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Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs

Che

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Applies To FOOD + BEVERAGE How

November 2017 Issue 17

Including: Alice Cheng Sylva Senat Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom

The Right

INSURANCE For Your

FOOD BUSINESS

DUFFY CURTIS


Entrepreneurial f Che

Magazine

November 2017 Volume 2 Issue #17 Publisher Rennew Media, LLC Editor Shawn Wenner Contributing Editor Kaiko Shimura Staff Writer Jenna Rimensnyder Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Cover Curtis Duffy Cover Photographer Jim Luning Contributors Rebecca Hosley, Deb Cantrell, Jeff Grandfield, Dale Willerton, Joyce Appelman, Will Harmon, Brent Johnson, Caroline Halter Photo Credits Urban Zintel, John Brecher, Lindsay Ostrom, Anthony Tahlier, Hugh Galdones Special Thanks Alice Cheng, Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom, Curtis Duffy, Sylva Senat No content, for example, articles, graphics, designs, and information in this publication can be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. For advertising information, letters to the editor, or submission inquiries, please email: Contact@EntrepreneurialChef.Com Entrepreneurial Chef donates a portion of advertising & editorial space to C-CAP, CORE & Share Our Strength. All Rights Reserved © 2017 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC 2

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Editor’s Note

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ood entrepreneurs are required to strike the difficult balance between creativity and business to find any level of success – let alone making it last. With having to engage both sides of the brain, the right filled with creativity and imagination, and left with logic and reasoning, it’s no wonder why so many food businesses go belly up in the first couple of years. As we pulled together another issue, one individual in particular talked about a concept to help those just starting out. Bjork Ostrom, Founder of Pinch of Yum, explained a pitfall for many first timers – thinking too big in terms of engaging customers, fans, or followers. Bjork instead suggests to fall in line with Kevin Kelley’s concept of “1000 True Fans.” As Kevin Kelley explains, “A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.” What Kelley posits is creatives need not a huge audience to thrive, but rather 1,000 true fans that are head over heels in love with what you do. Such fans will support your efforts with a steady and predictable level of purchases, which translates into steady and predictable income. Furthermore, your fans will become brand ambassadors that will enlist others to follow along in the journey. As always, I hope this issue offers fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice in your own entrepreneurial journey.

Cheers,


Contents 41 36 53

5 19 23

Editor’s Note............................................2 Alice Cheng The Art of the Grind ..............................5 How Intellectual Property Applies to Food + Beverage............... 19 Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom Building a Multi-Million Dollar Food Blog .............................................. 23 Insurance Policies For Your Food Business....................................... 36 Curtis Duffy Food Entrepreneurship With a Touch of Grace ....................... 41 Using Tech to Optimize the Customer Experience................... 53 9 Signs You’re Being Scammed Via Email ............................. 58

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63

Sylva Senat Stepping Up to the Plate ................... 63 Presenting & Negotiating a Lease Proposal For Food Entrepreneurs ............................ 76

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76

Casual Communication Can Cost You Countless Coins ................. 80


Bleu


Success Story

Alice Cheng:

The Art of the

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Grind


Success Story

No days

off, no vacations, no time to “unplug” — these are the sacrifices that must be made when you’re building a company from the ground up. Alice Cheng is on call 24/7. Her schedule ranges from traveling to meetings with local partners, collaborating with her team to seize the latest opportunity, and putting in late nights at the office. One would think that after revolutionizing the restaurant industry with Culinary Agents she would have time to relax — but, infact, she’s been busier than ever.

Culinary Agents is a networking and job-matching site for food, beverage, and hospitality professionals. A portal for boundary-pushing young chefs and passionate veterans alike, Culinary Agents was born in 2012 and has been on fire ever since due to Cheng’s drive, passion, and an incredible team of like-minded go-getters. The platform has acquired high-level clients like Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Daniel Boulud, Daniel Humm and William Guidara, among many others. Cheng’s idea stemmed from her close circle of friends within the restaurant industry struggling to find career resources. After discovering a hole in the market, Cheng assembled a team, polished the product, landed partners, and is now a premier platform spanning from New York to San Francisco. 6

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Before she was supporting over 80% of all Michelin-starred U.S. restaurants, Cheng was busy climbing the corporate ladder at IBM – from the mailroom to a lead role in the Digital Media group. Each career move was carefully planned over her decade-plus residency with the corporation. In looking back, every position added new tools she would eventually need to build her own legacy. Although Culinary Agents connects talent with establishments, it’s much more than a job board. The many facets allow members to navigate the off-line restaurant world with resume writing, career advice from mentors, and contract negotiations so they can reach maximum potential. The online tool has an automatic matching process, which tees up opportunities to talent and businesses – unlike other job sites. Applicant matching, messaging, and management, makes filling and finding positions quicker and easier – taking the stress out of job searching. Since the start-ups birth, Culinary Agents is trusted by over 15,000 businesses, spread to over 50 cities nationwide, made over 20 million matches and has been featured in numerous news publications such as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. The culinary version of LinkedIn has also spread internationally to Canada, Europe, China and the UK. Along the way, Culinary Agents has gained partnerships with some of the top names in the industry like the Hospitality Trade Association, METRO AG, and Union Square. Alice Cheng penciled us in to tell her story of where the idea of Culinary Agents originated from, how she was able to grow the platform, and how she navigated through the hardships along the way. Find out how this businesswoman found a hole in the culinary industry and capitalized – yet another chapter in her success story.


Success Story

& QA The

with

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Alice Cheng

Can you share a little of your background?

I was born and raised in New York, and I’ve always been a hustler and hard worker. By 14 years old, I started working in food service and fell in love with the industry. While in college, I took a position in the mailroom at IBM to pay rent and became quite fond of a new division that was all about new media and the future of digital. For a couple of years, it was no sleep and a lot of hustle – school full-time, working full-time at IBM, and working in retail and food service on the weekends. At IBM, by 2000, I was in the Digital Media group. It was a time when large companies like NFL.com and PGA.com were trying to grow an online presence and transform their businesses. After a few years, I was transferred to Silicon Valley to work with “emerging companies” like Google, Yahoo, Netflix and see how we could 7

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potentially help them. It changed my perspective on startups, problem-solving, treating employees, and applying technology in an uncommon way to build something new to address unique challenges. Throughout this time, my free time was spent with friends in the hospitality industry. I saw them experience challenges in looking for jobs and connecting with businesses, so I naturally started helping friends find opportunities, which spiraled into me introducing people, giving career advice, and helping them see how their skills transferred into different types of roles. It all led to starting Culinary Agents. When I look back, after celebrating five years, it’s amazing how all the different things I’ve done along the way influenced what I’m doing today. From a mailroom story at IBM to growing into a global strategy and operations role, being surrounded by innovations like LinkedIn and Facebook on the west coast, and all the people I met in the hospitality industry along the way.


Success Story

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What sparked the idea for Culinary Agents?

It was a combination of helping a very dear friend, Jerrome Abustan, and seeing technology being leveraged by other industries to create efficiencies and opportunities. I’m cheerleader #1 when it comes to other people and career development. I forged my own path within IBM after joining in an unconventional way, and I believe that it’s not where you came from but where you’re going and how you get there that matters. For many years Craigslist was the only option that I saw my chef, server, sommelier friends using to search for jobs or for hiring. In an industry where people were the main attraction, the tools to support them were seriously lacking. I was “invited” early on to LinkedIn and as

Understanding if you’re actually building or providing something that people want or need is a critical part of the initial step in deciding whether or not you’re going to give up everything to do it; make it worth it. — Alice Cheng

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the site evolved and grew I found it very useful in my day to day at IBM. The aha moment was thinking about how to apply technology in a unique way to address a simple challenge of how to connect talent and businesses [in the hospitality industry] around opportunities. How can someone’s experience and skills speak for themselves and become a precursor to a conversation and how can we level the playing field regardless of where you were located across the US or in the world.

With Jerrome, I watched him humbly work hard and climb the ranks – he seemed to have done everything right. As he progressed along his career I saw different opportunities come and go, some he was able to take advantage of while others [I thought] took advantage of him. How could I help him find great new and creative projects? How could I make sure that he earned what he was worth? The combination sparked the initial idea of Culinary Agents in my mind back in 2007, when I bought the domain.


Success Story

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After you conceptualized the idea, how’d you get started?

In the beginning, Jerrome and I started having Sunday brainstorm sessions. Mehdi Chellaoui [his longtime fellow chef friend] would also come by to help every now and then. The deal was I would cook, and they would help validate my ideas and website designs. My apartment had large post-it notes as wallpaper for a while. I tried to tap into the psyche of the job decision process, and it was really revealing. It was literally a “mind of a chef” exercise. As we continued with these exercises, I began to see more clearly what Culinary Agents could be not just for cooks but for the everyone in the industry.

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I honed in the “elevator pitch” and started telling everyone I knew in the industry, partially for a sanity check but mainly to keep designing and developing the site and functions. I tapped into my network and approached things very humbly, after all, I was here to serve them, and I wanted them to tell me how I could help. One of my first memorable interactions was with Daniel Boulud. I took a deep breath and walked up to him at one of his restaurants and gave a quick elevator pitch. He looked at me and said, That’s a good idea.” We chatted for 15 minutes, and he rambled off some feedback and said, “Call me when you do it,” and went back to work. I’ll never forget that [moment] because as an entrepreneur with an idea who was investing time and money, to have a powerhouse like Daniel Boulud validate and give encouragement 9

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I picked a couple of firms and people I wanted to connect with, and I was just not shy about it. — Alice Cheng

meant so much. I was very fortunate to get that from him at a very important time during the concept development of Culinary Agents. To this day, direct user feedback and insights are at the core of the design and development of our user experience.

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Were you building the company and platform while still at IBM? Essentially, making it a side hustle first? I spent nights and weekends designing and building the product while still putting in 70+ hrs a week at IBM. I understood technology and how to approach design, but I’m not an engineer, so it was challenging because I had to hire developers to make the product into something real that I could touch and feel. It was extremely difficult in the beginning. I was self-funded and spent all of my free time, money and energy designing, building, and testing the product. It was the ultimate non-lucrative side hustle.


Success Story

Getting in front of investors is half the battle, convincing them why you’re worthy of an investment is another. — Alice Cheng

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Success Story

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What was the catalyst to pursue the venture full-time?

I hit a crossroads in my career. I was gunning for a promotion that would have consumed me, and Culinary Agents would have gone to the backburner. At that point, we had over a thousand people on [the platform] and were already supporting a few major restaurant groups in NY and Chicago. At this point I needed to consider outside money because my personal funds were no longer sufficient, I said to myself it was now or never. I had been consumed by developing Culinary Agents, and I felt the timing was finally right. I understood the industry, was doing it for the right reasons, and I had a unique perspective on how technology can and should be applied to helping talent and businesses connect. I knew that not pursuing Culinary Agents would have been a huge regret [I hate regrets], so I went all-in October 2012.

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What was that feeling like quitting the security of IBM and how’d you get through?

I was so terrified [laughs]! I remember getting off the phone with my manager at the time, and I stared at the wall for an hour. Then, he called me back to ask if I was kidding or serious. I hesitated for a moment but said I was serious, it is still one of the best decisions that I ever made. After joining IBM through a temp position, I spent 13 years there climbing the ranks, mapping out my career path and mentoring others. I had some of the best experiences under my belt and worked amongst some of the brightest

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I genuinely believe that people want to help, and as long as you make it really easy for them to help you, they will. — Alice Cheng

people in the world. It made me very proud to have unconventionally forged a career at one of the largest companies in the world. For me, it wasn’t just about giving up the security, it was giving up what I had worked so hard for so many years for. I got through it because the feedback about Culinary Agents from [hospitality industry] thought leaders and the talent was undeniable. This continual early validation and momentum made it clear that there was a gap that Culinary Agents was filling.


Success Story

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How did you connect with investors and sell them on getting involved?

I did it old school, figure out who you want to talk to and get in front of them. I did my research, cold-called, and asked for help. I think [asking for help] is something a lot of entrepreneurs have trouble with in the beginning because sometimes they don’t know how or what they need help with. I picked a couple of firms and people I wanted to connect with, and I was just not shy about it. Sure, there were embarrassing moments and several unanswered emails but everyone is busy, and you have to find a way to cut through the noise. Hustle. You have to get out there and network, but you have to be smart because you can waste a lot of time. I met with a lot of different people. Some were interested, and some would suggest I meet with someone else, so I would ask them to introduce me – you have to always be closing in that sense. I genuinely believe that people want to help, and as long as you make it really easy for them to help you, they will. Getting in front of investors is half the battle, convincing them why you’re worthy of an investment is another. Talking with investors, they poked holes at the fact that I was a single non-technical founder running a tech company, and my pedigree was with IBM, which signaled that I was “institutionalized.” There were a lot of red flags for investors, and I had a lot of things working against me. But the things I focused on were my early adopters and what that indicated. The investors couldn’t deny the fact that we were working with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world, people were using the site, and we were growing fast. 12

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Was there a tipping point when things began taking off, and if so, how did this come about? I had two stand-out tipping points. First, when I had the initial beta site, I brought it to Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer’s teams, and we began a feedback loop to continue improving the site as they used it. I had the vision, drive, a unique perspective and the industry had the need. Shortly after, the teams at Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Make it Nice, Batali & Bastianich, One Off Hospitality Group, The Alinea Group, Boka Group and Mina Group joined the mix. Without the innovative thinking of these early-adopting teams, we may not have grown and developed the way that we have. The second was when my co-founders joined the team a few years ago – this was the big tipping point. Building a strong leadership team that covers all the different aspects of the most critical parts of your business is huge. They brought a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience that we desperately needed. Continuing to build and grow together is what pushes the company forward on a daily basis.


Success Story

I was self-funded and spent all of my free time, money and energy designing, building, and testing the product. It was the ultimate non-lucrative side hustle. — Alice Cheng 13

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Success Story

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What was the customer acquisition strategy in the beginning and the thought process behind the strategy? In the beginning, we focused on fine dining and upscale establishments, well-known brands, chefs, and restaurateurs in a handful of key cities. I felt they were the ones with specific challenges that [presented] an opportunity to build our product with the highest standards. Also, there was this idea that if we could help understand the nuances and build a product to address them at this level, then that would apply to [both] smaller and larger brands and across sectors – that proved to be true for us. Existing and aspiring industry professionals would flock to these establishments, but the lack of tools to filter the qualified from unqualified often added hours of admin work for management. Not only was this extremely inefficient for businesses but frustrating for talent as well. By helping with managing the applicant process, matching for qualifications, sorting, filtering and tracking we believed that we would help businesses save time and money while also helping them connect with qualified talent.

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What’s the competitive advantage that was built into Culinary Agents to stand apart from the competition? We take great care in our approach in the overall development of our site and services. Our features and functions continue to be developed based on the direct feedback and suggestions from our users combined with our unique understanding of the industry and how best 14

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10 to apply the technology to support it. We’re thoughtful in the design of our site and how we support our users.

Another thing is that we hold our relationships near and dear, and we work hard at developing them. We do not take warm introductions for granted. The goalis taking that introduction, respecting it and nurturing it into a relationship. You do that through time, customer service, being proactive in helping to solve challenges, and supporting needs.

Our service culture is “top down and bottom up.” If a server needs help with something, we help them just as if they were the Director of Human Resources for that company. We genuinely care.

Find what works for you as far as what will hold you accountable or keep you going and just do it. — Alice Cheng


Success Story

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What were some of the growth strategies you implemented to grow the platform?

One of the early strategies was deploying nationwide right away – not just in one city to test and replicate. In this industry, not only are there nuances around positions, people, and businesses, but each city is different. Especially the characteristics of a particular city and makeup that trickled down into the talent pool and their actions and behaviors. This allowed us to learn and develop features accordingly. We do focus a little more heavily on certain cities just by default, but the beauty of Culinary Agents is that the people finding jobs through our site are also the people who grow into management positions and naturally choose to use our site for hiring.

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What were some of the growth challenges you experienced and how’d you overcome?

There’s never a perfect time, but there is a timing factor that is critical to the entire process, don’t let it pass! — Alice Cheng

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You mentioned challenges as you brought employees on board, how do you maintain the overall culture and keep things moving forward?

We’re a small business, so the challenge was growing past the initial phase of the company. As a team of people pleasers, it is difficult to say no, so we spend much of our time prioritizing.

We’ve always focused on the talent, the businesses, and how to connect them around opportunities. Our mission has never changed and keeping true to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it has always been a guidepost for our team.

The biggest challenge was pioneering a new way to source talent in an industry that is not always welcoming of change.

With any growing company, change and flexibility are required, but you have to make sure to remember to have fun along the way!

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Success Story

You have to get out there and network, but you have to be smart because you can waste a lot of time. — Alice Cheng

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What do you think young entrepreneurs get wrong when starting out?

I think young entrepreneurs rush into starting something and sometimes for the wrong reasons. I didn’t build Culinary Agents because I was bored, I was solving a problem that I was passionate about. Too often I hear that people just don’t want to work for someone else, so they try to start their own venture. If you do venture off on your own, it’s not just about the idea. Let people help you, don’t be too paranoid about someone “stealing” your idea. It takes a lot more than an idea to build a company, surround yourself with smart people you trust and focus. Understanding if you’re actually building or providing something that people want or need is a critical part of the initial step in deciding whether or not you’re going to give up everything to do it; make it worth it. 16

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For the aspiring food entrepreneurs trying to launch their ventures, what are final thoughts or advice? It’s important to ask yourself questions. Are you solving a problem? Do you have something unique? And if what you’re doing exists, why is yours better? Will someone pay for it? If you do your research and think about different phases of how you could build what you’re trying to build, it helps you peel back the layers and realize if [your idea] actually make sense. What worked for me was vocalizing to a lot of people what I was going to do. It started holding me accountable because the next time I would see somebody they would ask how [the idea] was going. Of course, I didn’t want to say I didn’t do it. Find what works for you as far as what will hold you accountable or keep you going and just do it. And keep in mind, there’s never a perfect time, but there is a timing factor that is critical to the entire process, don’t let it pass! Photo Credits: Urban Zintel, John Brecher


Top Ten Takeaways from Alice Cheng 1

It’s okay to feel scared or nervous when venturing on your own, but never let it hold you back.

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People, in general, want to help others, so make it easy for them to help you.

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After you receive a warm introduction to someone in business, it’s important to respect and nurture the relationship.

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It’s crucial to build your network as it will greatly affect your business success.

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Everything has an opportunity cost; be careful not to waste your time.

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Understanding if you’re solving a problem is a critical part of deciding whether or not a business venture will be worth your time, energy, and money.

There is never a “perfect” time for starting a business, but timing definitely comes into play.

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Don’t be shy about talking to people about your business venture; you can’t be paranoid someone will steal your idea.

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You may never have a pile of cash saved to quit a job, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.

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As your business grows with employees, protect the integrity of your culture by staying true to your mission.

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Find the best jobs. Find the best people. Create Your Free Profile on CulinaryAgents.com We are here to help! @culinaryagents


Intellectual Property

How Intellectual Property Applies to Food + Beverage By: Caroline Halter

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Intellectual Property

M

ost of the time we talk about intellectual property in terms of literary works or engineering feats, but it’s really important for foodpreneurs to become more savvy about IP. In a nutshell, intellectual property rights are federally protected rights afforded to makers, brand owners, and creators. It’s that simple. If you want to protect something, or to stop someone from doing the same thing that you’re doing in your entrepreneurial venture, the only way to do that in the United States (and abroad) is through IP law. An IP attorney will help you ensure that no one has made it before, branded it in a similar way to yours, or created it before you did. As a friend of PieShell’s, David Postolski has a unique niche: he’s an intellectual property (IP) lawyer for food + beverage. He works with companies from the FOOD-X accelerator, as well as companies coming out of the International Culinary Center. Today, David’s going to give us a quick crash course in IP, as it applies to the wonderful world of food + beverage.

Patents If you make something that is both novel and non-obvious (in other words, sufficiently inventive) compared to what’s already in the marketplace, you can register your idea as an invention with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The process to file a patent takes about three years, and begins with a search of a worldwide database to figure out what exactly is protectable about your idea. Aside from explaining the 20

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basics of IP law, a patent attorney will help you by drafting the proper documents to prove your idea is patent-worthy. Being awarded a patent grants you the sole right to exclude someone else from making, using, or selling your invention. This right lasts for 20 years from the day you file, and is not renewable.

Branding Another thing to think about with food is branding. Today, branding is equally as important as your product itself, and this is especially true for food companies. In the world of marketing, the term “brand” is pretty broad. But in IP, it’s defined as “a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.” This is called a trademark (TM). Like a patent, trademarks are only approved if no one has filed for the same brand or a similar brand as you. If they have, then you may need to add a logo. Selling a different type of good or service under an already existing name may be permissible, but the original trademark holder may believe that consumers could confuse the two products, and they likely won’t be OK with that possibility. So, always think about how to make your brand distinct. It’s not just good for marketing, it’s the safest way to go in order to achieve a federal US trademark. This right lasts for 10 years, and is renewable for 10 year periods in perpetuity if you continue to use it for the same goods and services. In the food industry, your trademark and branding is everything, so not protecting them can be very dangerous.


Intellectual Property copyright office. If your copyright registration holds up against scrutiny from others as being original, then it will last the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years. Note that in the food industry, recipes are not protectable by copyright, but the creative content your food company generates — such as website content, marketing content, blogs, original art work, and design — is! This fact is something that people often overlook.

But What about Food? In the food industry, you can get a patent on the technology surrounding food, a new cooking technique using new tools, a new formulation, or a new ingredient list. These types of ideas can be protected as a design, its science, or utilitarian features. But even if your idea doesn’t fall into one of those categories, it still could be protectable in other ways, such as trade secret. Of course, like any startup, you can (and should) protect your brand. Plus, food shapes are also protectable, as is unique packaging — we’ll talk more about that in a future blog.

Copyright

And lastly, copyright is often overlooked in the world of food + beverage, but it’s becoming more and more important as marketing becomes increasingly content-centric.

The last type of IP property is copyright, which protects any sort of creative work that is both original and in a fixed medium (i.e. written down, recorded etc.). The toughest part of securing a copyright is proving originality, which is sometimes contested by other creators who may believe they were actually the first one to do whatever you’re doing. This can quickly become complicated. With a copyright, you are simply registering your work without much investigation by the 21

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Caroline Halter is a content writer for PieShell. She thrives on finding the most interesting ways to tell stories and spark conversation. Follow along at blog.pieshell.com


Success Story

Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom:

Building a Multi-Million Dollar Food Blog 23

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Success Story

Dedication,

flexibility, and relentless execution are required to attain success in the world of entrepreneurship. For Pinch of Yum founders, Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom, they exemplify these characteristics and have used them to build one of the most successful food blogs in the world. Working in tandem, although playing different roles – Lindsay creating the content and Bjork leaning into the online marketing and financial side – the two created a massive portal for foodies and entrepreneurs alike. Starting as a side project, Pinch of Yum launched in 2010. At the time, Lindsay worked as a teacher and Bjork with a nonprofit. After a couple of years, the two doubled down and began experimenting with creating an income. Initially, it was work without much reward. As Bjork explained “we would have earned more working in a restaurant as opposed to taking photos of food and publishing them.” Yet, working tirelessly in the early mornings, nights, and weekends, they would grind until eventually creating an income stream high enough to focus on the venture full-time. Over the last seven years, Bjork chronicled their journey by way of income reports. Earnings for the first month were a meager $21.97, but gradually grew as they refined their craft. Today, Pinch of Yum grosses anywhere from $50-100,000 per month – not too bad for something that started as a side project. By 2015, the pair expanded and brought on a “small and mighty team” and acquired a physical studio to host workshops and record videos. Lindsay and Bjork pride themselves on being transparent with their success; so much so that they share their recipe by way of their Food Blogger Pro course.

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Equipped with a library of over 300 easy-to-understand videos made for beginner to intermediates, Lindsay and Bjork’s Food Blogger Pro course is a lifeline for those in need of guidance and a sense of community. With close to 3,000 members across the globe, the community discusses everything from web design, advertising, and even legalities involved in building a running a blog. Different from Pinch of Yum, Food Blogger Pro’s blog and podcast cover topics on building, growing, and scaling a food blog into a business. Bjork interviews industry professionals on topics ranging from discovering your brand to gaining followers on social networks. The tag team’s genuine energy can be felt through their posts and podcast, which speaks to their extensive following and sustainability the market. We had the pleasure of connecting with Bjork Ostrom to gain insights on how he and Lindsay not only started Pinch of Yum, but grew it to the mammoth it is today. Bjork shared everything from advice for finding your niche, launch strategies, to his personal philosophy of “building a bridge” instead of “burning a boat” when anyone aspires to leap into entrepreneurship full-time.


Success Story

& QA The

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Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom Where did the idea of Pinch of Yum come from?

After getting married in 2009, Lindsay was getting interested in [cooking] but was always interested in food, recipes, and food content. She would post recipes on social media and different outlets and wondered if there was a better way to [share recipes] than just inundating friends and family. We sat down and thought what it would be like to create a blog. I was really into online marketing and websites, and Lindsay was excited from the recipe side. So, we researched and registered the domain Pinch of Yum in 2010.

2

How did you get started with the blog?

Lindsay jumped in and started learning how to 25

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write about food and recipes, how to develop and publish recipes, and take photographs. All the while, I started learning more about theonline content side. After a couple of years, there was a decent amount of traffic. At that point, we doubled down on the initial success and started to experiment with creating an income purely from content on the site – ads, selling information products, etc. In the early days, the success wasn’t super dramatic – $20 or $40 in a month – but it slowly would build. We had this belief that if we could make $20, we could make $40, and we really believed in that philosophy and continued to grow it. Fast forward to today, we have a small team and Lindsay and I continue to love what we do. It’s a lot of work, there’s never an easy day, but there’s always something we enjoy waiting around the corner.


Success Story

3

Since you’re very transparent with your business, can you share the revenue generation for Pinch of Yum? For Pinch of Yum, on any given month, it grosses between $50-100,000 dollars. Obviously, there’s money that goes back into the business to continue to grow it, and we’re really intentional about that. It’s not uncommon for a month to have $70,000 of revenue and $20-30,000 dollars of expenses. All of that comes from a lot of time and energy, and a team [now], but in the early stages it was just Lindsay and I building it.

4

What was the transition like from the beginning to when started monetize off the blog? It was slow and steady. When we started the income reports [in] September 2011, it was a year and a half after starting the blog. It doesn’t sound like much time, but if you actually sit and create content every other day for a year and a half, it feels like a long time. To do that and not see results can be a real drain. I always remind people there was a long period where we were earning nothing and putting in a lot of work – for a really long time. On one income report I crunched the numbers, and between Lindsay and I, we would have earned more working in a restaurant as opposed to taking photos of food and publishing them. With a content-based business, you’re not able to quickly scale because it takes so long to put the proverbial coal in the engine and get the train moving.

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There was a long period where we were earning nothing and putting in a lot of work – for a really long time. — Bjork Ostrom

By September 2011, we earned $20. It was after launching the site in April 2010. The first time we created an income equal to what we were making at our jobs individually was August 2012. At that point, we sat down and thought, “this could be a thing.” But we didn’t leave our jobs for another year. One of the things I always say is, “build a bridge, don’t burn a boat.” Sometimes people think they’ve got to “burn the boats” – no going back. It works for some, but for others, myself included, there’s something about building a bridge and knowing you can go back and forth. [Building a bridge] was true for us. The jobs we left, Lindsay with teaching and me with a nonprofit, we had a really good line of communication, and it was a slow and steady transition.


Success Story

5

When you all started, was the goal and intention to create a business or was it a passion project? For Lindsay, she was interested in connecting with people, developing a voice as a writer, and developing her craft. It was less business oriented for her than it was for me. I was interested in all things finance, whether personal or business, so it allowed me to lean into that. When we started, it was more of an experiment and less of a ticket out of a job. We loved our jobs. We just had a fun thing on the side and saw we could make something from it.

You have to have the mindset that before ever asking, to give abundantly. — Bjork Ostrom

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What was the work you were putting in to have the site grow and materialize into a business?

For Lindsay, it was consistent posting. In the first two to three years, there wasn’t a week where she didn’t post two to three times. [Back then], it [was working] in the early hours, evenings, or over lunch, so it was burning the candle at both ends – sacrificing sleep or social activities.

There was no golden ticket with one tip or trick we had that allowed us to grow and scale. It was all of the stuff everybody knows they need to do but nobody likes to do. The difference with sites or businesses that succeed is they have the ability to continue to do those things. When we look back, the things most important as we started to build are still the same things we’re doing every day. It’s getting up, producing content, making one small move on a really big project, or hiring somebody for the first time to continue to grow. The analogy I give is a guy who [entered] the London Marathon in a gorilla suit. He was doing it as a fundraiser, but instead of running, he crawled the marathon. I remember reading the story and thinking that’s exactly what we do. Every day we show up and crawl a little bit of the marathon, but it doesn’t feel like it dayto-day. If I were to pinpoint one thing, it would be that daily consistent effort to make small improvements, to continue to do the work that matters, and to develop raw skill or talent.

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Success Story

For those who are just getting started, it’s really important to not think about how you can get a million people following you, but how can you get 1000 true fans. — Bjork Ostrom

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Success Story

7

Was there a tipping point for you all that helped you grow?

I talk about it in terms of one-hit wonders. If you look at songwriters or musicians that had success, they write hundreds of songs before they have a hit. The same could be applied to content creation. For every 100 posts you write, you get one really good one. If you look behind the scenes for any website or content-based business, they’re going to have all-stars that drive 60 to 70 percent of the traffic, and that will maybe be 10 to 20 percent of the content. It’s like the 80/20 rule, where 20 percent of your content drives 80 percent of the traffic. You have to pay your dues in terms of content creation to get one of those to catch

Once you have people paying attention, you have the ability to direct those people to certain places. — Bjork Ostrom

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on or go viral, and the only way to do that is to continually create content.

The other thing along with the one-hit wonder mentality is that when you’re starting out, it’s not “how many” that matters, it’s “who.” In the beginning stages, the content you’re producing or the thing that you’re doing doesn’t have a lot of exposure. It can be really demoralizing when you spend six hours creating something, publish, and it falls flat and doesn’t pick up. The important thing to remember is it’s “who” not “how many,” because when you publish, you never know who those few people are. It might be your uncle, mom, or best friend, but it also might be Oprah, Anthony Bourdain, or the editor for Buzzfeed that wants to feature your [content]. If you focus on that, it allows you to justify the time and energy it takes to do something that might not get a lot of exposure.


Success Story

8

If someone wanted to launch a food blog with the intention of turning it into a business, what’s your recommendation? Part of it depends on the end goal. Purely working off display ads will take a really long time – you [need] a lot of traffic to create an income from that [alone]. My recommendation is to look at two things. The first is figuring out what you feel you’re an expert in or expert enough in – [a passion or interest]. Expert enough means being better or more knowledgeable than the majority of people. Sometimes it can be a strategic advantage if you aren’t the ultimate expert,

niche. I recommend people start with a niche to become known as an authority. Later you can niche up, or “land and expand,” [but] you want to land on a niche [first]. If you have a smaller niche, and you’re able to create content around that, it’s going to be more of a speedboat. You’re going to be able to get going a lot faster.

9

For those who struggle to find their niche, what’s your advice or thoughts?

Don’t look just to the future, look to the past and [ask] how your past story impacts your future decisions. A good example is Lindsay, who was a fourth-grade teacher and decided to teach people about food photography.

One reality for people to sit and process through is if they like the idea of something more than the actuality of what’s involved. — Bjork Ostrom because you [may] be able to speak in a more [relatable] way. The second would be figuring out how [your expertise] fits into the needs of other people. Have conversations with people and find the things they are struggling with to start understanding the language they use when processing through issues. It will give you insight into the actual problem and how you can overlap your expertise and their needs. The intersection between those is your 30

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Her workshops have been a huge success because not only is Lindsay an expert in photography but she has experience as a teacher. [Also], don’t just think about the things you don’t have. A lot of times people see websites, blogs, technology, and social media, and think about their inadequacies, but think instead about the things you are capable of. Maybe it’s your network, the job you had, or things your boss taught you. Or maybe it’s things you learned not to do. [In any case], lean into those strengths.


Success Story

A lot of times people see websites, blogs, technology, and social media, and think about their inadequacies, but think instead about the things you are capable of. — Bjork Ostrom

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Any major hang-ups you think people have in relation to starting and growing a blog or platform? One reality for people to sit and process through is if they like the idea of something more than the actuality of what’s involved. We see that a lot with blogs and websites. People like the idea of working for themselves, being home, and the idea of making a recipe, taking photos, and publishing, but in terms of what that actually looks and feels like is very different than the idea. The most successful people are obsessed and love some of the things that most people hate, or [at least] they are willing to lean into those things. It’s common to be excited about [something new] and then get into it and realize it’s really hard. I think the “this is really hard” part is one of the most important parts because you need to become familiar and comfortable with that to continually build and thrive. Inevitably, after you achieve success, you have to go back to the point where you’re rebuilding or re-learning, so you need to refresh that every once in awhile.

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Can you shed some light on opportunities or ways someone can start monetizing from a food blog that takes off? The hardest part is the idea of “if things take off.” If you have attention, the question is what can you do with it. Once you have people paying attention, you have the ability to direct those people to certain places. And if you have attention, chances are you also have trust established. 32

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If you are interested in creating your own restaurant or building some type of in-person experience, if you have attention, you’re going to be able to direct [people] to those places. If you don’t have your [own] thing, but you have somebody else’s thing [to promote], that would be sponsored content or affiliate marketing. Sponsored content would be somebody paying you to use their product and talk about it with your audience. Affiliate marketing, [is when] instead of getting paid upfront, you take a link from [the product] to post on your blog or social media to recommend. If people buy, you get a percentage.

Display advertising is an important one. If you’re going to do display advertising, you’re going to have to have a decent amount of engagement on your website. A good number to use is $10 for every 1000 page views.

You have to pay your dues in terms of content creation to get one of those to catch on or go viral, and the only way to do that is to continually create content. — Bjork Ostrom


Success Story

12 could trade your time for dollars. That’s going to be one of the quickest ways to get started. Nobody wants to do that right off the bat, but it’s going to move the needle the quickest.

There was no golden ticket with one tip or trick we had that allowed us to grow and scale. It was all of the stuff everybody knows they need to do but nobody likes to do. — Bjork Ostrom

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Today, the landscape is a little crowded, so do you have suggestions for people looking to build a blog/platform and monetize their efforts? I love the idea from Kevin Kelly, a futurist and author. He talks about 1000 true fans. For those who are just getting started, it’s really important to not think about how you can get a million people following you, but how can you get 1000 true fans. [Ask yourself], what would those people look like? What would be the way you could serve those people? And think small initially to get started. If you want to make a transition sooner rather than later, think of a way where you 33

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Also, start to understand where you are most capable in terms of your voice. It doesn’t literally mean your voice, but where you feel like you express yourself best. Is it in a podcast where you’re talking? Is it writing where you can sit down and refine your thoughts? Is it through video? Then, lean into whatever it might be – writing, video, audio – and create content for the thing that you are interested in. There’s not a hard and fast rule for the best way to do it. So much of it depends on who you are and what’s going to allow you to commit to doing it for a long period of time.

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Connecting with influencers is pretty key when building a platform, so what’s your advice in this area?

You have to have the mindset that before ever asking, to give abundantly. People understand that when interacting normally but don’t understand that whenever it switches to business or when there’s a screen in front of them. Think about moving into a neighborhood, how bizarre would it be to go to your neighbor and ask them to make you cookies. It’s a terrible way to establish a relationship. Yet, so often the initial interaction people have online is asking for something. We get multiple e-mails a day from people asking [for things], yet I can’t think of any examples of someone saying they would love to promote what we’re doing. If you’re able to [give before asking] in a genuine way, your ability to truly connect with influential people is going to be really great. Photo Credits: Lindsay Ostrom


Top Ten Takeaways from Bjork & Lindsay Ostrom 1

To build a content-based platform it can take a while for the engine to get moving – be prepared.

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Try to find a niche when starting a platform, it will help you build and standout faster.

2

It can be draining in the beginning when you’re building because you typically put in tons of work without proportionate rewards.

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If you start with a niche, you can always expand later.

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There is no trick to building a platform, you just have to be consistent and do the things most people don’t want to do.

9

Be careful not to like the idea of something more than the actuality of it.

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In a content-based business, you have to pay your dues. Most often you have to produce a healthy amount of content to have a few really catch on.

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5

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If you’re trying to connect with influencers, give abundantly before asking for something from them. When trying to build an audience, don’t think about mass numbers – millions of people – think instead of getting 1000 true fans. If you don’t have a lot of exposure for your work in the beginning think of “who” may see it instead of “how many” – it could keep you motivated.

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Insurance

Insurance Policies

For Your Food Business By: Rebecca Hosley

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Insurance

W

hether you sell small-batch maple syrup, own a catering business, or run a pizza place, your food business is just that – yours. No doubt you want to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build. And if you caught our article last month, you know about the top risks your food business may face. So now let’s explore the insurance policies that can help you manage risk and lay a strong foundation for your future.

General Liability & Product Liability Insurance General liability insurance is often the first policy business owners buy. It can address some common risks you may come across, including… Third-party bodily injuries (e.g., a customer slips and falls in your restaurant) Third-party property damage (e.g., a fire at your restaurant damages the building next door) Advertising injuries (e.g., you accidentally slander a competitor during an interview) These situations may not be everyday occurrences, but you can probably imagine dealing with them at some point. That’s why general liability coverage is so handy. When an accident happens, and you’re sued over it, your policycan pay for your legal expenses, such as lawyer fees, damages you owe the injured party, and more. Make sure your general liability policy includes product liability insurance, too. This coverage can help pay for your legal expenses ifyou’re sued over contaminated food.

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Commercial Property Insurance / Business Owners’ Policy No matter if you own a food truck, a coffee shop, or a gourmet popcorn shop, you rely on your culinary equipment. That means you’ll probably need commercial property insurance to cover… Commercial kitchen appliances Kitchen knives, pots, pans, etc. Computers / POS system Furniture Your commercial space if you own it


Insurance You can tailor this policy to fit your needs, too. For example, you can add spoilage coverage to this policy to recoup losses when your food supply is spoiled or contaminated. If you offer delivery services or catering, adding off-premise coverage can protect equipment or products that you transport to other locations. Caterers and food truck owners may want to addon inland marine insurance, which can protect business property that’s mobile or in transit. Your business may also qualify for a business owner’s policy (BOP), a policy that combines property insurance and general liability insurance at a reduced rate. Ask your agent about it to see if you can save some money on your essential coverages.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Workplace accidents are fairly common in the foodservice industry. After all, employees regularly handle sharp kitchen equipment, work over hot stoves, or unload heavy boxes – activities that are ripe for injuries.

Most states even require employers to have this policy to make sure hurt employees are properly cared for. 38

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Workers’ compensation insurance can help out when employees are hurt on the job by paying for their… Medical bills Ongoing care, such as physical therapy Partial lost wages if they have to miss work Most states even require employers to have this policy to make sure hurt employees are properly cared for. Check the laws in your state to see what’s required. Even if it’s not required in your state, workers’ comp is a signal to your employees that you care about their well being and their future with your business.

Cyber Liability Insurance You might think that cyber crime only happens at major corporations, but inreality, hackers frequently target food businesses like yours. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report for 2017, that’s because food service businesses typically accept credit and debit cards but don’t have an IT department to monitor suspicious activity. This makes your POS system a tempting target for thieves.


Insurance If your system is hacked, it could expose sensitive customer information: Names Credit card or debit card numbers Bank account information Every state has different rules on how data breaches need to be handled, but they typically require you to notify customers impacted by the breach. Cyber insurance can pay for these costs and…

This policy can protect your business if you’re sued over an accident or injury your intoxicated customer causes.

Legal expenses if you’re sued for the breach Credit monitoring services for affected customers Marketing and PR costs to help repair your business’s reputation Considering how expensive data breaches can be, this coverage can be the difference between bouncing back from a breach and closing up shop.

Liquor Liability Insurance Many states have dram shop laws that allow alcohol-selling businesses to be held liable for an intoxicated patron’s actions. So if you sell or serve alcohol or allow patrons to BYOB, consider purchasing liquor liability insurance. This policy can protect your business if you’re sued over an accident or injury your intoxicated customer causes. For example, if your employees overserve a guest who later assaults someone, the victim of the attack can sue your food business over their injuries. Liquor liability insurance can help pay fortheir medical costsand your legal expenses. In short, you can’t predict the future. But you can prepare for your food business’s continuity by planning ahead and investing in the appropriate insurance policies. 39

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Rebecca Hosley is a content writer for Insureon, an online small business insurance agency. She is based in Chicago and frequently writes about small business insurance on Insureon’s Food for Thought blog.


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Success Story

Curtis Duffy

Food

Entrepreneurship With a Touch of Grace

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Success Story In 2015, a documentary, For Grace, was released about Duffy’s “personal struggles on the way to the top.” Shown at the Chicago International Film Festival, the documentary went from initially being about the opening of Grace to an emotional picture that gave viewers a raw look into Duffy’s journey – one riddled with hardship and finished with a fairytale ending of professional success.

With

a natural born instinct for food, combined with mentorship from the iconic Charlie Trotter, Curtis Duffy had Michelin status written in the stars. With as much strife as Duffy endured, such levels of success have all but eclipsed his past. The James Beard Award winner of “Best Chef: Great Lakes,” received his third Michelin star for his Chicago fine-dining restaurant Grace – the second three-starred restaurant in Chicago. Duffy has always had a deep love for cooking; when things in his life became shaky, the kitchen served as his safe haven and has been ever since. 42

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The Eater’s 2013 “Chef of the Year” is known for the inventiveness of his dishes and attention to detail in the design of his restaurant. Duffy raises the bar when it comes to his staff and works to break the stigma of an unhealthy work environment for culinary and hospitality professionals. Duffy believes that, “surround[ing] yourself with the right people that can follow through with your ideas, your visions, and attention to every day detail,” is key to a successful establishment, healthy culture, and happy guests. Even with three stars, Duffy remains humble and believes there’s still room to grow and he continues to make cuisine the focus. Being a top chef comes with having to make many sacrifices. Now, the team that he has selected to surround himself with has allowed him to take a step back from the long hours in the kitchen and be able to enjoy spending time with his daughters. The mission for Duffy as a chef is to evoke feeling through his dishes. No matter how high the chef climbs in the culinary industry, his focus will remain on his ingredients, team, and the experience he is giving his guests. What’s in the near future for the young professional? Sculpting new inventive menu items, strengthening his restaurant’s culture and a book on the horizon. Amongst the madness, Duffy was able to carve out some time to interview with us as we look at how the creative was able to overcome obstacles, stride through adversity with his former mentor, and build a legacy from the ground up using his passion and talent for the food. Cooking can be an emotional experience, but being able to share that with your guests is a next level talent that Duffy has in spades.


Success Story

& QA The

with

1

How did you know it was the right time to venture out and open Grace?

I always had a mindset of owning my own business, but I never had a sense of it being the “right” time. I just felt like it was my time – I felt it inside. We had the idea, capital raised, and I was tired of doing other people’s food. It’s the [reason] I left Alinea; I was tired of doing Grant’s food – it wasn’t my voice. When I stepped into Avenues, it was my voice, my food, and a hundred percent me. Avenues was a platform I was able to stand on. After the time I spent there, I had a really good grasp on the business side, corporate side, politics, and I certainly understood the food, so I thought, “Let’s make it happen.” [However], I was very patient because I could have [opened a restaurant] earlier, but there weren’t a lot of

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Curtis Duffy

the key components in place – it didn’t feel right. The [timing for Grace] just felt right.

2

What initial challenges did you encounter when venturing on your own?

It’s easy to work for a big corporation; there’s a lot of security. [Especially] if you have a family or children to take care of, high job security seems to be the easy way of doing things. I could have easily stayed at Avenues for another five or six years and been embraced by a huge hotel. The challenge was stepping away from the security, taking that leap of faith, and putting everything on the line to either sink or swim.


Success Story

3

How did you get through the initial challenge of not having the job security?

It was scary [laughs]! It’s easy to stay close to the base of a tree and eat the fruit, but if you want the really sweet stuff, you have to take a risk and go out on the edge of the limb and grab that beautiful piece of fruit. During that time, I felt like we just had to do it. We had to take risks, or we would never know we could have done something great.

It’s very easy to get lost and forgotten in our world, so we had to continue to be a voice out there and stir up noise. — Curtis Duffy

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4

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After stepping out on your own, what’s been the hardest part of working for yourself and how do you manage this?

The hardest part is my employees. As great as they are, they pose different problems every single day. They all have different personalities, ways of working, ways of listening and doing things. I’ve got 40 employees, and my daily challenges are keeping my staff happy and making sure I’m getting the most out of them. So how do you do that? I like to say we get rid of the excuses. We don’t give any opportunities to have them. [For instance], we created a lounge downstairs with computers, PlayStation, Golden Tee machine, darts, men and women’s changing rooms, toothbrushes, razors, laundry room, you name it. So, if a waiter shows up with a wrinkled shirt, they know they’re never making it on the floor because there’s an iron downstairs to fix it – that’s taking away the excuses. [At the same time], we encourage the employees to bring their laundry during the week, so they’re not doing it for five hours on their days off. We try to create that family culture.


5 Success Story

5

What’s your process for finding top talent who will join and stay with the team?

In the beginning, with the reputation and hype behind the restaurant, there were a lot of people to choose from. We interviewed on a daily basis for a month or two before we started training, so we got to pick a lot of great people.

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Are there any specific characteristics or traits you look for in a person when hiring?

Now, if somebody is looking for a job, they have to spend a solid week with us staging for free. We want to give them realistic expectations of what the restaurant is like. Not just one or two days because that can be very glamorous from the outside. It looks like a big beautiful unicorn that doeschef amazing food, but it’s a 45 entrepreneurial business that has to produce every day. All that glamour goes away very quickly.

I like to give someone a few tasks and see how they handle them. To me, there’s not a job in the restaurant that is not equal to one another. Everything in that restaurant is equal – every single job. If you ask a person to sweep the floor, they have to do it with a sense of elegance and grace and be passionate about it just as if they were cleaning a piece of fish or picking a piece or herb. I want everybody to do the task with the same amount of passion. We give the [interviewees] jobs and watch how they act and do things. And I can tell you right away if they’re going to be successful.

For a young cook to spend an entire week, it’s okaythe first couple of days, but come Saturday night, after they put 80 plus hours in that week, they find just how glamorous it feels. We find out quickly if they still want to jump into a relationship with the restaurant, and it has to be an equal fit. We’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing us. Otherwise, we’re going to turn around in three months looking for another person because the guy or girl didn’t work out.

If you’re trying to do something great and be successful at it, you have to do it from your heart – do it from within.

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— Curtis Duffy


Success Story

You never use the opening nights to practice with a paying customer – if you’re open, you’re open. — Curtis Duffy

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7

you did?

What was it like preparing for Grace to be open for business? Anything in particular

You can be in a space for a year, watch it being built, and it’s very special, but those last days of training to make sure things were good leading up to the opening, it was scary as hell. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it again [laughs]! For us, we did a lot of training – an enormous amount. I always felt that when the restaurant opened, the first few weeks of business should never be us trying to “get things right.” You never use the opening nights to practice with a paying customer – if you’re open, you’re open. The experience [on day one] should be the same as anybody would get if you were five years old. We did an extensive amount of training leading up to the opening, and that’s where things started to set in.

If you chase things from a monetary standpoint, they never work. — Curtis Duffy

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When planning the restaurant, was there a target market in mind that the concept was built around?

The target market for us was important, but not that important. We [planned] on being a destination restaurant regardless – a super highend restaurant. A place where college students would save a lot of money to come and eat. We knew it was going to be the higher echelon of people that would come to dine. But it was never really marketed that way. Everybody always asks, “What your dress code.” Well, we don’t have a dress code, you just don’t wear shorts. There have been people who woreshorts, but we’re a business, we want their business as well. The more people we can feed, everybody wins.

9

Was there a strategy behind getting attention for the restaurant early on?

Michael [Muser] and I put together our own semi marketing plan. We wanted to release something about the restaurant every two or three months. We had the documentary, For Grace, filming at the time, but it was never supposed to be a documentary, it just happened to unfold that way. Then another gentleman decided to do a mini-documentary on a monthly basis for GrubStreet. We filmed things like the China we were searching for, the silverware we were picking out, and stuff we were doing at the Merchandise Mart. We had to stay relevant even though we didn’t have a restaurant open yet. It’s very easy to get lost and forgotten in our world, so we had to continue to be a voice out there and stir up noise.


Success Story

10

Are there things you do today to drive customer loyalty or to turn customers into raving fans? No, we treat everyone the same. The reputation alone has been able to do that for us, and we’re fortunate to have a two-month wait to get in the restaurant. I think the hype of not being able to get a [reservation] makes people [wonder] why, and then want to get in. What people don’t understand is if you’re flexible enough we’re going to get you in one way or another. We haven’t seen the need to market ourselves much. I do travel through Asia because a lot of our clientele comes from the Asian markets, so when they’re traveling from their countries, and they land in Chicago, I want them to eat at my restaurant. So I’m out there on the road always preaching the gospel of Grace.

11

What contributes to the successful business partnership between Michael Muser and yourself that others can learn from? First and foremost, we’re great friends. We said from day one that we’ll never let business stand in the way of our friendship – that was important to me. Michael brings a lot of things I don’t have. He’s heavy front of the house and a sommelier, so he does the wine program. Michael [also] has a strong business mind. We just tag team on a lot of things. The day I met him, within a few hours of talking and getting to know him, I already knew in my mind he was going to be my guy. Which was pretty crazy because I didn’t know him. I 48

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I always had a mindset of owning my own business, but I never had a sense of it being the “right” time. I just felt like it was my time – I felt it inside. — Curtis Duffy

met him when I first started at Avenues, and I just knew instantly. He was exactly what I’d been looking for, and now it never feels like work [with him].

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Having a two Michelin star rating at Avenues and three Michelin star rating at Grace, what do you feel contributed to this the most? The entire team. Grace has always been driven from a team perspective. I always tell the staff that I may be the guy out there, the face of the restaurant, but they’re the ones who make it happen. They’re the ones who are pushing and working every single day and putting those long hours in, and so am I, it’s just in a different capacity. So it’s the team. It’s everybody who was involved from conception to where we are today and everyone in between – it’s not just me.


Success Story

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What factors determined the menu offerings for Grace?

I wanted a menu that celebrated vegetables a hundred percent and another menu that celebrated everything else. For me, the more interesting menu is the Flora menu, which is our vegetable menu – it’s more versatile. It’s driven by seasonal vegetables – seeds, grains, nuts, herbs, etc. It’s vegetables at the height of their season when we want to cook with them.

two-ounce portion of beef alone costs us $16, and that’s just one item of one dish from one course. You can imagine with the beef [plus items] like caviar and truffles, pretty soon the $225 [set price for the menu] goes away very quickly. Balancing high and low-end items so you can profit from them [is key]. If you can offer something that doesn’t cost a lot of money on the purchasing side, and you’re able to upcharge it on the menu, that’ll balance out things. Especially, [items] a little more expensive where profit margins aren’t so good.

You owe it to yourself to be great at something.

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When I look at 200 different types of carrots, I can be inspired, but it’s a Many individlittle hard to get inuals struggle in spired by looking at a the area of cappiece of beef I’ve seen — Curtis Duffy ital for their venfor 25 years in the business. [However], I certainly tures, in relation to didn’t want to be a vegetarian this, do you have any restaurant, so I wanted to satisfy tips or advice? both sides. I just wanted to make people happy, and I knew offering something other Get a lawyer first and foremost, and make sure than what was out there was going to make the you find a solid business partner. restaurant different.

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Do you have any menu engineering tips or advice for those working to construct their menus? Speaking from what we do at the restaurant, for me, there are costs obviously with food and labor. The question is, how do you balance it out? [For instance], our beef dish, just the

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It depends on what route you’re going. For a small business loan, I think you have less risk than finding somebody willing to lend you money to open your place. For a [private lender], you have to think what their return looks like and how long it will take to pay back. Whatever route you go, whether [funding through] an individual investor or you’re structuring a group investment, your voting rights are important. How much percentage will you own versus how much they will own. Or will they be silent partners or not. These are questions to ask [ahead of time].


Success Story

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With someone like Charlie Trotter as a mentor, what did you pick up under his tutelage? Charlie’s was one of the hardest kitchens and greatest times in my career. I’ve taken from him the discipline and drive it takes to do something great. He always said, “You get what you give.” You’ve got to be willing to give a hundred percent if you want a hundred percent return. I always loved that idea because you hear it through life and it unfolds itself to be true. What you put in is what you get out. If you’re not willing and able to put a hundred percent into something, you shouldn’t be doing it.

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Any parting words for our audience as they work to build their brands and businesses? If you’re trying to do something great and be successful at it, you have to do it from your heart – do it from within. You have to be passionate about it and eat, sleep, and breathe every single moment of what you do.

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Everybody has a responsibility for greatness. You owe it to yourself to be great at something. It doesn’t have to be food or wine; I was just lucky at a young age to find that’s what I loved. But you owe it to yourself to find something you’re great at and pursue it with nothing but passion. Find something that can become a driving force, a fire within, but if you chase things from a monetary standpoint, they never work. You have to do something from within because that’s where true happiness lies.

It’s like I tell my cooks, “If you’re waking up every day questioning coming in here, this is not for you. Go find what is right for you. It doesn’t need to be my restaurant. It’s not going to break my heart.” You have to get up every single day and look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m happy doing exactly what I’m doing, and I’m right where I need to be.” If not, you need to change it. No one is going to change it for you; you’ve got to do it yourself. Photo Credits: Anthony Tahlier, Hugh Galdones, Jim Luning

I just wanted to make people happy, and I knew offering something other than what was out there was going to make the restaurant different. — Curtis Duffy

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Top Ten Takeaways from Curtis Duffy 1

If you want your own business someday, treat the company you work for as though it were your own business.

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If you chase things from a monetary standpoint, they very rarely work in your favor.

2

There is never the perfect time to venture on your own; you just need to take the first step.

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Everyone has greatness inside of them; it’s just a matter of finding what resonates with you and embracing it.

3

Do things from your heart, from within, because intrinsic motivators are far greater than extrinsic ones like money in the long run.

8

If you want to go after greatness, you have to be willing to take the risk.

9

Behind a successful business owner is usually a team of people busting their tails to make it all work. It’s rarely a single person doing all the work.

10

Cultivate a sense of family in your business, so your employees are willing to offer their loyalty in return.

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You should never practice with paying customers. If your business is open, it’s open at full capacity. You have to be willing to give a hundred percent if you want a hundred percent in return.

entrepreneurial chef


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Customer Experience

Using Tech to Optimize the Customer Experience By: Will Harmon

buy

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Customer Experience

W

hen it comes to restaurants, customer satisfaction falls into 3 categories: convenience, experience, and value.​ How easy is it to receive the benefit? Is the process of receiving that benefit enjoyable? How important is that benefit to me? ​Nailing all 3 of these targets is crucial to increasing both customer retention and profits. It’s not uncommon for restaurant business models to target just 2 of the above categories. With fast-casual restaurants and fast food chains, consumers are looking for convenience and value. They want the most food for their buck as fast as possible. As you climb higher up the ladder of food quality, there will be more and more emphasis on providing a memorable experience and food of the highest degree. ​Both of these models reflect the significance of value, which should always be the heart of your mission statement.

Mobile Apps Mobile app development is finally demanding the attention it deserves in the restaurant industry. Customer experience is heavily impacted by the amount of information that flows from the restaurant to the customer, and mobile apps do a fantastic job of targeting the aspect of information. Not only is ordering food remotely easier, but you can also target customers through communicating new deals and promotions. These push notifications help your restaurant stay top of mind for your customers, and will ultimately increase sales. According to a study by Accenture Strategy, 41% of U.S. consumers are loyal to organizations that present them with new experiences, products or services. Many companies, including restaurants, have found mobile apps to be the perfect place to build their loyalty programs. Restaurants 54

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41% of U.S. consumers are loyal to organizations that present them with new experiences, products or services. are straying away from the card-based loyalty system. These loyalty cards were exceedingly easy to misplace or accidentally tossed out, resulting in decreased engagement. Mobile loyalty programs offer an inexpensive method for restaurant marketing, allowing restaurant managers to tap into that 41% of U.S. consumers who actively engage in new experiences and products. Restaurants who are early to the mobile tech trend are still exploring new methods to utilize apps to optimize customer experience. Restaurants who adopt a mobile strategy now can still be part of the early adopters who help shape and innovate mobile apps’ role in perfecting customer experience.


Customer Experience

The Tablet Waiter

62% of customers are less likely to stop into your restaurant if they can’t easily see your menu on their mobile device.

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Dining table tablets are starting to pick up steam with one goal in mind, customer satisfaction. Tabletop tablets have already worked their way into restaurant groups. These tablets are excellent at putting new and exciting menu items right in front of the customer and allowing them to act on their impulses immediately. The serving staff is alerted when a patron requires attention, allowing them to optimize time spent throughout their shift. The majority of these tabletop tablets have games, like trivia and puzzles, that can keep tables distracted from their empty stomachs until the food arrives. We’ve already started seeing early adopters of tabletop tablets innovate their strategy in the form of sports-themed restaurants and bars using these tablets to allow each table to pick which game to watch during their meal. It may be a while until we see tabletop tablets in fine dining restaurants, but for less formal eateries, they certainly add an interesting new layer to the dining experience.


Customer Experience

Online Ordering Online ordering has changed customer experience in the restaurant industry in ways that few other innovations have. Restaurant customers are finding online ordering to be a comfortable experience than the traditional method of ordering food. Surprisingly, online didn’t overtake phone orders until 2016, but consumers have made up their mind on their preferred ordering method. This means that customers will gravitate to restaurants who can fulfill their need for convenience. With online ordering, customers can view all of the menu options at once, mistakes are minimized, and they can pay the bill and tip right there. For restaurants, online ordering means fewer orders placed over the phone, freeing up your staff to focus on preparing meals. The quicker you’re able to prepare meals, the more satisfied your customers are. Additionally, it provides a better channel for upselling customers with additional food options. Large restaurant chains and hole in the wall eateries alike are taking advantage of upselling via online ordering; as customers go to check out, their online ordering platform prompts the

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diner if they want to add a dessert or to add a drink or breadsticks. According to research conducted by the firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, 62% of customers are less likely to stop into your restaurant if they can’t easily see your menu on their mobile device. Putting your digital menu right up front is proven to successfully convert hungry app-goers to brand new customers. Ensuring your customers have an optimal mix of information, satisfaction, and convenience is imperative to earning higher profits. Implementing these 3 easy steps is a great first step to filling every seat in the house and earning a lifelong customer.

Will Harmon is a marketing associate at BlueCart, an online and mobile ordering, inventory, and operations platform for the hospitality industry. When he’s not busy being a social media guru and creating content, you can find him learning about procurement practices and up and coming restaurant trends.


CONTENT WORTH READING Start your FREE TRIAL and download this issue on your favorite mobile device from your preferred app store. Click and unleash the enterpreneur inside.


Business Bites Chef Deb is an award-winning, best-selling author, sought after speaker & Senior Certified Personal Chef. For a decade, she has helped chefs across the country level-up their culinary business by teaching the same proven strategies used to grow her 6-figure personal chef company. In her column, Chef Deb will show various ways to transition from behind the stove to a true CEO and attract ideal clients to begin making the money you deserve.

9 Signs You’re Being Scammed Via Email

S

adly, email scams happen all too often to business owners. For chefs, they are especially rampant during the holidays. Hopefully, you’ve never fallen prey to a scam, but sometimes it is disguised so well it’s easy to mistake them for a genuine prospect.

message to millions of websites a day. Some are even clever enough to customize them to you. Oftentimes, they’ll say something like: “We took a look at your site and found major errors that we can fix so you can have better Google rankings.”

I want to talk about two different types of email scams that most businesses receive. First, the ones about your website or SEO.

Don’t buy into it. Even though the companies look legitimate, they’re not, and you should ignore them.

I bet you’ve received about a dozen or more contact forms with someone trying to tell you that your website needs to be fixed or you don’t rank high enough in Google.

The other kind of spam emails I want to discuss are emails from real people who inquire about specific services you offer.

The inquiry might seem like a real person, but most often than not, they are bots that scan your website and send the same generic 58

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Over the last 15 years of being in business, I have seen several different email scams and discovered that there are 9 tell-tale signs to watch for.


Business Bites

1.

Poor grammar, sentence structure, & weird punctuation Sure, people can misspell words and have typos in their emails, but spam emails typically have very noticeable poor grammar and most importantly, punctuation in places where it doesn’t make sense. For example: “Hello, i will like to know if you are available for Catering Services? if yes, my father birthday is on the 11th of March 2017. and i will like to know if you do accept credit card payment?” Here’s another example: “Im Edward Custer, i would like to know if you will be available to cater for my Mums Birthday on 9th of Apr, I await your respons, hope you accept credit cards for payment?..”

The scammers profess to have a disability of some sort such as being blind, deaf, a disabled veteran

2.

Traveling from a foreign country

Often, the person says they are traveling from a foreign country and that they are coming into town for a vacation with their family. They often specify your exact city or town. I have found that many of them say they are a deployed service member and are wanting to surprise their family with a party. For example: “Hi there, My brother and his wife currently live in Woodland Hills, CA, and for their Christmas present, I would like to get them a gift certificate for someone to come to their home and prepare them a lovely dinner on a mutually agreeable date . . . just wondering if this is something you would be able to do? And, if so, what would be the cost? I live in London, UK, so payment would either have to be through PayPal or credit card. Many thanks, Christine.”

3.

They profess to have disability

Often times the scammers profess to have a disability of some sort such as being blind, deaf, a disabled veteran, etc. For example: “Since I am blind, I must use a courier service. It would be easier to pay you the courier fee for the food that they will pick up and then for the other errands as well for the party. I will reimburse you once you send me a total.”

4.

They often forget the details about what their initial inquiry

If you’ve ever followed up with one of these scammers (which hopefully you didn’t), you’ll notice that they often forget the details of what they originally asked you about. They will mix it up with someone else they are trying to scam.

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Business Bites

Oddly enough, they often quote a very high budget to seem like a more viable prospect.

They are either very vague or very exact in their details

5.

I have also found that they often want to pay you more than you are charging and then want you to reimburse the overage.

What is interesting is spammers are either very precise in details and give more details than most prospects would, or they leave out quite a bit of important information.

”I want you as my private chef to handle all the meals for this reunion, and I so much believe that you can do me a perfect job below is details:

For example: “I need to feed 35 people at $90 to $125 per person, buffet, with Caesar salad, grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, black and white cookies, etc.”

6.

They normally quote their budget as being very high

Oddly enough, they often quote a very high budget to seem like a more viable prospect.

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For example:

- Salads: Classic Macaroni Salad Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Basil Vinaigrette Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette - Appetizer: Mini Crab Cakes with Avocado Mousse or Lemon Caper Sauce. - 25 person of my family members for each meal – Budget: $6,000″ For example: “Since I am deployed, I will wire you the money but will need to pay you over the amount to take care of the wire fee. What is your banking information?”


Business Bites

7.

They want to schedule the service at a later date, normally a month out This might seem like something a true prospect would do, plan ahead – but in this case, you will be able to tell they are suspiciously putting off the service while offering to pay ahead.

For example:

“I want you to be rest assured that all the payment will be paid along with your fee for your own service … Due to my work, I am not available to meet you until next month, I want you to make all schedule in order on the given date starting from 6pm to 9pm. Expected family is about 25 members also how much do you charge for this type of service the full payment will be made right away with my credit card, thanks. I look forward to hearing back from you.”

8.

They return your email very quickly

I have found that they return your email almost instantly, it’s almost as if they have created an automated follow-up email. Either that or they are desperate to take advantage of you!

9.

The font size is not consistent

The font is usually a little off as if they copied and pasted a few emails together to create one email that they sent to you. Maybe 10 pt. font in one paragraph and 12 pt. in the other. While there is not much you can do about receiving email scams from real people, you can certainly put up some safety measures for the bots who are reaching out via your contact form. You can install CAPTCHA and other antispam plugins on your website. Ask your website designer to help you set something up.

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They return your email almost instantly, it’s almost as if they have created an automated follow-up email. Either that or they are desperate to take advantage of you! If you’re not sure whether an email you received is a scam or not, The United States Personal Chef Association has been great about creating a community where chefs can report an email scam they receive so that the whole group can be aware of it, because often they’ll target more than one chef. In my private coaching Facebook group, I also post any email scams that I receive as a heads up to other chefs. It also gives us a good chuckle, because some of them are just plain ridiculous! I hope that by sharing these signs and examples from real email scams, you will be better equipped to avoid being taken advantage of this holiday season.


Co-chaired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a national non-profit that promotes and provides career opportunities for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment. WHO DOES C-CAP SERVE?

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

17,500+ students 211 public high school teachers 168 schools 5,000+ industry partners

Mentor or hire a sudent Donate products or equipment Support our programs and scholarships Host a fundraising event

@CCAPInc For information or to get involved: contact us at info@ccapinc.org, (212) 974-1711, or visit www.ccapinc.org Founded in 1990 by Richard Grausman


Success Story

S y lv a S e n at

Stepping Up to the Plate By: Joyce Appelman

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Success Story

When

Sylva Senat made the journey from Haiti to the United States at barely 10 years old, he quickly learned that the next chapter of his life would set the tone forhis love of culinary arts. Early on, Senat was given the opportunity to join the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, and be mentored by C-CAP Founder Richard Grausman. His time with C-CAP ultimately built the foundation for his career, where he now serves as a proud alumni board member and mentor for the organization that gives underprivileged kids the opportunity to follow their culinary dreams.

In 2013, Senat was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award’s “Best New Chef” in the Mid-Atlantic Region. That same year, Senat participated in Penn Appetit’s “Taste of the Nation” culinary competition. Gaining notoriety in the restaurant industry, Senat landed a spot as a contestant on Season 14 of Top Chef. With over 18 years of experience, Senat has maneuvered through high-profile restaurants including Stephen Starr’s Buddakan, Chef Andrew D’Amico’s The Sign of the Dove, Aquavit and Jean-Georges in Trump Hotel Central Park. Such experiences and mentorship under world-class chefs like Marcus Samuelsson, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Daniel Boulud, has allowed Senat to create his own unique style as a chef. Speaking of Boulud, Sylva entered the Daniel Boulud /C-CAP scholarship competition and won an all-expenses-paid trip to France and the opportunity to study at the famed Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon. Senat’s cooking style has a French foundation mixed with bold Caribbean flavors and spices along with hints of Asian simplicity when

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it comes to ingredients and presentation. His flavor profile and Manhattan fine-dining sensibilities motivated him to spearhead the opening of the Philadelphia-based restaurant, Maison 208 earlier this year. Taking the reins on not only crafting the menu for Philadelphia’s first retractable roof restaurant, Senat also encountered nuances of the restaurant industry through his consulting company, Senat & Co. Through Senat & Co., he is partnering with Philly entrepreneur Uri Pierre-Noel, quietly developing his own fast-casual concept, Baby Buns, where he will serve buns, fries and frosé (rosé wine slushies). The first outpost will open next summer as part of The Bourse Marketplace food hall. These days, Senat is involved in everything from funding the ventures, marketing, and establishing customer loyalty to ensure business success. During our interview, Senat filled us in on his culinary journey, passion for mentorship, steps for opening Maison 208, and lessons he learned along the way to help others in their future entrepreneurial endeavors.


Success Story

& QA The

with

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Sylva Senat

Where did your attraction to culinary begin?

I was attracted to culinary early on, as a student in high school when I began taking cooking classes. During this time, I was given the opportunity to be introduced to the C-CAP program and took classes in Brooklyn, NY. Essentially, this is where I built the foundation for my career.

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Was there a catalyst that changed the direction of your life and/or career? If so, what was this? Yes, sadly, my life completely changed after my mother passed away when I was very young 65

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and living in Haiti. Ultimately, this altered my life’s course and I began a new chapter when I moved to the U.S. to live with my aunts.

3

You mentioned C-CAP, can you share a little about this experience?

I truly consider C-CAP to be the “training grounds,” where I was able to build a solid foundation to start my culinary career because it provided me with the tools I needed to succeed at an early stage in my life. In addition to everything I learned during the C-CAP program to establish my foundation in the culinary arts, my introduction to the Sign of the Dove in Manhattan allowed me to put my knowledge to the test and motivated me to perfect my craft while striving to become the best chef I could be. Both of these opportunities opened many doors for me which I am extremely grateful for.


4 Success Story

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the way?

Who were a few of your mentors and lessons you learned from them along

Looking back at my career, I learned so many invaluable lessons from some very talented people in this industry who I believe have helped me to create my own skillset that is unique to my identity as a chef. For example, Marcus Samuelsson showed me that it is possible to achieve a high level of success as a black chef in this field. I spent a few years working alongside Marcus at Aquavit, and I came to admire his style and background – he was an inspiration to me. Others that I have learned a great deal from include Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.

5

Now you have the chance to mentor others, as such, what do you try to instill in your mentees? I’m currently mentoring two students from the C-CAP program. As a mentor, I try to educate my students about the importance of leadership and what it means to take initiative. In addition to teaching them the proper cooking techniques and the reasons behind them, I want my students to find their inner drive and prepare themselves for the future in a highly competitive field that is constantly evolving. 66

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Surround yourself with good people and establish a team who supports you and shares your vision and passion. — Sylva Senat


Success Story

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What gave you the confidence at this point in your career to open your own place, Maison 208?

What fears did you have in relation to this endeavor and how did you overcome these?

At this point in my career, I’ve come to realize how important timing is, especially with opening a new restaurant. We had a number of setbacks on the project that were out of our control including a fire in 2015, but in the end, the timing for Maison 208 was just right. Everyone who has been involved with the restaurant has proven to be very passionate about this project and overall, we believe it has been worth the wait. Maison 208 has been both an eye-opening and fun experience that has allowed me to see what truly goes into the opening of a restaurant.

From conception to Grand Opening, every major project comes with inevitable fears and frustrations. I think one of the most important things for everyone involved to remember is to stay focused and never lose sight of the end goal. Every vision should have an end goal which needs to be established at the beginning before the project even begins. All partners involved should be aligned with what the end goal looks like and work together to achieve a completed project.

Trial and error is essential in the culinary industry. — Sylva Senat

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Success Story

ich h w l a o g d n e n ea v a h d l u o h s n ore o f i e b g n i n n Every vis i g e b e h t t a d e h s i l b a t Sylva Senat needs to be es — . s n i g e nb e v e t c e j o r p e h t

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Success Story

I’ve come to realize how important timing is, especially with opening a new restaurant. — Sylva Senat

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What unexpected business challenges did you run into while bringing the restaurant to life and how did you overcome? Just as we were getting closer to reaching completion in 2015, we received a phone call in the middle of the night and learned that an arsonist had set fire to our restaurant. At that moment, we had to find positivity in a negative situation and rebuild from the ground up. In hindsight, the incident gave us a chance to revisit our vision behind Maison 208 and enhance the overall concept. We were able to improve on the initial design by incorporating a retractable glass roof in order to expand on the open-air concept behind Maison 208, which we wouldn’t have even considered if it weren’t for the fire. 69

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The incident also gave us the chance to work with James Burns from the Mural Arts foundation who created the Enso circle mural that bleeds through the restaurant. James’s art is now part of our living identity and theme of Maison 208.

9

For aspiring food entrepreneurs wanting to venture on their own, what’s your advice for them? It’s very important to surround yourself with good people and establish a team who supports you and shares your vision and passion. People who share your passion are more likely to build you up and work with you to achieve your common goal as a team.


Success Story

10

Some struggle to find capital to fund their ventures, as such, how did the funding for Maison 208 come about? For Senat and Co., we value the philosophy, “always take the meeting.” Motivating yourself to take one more meeting means giving yourself one more window of opportunity you can potentially take advantage of. When you open yourself to meeting like-minded people in the industry, especially in the hospitality industry, you’re receptive to the possibility of new partnerships and relationships with those who might be willing to invest in you and your business.

11

Can you offer tips or advice based on your experience in relation to funding a venture?

A prime location is key when establishing a business. The more appealing the location, the more likely potential investors will be willing to invest in your business. Also, your chances to 70

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We had to find positivity in a negative situation and rebuild from the ground up. — Sylva Senat

partner with investors are even greater when you have a unit that is already operating.

12

What went into engineering the menu for Maison 208?

I crafted the Maison 208 menu based on my personal state of culinary evolution which incorporates a combination of both tastes from my childhood memories and a reflection of where I currently am as a chef. Between food, drink, and atmosphere, Maison 208 was created to be a welcoming, Philadelphia neighborhood-driven concept.


Success Story

Motivating yourself to take one more meeting means giving yourself one more window of opportunity you can potentially take advantage of. — Sylva Senat

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Are there any menu engineering tips for those working to construct a menu for their place? Don’t get discouraged when things don’t work out the first time around. Trial and error is essential in the culinary industry. As my own rule of thumb, when I create a new dish, I always make three versions of it. You never know what will stick until you plate, taste and repeat.

14

As you were staffing the restaurants, what hiring strategies did you use to find the right people? Communication is so important, physically meeting them, talking to them, finding out what their passion is. Making questionnaires that cover all areas so you can gauge who they are as a person and see how they can add to your team once hired. 71

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15

Are there marketing tips you’ve picked up along the way that you use to drive new customers? Work with a team that communicates your brand’s story clearly, concisely and to the right audience, especially at the beginning of the project. How you choose to market your projects sets the tone for future success so make sure you are effectively communicating the message you want your customer base to hear. I recommend hiring supportive PR and social media teams to work closely with you to help craft the right messaging which helps lay the groundwork for the perception of the restaurant. It’s also very important to have a strategic marketing plan in place that supports the opening once the project is completed.


Success Story

How you choose to market your projects sets the tone for future success so make sure you are effectively communicating the message you want your customer base to hear. — Sylva Senat

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Is there anything you do in particular to drive customer loyalty? Or turn new customers into raving fans?

As a chef, I try to thoughtfully prepare each meal as if I were serving dinner to friends and family who have been invited to the dinner table at my own home. Regardless of how busy the restaurant gets, I always aim to provide a personal experience when guests choose to dine at Maison 208. I’ve found that in order to continue to bring in truly good guests, it’s very important to establish lasting connections and create memories around their experience. I think that personalization is what differentiates the Philadelphia food scene from other food-focused cities across the U.S.

I’ve found that in order to continue to bring in truly good guests, it’s very important to establish lasting connections and create memories around their experience. — Sylva Senat

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17

What’s the hardest business/ entrepreneurship lesson you’ve learned to date that can help the readership in their endeavors? Through my consulting company Senat & Co., I’ve come to learn how important it is to consider the scope of the project carefully, especially from the start. It’s very easy to overlook the logistics at hand when you’re focused on the vision. A lot of excitement and anticipation can build up around the project which may cause you to underestimate the time it will take to reach completion. You may think it can take three to six months to complete but in reality, a project can take years to be finished. This is where patience becomes key.

Joyce Appelman is the National Communications Director for C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program in New York, NY. She has been instrumental in opening career opportunities for many young people in the foodservice industry. Email her at joyceappelman@gmail.com


Top Ten Takeaways from Sylva Senat 1

Timing is critical when you’re looking to launch a business.

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2

No matter the fears or frustrations, keep your eye on the goal and allow it to carry you through.

Your chances of securing investors are greater when you have a functioning business.

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3

At the beginning of any project, make sure to establish an end goal.

Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go according to plan; it’s the nature of the industry and business in general.

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4

Your immediate circle of friend, family, and business partners have a direct influence on your success.

When trying to establish your brand, ensure it’s communicated clearly and concisely.

9

Always take a meeting when it’s offered, you never know the opportunity that may come of it.

How you choose to market your products or services sets the tone for your success in business.

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To create guest loyalty, establish lasting connections and create memories around your guests’ experience.

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CORE supports children of food + beverage employees navigating life-altering circumstances/conditions. Learn how you can help at COREgives.org

COREgives.org


Commercial Leasing

Presenting and Negotiating

a Lease Proposal – For Food Entrepreneurs By: Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach

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Commercial Leasing

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s we explain in our book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES, there’s more than one way to present and negotiate a lease proposal. Some ways are right for some situations and not for others. If this is your first restaurant business, or you’ve only negotiated one or two commercial leases before, you’re more likely to make critical mistakes at various junctures of the process. One of the first things you’ll need to determine is who will be in charge of your lease negotiations. If you do this alone, you’ll be negotiating against someone else. In our experience, we’ve seen tenants negotiate leases against the landlord’s listing agent (especially on a new lease) or an in-house leasing rep – perhaps even a property manager. The more properties the landlord owns, the more likely that you will work with one of the landlord’s employees or representatives. Once you know all the players in your negotiations, you can begin to decide how you want the negotiation process to unfold. Before you go into lease negotiations ready to fight for what you want, you will need to have the following already determined: When you want to open your restaurant How much rent you feel you can afford to pay How much it will cost you (approximately) to build out the commercial space What equipment or building specifications you need Whether you will qualify for any financing How much area you actually want to lease

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All of these issues can come up during lease negotiations, and if you don’t know the answers, the landlord (or his representative) may not take you seriously. One of the best ways to appear as a legitimate tenant is to talk to the landlord and/or real estate agent about the restaurant you are going to open – not the restaurant you think you’re going to open or would like to open. Remember as well that sometimes tenants think they can bypass the landlord’s leasing agent and go directly to the landlord to get a lower rent deal (thinking they can help the landlord avoid paying a commission to the agent). This rarely works because the landlord and the agent already have a contract. The listing agreement (most of the time) says the agent is paid regardless of who secures the tenant. There are exceptions, but if the landlord gives a listing agreement to an agent, they’ve already budgeted and decided to pay the commissions. If you are considering a franchise opportunity, you will be more a more desirable tenant. Landlords recognize that franchise systems are proven, well thought out, and often stay in business much longer and achieve much higher rates of success that many independent business concepts. Broadcast this fact to a landlord and, if you play your cards right, this can translate into a superior lease deal all around plus you’ll have a leg up on other prospective tenants who may be vying to lease the same space that you are looking at. When you are ready to present a lease proposal, there are three common options available to you:


Commercial Leasing

1. Using a Letter Proposal This is, typically, informal and not binding but serves as an expression of interest containing very basic terms or simply interest in the property itself and inviting a more formal proposal from the landlord. This should be drafted on your own company letterhead. If you have not yet formed a company or don’t have a business or brand yet, type your letter proposal in a business format on plain paper.

2. Considering a Letter of Intent (LOI) LOI’s are common and are often drafted up by agents asking for your signature that they will then present to the landlord. This isn’t necessarily beneficial for you because it appears as if you are pursuing the landlord – the opposite of what you want. While an LOI is not legally binding either, if you neglect to include some important condition in it, the landlord might accuse you of negotiating in bad faith if you bring it up later. Once you’ve put anything in writing, you are often boxed into a corner.

3. Utilizing an Offer to Lease This is generally the best way to proceed when you’re ready to pursue a formal agreement with the landlord. Again, Offers to Lease can be written from a tenant to a landlord or from a landlord to a tenant. In most cases, the wording in this agreement will state that the “tenant offers to lease from the landlord” but the key is to request the landlord (or their representative) to actually draft it with the terms they would be prepared to move forward with, therefore representing their initial offer for your review. 78

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You can now revise and counter this document as you see fit as your counteroffer. Unlike a letter proposal or an LOI, an Offer to Lease is legally binding – which is why it’s the preferred method. For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Commercial Tenants, please e-mail your request to JeffGrandfield@TheLease Coach.com.

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield — The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-7389202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach. com. For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Dos & Don’ts for Restaurant Tenants, please e-mail your request to JeffGrandfield@TheLeaseCoach. com.


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Equipment Maintenance

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By: Brent Johnson

Casual Communication

Can Cost You Countless Coins

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Equipment Maintenance

Miscommunication can be a problem, and if you have been around the kitchen for any length of time, then I am sure you can relate to this story. The Famous Friday Afternoon Break-down! It’s Friday afternoon, around two o’clock, and the commercial food service technician arrives with his toolbag slung over his shoulder. Both the staff and management team are expecting him. He says to the prep cook, “so I hear you have a Fryer down!” The cook replies, “Yes sir, we do,” as he points to the last fryer in the group, he then adds, “the filter light is always lit, and I just changed the oil.” The technician takes a quick look and realizes the manual/auto switch was in the wrong position. A situation that could easily have been avoided if they just read the operator’s manual. The cook signs the work order ticket and the

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technician is off to the next call. About an hour later, the chef and general manager come walking into the kitchen.The cook tells the chef that the technician had been there and it is all fixed. The chef looks to the manager and says “thank goodness, I was afraid we were not going to get that done before Monday, and that would have been a major disaster.” The manager agreed. Around three-thirty, the rest of the cooking staff come in. The chef’s daily update meeting informs them about the fryer situation, and they are expecting larger than usual covers this weekend. After the brief meeting, each person goes to their assigned stations. Within minutes, the fry station cook interrupts the chef. He asks, “I thought you said they fixed the fryers today?” The chef stated, “the prep cook told us that he was here around two this afternoon and that it is fixed.” The chef asked the prep cook “are you sure the fryers are fixed?” The confused cook responded, “Fryers, more than one?” The chef immediately goes over to the fryers where the fry station cook reached down and attempted to turn on the first threefryers, and nothing happened. “See,” he said, “they are still not working.”


Equipment Maintenance

The Technical Train Wreck! It was at this point that the prep cook and the chef realized that they were considering separate issues with the fryers. The prep cook knew about the last fryer on the end because he had changed the oil earlier in the day found the light stayed on and the filtering system was not working, When the technician arrived, he assumed it was for that purpose. Unfortunately, the chef knew that the first three fryers would not even turn on and that is why he placed the service call through the manager early that morning. The technician was only instructed that there was a fryer problem at the restaurant from the dispatcher. Due to the prep cook being so directive upon arrival, the technician attended the end fryer only.

Another Call, Another Cost, and Another Delay! Needless to say, the chef was angry and stressed over this miscommunication. He immediately called the manager and informed him of the situation and instructed him that he needed an emergency call placed to the service company, no matter what it costs at this point. The manager called the service company, and within two hours another technician arrived. Fortunately, the professional quality technician found the problem to be a simple safety that wasn’t engaged and was able to get the restaurant fryers back on line quickly. This time they were lucky!

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You Can Only Have 2 Types of Service – Done Fast, Done Cheap, or Done Well This job was done well and done fast. However, the bill for services was not cheap. After all, this was now a Friday overtime emergency call which included additional fees accordingly.Had the issue been of a more serious nature, requiring parts that were not immediately available, the first technician may have been able to to make an emergency run to the supplier, but the second technician would have been unable to so. The repair would have had to wait until Monday morning or in some cases, if the service company has the right relationship with their supplier, they may have been able to get after-hours service from them, at an additional fee, passed on to the customer, of course.

The Blame Game! Another ramification with this scenario is the temptation on the restaurant to blame the service tech for not checking. This can lead to tense relations in the future. Due to this scenario being a fairly common occurrence, many service companies now have policies in place that require the technician to verify with management. Even with that precautionary step being taken, chefs, cooks, and management are not always on the same page.


Equipment Maintenance

An Unnecessary Expense! How much could the restaurant have saved in a scenario like this? 1. A  LL of the second service call’s emergency service fees, hundreds of dollars! 2. The additional after-hours part fee (thankfully, not needed in this case).

to avoiding this financial folly in the future; 1. W  ritten catalog of equipment, specifying the make, model and serial number for each piece. 1. S  ervice & Repair log, detailing specifically which piece of equipment needs repair or service and why; including dates and the reporting person’s name and contact info.

3. The first technician would probably have fixed the end fryer without any additional cost if they were made aware of ALL the issues.

3. C  hecks and balance system between the restaurant and the service company, including their technicians. Identifying what is expected from each party. (in writing, if possible)

4. Had the operator’s manual actually been referred to, the solution was simple, and the prep cook would not have made a mistake in the first place.

4. C  onsolidate any non-emergency work that needs to be done; this will best utilize the technicians billed time and save the customer money.

5. The avoidable stress and headaches that go with having to scramble to fix the problem.

5. C  onsider a Planned Maintenance Program, they catch and avoid many potential issues. Most service companies would be willing to work with you to set up acost-effective strategy designed to fit your needs.

In this specific instance, casual conversations and miscommunication on the part of the restaurant between the management, chef and the cooks, cost hundreds of dollars that were an unnecessary expense.

Simple Solutions, Super Savings! This is an issue that repeats itself, with variations as to the cost each time. Some solutions

You, as chefs and leaders in the restaurant business, have enough on your plates “no pun intended.” By implementing a few strategies and policies, you can gain peace of mind knowing that your equipment is being taken care of properly and effectively. The relationship you develop with a quality service company has such a positive ROI and is well worth exploring, but that is another story!

Brent Johnson is a writer, commercial foodservice equipment technician, consultant, and former marketing director who enjoys commercial food kitchen equipment. He is fascinated by commercial food equipment because of the look, the technology involved, and changes he’s seen dealing with them as a service technician. 83

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Entrepreneurial Chef #17 - November 2017  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Curtis Duffy: Food Entrepreneurship w/Grace + Alice Cheng: The Art of the Grind + Bjork & L...

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What will you learn from our featured guests? + Curtis Duffy: Food Entrepreneurship w/Grace + Alice Cheng: The Art of the Grind + Bjork & L...

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