biggest appetite for a discount, with three-quarters of regular restaurant goers using daily deals multiple times. “As a nation of food enthusiasts and with new restaurants opening each week in our major cities, it makes sense that Australians are snapping up meal

New research reveals diners return after coupon deals.

deals with such enthusiasm, allowing them to try new places without making a huge dent in their wallets,” said Geoff Begg, head of merchant services Australia at American Express. “Our research shows that women are currently more aware of daily deal offers than men. With daily deal websites, like Cudo, seeing up to a 1000 per cent

increase in site visits over the last 12 months, it will be interesting to see how these demographics change over the next year.” “At the same time, it’s important for restaurateurs to remember that daily deals are just one resource to be considered when trying to entice people into their restaurants. The most effective deals will bring additional

value and repeat business.” While daily deal sites have fans hooked, restaurant websites do not necessarily invoke the same enthusiasm. Nine-out-of-10 diners who use daily deals regularly say they are annoyed if they can’t find a restaurant’s menu online complete with current prices. John Hart, Restaurant & Catering CEO, said, “As more and more restaurant goers head online to get an idea of a restaurant’s offering and prices before booking, those restaurants without an online presence—or with a very limited one— are at most risk of losing new customers.” The nationwide survey, conducted during one of the coldest winters for 40 years, reveals that the majority of Australians (57 per cent) are as keen to eat out during the winter months as they are during summer. 

New website helps with IR laws The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched new online resources to assist employers in the fast food and hospitality industries. Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says new web pages provide the two industries with direct and immediate access to detailed information on workplace laws. The free documentation includes industryspecific information about pay rates, allowances, classifications, leave entitlements, apprenticeships and traineeships, uniforms and clothing, when to pay staff and a range of other topics.


A new section at hospitality provides information on the three main Modern Awards covering the hospitality industry. Wilson says fast food and hospitality industry employers uncertain about their obligations can use the online resources to ensure they “get the basics right”. “Employers will find that if they get the basics right, everything else will start to fall into place,” he said. The website has a number of useful tools and resources and fact sheets on dozens of topics. Find out more at 

Get online to learn all you need to know about workplace laws.

News &events New president for R&CSA R&CSA, the peak body for South Australia’s restaurant & catering industry, is proud to announce the appointment of a new president. Cath Kerry from the Art Gallery Restaurant was inducted into the role last month at the 2011 Annual General Meeting held at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre before 300 industry peers. She has been a highly successful operator in Adelaide for the past 30 years and brings to the board both a wealth of experience and great passion for South Australia and for the future of the industry. Other members of the board are Terry Soukoulis who is also Immediate Past President (Auge Ristorante), Judyta Slupnicki (Phore Seasons Restaurant), Camillo Crugnale (Assaggio Ristorante), Barbara Derham (Derham Consultants), Peter Morelli (Adelaide Festival Centre), and Michael Sfera (Sfera’s Park Suites and Convention Centre). Sally Neville remains Chief Executive Officer for SA. Restaurants and caterers employ 16,000 people in South Australia and turnover $505 million, generating significant economic benefit to the SA community. 


Cath Kerry, new president of RCSA

Purchasing power

Rising food prices are changing what we eat Australians and people around the world are changing what they eat because of the rising cost of food, according to a new global survey released by Oxfam. Sixty two per cent of Australians surveyed are no longer eating the same foods they did two years ago, and 39 per cent of them attributed this to rising food prices. The survey was conducted by international research consultancy GlobeScan and involved 16,000 people in 17 countries including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, UK and the USA. Globally, 54 per cent of overall respondents surveyed said they are not eating the same food as they did two years ago and 39 per cent of those who said their diet had changed blamed the rising price of food. Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett said

Rising food prices are forcing us to change what we eat, says Oxfam

“Large numbers of people in Australia and especially in the world’s poorest countries are cutting back on the quantity or quality of the food they eat because of rising food prices.” Separate interviews conducted by Oxfam in Australia revealed interesting consumer trends including a high proportion of Australians growing some of the food they eat. 

Australians want more transparency when dining out Over seventy percent of Australians are calling for more information about the nutritional content of their meals when they eat out and will choose to eat at food operators who are more transparent about the ingredients, according to the inaugural Unilever Food Solutions World Menu Report. The global survey also uncovered that when dining out of home, Australians are most interested in knowing the fat (64 per cent), MSG (50 per cent) and sugar (49 per cent) content of their meals. Unilever Food Solutions managing director and former chef, Yezdi Daruwalla, says 76 per cent of Australians stated there should be more information about the content of their meals when eating out and a further 50 per cent, stated they are most likely to choose a healthier choice the next time they eat out, if they knew the nutritional value and content of their meals. “Unilever Food Solutions hopes the global World Menu Report is the first step in encouraging the food service industry to engage in

Sure, it looks flash, but Aussies want to know what’s in it.

the debate about food transparency. More than half of Australians (55 per cent) think restaurant operators should be responsible for providing nutritional information when they’re eating out,” said Daruwalla. The research also found that when dining out of home, Australians are most concerned about the cleanliness of the kitchen, the ingredients used in the meal and how it was cooked. For more information visit 

Restaurant & Catering members are eligible for membership of an exclusive buying group which can save their business thousands of dollars. According to Charles McAllister from R&C, “The Hospitality Buying Group (HBG) is dedicated to increasing your profitability by focusing on the needs of your business. We match the right products with your needs at the best price from quality suppliers.” Products that HBG members can buy at a discount include:  Alcoholic beverages  Hotel and tableware  Business insurance  Motor vehicles  WorkCover insurance  Natural gas  Electricity  Telecommunications  Stationery & paper products  Cleaning products  Eftpos & credit card fees  Food Following extensive research, HBG was created to provide businesses with their own purchasing manager skilled in negotiating with suppliers and sourcing products for your business. Buying through HBG will cut the time required to source new products, compare suppliers, work out prices and chase up paper work. “The network means you will be buying with the collective purchasing power of hundreds of businesses,” McAllister said. “HBG’s payment process means you’ll be rewarded for your normal business purchases.” Restaurant & Catering created HBG for its members. For more information or to learn how to start saving money, please contact Charles McAllister on 1300 722 878 or email charlesm@ 


what’s on

August - September 2011

15 16



With over 100 wines to taste and purchase, the Coonawarra Wine Tasting Roadshow kicks off in Brisbane today. See events in each state at


Take the chill off by imbibing in sumptuous reds and tasting some winter fare during the Barossa Gourmet Weekend in South Australia all weekend. Visit

Sexier than any school canteen, Cantina is a raunchy circus and cabaret show during the Darwin Festival. Runs on August 12-21; visit


Enjoy a few cocktails or two at this year’s National AHA Awards for Excellence at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. Visit




Book online between August 22 and 31 for early-bird tickets for the South Australian Premier’s Food Industry on November 25. Visit





Take the country to the beach in NSW with Taste Orange @ Bondi on August 22-28, all part of the Bondi Winter Magic Festival. Visit or




The inaugural Royal Adelaide Beer Show is keeping punters well refreshed at the Royal Adelaide Show on September 2-10. Visit




The Riverfire lighting spectacular kicks off the Brisbane Festival, so be prepared for customers flocking to city restaurants. Festival runs from September 3-24; visit


Jet over to Dairy World, Drinks World, Meat & Seafood World, and Confectionary World, all at Fine Food Australia in Sydney on September 5-8. Visit

Di Bella Coffee’s owner Phillip Di Bella reveals his inside tips for success at Sydney’s Retail 2011 on September 13-15. Visit www.


It’s summer in Prague but the chill is in the air at the International Congress of Refrigeration on August 21-26. Visit

Grab the latest issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller to discover the winners of the Restaurant of the Year Awards. Go to






High-tech solutions on wireless applications, smart cards, alarm systems, and surveillance at the Security Exhibition & Conference in Sydney on August 24-26. Visit


Menu development, marketing, HR and cost control are hot topics at Food & Beverage Management Summit for Clubs on September 6-7 in Sydney. Visit www.


After battling for victory, 16 trophy wines from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile can be tasted at the 5 Nations winners’ dinner in Sydney. Visit

Tassie’s wineries are coming to you! The Tasmania Unbottled roadshow is in Sydney today. For Brisbane and Melbourne dates, go to

It ain’t easy in our industry but if you need inspiration to join the 40 Hour Famine on August 19-21, check out ‘The Strike vs Hunger’ at au/40HourFamine/About.aspx

Just a cruisy 30-minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD, the Sunbury Region Wine Weekend appeals to urban city dwellers who yearn for cool-climate wines. Visit

Warm weather and workplace relations issues come into play at the AHA NSW Annual Conference in Queensland’s Hamilton Island on August 29-September 2. Visit

South-East Queensland is ready to celebrate, with Savour Awards for Excellence for Brisbane, Darling Downs, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast being announced. Call 1300 722 878.

Contests galore at Fine Food Australia in Sydney with competitions for Butchery, Bakeskills and the Official Great Aussie Meat Pie. On September 5-8, visit



Excitement plus for Southern NSW and South Coast member as the Savour Awards for Excellence for Southern NSW are announced. Call 1300 722 878.

Following the success of Taste of the Tamar in Hobart last month, the festival is launched in Launceston this weekend at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. Visit

Brickbats and bouquets in The Age Good Food Guide ($29.95, Penguin), followed by The Sydney Morning Herald publication on September 1.

For Father’s Day, take Dad to Queensland’s Taste of Gold Coast for some culinary delights. Runs from September 3-18; visit

Restaurateurs, give yourself a pat on the back and apply for Australian of the Year or Australia’s Local Hero. Applications close on August 31. Visit www.


Last chance to nominate for the The Wine Society’s Young Winemaker of the Year. Applications close today. Visit


Feast yourself at the Game Keepers Dinner in Queensland’s Ballandean Estate with five courses featuring quail, duck and venison, topped with matching wines. Visit


Small Bar of the Year, and the Best New Venue Design are just some of the awards handed out at the Sydney BarShow Week on September 11-14. Visit


Source gourmet fare from farmers, cheesemakers, vineyards and brewers at the Producers Market during Taste of Melbourne on September 15-18. Visit

Simon Hill of Ortiga and Bar Alto: “When we decided to close down Isis, nearly everyone told me I was insane.”


Cover story

Simon Hill has combined a methodical approach with a ‘passion before profit’ philosophy to create some of Brisbane’s most exciting restaurants

Spanish main The

words: Rob johnson

photographY: richard whitfeild

Ortiga is both simple and complex,” he says now. “We f sport and celebrity have taught us wanted to stay ahead of the game, basically. Isis was getnothing else, they have shown us ting old. We could have given it a makeover and kept it the importance of quitting while going for a few more months, but we felt that the nature you’re on top. There’s nothing less of dining was changing, and we wanted to completely comfortable to watch than the slow refresh and come up with something different. Aria (Matt slide into irrelevance. The trick, as Moran’s fine dining restaurant) was breathing down always, is picking where the top our necks, and we needed to make a bold statement to is—frequently you only realise that stay ahead of the game. If we hadn’t done it, by now Isis when well into the downward slide. would be the eighth-ranked fine diner at best.” Simon Hill was pretty confident Isis opened in 1997, it was awarded he’d picked the peak with Isis every major accolade available to it in Brasserie, a multi-award winQueensland, including the Amerining Brisbane institution can Express and Sunday Mail’s and darling of the town’s foodie set. In 2008, “We could have given Restaurant of the Year awards. not long after picking up a Best Restaurant it a makeover and In 2005, Isis reached the award in the Awards for Excellence, he kept it going for a pinnacle of Brisbane dining, closed the restaurant’s doors. “Nearly few more months, being awarded Restaurant of everyone told me I was insane,” he says but we also felt that the Year by both Restaurant of the decision. the nature of dining and Catering Queensland Another reading of the move is that was changing.” and The Courier-Mail before he has a tendency to put passion before Simon Hill, Ortiga and Bar Alto, Brisbane closing in 2008. profits. “Where you see an example of Hill’s initial formal hospitality him placing passion before profits is when training occurred in 1989 at the Interhe closed and changed Isis to do something Continental Sydney, after several years new and exciting,” says local critic and former gaining experience in some of Sydney’s restaurateur, Tony Harper. “There was no common smaller, boutique restaurants. He spent six years with sense in doing that.” the Inter-Continental chain, in Sydney and London, and Yet he took the risk, and it appears to have paid off. worked at the Mayfair Inter-Continental Hotel in the heart What’s more, with the benefit of hindsight it’s clear Hill of London’s hotel district. While residing in London, picked the right time. Hill spent a year under the tutelage of celebrity chef “The answer as to why we shut down Isis and opened


cover story

The qualities Bar Alto (top left) and Ortiga (below) share is Hill’s committment to excellence in the details that make up a dining experience.

Brian Turner at his eponymous South Kensington restaurant before opening his first business, a cafe in West Hampstead that remains to this day. According to Tony Harper, what Isis demonstrated—apart from a commitment to excellent food and service—was Hill’s methodical approach to building and improving his restaurants. “If you go back to when Isis started, it was a good, but modest bistro,” Harper says. “But Simon has a knack for doing things patiently and methodically, improving and tweaking. Isis was open for more than a decade, maybe 12 years, and every year he finessed it. If you track Isis from opening to closing, it was a completely different restaurant—it went from being a bistro to being an icon restaurant.” That methodical approach is an indication of his depth of understanding of both the hospitality business, and the Brisbane market. Harper says: “A lot of people in the restaurant 14 RESTAURANT & CATERING

business are very emotive, and respond in an emotive manner to what happens around them, but Simon’s totally the opposite of that.” Hill says Ortiga was specifically developed for his Brisbane clientele, and to showcase the talents of his chef, Pablo Tordesillas, who was formerly his head chef at Bar Alto. He is very careful to point out that it was in no way influenced by the trend for tapas bars that have been springing up in Sydney and Melbourne over the past few years. “You talk about your concept for a new restaurant over a period of months, or even years, not days,” he says, adding, “this concept [Ortiga], which started as a tapas bar, morphed into what it is now over a period of time. When we found what we wanted to do, I was confident it would be successful. I have some understanding of the market, and people say things like, ‘This restaurant has a Melbourne feel’ or whatever, whereas Ortiga is clearly Spanish, but also tailor-made for our Brisbane clientele. “There was no influence from the south at all. Pablo is the inspiration for the restaurant and it has more to do with his passion for Spain than anything from Sydney or Melbourne. We were almost wary about it looking like ‘the next big thing’. When we were talking to the architects, the brief was ‘no bulls, no Spanish colours’. We wanted rustic tapas upstairs and an elegant restaurant downstairs, and we wanted the architects to design something beautiful. We wanted to showcase our wine collection, our food and service. We didn’t want pictures of matadors.”


rtiga isn’t Hill’s only property in Brisbane—he also has, as previously mentioned, Bar Alto, a mid-market diner at the Brisbane Powerhouse, on the banks of Brisbane River beside New Farm Park. And although it targets a very different market to Ortiga, according to Tony Harper you can immediately see Hill’s hand in each property. “If a lot of other restaurateurs had done Alto, you wouldn’t have a menu as interesting,” he says. “You can have a terrific meal, served with the same level of service as Ortiga—I mean those same little things that make service good, although at Ortiga there is more bell and whistles, obviously. That same attention to detail he instils in staff in both places. It would have









cover story

the clientele—the well-heeled will always be well-heeled. But bebeen easy in Alto to just do easy food, but he doesn’t do that.” ing on the water, less expensive places found it tougher. I think In fact, it would have been reasonable to assume that when it also came down to people who had a story to tell, and if they the recent floods hit Brisbane that a mid-market restaurant like told it well, they got the attention of the public and media. We Alto would be a kind-of life buoy for Hill. Both restaurant’s were didn’t really have anything to say other than ‘We’re still here’.” above the high-water line (even if Alto was “an island” for a few The local appeal of restaurants like Ortiga and Alto may be days), but the way their customers returned over both their strength and weakness—it’s difficult to replicate the following weeks gives an interesting a successful concept if it’s as specific as Hill’s. However, insight into the resilience of fine dining. Hill says, “Ortiga was never really designed to make Not to mention the difficulty of running a lot of money. It’s a labour of love. I can’t imagine a restaurant in a disaster zone. “I think you can there would be any cost benefit at the top level of “For a full week afterwards you come up with a dining anyway. There’s always going to be a high couldn’t get food at all,” he exrestaurant based on cost for ingredients, staff and so on. plains. “And on top of that, it was concept alone. It’s “I think you can come up with a restaurant almost in bad taste to open your just not something I based on concept alone. It’s just not something restaurant and start flogging your want to do.” I want to do. A lot of people do that, and very sucwares while so many other business Simon Hill, Ortiga and Bar Alto, Brisbane cessful businesses are run like that. They’re lowerwere still suffering. Having a fullyrisk, but we do this for reasons other than money. staffed restaurant closed for a couple I still want to be part of an organisation that believes in of weeks—and we have 60 staff between what it’s doing. Bar Alto is different to Ortiga, but the philosothe two restaurants—was incredibly difphy behind both, in my opinion, is ethically sound. It’s exactly ficult. There’s been a hangover to that, but we the same at Ortiga, there just more bells and whistles. The same were staggered how quickly business came back to ethos runs through both. We accept less percentage profit margin Ortiga. Alto was much more difficult. For weeks afterwards peoand are lucky that our restaurants do quite well, so we can have ple were coming down to Alto and saying I didn’t think you’d be decent lives and be proud of what we do at the same time.”  open. Ortiga was much faster to recover. I think it was down to




What would eight in ten people have to say about your business?

Industry research shows word of mouth is still the number one way to attract new customers, with eight in ten people recommending a good place to eat to family and friends. At The Private Room, valuable industry insights like this are available to our members, helping them to stay up to date with what consumers want when it comes to eating out. If you would like to access this valuable information and get more people talking about your business, join The Private Room. AMXGMS0013


Manrique Rodriguez General Manager InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto

Choose a quality service When you’ve served the tourism industry for over 24 years, you can’t help but develop an appreciation for the importance of service. That’s the reason we brought the HOSTPLUS contact centre in-house when many others are being outsourced. So our members are assured they’re always speaking to a HOSTPLUS employee. And with offices nationwide, our employers can call our employer services team anytime. That’s why InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto and almost one million Australians choose HOSTPLUS. You can too at or call 1300 HOSTPLUS (1300 467 875). Choose quality.


The information in this document is general in nature and does not consider any of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider obtaining advice from a licensed, financial product adviser and consider the appropriateness of this information, having regard to your particular investment needs, objectives and financial situation. You should obtain a copy of the HOSTPLUS Product Disclosure Statement and consider the information contained in the Statement before making any decision about whether to acquire an interest in HOSTPLUS. Issued by Host-Plus Pty Limited ABN 79 008 634 704, AFSL No. 244392, RSEL No. L0000093, HOSTPLUS Superannuation Fund ABN 68 657 495 890, RSE No. R1000054. INH_0277_08/11_01


Leader of

the pack

Finding a great chef is, in some ways, much easier than recognising a great manager.

words: andy kollmorgen

Finding managerial talent from within is the best way to go, but it’s never easy inding a star to run your restaurant is right up there with savings and feeling real pain from finding a good doctor or lawyer when you really need one. lack of profits. Others have a high It’s that critical—and chances are you’ll have to sort through profile and achieve healthy profits, some hopefuls. The best case scenario is to bring people up but for every one of these, there are from within. That way a lot of the training will 10 which are suffering in a big way.” already be in place. But training only goes Lund’s training techniques are so far. It turns out that great managsteeped in life experiences. ers have a quality that can’t quite be “I was brought up in a York“With a little named, but it helps if you know what to look for. shire town where my father nurturing and There is no shortage of consultants who will tell you owned butchers’ shops the right training, what that might be. Jim Lund, who started Hospitalin a marketplace with 30 some staff members ity Coaching five years ago after owning and running other butchers, so it was respond well and a number of restaurants in Sydney, says restaurateurs a very competitive envigive you the qualities should “write down in system form what standards you ronment. I spent my early you require for want” in a manager. “Learning to recognise leadership life learning how to exist in management.” qualities in other staff members is vital. You may be surthis hotbed of competition.” Jim Lund, Hospitality Coaching, Sydney prised sometimes—with a little nurturing and the right A popular posting that training, some staff members respond well and give you the appeared on the US-based qualities you require for management.” industry-focused website Food and Lund says he’s been around the block a few times and is targetBeverage Underground—which ing his training toward helping struggling restaurants. “There are many gets its content from people who business owners out there who are working ridiculous hours, investing their life own and work in restaurants—says RESTAURANT & CATERING 19


Good managers can come from any area of the business, says potential managers should be tested on how well they can Bill Drakopolous of the Ripples Group (above, right), but deal with such issues. they’re not so easy to find. Restaurateurs looking for managerial talent should “set up scenarios to measure the ability to react in real time” and be sure candidates can problem solve “in real life situations”. them as much as they want to know. Hopefully we can help For example, if confronted with a hypothetical situation durthem grow. If someone wants to step up to a management ing the interview process in which a restaurant’s business position, they shouldn’t be too hard to spot. They’ll knock has suffered a downfall due to new competition in the neighdown your door. The question then is whether they really bourhood, finding staff for lunch shifts has become difficult, have what it takes. You’re not doing anyone and theft and waste is shrinking the profit margin, a promisany favours by letting them step into ing candidate might suggest starting a guerrilla marketing a role that they’re not right for, no campaign, trimming the lunch menu to reduce prep time, matter how good they are in othand setting up a bank and inventory system that’s in “You’re not doing er areas. I know a lot of waiters effect before and after every shift. anyone any favours who are perfectly happy to Many management training regimens focus on by letting them stay where they are, and applying workable solutions to sticky problems, step into a role that some of them make more but one long-time restaurateur says you should they’re not right money than the manager.” also look for something less tangible—a kind of for, no matter how Drakopoulos is not comfood-and-hospitality x-factor. good they are in mitted to any fixed methodolBill Drakopoulos has to make sure things are other areas.” ogy and has employed managrunning smoothly at five venues (Aqua Dining, Bill Drakopoulos, Aqua Dining and Ripples restaurants, Sydney ers from outside Ripples as well overlooking the landmark North Sydney pool, as well as brought them up from within. But as Ripples restaurants at Sydney’s Milsons Point, Sydney managers that end up working out tend Wharf, Chowder Bay and Whale Beach). His eye is always to have the same traits. open for who has the chutzpah to run the show. “They have to have integrity, they have to be Good managers can emerge from any area of the business, honest, they have to be reliable. They have to be good with Drakopoulos says, but he’s quick to point out that “they’re people and be good people themselves—good with staff, not so easy to find”. good with customers, good with suppliers. All that’s a given. “We’re constantly training our staff, and we aim to teach 20 RESTAURANT & CATERING

Training days

Luana Bickel, who runs the certification programs at Restaurant & Catering Australia, says it’s up to owners whether formal training is a prerequisite for a management role. Some restaurateurs are sticklers for some kind of degree. Others aren’t. “A of people have been working in the industry a long time and have plenty of experience but no official qualifications. It’s up to individual restaurant owners whether they need certification before they can manage, but it’s something we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about.” At the moment R&CA offers a “Coaching and Mentoring for Team Leaders” program aimed at helping managers bring staff up to speed but no formal training for developing or spotting management talent. Bickel admits it’s an unmet need. “We’re planning on developing some programs in that area.”

Aside from that it’s really a question of how much they love the restaurant experience. We’re not just in the food business; we’re in the entertainment and comfort business. It might be high stress behind the scenes, but a good manager instinctively knows how to maintain the right atmosphere because they love being in the business. Not everyone has

that quality. An experienced owner learns how to spot it.” When it comes to keeping the right kind of talent on board, however, the challenge is more practical. Drakopoulos says the “low attrition rate” among Ripples Group managers has to do with knowing how they tick. “First of all, you pay them more than what the market pays. And you give them a sense of ownership and free rein. You’ve got to let them run it or they’ll be stifled and won’t want to stay.” George Mifsud, who runs the Human Resources department at a large food services and catering operation, Restaurant Associates, is not unfamiliar with the challenges of finding standout talent. It’s an ongoing quest, and lately it’s gotten harder. “The key to your business is always getting good management on the front lines. But when you’ve got an unemployment rate of around five per cent, it’s hard to get good staff at any level,” he says. Restaurant Associates’ parent company, Compass Group, runs a management school that Mifsud says provides aspiring managers with many of the skills they’ll need. But he agrees with Drakopoulos’s point that some things can’t be taught. “We identify what we believe are the competency requirements, and our suite of programs develop competencies into key skills. We focus our training. But some of the most important considerations have to do with a candidate’s demeanour and approach. We can’t train the behavioural-based stuff.” 

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What I’ve learnt

words: Sharon Aris

The general manager of Matilda Bay Restaurant + Bar in Perth on why you should care about location, technology and chefs ’ve been at Matilda Bay Restaurant 27 years. It’s a lifestyle. Over the years I’ve sailed, played tennis, kayaked, I have a vineyard in the South West (WA). So this is part of what I’ve done. But there’s also a line. It is a business. If you blur the lines you start to lose the target. We’ve got one of the best sites in Perth, on the Swan River, 10 minutes from the city, a great aspect, great work team, good mix of businesses. We have a bar, restaurant, private dining, a function room for 140, another for 50. This business has been an evolution since 1984 when I first got here. Then it was fine dining, with tablecloths and bow-tied waiters. It was a smoking restaurant and it had a piano bar and dancing six nights a week. The food was traditional English/European food. Our function room upstairs seated 60. In 1992 we had a major renovation. We redeveloped the whole structure of the building. Spent about $3 million. Every seven to 10 years we’ve had to take a hard look at the business and decide if we’re in or we’re out. If we’re in we have to spend the hard money to stay in. It is an iconic destination. We reevaluate ourselves. Each time we’ve spent millions to stay in business.

It’s adapt and change with new technology. We used to check our emails once a day, now they want a response in an hour. But you also keep the old. We still go back and write to people. I got someone to handwrite 400 envelopes the other day, because you’re more likely to open a handwritten envelope than a typed one. But sometimes we have to go back. When I started in the industry 40 years ago, you’d go to the butcher’s shop, and the meat would be hanging in the cool room, dry aging. But with dry aged meat there is around a 20 per cent weight loss and in the 1980s cryovacking arrived. Then you had convenience and didn’t lose the weight. About four years ago we went out and built a special cool room to dry age our beef because of the flavour.

“If you start an apprenticeship with us, we get the parents in, sit them down and say ‘It’s a team effort here, we expect you to start with us and finish with us. None of this transferring.’”

But there’s also protecting the old. We’ve always been a big trainer of front-of-house and back-of-house. We’ve only had four chefs in that time. We run between 70 to 80 people on staff and have six to nine apprentices in the kitchen and four or five in training. Chef Angelo Nici started with us at 15½ and he’s 32 now. Our sous chefs are ex-apprentices who’ve gone to Europe for two to three years and come back. If you start an apprenticeship with us we get the parents in, sit them down and say, ‘It’s a team effort here, we expect of you to start with us and finish with us. None of this transferring.’ 22 RESTAURANT & CATERING

We also offer flexibility—we have rolling shifts, morning shifts, evening shifts, if you need a weekend off we try and accommodate it. I don’t believe in working people 80 hours; we want 40 to 50 quality hours. We only want people who want to be there. We encourage people to do outside things. If they play netball on Tuesday night we’ll try and accommodate them.

At the moment we’ve four years in from the last major renovation, so we have three more years to enjoy it. We’ve redesigned our space. We’ve put in the Bubbles Bar, actually reduced the size of the restaurant from 180 to 140 direct seats and developed a wine room— a private dining room. We’re trying to catch the self-funded retirees, 18th birthdays, business executives. We have to communicate at all those levels. We can cater weddings, anniversaries, a 21st, or a Chinese delegation. We’re also working on integrating the bar area. There’s a lot of press on alcohol at the moment. I think the future of restaurants is to develop food and beverages, cultural side, especially with the younger market—promoting food and beverages, not just beverages. Next we’re developing the Matilda Bay Tearooms which is a more casual place. I’ve also got a lot of young guys coming through who are keen to do their own thing so we might work at developing something outside. 


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the crisis words: john burfitt

Moo Moo The Wine Bar & Grill, which went underwater during the Brisbane floods this year.


After the tears when a flood or a fire has wiped out your business, what are the important lessons for dealing with a crisis?

hese are good times at Brisbane’s Moo Moo The Wine Bar & Grill. Tables are full, bookings are up and customers appear happy. “The other night I looked around at the full house and said to a staff member, ‘you would never think we had been shut for three months’,” Moo Moo owner Steven Adams says. “All of that seems like such a distant memory now.” The room Adams now proudly looks out on was underwater in January during the disastrous Brisbane floods. So severe was the damage, Moo Moo had to be fitted out all over again only six months after opening. Now that life in Brisbane has almost returned to normal, with rebuilding and renovations continuing across the city, lessons are being evaluated from the worst of the crisis and what

strategies are needed to put the local economy back on track. The Australian economy has been dealt a volley of blows this year from Mother Nature, including the Brisbane floods, Cyclone Yasi and Western Australia’s Carnarvon floods. The Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria in 2009 also shocked the nation with its ferocity. The Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated the Brisbane floods cost an average loss of $834,992 for businesses that had to stop trading due to flooding. The median average loss, however, was closer to $60,000. While Adams calls the disaster, “Something you could never plan for”, he admits the experience has provided him with a range of lessons about how to handle a crisis. The first lesson is about the timing— as in, there is no time to waste. “Next time, at the very first sign of trouble—no matter what that trouble is—we would remove everything,” Adams says. “There should be no time RESTAURANT & CATERING 25


for hesitation. If you worry something might happen, then act on it straight away. “We didn’t have a clue how bad the risk would be. Next time we wouldn’t wait to find out.” Reacting to the instinct of impending danger is what Jason Coolen of The Gunshop Café in Brisbane’s West End insists saved his business. Within minutes of the flood warnings, Coolen had assembled his staff and a team of tradesmen to cut valuable appliances like stoves and refrigerators out of their fittings, created a bank of tables through the main floor of the restaurant and placed appliances, stock and valuables on top of the tables.


heard the predictions of how high they were expecting the waters to go, and so we worked out the tables were above that and put everything up that high and hoped for the best,” Coolen tells. “It saved the place and saved thousands. “We also had trucks on standby if things got worse, and also had pumps running. I think we did everything right, and I would not have done anything differently. We were open eight days later, and most of that delay was due to the electricity being out,” he says. Aside from the physical practicalities of rescuing equipment and clearing the mess, a crisis like a flood or a fire also demands a range of action once the immediate danger has passed. After taking stock of the extent of damage, strategies must be determined to create pathways leading to the reopening of the front doors. Essential issues include how staff is managed when the business is not in operation, and whether reductions need to be made. Suppliers have to be kept in contact with about the state


Con Castrisos, pictured at Cafe San Marco which went underwater in the Brisbane floods, says close scrutiny of all legal documents (including insurance policies) is a must.

of future orders, as do financial institutions about regular payments like mortgage and salaries. There are the negotiations of tackling insurance companies for compensation, as well as with landlords for picking apart all the terms of a lease. Sadly, it is often only in the wake of a crisis that many owners take the time to read all the fine print on their insurance policies and lease agreements. Lawyer Con Castrisos, who suffered the ruin of his own business, Southbank’s Cafe San Marco, says new scrutiny of all documents is a must. “A lot of restaurant owners didn’t have flood insurance,” Castrisos explains. “Then there are other insurances including destruction by an event, so I suppose owners didn’t think about the differences when they were completing their initial applications. But you need to know exactly what you are being covered for. “You also need to read the lease documents closely, as there are certain obligations that may include a base level of rent while (repairs) occur. You need to make sure that should a catastrophic event occur and you need to renovate, that you’ve actually got something to lease. “There will be a lot more scrutiny in future about where businesses go based on historical data. There needs to be careful review of leases to check whether the area was flood affected or threatened by bushfire in the past.” But how the restaurant is actually fitted out can also make a significant difference, adds Jason Coolen. He says he will now ensure his cafe has an emergency generator to guarantee power

says. “I spent months putting together the best team, and to let in any circumstances. He also advocates the placement of the them go would have been catastrophic. We did everything we electrical mains can mean the difference between survival and could to hold on to them, including placing some temporarily disaster. “I know of a lot of places that went out of action, even in other restaurants that were open. though their main floors were not flooded, “It is the same with customers. If you want to re-open your but they had basements that were, and doors to full houses, you need to keep the marketing going that was where their electrical circuit and customers informed on what is happening. In that boards were,” Coolen says. way, they are involved in the recovery as well. You must “Many restaurants must now “There should be no also maintain your brand.” look at where those electrical time for hesitation. If Allana Ryan from Fish Lovers in the inner Brisbane boxes are placed. I would nevyou worry something suburb of Rosalie says that after being closed for two er invest in a place that had might happen, months, it was taking part in a community event that everything in the basement. then act on it signaled the return of strong business. The fact our box is half way up straight away.” “All the businesses where we are reopened at the our main room wall proved to Steven Adams, Moo Moo The same time, so we had a big street party to let everyone be a saver for us.” Wine Bar & Grill, Brisbane know we were back in business,” she says. “You must Instigating regular communilet people know you are alive and running—that is one thing cation strategies with both staff not to keep a secret.” and customers, Steven Adams says, And in contrast to what Fish Lovers has just endured with proved to be one of the best steps he floodwaters, Ryan has now implemented new measures regardadopted for Moo Moo’s recovery. ing fire safety. While Moo Moo lost 25 per cent of its original team through “All the new fire extinguishers are now in place and the staff the recovery time, Adams says a tremendous amount of energy have had training,” she says. “The flood was awful, but it taught was devoted to holding on to the remaining 75 per cent. us that anything can happen. Fire really scares me, so I now “You have to do everything to keep them motivated, keep know that problem has been planned for and taken care of.”  them informed and keep them with their eye on the goal,” he


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Special Report



The combination of cameras and POS systems is a powerful weapon against fraud.

words: Jodie Thomson

Link surveillance cameras to your POS system for smarter security t might be a light-fingered staff member lifting from the till or helping themselves to pricey stock. Or a new waiter making an innocent but costly error like not adding wine to a customer’s bill. Internal theft and mistakes are an unfortunate reality of the restaurant game and have been traditionally hard for restaurateurs to keep track of. The good news is, the latest surveillance cameras teamed with smart point of sale (POS) systems make security a whole lot easier for business owners. High-resolution cameras linked with POS systems can give an accurate picture of how a business is running and a speedy alert when things are going wrong. “Loss prevention is a very big area for restaurants, and the aim of these surveillance systems is to reduce mistakes, and also look for any sort of theft or misuse or abuse that’s going on,” says Alexander Cooke, product manager with Fedelta. Internal theft and mistakes can cost a restaurant business dearly, especially if the discrepancies aren’t discovered promptly. “A lot of the big issues in restaurants relate to things not being charged, by accident,” says Burt Admiral, of H&L Australia. “Customers won’t complain about being undercharged, but $40 to $50 lost revenue on, say, a bottle of wine, is a lot.” Daily business records in isolation don’t always indicate to business owners that a theft or loss has occurred. Even if 28 RESTAURANT & CATERING

a problem is suspected, it can be difficult and time-consuming to investigate where and how it’s happened. Surveillance cameras alone are little help unless you know exactly where and when to look at footage. The solution is linking high-resolution cameras to POS systems that give restaurateurs an accurate picture of how a business is running and alert them when discrepancies arise. In the past, when computerised point of sale systems weren’t available, it was difficult to see where theft or loss was occurring. Many losses simply weren’t detected. “Sometimes we would see people find discrepancies that have been there for a while,” says Alexander Cooke of Fedelta. “People using traditional, older systems might get a report for the day, but they’re not looking at them over a period of time. They weren’t tracking any wastages happening at the venue either.” Smart POS systems however will give instant, graphic evidence of how one day’s business fits into a restaurant’s broader performance, over months and years. When you have a chart showing how that day compares over previous months and a year, it crystallises where there might be a problem,” Cooke says. “With cameras, you can then drill down to that next level of information and see what or who is involved. It starts to give you a better overall picture of the business.” It’s a simple matter then of finding the right footage needed to uncover the problem, by linking surveillance footage to particular

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Newer POS systems link stock control with video footage

transactions. Surveillance cameras and POS systems can help with stock control too. “If stock goes missing, that will show up in stock control on the system,” Cooke says. “You can view the relevant footage and see where the problem’s happened. Basically, if anything is going to be misused in an area of the restaurant, or it’s a genuine mistake, it’s going to show up in one of our systems.” The results translate to big cost and time savings for restaurant businesses, plus increased employee productivity. “We’ve got one client who had a problem with his wine fridge, and bottles weren’t being charged to his table,” says Burt Admiral. “He set the system so every time the wine fridge opened, the camera took a photo, and very quickly found the staff member who was innocently charging incorrectly.” Picture this In terms of technology, the latest security cameras are high-resolution, offering crisp and accurate images of people and details. Some cameras also offer a panorama-style view, reducing the need for multiple cameras in every corner of a restaurant space. “We’ve got a camera that’s like a fishbowl, with a parabolic lens that lets you see 180 degrees in both directions,” Admiral says. “You can break that up into four components so it gives you full restaurant coverage. A lot of people are using low-resolution cameras but if you enlarge the image you wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on.” Beyond theft, the cameras can also be used for broader surveillance uses within a business. “Some clients are putting these parabolic cameras in their kitchens and work areas, to give them occupational health and safety information,” Admiral says. Along with discovering when losses or theft actually occur, sophisticated surveillance and integrated POS systems can be a powerful preventative tool for staff. “Prevention is always much better than cure,” says Alex Cooke of Fedelta. “If staff are aware there’s a surveillance system in place, they know they’re being watched.” One of the advantages of the systems is they can also be set up so they can’t be misused by staff. “With regard to security integration, we do things like blind balancing, so the staff don’t know how much the system holds, and they just do their required job,” Cooke says. “But the system shows if something unusual has happened.” 

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Special report



New Zealand King Salmon has benefitted from NZ’s clean, green image, but customers still require education.

words: rob johnson

photography: courtesy new zealand king salmon

How do you strike the balance between good value seafood and sustainable seafood? specially when it comes to seafood, everyone wants to do the right thing. The popularity of sustainable seafood, amongst both chefs and consumers, has grown steadily in recent years. But for restaurateurs balancing ever-shrinking profit margins against ever-growing costs, it’s sometimes difficult to justify more expensive, sustainable product against cheaper (but less sustainable) ones. When it comes to using sustainable seafood, do you lead your customers or respond to them? And what will your response do to your business? Kiwi salmon producers New Zealand King Salmon is proud of its record of sustainability in a market where many of their competitors use unsustainable practices. “Our strongest selling point to chefs at the moment is taste and texture followed by sustainability,” says Markus Gerlich, general manager, Australia, for New Zealand King Salmon. “This, however, can differ from chef to chef and they are interchangeable in priority.” Other seafood suppliers have noted a similar trend. “Sustainable seafood is a feature now that a lot of our end users are asking for,” says Cindy Eskarous,
marketing manager with
Pacific West Foods. “It’s a point of difference for cafes and restaurants and even hotels to offer a quality product with a feel-good component to it. More and more Australian diners are questioning sustainability and this will grow further in the next few years. We’re seeing a trend where chefs and restaurants are starting to work together to inspire about sustainable seafood.”

With that at the front of its minds, Pacific West has recently released a branded range of tempura hake called ‘Sustainable Harvest’, which is heavily promoted as a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-accredited product. The reaction to it to date, says Cindy Eskarous, has been quite favourable, and “although Australia isn’t as advanced as the EU with sustainable produce, we’re certainly on our way to introducing sustainable products to the market”. “I think sustainability is not understood fully by Australians,” she adds. “The word has become so fluid to the point where when you ask diners what is sustainable produce, a majority had mixed answers such as ‘better for you’, ‘free of any chemical’, ‘plenty of ’ etc. So the Australian market is still in need of more time to understand sustainability and how it affects us and in our case our marine resources.” The Sustainable Harvest product, sourced from South Africa, was chosen by the company as an affordable product that ticked all the RESTAURANT & CATERING 33

Special report

sustainability boxes. “It’s a quality white fish that Australians prefer,” says Cindy Eskarous. “The ranking in terms of what Australians prefer to eat are known species such as flathead and barramundi, however the premium value based deep sea white fish species noted in the Food Service Market is Capensis Hake and NZ Hoki. Both our Hoki and Hake are a sustainable choice and both are certified by MSC.” Taste is obviously a factor as well, “and again being one of our most popular products, Tempura Fish, we thought this product ticks all the boxes with taste and price. To further grow our market share we thought, let’s gain certification and lead the way with MSC. A lot of our competitors are saying they’re sustainable but without certification they’re actually misleading their customers,” continues Eskarous.


e want to assist and cater for those end users who are looking to satisfy those customers who want to make a more informed and sustainable fish choice. We are catering for this by providing options at an accessible price point one where our price has been steady and has not increased at all as a result of getting certification. So really it’s costing our end users no more but gives them an added benefit of having Sustainable Harvest Tempura Fish on menus,” she says. New Zealand King Salmon has also had to not only find a price point acceptable to the market, but then convince the market that the benefits of their clean and green product outweigh the costs. “We are not nor will we ever be the cheapest salmon in the market,” explains Markus Gerlich, “but in saying that, due to the King Salmon’s rich texture, you can serve less of our salmon and the customer will still feel very satisfied. As with all animals, there are cheaper cuts but it depends on what the chef is doing on his dish and how well they utilise it. The difference in price from a plate cost between ours and say other salmon is as little as $0.50, as you can serve less.” The sustainability argument is still important to chefs, but all

their concerns must be addressed, Gerlich says, to achieve cutthrough to foodservice. “It comes down ultimately to the person making the purchase decision which can often come down to price. There certainly is a strong element of chefs who do care about sustainability, but ultimately for a restaurant it is about the dining experience,” he explains. “What our salmon can deliver that is superior to anything else and it’s scarcity, as we are but less than one per cent of the total farmed salmon in the world. We are not and will not be available in mainstream retail such as Coles and Woolworths, which is also a positive for the restaurants.” New Zealand King Salmon is much awarded and recognised for its sustainable farming practices, which is challenging because King Salmon is the hardest breed of salmon to farm. They have a number of systems in place that means they have very little impact in the environment, which thus keep the water quality high and the fish less stressed, and have been recognised around the world for it. Nonetheless, Gerlich says they still have to explain the ‘clean, green’ story around the salmon product, “but this is becoming less frequent as people see it more on the menus of Australia’s leading restaurants who are known for quality and sustainability”, Gerlich says. 

Handle with care

The greatest risk with a product like New Zealand King Salmon’s is its delicacy, says Markus Gerlich, and that risk relates to its final taste and texture. “This is primarily during the cooking process and most chefs do handle our salmon and in fact most fish more delicately than, say, meat or poultry. Fish can become bruised if thrown around so to speak during the processing or distribution. I suppose you could almost say that as some of the TV shows have been saying, ‘cook it with love’, there is no real issue.”

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Margins of error words: Ben canaider

How do you translate the LUC of drinks to an onpremise price without upsetting your customers? ow that all Australians are accomplished chefs and can cook anything, and now that all Australians are also qualified restaurant and food critics, a strange cultural shift has taken place. More and more customers feel more and more comfortable inside a restaurant. Thanks to the mass popularity of TV cheffing, Australians aren’t afraid when dining or lunching out anymore. Indeed, customers are bringing a kind of smug forgiveness to restaurants. Without the fear they’ve lost the angst. But they still get cranky about one very big thing. They might be charmingly condescending about your foamed wagyu organic porridge, but they loathe the perceived daylight robbery of the wine mark-ups. Smart operators, of course, manage to massage the LUC-to-on-premise-price nicely; it becomes an enjoyable outcome for all consenting parties. There is a range of ways to do this. You need to employ a raft of tricks. Because if you don’t, you’re either going to go out of business or miraculously become a profitable, arrogant destination venue wherein you can charge what you jolly-well like for wine. I think we all know which result is more likely. Little-known boutique wines This works on the very basic principle of non-disclosure: if diners don’t know how much a wine costs in retail land then they will judge the reasonableness of its restaurant price based on (a) the price, (b) the prettiness of the label, (c) the grape variety, and (d) the region – depending on how much they know about wine. Hence Seville Estate Barber’s Range Pinot 36 RESTAURANT & CATERING

How you manage your mark-up on this can make or break your customers’ opinions of you.

Noir ($14.62LUC, Domaine Wine Shippers, Peterh@domwineship.; it gives you pinot poshness and Yarra Valley cachet with a price you can do things with. Unknown imported wines Similar principle to the above, but with even more sea room. The focus here needs to be on wines that have some trendy regional currency. Ten years ago Italian wines worked well in this equation; nowadays Spanish wine is the way to go. Tempranillo is rolled gold for inner city bars; but some other Spanish red varieties are starting to go trendy—such as mencia. Telmo Rodrigues ‘Gaba do Xil” Mencia 2008 ($22LUC The Spanish Acquisition, is the sort of attractive, perfumed, plummy red wine that’s only 12.5 per cent AVB. With great drinkability and smart acid, it’s a very refreshing beverage and a versatile background

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to food. In other imported areas you see some operators trying to clean up on South American wines, but the problem here is that too many of the wines from Argentina and Chile are already too cheap at retail level. Also keep a weather eye on the growing number of Portuguese reds starting to make sommeliers swoon. Second label marquee brands Smart winemakers learnt a long time ago that if you have a wellrecognised, high-quality brand, you should leverage the power of that brand by introducing a more “affordable” younger brother to the equation. In other words, a second or entry-point wine that sold principally on the family name, as long, of course, as the wine in the bottle was of a good standard. A good example of this is Leeuwin’s Estate’s “Siblings” range. Leeuwin Estate Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 is $15.59LUC. Whereas the Art Series Chardonnay 2008 lands at $62.35…(Fesq & Company, www.fesq. The sav/sem gives you the name for a quarter the price. Self-selling labels In a very cyclical manner there are always wines going around that seem to carry the imprimatur of the gods. These wines can do no wrong. A combination of price, contemporary wine style and flavour, and some good media endorsement help to lift such wines up a few notches. Three wines in this part of the atmosphere at the minute are Oakridge in the Yarra Valley (Over the Shoulder ChardonA close fiscal and nay 2010, $15LUC, quality scrutiny is Bibendum Wine required if you want Co., orders@ to squeeze the most amount of profit out au); Josef Chromy of every transaction from Tasmania (Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2010, $19.35LUC, Vinous Solutions, info@vinous.; and Margaret River’s Vasse Felix, which must have one of the best-valued, high-quality reds currently of voting age (Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2008, $15.89LUC, Samuel Smith & Son Pty Ltd, Honest bargains This is a little like the loss-leader principle used so effectively by a certain national liquor chain. I’m not suggesting that any restaurateur would actually sell wine to your customers for less than you bought it, but putting one reasonably well-known white wine on your list at a price that’s affordable to the minds of your customers, and, well, you’ll win a lot of customer loyalty. A particular Melbourne restaurant has practised this for years with Tahbilk Marsanne ($10.75LUC, The Wine Company, au). It sits on the list at about $5 more than a good discount retail price. It works because it satisfies wine-list price snobs, it gets customers going, and because the relatively unknown nature of the variety—marsanne—won’t cannibalise your chardy and sav blanc sales. How much time you want to spend maintaining this sort of wine pricing strategy is another imponderable. Some are happy to let distributors handle most of the nitty-gritty, imagining they are getting good deals, good wine, and no hassles. This can only work well for you for so long, however. Wine—like every aspect of the restaurant game—has to be worked. 

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360 Bar and

Dining words: Kerryn Ramsey

Design whiz Michael McCann has given an iconic venue atop Sydney Tower a new spin e had a definitive concept to work with—a revolving restaurant with great views—although the very idea is quite clichéd. On top of this, we had to overcome the necessity of patrons walking through a shopping centre to reach the restaurant. The challenge was to create an iconic space that would attract both à la carte diners as well as groups. We started by selecting dramatic finishes and adding a spectacular revolving bar. The bar was clad with tortoise shell imported from Indonesia. Actually it’s 50x50mm squares of mussel shells coloured to appear like tortoise shell. “The wine rack provided a simple way to shield the lift lobby. As patrons exit the lift, they get a hint of the view through the wine cellar. When they walk around the cellar and have an unobstructed view, the result is very dramatic. “It’s important that moody, dramatic lighting sets the scene for the intended drama as well as for the required task lighting. The venue is flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows during the day, so lighting needs to provide the balance on the inner walls and entry vestibule. In the evening, the lighting dims down to enhance the light show that Sydney provides. It also ensures that reflection on the inside of the windows is kept to a minimum. We also designed the custom ceiling lights with a local lighting designer. These remain fixed while diners rotate under them and can be clearly seen by a number of Sydney suburbs. “On the upper level, the banquettes are quite small yet provide a ‘big night out’ ambience. Most guests feel they have been given the best table in the house even though they are not seated at the window. “The flooring consists of beautiful timber parquetry in the entrance and glass mosaics in the toilets. This is coupled with a stunning Tai Ping carpet featuring hand-cut circles that match the 38 RESTAURANT & CATERING

theme of the fit-out. “The revolving aspect of this restaurant created some very unusual difficulties. We had to design large stainless steel holding tanks under the floor for both clean and dirty water. A NASA-style coupling system allows us to ‘dock’, take on clean water and purge the dirty water holding tank. Electricity was supplied by a live steel curved flat-bar, much like as done on a merry-go-round. We also had to ensure that the extra weight of these tanks was evenly balanced in the tower. “This is a venue that reveals itself slowly. Most patrons immediately focus on the stunning view and we didn’t want to compete with that. Then, little by little, they’ll notice lots of individual touches. Hopefully this will add to their experience as the evening progresses.” 

Contact details: Michael McCann Dreamtime Australia Design, Boundary Street, Ruschcutters Bay, Sydney 2011 T: (02) 9368 0800 Web:

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R&C August 2011  

Restaurant & Catering Magazine is the official journal of the Restaurant & Catering Association of Australia. Published by Engage Custom Med...

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