Restaurant Foodservice News Official Magazine of the Culinary Federation
NAVIGATING AI RAISE YOUR GOOGLE GLASSES TO THE FUTURE OF FOODSERVICE — PAGE 30
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GRAZING NATION Technology has changed how we work, play, sleep — and eat PAGE 49
Canadian Trailblazer Jeff Fuller | Compassion & Contingency Financing the Future | Package Deal | Chef Q&A: Shaun MacLean
RESILIENCE ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
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contents Fall 2020 VOL. 11 NO.1
FEATURES 14 Restaurant Stories Compassion and Contingency Plans Are Vital During COVID-19 18 Looking Ahead Restaurants Must Be Bold with Summer in the Rearview
30 COVER STORY
30 Navigating AI How to Embrace New Technology
39 The Culinary Federation’s À LA MINUTE
DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note Still Going Strong 6 Canadian Trailblazer All in the Family 12 Chef Q&A Shaun Maclean: “I’ve met so many incredible people” 36 Innovation The Rise of Ghost Kitchens in the Age of COVID-19 58 Crunching Numbers Tastes Continue to Evolve, But Don’t Forget About the Classics
ADVERTISER FEATURES (FROM OUR PARTNERS)
48 Piri Piri Fried Chicken Salad By Club House for Chefs
54 When it Comes to ROI, Eggs Are Liquid Gold By Get Cracking
20 Beverage Feature Cheers to the Drinks of the Future 24 Food Focus Planting the Seeds for Healthier, Happier Customers 26 Restaurant Stories The Indomitable Passion of Restaurateurs 49 Mealtime Supplement Grazing Nation 53 Equipment Financing the Future 56 Minding Your Business Package Deal
We’re not only teaching [our chefs] how to receive coaching, but how to execute it.
-— Jeff Fuller, CEO of JOEY Restaurants
Restaurant Foodservice News The official publication of the Culinary Federation, RestoBiz.ca, RestoBizBYTES and RestoBizGuide.
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t seems fair to say that 2020 has been a year unlike any other for Canada’s restaurant and foodservice industry, as the implications of a global pandemic have been felt keenly and painfully across the countr y and the globe. Over the recent months, foodser vice establishments across the country have been forced to either shift to takeout- and delivery-focused models or shut their doors. As we all know, some were unable to weather the storm. A warm sociallydistanced summer and an extended patio season brought some relief for others, but the challenges certainly continue. While it may be tempting to dwell on the negative, we are looking forward rather than back, at the potential of this lively industry that is full of passionate and hardworking people who are eager to get to work doing what they love. In times of trouble, people come together, and the mutual support and enthusiasm has only intensified during this testing period. On the topic of the future, nothing says “looking forward” like the exciting technological advancements that can be found in foodservice, from robotic or self-serve dispensers as discussed in Cheers to the Drinks of the Future, to the exciting possibilities surrounding augmented reality, which we dive into in our cover story, Navigating AI: How to Embrace New Technolog y. Experts offer tips on how to survive with summer gone and we share stories of positivity and resilience from restaurateurs and operators. As with every issue, we pick the brain of a chef, and in our À la Minute section we caught up with what the Culinary Federation was up to prior to the progression of the pandemic, as well as some of the exciting steps they have taken in recent months. On a personal note, I am delighted to be here as the new editor even if the timing is interesting, to say the least. We hope you enjoy the positive stories of resilience, optimism, and togetherness within this issue. We are truly, as they say, all in this together.
Tom Nightingale firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
CIRCULATION INQUIRIES: Rob Osiecki email@example.com
Magazine Editorial Advisory Board Jason Bangerter
Executive Chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
National Director of Culinary ServicesAmica Mature Lifestyles Inc.
Donna Bottrell, RD
Owner, Donna Bottrell Food Consulting
CEO, St. Louis Bar and Grill
Chef/Owner, Burdock and Co.
Corporate Manager Culinary Services Delmanor
Connie DeSousa and John Jackson Co-owners/chefs, Charcut/Charbar
Doug Radkey Owner and Director of Operations Key Restaurant Group
CEO and Hospitality Leadership Coach/Speaker, Results Hospitality
Corporate Chef, CW Shasky
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ALL IN THE FAMILY
Thereâ€™s the family youâ€™re born with, and the family you choose. With his nowinternational JOEY Restaurants brand, CEO Jeff Fuller has the best of both By Sara Burnside Menuck
6 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
rom afar, you might think it was inevitable for Jeff Fuller to make a career in the restaurant industry. The son of respected restaurateur Leroy Earl (Bus) Fuller, Jeff grew up surrounded by chefs, servers and serviettes, “but you know,” he says mildly, “I wouldn’t say I didn’t consider doing anything else.” Whatever other options may have been on the table, Fuller, like so many students now and in generations past, found himself working at restaurants throughout university, both for the money and the social aspect. But he didn’t really consider the restaurant business as a career “until I got out of school and sort of missed it when I wasn’t hanging around the restaurant.” “The restaurant,” of course, refers to his father’s veritable restaurant empire, including the Earls chain of upscale eateries, which has over 60 locations across both Canada and the U.S. and is now headed by Jeff’s brother Stan. Jeff struck out on his own in 1992, opening his first restaurant in Calgary: a pasta house called Joey’s Tomato’s. “It was really a collaborative effort on the first store, and I was really focused in on management and trying to figure that whole thing out.” GROWING PAINS AND GAINS
Fuller did, in fact, figure things out. Since those humble beginnings in the nineties, JOEY Restaurants has grown to become one of the most successful restaurant chains in Canada, boasting 28 locations in about as many years; the 28th, JOEY Shipyards, opened earlier this year in North Vancouver, and the company has been aggressively pursuing expansion in the United States. “It’s amazing we actually made it through,” Fuller says. While the original Joey’s focused on Italian cuisine, the brand soon expanded its offerings, particularly in 1998, when chef Chris Mills — who remains the brand’s executive chef to this day — was brought into the Joey’s family. “He really changed the way we looked at food… opened our eyes up to flavours and things we could do.” With Mills’s help, Joey’s shifted from its Italian focus to a broader Mediterranean theme, and then in the early 2000s, the brand underwent a major renovation. What emerged was JOEY, a chain of restaurants
specifically branded to individual locations, united by a globally inspired menu. While JOEY’s international cuisine helped the brand stand out from its competitors, it also posed some unique challenges when Fuller began looking at international expansion. “There’s a bit of a stigma about Canadian restaurants moving into the U.S.,” Fuller notes, but adds he hasn’t experienced it. Instead, he found that JOEY’s eclectic global menu initially didn’t strike a chord with American diners: “When we were first down there — and you’ll recall this is 15, 16 years ago — they wanted to put you into a category. Are you Italian, are you a steakhouse, are you a Mexican place…” He credits the popularity of The Food Network with helping to change that attitude, by helping to educate people through introducing them to independent chefs who didn’t fit into those cut-and-dry categories. “It allowed us to make more sense to people. It happened kind of slowly, and then all of a sudden, it felt like people kind of get it.” Today, JOEY has five locations in the U.S., in Seattle and L.A., with three more opening in Aventura, Fla., Houston and Manhattan Beach. “Those are the ones I can tell you about,” Fuller coyly adds.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
As CEO, Fuller keeps tabs on most aspects of the business. “I dabble in every part,” he says, adding that he particularly enjoys working on the creative side with the chefs and desig ners: “ I t r y not to get i n anybody’s way, but we’re pretty open to giving all of our opinions. I can f ly at a high level in that regard.” Primarily, though, he’s very active in expanding JOEY’s reach, from identifying new markets for the brand to scouting individual locations and negotiating leases. Determining the perfect spot for a new restaurant is more of an art than a science: “I wish I knew 100-per-cent how to put it through the hopper and always figure it out,” Fuller says. There are a few basic tenets of “good location” logic, including good visibility, parking, neighbourhood density and high traffic, but largely, each lease is different, and it comes down to a gut feeling. Sometimes he calls in a second opinion. “I think it was last spring, we were looking at U.S. locations and I couldn’t get quite a gut check on it, so I sent [my father] down there to meet the broker,” Fuller recalls. Bus came back with a thumb’s up on the location. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 7
Since its humble beginnings in the nineties, JOEY has become one of the most successful restaurant chains in Canada. FAMILY BUSINESS
“The big thing about my dad is he had incredible loyalty from the people who worked for him,” Fuller says of his father, who passed in October 2019. “He was very generous in many ways, not just financially. I think he created huge loyalty through his connection with people.” That’s something that Fuller has maintained throughout all the identity changes and expansions JOEY has undergone during the past three decades. It’s something that’s been baked into the JOEY brand. “It’s everything,” he says of his self-described people-first approach. Named Canada’s top employer for young people in 2020 by Mediacorp, JOEY Restaurants maintains an impressive 30-per-cent manager turnover rate; by comparison, Restaurant Insider estimated in 2018 that 43 per cent of managers leave within the first year. The secret, it turns out, comes back to JOEY’s roots: a deep sense of family and human connection. A big piece of JOEY’s staff-retention success comes from dedicating the time and effort to start with the right people in the first place. “Sometimes you take your best server, and you put him in a manager
position because you think that seems like a natural progression, but actually it’s not always the best position,” Fuller observes. “Maybe they’re a great server because they like making people super happy. As a manager, part of your role is to hold people to account, and those two things don’t always cross over well for people.” Selection, therefore, is a huge part of the process, which includes some testing of potential hires or employees up for promotion, followed up by training. “Because we pick the right people, culturally, the people who do well with us are those who want to know exactly where they stand. They aren’t defensive.” Coaching also plays a large role in building JOEY’s management culture, with a strong coaching program initially developed by Royal Roads University that was then tailored to the company. In addition to the coaching program, JOEY also offers further education for employees, such as paying for Red Seal certification for its chefs, along with management-skills training to help them learn how to surround themselves with great people. “We’re not only teaching them how to receive coaching, but how to execute it, and
8 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
we spend quite a bit of money doing it,” Fuller says. “We’re also pretty good at realizing when we make a selection error,” he adds. He recognizes that sometimes, errors happen, but it’s the company’s responsibility to address that when it does happen. “We take the onus on the selection error because all they did was apply, or we recruited them. But if it’s not a fit after trying hard, it’s only fair to make sure that those people probably exit the organization.” A winning, well-constructed team is only half of the puzzle, though. Fuller, along with the rest of the executive team, has taken care to create a company culture that rewards employees and listens to their needs. He points to JOEY’s maternity program as an example: “Over 50 per cent of our management is female. We have a strong maternity program for them, because we heard that always made people nervous.” Another key part to keeping a low manager turnover rate has been getting management to invest in their own success — literally. In 2011, the company introduced the JEIT program, or the JOEY Employee Investment Trust. “We realized down the road, what are people’s stake going to be, and how can we help them down the line?” Fuller says. Through the program, managers are able to hold shares in a select group of restaurants; they participate shoulder-to-shoulder with executives, including Fuller himself, on the returns. “It’s very exciting for them,” he says. “They have their own calls to talk about results, and I just love seeing it. I love sending the cheques every quarter, and I’m sure people love receiving them.” The passion Fuller has for his company, and the people in it, is palpable — and it’s paid off in terms of building a familial culture that invests as much back into its employees as its employees invest into it, no matter how long they stay with the company. It harks back to Fuller’s own experience as a student, working at a restaurant: “I’m just super proud of all the people I’ve encountered over time,” he says. “A lot of students who are now lawyers or accountants or in marketing or whatever, they’re professionals out there, and they say they’ve still taken some of what they’ve learned [working at JOEY].” For all its expansion and success, JOEY remains as it began: a family affair, no matter how broad and varied that family has become – something that is reflected both in its restaurants’ ambience, and in its corporate culture. “It’s such a people-heavy game,” Fuller says. “It’s just the best part. It’s everything we do.”
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“I LOVE FOOD AS A MEDIUM FOR CREATIVITY BUT ALSO FOR CONNECTION” By Deepi Harish
After establishing himself across a number of well-regarded Vancouver venues, Chef Shaun Maclean is making his name at Marriot International’s The Westin Bayshore by spinning classic menu design on its head Chef Shaun Maclean has worked his way up the ranks, all while staying true to his roots in beautiful Vancouver, as a chef both in and out of the hotel space, including Cactus Club Café, Fairmont Vancouver Airport and the Pan Pacific Hotel. Prior to joining The Westin Bayshore’s H Tasting Lounge, Maclean had a hand in opening two restaurants within a year as executive chef with plant-based café and catering company Kokomo Café. And he’s handy with more than just kitchen tools: when he’s not in chef mode, he also builds custom furniture. These days, Maclean is excited about highlighting the best Vancouver has to offer to guests at The Westin Bayshore. CRFN caught up with Maclean to chat about what food means to him and his restaurant’s unique, drinks-first approach to menu design.
10 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
photo credit: Theresa Tayler
CRFN: What made you choose The Westin Bayshore?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CRFN: What are your earliest memories of cooking? Shaun Maclean: As a kid, one of my favourite go-to dinners was lasagna. My mother always made it from scratch and the recipe never changed. Helping her assemble the layers, then having the house filled with the warm aromas as it cooked still sticks in my mind like it was yesterday.
SM: The Westin Bayshore is a great property that has a lot of history in the city. Its location is incredible. We have the opportunity to offer a number of spectacular products to our guests which keeps things exciting in the kitchen. CRFN: Speaking of spectacular products, Vancouver is known for fresh products from both land and ocean. How do you approach incorporating seafood into your seasonal menus? SM: I’ve only worked in B.C., so I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great selection of ingredients and suppliers to work with from around the city and province... We utilize the Ocean Wise seafood program on all our menus. Sustainability should be everyone’s responsibility. One of the first things we ensure is that we’re making sustainable choices before menu development goes any further. CRFN: Tell us more about your restaurant’s concept of designing the drink menu first, food menu second. How has this changed your cooking creativity?
SM: Our bartenders at The Westin Bayshore are very talented in what they do. The methods of preparation for many of the drinks on the menu utilize equipment in our area, so connecting and collaborating with them just makes sense. We, the chefs and bartenders, often talk about CRFN: Why were you drawn to a culinary career? the ingredients and the vision for specific drink recipes that have in turn helped us open up a new avenue of SM: I love food as a medium for creativity but also for connection. thought that goes into the menu design in the kitchen for Food is the reason we get together with the people we love. It’s the our dishes. Also, because our kitchen is small, and our reason we travel abroad and take interest in foreign cultures. lounge menu is largely centred on the beverage program, When someone arrives home after a vacation, usually the first we let the cocktail program take centre stage. Then we do thing they talk about is the food they ate on their trip. To me, the our best to complement those drinks with shared plates history and evolution of food in every culture is fascinating. Being that are simple, often raw and stripped of the extras. a part of that in my own city is a lot of fun. I’ve also met so many incredible people because of the career path I’ve chosen. CRFN: Why do you think other restaurants haven’t caught on to this unique idea of developing a food menu around the CRFN: Tell me about your cooking background and culinary drink offerings, since they both work hand-in-hand? training. SM: It’s definitely something that is touched on, but not widely SM: I took on an apprenticeship through a French chef in seen. Gastropubs do a great job of offering well-executed small Tsawwassen, B.C., when I was 19. I expedited my three-year plates and sharing menus, and at the same time, offering a topprogram into 14 months so that I could get back into the kitchen notch drink program. But at the end of the day, a great dinner and learn by doing. From there, I moved into roles with Cactus menu is typically a larger driving force to fill a room, which is Club Café, Fairmont Hotel, Pan Pacific Hotel and then moved on what any business wants. to oversee the culinary operations at Kokomo, a popular vegan restaurant, to learn more about plant-based diets. CRFN: What’s your philosophy about food in general? www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 11
Q& SM: Everything should be simple. The freshness and the quality of the ingredients should be the main focus. Over-manipulation just takes away from what the food should really taste like. CRFN: Who are your biggest influences and inspirations for becoming a chef? SM: I loved watching the classics like Emeril, Martin Yan and Jamie Oliver. Nowadays, influence and inspiration come from travelling, books and going out to eat at both new and long-established restaurants in any of the cities I end up in. CRFN: What do you think is the most overrated food trend right now? SM: I don’t pay attention to trends much, but I would prefer to see more spaces open up that are owned and operated by chefs and bartenders, instead of seeing big cities overrun with chain restaurants that have the same menu at every single location. 12 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
CRFN: What about the most underrated food trend? SM: I’d love to see more Filipino restaurants open. It’s one of the most exciting food cultures in Southeast Asia, but it doesn’t get the attention that it should in Western cities. CRFN: Is there a type of cuisine you’d like to experiment more with? SM: I’d definitely like to dive a bit deeper into Middle Eastern cuisine by using the authentic ingredients we have available to us here. The depth of flavour and regionally-specific profiles in their food is incredible. CRFN: What’s next for you? SM: I’m approaching two years of working at The Westin
Bayshore, so the plan for now is to continue working with the talented team here to deliver food that resonates with both locals and travelling guests.
OLD BAY SPICE STORY
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www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 13
COMPASSION AND CONTINGENCY PLANS ARE VITAL DURING COVID-19
CEO Jody Palubiski discusses how Charcoal Group has mitigated for a pandemic while keeping employee welfare top of mind
By Tom Nightingale
14 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
The million-dollar question for all restaurant owners and operators in 2020 has been just how do you navigate a global pandemic, complete with closures, lack of customers, and the myriad challenges that come along with such an altered landscape? For Jody Palubiski, the 17-year CEO of the Ontario-based Charcoal Group of restaurants, it’s been all about two things: looking after his staff, and planning – as much as possible, at least – for all eventualities. “I think uncertainty became the only certainty,” Palubiski says. “Waking up
every day and wondering what’s going to get thrown at us today.” Palubiski has navigated diff icult scenarios before with Charcoal, which currently operates 13 restaurants across southern Ontario – the global financial crisis of 2008 being a prominent example. COVID-19, though, arguably bites even harder due to the unavoidable questions of health and wellbeing it poses to those in the food service industry. INFORMATION IS POWER
Palubiski has been a leader at Charcoal
Group in 2003; fast-forward to 2020 and the group operates 13 restaurants under numerous banners in Ontario. The group has thrived, with the latest installment of its most recent brainchild, the Beertown brand, opening in Guelph in early March of this year. A little over a week later, though, the shutdown hit. Since then, Palubiski’s day-to-day focus has undergone an enforced shift. Contingency plans, though always important in the restaurant business, became paramount in importance. “On March 16, when we closed the door – we closed on the Monday in the afternoon – it was really sitting down and saying ok, what does this look like, what could it be? Anticipation of the various tracks this could take as we continue to go down the road.” So how did Charcoal go about that back in March, with very little indications of exactly what was to come? “When all of this started to come down, the first thing we said was that we need to have absolutely the best information possible and understand where our business is at,” Palubiski explains. “Cash flow projections and
www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 15
creating action plans around that was critica l. Ma k ing principle -based decisions and thinking long-term.” C ha rc oa l a l s o watche d ot her jurisdictions – other provinces, U.S. states – for any hints of what may be to come and tried to prepare for all eventualities. As Palubiski puts it, “what’s our best guess here?” Taking care of the restaurant family While planning ahead was key, Palubiski notes that most important to Charcoal’s leaders was protecting their staf f from the potentially brutal financial- and welfare-related impacts of the pandemic and the provincial shutdown. The group’s mission values, which focus on clear communication and empathy, have been crucial.
“It became apparent the very first day that our first priority will be and has to be our team,” Palubiski explains. Charcoal Group had to put nearly 1,000 employees on leave, and the daily focus became taking care of them. “We were using a fanning-out system so that every manager had a list of people they called every single week just to check in. How do they feel about things, do they have enough money for food? We tried to make sure every single one of those people got a call every week so we could let them know that we were there.” As is often the case, out of darkness came light. “You saw all these really cool moments of truth, acts of kindness towards each other. That was probably the most important piece that we
16 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
focused on during that closure.” Palubiski cites the implementing of a Charcoal Group family dinner over video calls that have been held on Friday nights as emblematic of their philosophy during the early weeks and months. “It was just a reminder that we’re all together, we’re all there for each other, and we’re part of a team that cares.” A PLAYBOOK FOR REOPENING
Finally, leading into summer, things began to pick up again as Ontario advanced on a regional basis into first stage two of recovery and later stage three. That, though, brought its own challenges – most namely, the uncertain timeframe the restaurant industry was facing. Palubiski notes that, by the very
nature of an emergency pandemic response, there’s little advanced warning. “You’d have loved if the various levels of government had a playbook that said ‘at some point in the next two weeks, here’s what the next stage will be,’ but it was really Monday at 1 p.m. you’d get the note that said ‘you can open on Friday under these circumstances.’” Thankfully, all that preparation work paid off. Charcoal didn’t attempt to get takeout going during their closures, instead focusing on preparing for whenever the reopening would come so that when doors could open again, their various restaurants could hit the ground running. Palubiski notes it saved them a lot of effort and a lot of time at the
critical reopening point. “We put together a 96-hour plan so that from the first word, we’d be able to say go. Every schedule was done in advance, every food order and beer order and schedules for prep were brought in. We spent a lot of time zoning in to be ready from the word go.” ADAPTING ON THE FLY
While Charcoal’s own preparation was key, Palubiski gave credit to southern Ontario’s various municipalities for their assistance, particularly in the expanded patio program. “That was critical and I think it kept a lot of businesses going and got a lot of people back to work,” he says. “Working with municipalities was a critical step to
be able to regain some form over the summer, start relieving the stress of your team, getting caught up on suppliers, whatever it might have been. So that really can’t go understated.” He notes that talks are already underway about expanded Charcoal ’s patio program into 2021, which he says would be a silver lining in a cloudy year. Changing weather brings different challenges and they’re being tackled head-on. Palubiski acknowledges, with huge gratitude, that some glorious summer weather allowed Charcoal to recoup a significant amount of their lost revenue, but now they must plan for fall and winter. The group has invested around $125,000 in various heating systems so that continued patio presence can be a viable option for customers. WORDS OF WISDOM
Overall, Palubiski is counting his blessings when it comes to Charcoal. Customers, he says, are starting to become more conf ident in dining indoors again and though the path ahead is still hard to map out, there’s much to be thankful for. “There’s a certain comfort, I think, in knowing that we’re all in this together and that all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and take the next logical step and keep going. If you’d have told me a year ago we’d have been in this position, I’d probably have thought I’d be losing my mind, but it’s amazing what you get used to and how you adapt.” So, does he have any advice for restaurateurs looking to navigate what’s on the horizon? Palubiski brings it back to the importance of planning. “I really have to stress that sitting down and analyzing is key. Load up on modelling, you’re going to make better decisions for your people and your partners if you truly know where you’re at. Truthfully, get down to the nuts and bolts and have that plan in place. Keep grinding it out.” Right now, that’s all anyone can do.
www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 17
RESTAURANTS MUST BE BOLD WITH SUMMER IN THE REARVIEW The Fifteen Group’s David Hopkins has clear advice for restaurant operators during the challenge of the changing seasons By Tom Nightingale Summer’s end arrived in tandem with a spike in COVID-19 activity in Canada, particularly in high-population areas like southern Ontario. Just as it felt like restaurant operators and the hospitality industry may be starting to get a handle on coping with a pandemic, the challenge has intensified again. The onset of fall and the winter that will follow bring numerous tests for restaurateurs. Extended patio programs across Canada may be remaining in place but it’s reasonable to think that the colder weather will limit their appeal for some patrons.
Dav id Ho p k i n s , p r e s i d e nt o f hospita lit y consulti ng f i r m The Fi f t e en Gr oup , not e s t hat t he availability of outdoor space over a warm summer was a huge boost for the industry. But he’s wary of what happens when that warmth disappears.
18 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
“I fear that some restaurants are going to be challenged,” Hopkins says. “If it’s 4 degrees C and I’m sitting on a patio with my heavy jacket on and the patio heater’s not near me or not doing the trick and my food’s getting cold, I just fear that I’m going to leave there thinking it’s not a great experience. Nothing the restaurant did wrong, just because of circumstance, it’s just not ideal. So, I worry that some restaurants will really try to push the envelope.”
Hopkins notes that outdoor patios have rarely, if ever, had to run this late into the year and that trying to find patio heaters right now, as you might expect, is far from easy. Couple summer’s end with provinces and municipalities doubling down on capacity restrictions to try to temper the “second wave,” and it could be a trying time across the industry. So, what does Hopkins, a veteran of the industry who works with myriad restaurants across North America, recommend operators should do to weather the storm over the coming months? In short, he advises cautiously raising prices, capitalizing on government subsidies, and keeping that wheel of innovation spinning. STRATEGICALLY INCREASE PRICING
With capacity restrictions in place in an industry that already sees tight margins, revenues need to come from somewhere. Hopkins urges restaurant operators not to be afraid of implementing strategic price increases. “It’s interesting that people think that if their capacity’s cut by 40 or 50 per cent then they have to double their prices to make that up. That’s not the case because price increases, unlike capacity revenue, fall straight to the bottom line,” Hopkins says. He notes that if revenues decline by 40 per cent because of capacity restrictions, operators actually only need to raise prices by about 17 per cent to offset that. So bumping prices by, say, 7 to 14 per cent is certainly warranted, he suggests, and patrons should be accepting of that. Consumers understand the challenges that businesses are facing right now, and Hopkins has seen surveys which suggest the driving impetus for people to go to restaurants right now is to support local, small business, rather than other factors. “We have a number of clients who have done price increases with no negative impacts, no dissenting guest comments or whatever. I’m not talking about doubling menu prices, just strategic price increases where warranted.” CAPITALIZE ON SUBSIDIES TO BOOST GUEST EXPERIENCE
One plus point of what’s happening in 2020
is the willingness of government – be it at the federal, provincial, or municipal level – to work with the industry to mitigate the perils of a pandemic. Many restaurants have been eligible for a significant wage subsidy and the help is being extended, in some form at least, until the summer of 2021. Hopkins is imploring restaurants to take full advantage to boost their customer experience. “We see it as a big benefit in that it allows you to potentially do things that you’ve never done before because now you’re able to make money out of it,” he explains. “It’s a huge opportunity for restaurants to completely elevate their experience, take them from maybe an 8/10 to a 10/10 which a) is great for customer experience and b) also warrants you to put your prices up as you’re providing a better experience.” Hopkins cites certain clients who have been able to branch out their service as a result of the subsidies. Things that may not have been affordable pre-COVID can now be budgeted for if operators are only paying a fraction of wages, ultimately increasing potential revenue centres if used creatively and effectively. INNOVATE OFFERINGS TO IMPROVE PROFIT MARGINS
That feeds into the third piece of advice Hopkins has: operators need to keep their thinking hats on and find new ways to appeal in the new landscape. He gives the example of some clients who have begun offering online takeout and third-party delivery, or the direct sale of wine to homes, things he says would likely never have been on the table for some businesses before COVID-19. “Creative things like that are key, pivoting your model to be more takeoutand delivery-friendly,” Hopkins stresses. “This is a new world, a new reality we’re in, so not just opening your doors and saying ‘we’re gonna do what we did before and that’s the way we do it.’ Pivoting your model to what makes sense, whether it’s a short-term thing or a long-term thing.” THE POTENTIAL FOR PERMANENCE
Some of these changes could indeed stick around in the long-term, Hopkins
cautiously predicts. He notes that the industry was already seeing a definitive trend of moving more towards takeout and third-party delivery and that has only been accelerated in 2020. Other things, too, could stay in place. In B.C., wholesale liquor pricing was a move that had long been touted in some corners. It’s now finally in place, giving operators in the province a discount on their liquor purchases that they never got before. Hopkins hopes that’s an example of an on-the-fly pivot that may become permanent, describing it as “a huge win” for restaurants. Patios, too, are a different ballgame now, with lots of the red tape for expansion cleared up. “Pre-COVID, if you had a patio that was 30 seats and you wanted to expand it to 60, the amount of red tape – applications, approvals, even changes to your washroom sizes – was phenomenal. So hopefully this lasts and they’ve learned that maybe they don’t need to do so much in terms of approvals and red tape because there’s no doubt it’s a huge plus.” The biggest change that Hopkins foresees, though, is in terms of communication with guests. While restaurants have naturally always been pretty sanitary establishments, such are the requirements of foodservice, 2020 has seen a real shift in how the message is conveyed. “You used to do all kinds of sanitary things but never communicate that to guests, whereas now it’s more of a marketed presence where you want to make sure your guests know everything you’re doing to keep them safe,” says Hopkins. “We used to take cleanliness for granted. Now, we’re being conditioned to always think about what we’ve touched or what we’re encountering, so I think we’re going to be a much cleaner society, at least for the next while.” Winter is coming, that’s an inevitability. But with some tough front-of-house decisions, governmental assistance, a strong creative spirit, and clear communication, the terrain can be navigated. Perhaps the advice to restaurant operators can be best summed up succinctly: don’t be afraid of where we are, or where we’re going. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 19
Cheers TO THE DRINKS
OF THE FUTURE
From wearable tech to robot baristas, technological innovation is stirring things up in the beverages sector By Mike Kostyo
20 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
New technologies have a way of seeming futuristic, even ridiculous, one day and indispensable the next. Looking back to just a decade ago, it’s hard to believe we had yet to meet Amazon’s Alexa or gotten our hands on an iPad. Uber had yet to deliver its first passenger, let alone a meal, while companies like SkipTheDishes and DoorDash were still a few years from launching. Now, however, many of us interact with these technologies on a daily basis.
If that much can happen in the last decade, what does the future hold? The beverage category in particular has seen a lot of tech innovation, with plenty more on the way. Here are just a few of the concepts, technologies, and changes that should be on your radar. WEARABLE TECHNOLOGIES
Remember when everyone said that tech-enabled glasses would be the “next big thing” … and then they weren’t? Well, the concept could be rising from the dead. Apple is reportedly working on a set of glasses that could launch in the next few years, while Amazon introduced its Echo Frames last year. A growing number of consumers are wea r i ng sma r t watches, w i reless earbuds and even smart rings. With the launch of 5G technologies rolling out in Canada this year, these types of wearable devices will be smaller and more powerful than ever. Many consumers may already be interacting with your operation or brand through technology, but that will only become more widespread. You might send a vibration to their ring to let them know their drink is up, or pay for an ad to pop up on their digital glasses when they’re looking for a ca fé or bar nearby. These technologies have implications for back-of-house as well, with some bra nds c onsider i ng aug mente d rea lity glasses for tra ining (the directions to make a new coffee drink might appear right on the lenses themselves) or hospitality (a ping to a
smartwatch lets the server know that a table hasn’t been touched in a set amount of time — it might be time for a refill). SELF-ORDERING KIOSKS
Ordering kiosks are becoming more prevalent across Canada every day. Get ready for a lot more personalization and customization opportunities. We’ll see more brands making recommendations based on what a customer orders, linking the kiosk to loyalty programs to personalize the experience for each customer, or allowing customers to tweak the menu based on their likes and dislikes. McDonald’s has embraced machine learning to make its menu boards smarter: they can change up the recommendations based on the weather, and www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 21
markets throughout Canada, lets customers piggyback on coworkers’ orders for pickup, making it more cost-effective to add on a low-cost coffee or tea, while Brightloom (formerly eatsa) has developed a smart pickup platform that displays a customer’s name when an order is ready, knows when an order has been picked up, and alerts the back-of-house when a dish or drink has been sitting for too long and should be remade. A number of restaurant brands are also offering or testing central pickup points, either in offices or key locations (stores, hospitals), allowing them to deliver to a single location and have a branded presence there, sometimes complete with an attached self-ordering kiosk. CUSTOMER FIRST
the company has tested tech that can recognize a licence plate and tailor the menu to the customer. If this sounds a little invasive, consider that customers often already expect personalized recommendations in other areas of their lives, from Netflix to Spotify to Instacart. In the future, kiosks could even invent new drinks on the spot based on the individual customer, sending the newly-invented recipe for a unique coffee drink or milkshake to the tech-enabled back-of-house for the human and/or robot barista to prepare. Of course, beverages are also one of the few options where sometimes self-service means the customer is actually making the drinks themselves. Tech-enabled soda machines, beer taps and wine bars continue
to pop up in a wide variety of segments, from restaurants to bars and hotels to amusement parks. That doesn’t even include the range of beverage robots: last year, Briggo, a robot barista company, entered into an agreement with SSP America to bring 25 of its automated coffee kiosks to airports across the U.S. and Canada. DELIVERY/PICKUP
Off-premise dining is more prevalent than ever before, with no signs of the trend slowing down — from tiny, tech-enabled, pickup-only stores (Starbucks opened its first one last year) to elaborate pickup areas that use screens to welcome customers or special cubbies that customers unlock through their phone. Ritual, the “social ordering” platform available in major
It’s important to remember that not all customers have the same fluency and preferences when it comes to new tech. While some younger consumers prefer technology over any human interaction (Uber launched its “Quiet Mode,” which alerts the driver that the passenger prefers to skip the small talk, in Toronto last year), many older demographics aren’t as immediately comfortable when presented with a self-ordering kiosk when they walk in the door. Taking the time to subtly determine a customer’s preferences will be key as these technologies only become more prevalent and cutting-edge in the future. It’s also important to let the customer know how a technology benefits them, not just the owner or brand. According to our research, the number-one factor that will motivate consumers to accept technologies more readily is if you can show them that it somehow lowers the cost for them. The robotic coffee kiosks, for instance, often note that the drinks are cheaper than the equivalent option at a fullservice café. And if any of this sounds far-fetched, save this article and wait 10 years – if anything, things will likely be even weirder than any of us imagined. Mike Kostyo is the resident trendologist and senior managing editor on the market intelligence team at Datassential, the food industry's leading market research and trends company. For more information about anything in this article, contact Mike at email@example.com.
22 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
PLANTING THE SEEDS
FOR HEALTHIER, HAPPIER CUSTOMERS
As customers continue to demand healthier, more nutritious menu options, it's critical for restaurants to know how incorporate plant-based foods By Michelle Jaelin, RD
“Plant-based” is a nutrition buzzword. Often used in food marketing, the industry of plant-based foods is expected to grow. Forbes predicted that the sale of plant-based protein and meat alternatives will increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion in 2030. As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, my goal is always to get consumers to eat more plants. The evidence on the health benefits of eating more produce is abundant, with over 6,000 studies on PubMed citing the benefits of plant based eating on our health. It’s no question that consumers want to be healthier, and this trend of plant eating will continue with the rise of veganism and awareness of sust a i nable eat i ng, esp e cia l ly amongst millennials and Generation Z. With more customers looking to eat more plant-based foods, how can
restaurants jump on the trend the right way? PLANT-BASED VS. VEGAN — AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO DISTINGUISH THE TWO
Plant-based and vegan mean different things. Despite the two words used interchangeably, plant-based refers to a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and occasionally meat protein. The goal of plant-based is consuming mostly plants; however, meat is still a part of this overall healthy diet. Veganism is a strict diet against animal products in every form. Vegans do not eat eggs, meat, dairy or
24 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
honey — and also do not wear animal products or use any products that harm the welfare of animals. In creating menus for consumers, clients going for more plant-based options are most likely trying to make the healthier choice for themselves, while the vegan client is adhering to vegan principles in which no animals are consumed or harmed in the creation of the meal. Plant-based is a looser term often used in the marketing of healthier foods on a restaurant menu. Restaurants should consider certain factors when using plant-based to describe certain meals.
FOOD FOCUS VEGAN ≠ HEALTHIER
There are many vegan options marketed as plant-based that did not exist 15 years ago; this is especially the case when discussing dairy products. For example, commercial vegan cheese is primarily made of coconut oil, tapioca flour, nuts, thickening agents, nutritional yeast and natural enzymes. The list of ingredients of vegan cheese is always lengthier than that of traditional dairy cheese. Keep in mind that in order for vegan products to mimic the “real” stuff — cheese, milk, hamburgers, etc. — food manufacturers need to add ingredients in order to make the product similar enough to replace the animal version. Not all of these products are necessarily healthier, and this is because lots of other fillers, food chemicals and additives need to go into them in order to make them more palatable. USE BASIC VEGAN INGREDIENTS
For healthy, plant-based foods, chefs must find ways to create complete meals using basic vegan ingredients rather than commercial products. For example, beans and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans make great protein and fibre additions to a meal. Grains or healthy starch classics such as quinoa, spelt, barley, brown rice, sweet potato and millet are versatile enough to form the bases of many recipes. Finally, classic vegan proteins such as tempeh and tofu can be flavoured into many delicious dishes. KNOW YOUR VEGAN PRODUCTS AND USE APPROPRIATELY
If you do want to use commercial vegan products in your kitchen, it’s important to know and understand the products well. As mentioned, many vegan products will have many other ingredients in them — some which may be allergenic to your consumers. Keep in mind, Food Allergy Canada reports more than 2.6 million Canadians self-report having at least one food allergy. With many allergenic ingredients in vegan alternatives, such as nuts used in vegan cheese and dairy products, it’s important to know the vegan products being served to patrons. To avoid allergy negligence, restaurant staff and servers must be aware of the possible food allergens in a food product if a customer brings up an allergy when ordering. Packaging from commercial products should be kept in case patrons need to check the ingredients to verify if it’s safe to consume.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT OTHER HEALTHY, NUTRITIOUS INGREDIENTS
If all this information on bringing vegan and plant-based foods sounds overwhelming to you, you might want to consider a few nutritious ingredients to use in your dishes. Here are my five dietitian-approved healthy ingredients to consider in developing your menu. 1. Nutritional Yeast
This deactivated yeast is sold in the form of yellow flakes or powder and can be found in most health/wellness sections of the grocery store. High in vitamin B12, it’s popular amongst vegans and vegetarians. It can be used as a healthy seasoning, and is often described as having a nutty or cheesy flavour. It’s frequently used as a seasoning on top of popcorn, salads, soups or pasta. 2. Seitan (a.k.a. wheat gluten)
The main protein part of wheat, seitan has been traditionally used in Asian vegetarian Buddhist cuisine. Affordable and high in protein, seitan is the most versatile vegan protein that can be made into “mock meat” — for example, seitan chicken strips, steaks and roasts. As the gluten part of wheat, note that it is not gluten-free. Find it in the bulk food store or health food store. 3. Kamut
An ancient grain most likely first cultivated in the Middle East, kamut is known for its rich and nutty flavour. Kamut is high in b-vitamins, protein, fibre and other minerals. Use it in place of traditional starches such as potato, rice and pasta in your recipes. 4. Sardines
Pescatarian-friendly (a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood) sardines are one of the best sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and healthy essential fats such as omega-3s. Serve them as the main protein in your dishes. 5. Watercress
One of the healthiest superfood vegetables, this water vegetable has high levels of vitamins K, A, and C in addition to other minerals. Once regarded as a weed, the Chinese utilized this plant into hot pot, soups and stir-fry dishes.
CHANGE IS SWEET: A clean perspective on alternative sweeteners When it comes to offering crave-worthy food experiences that meet restaurantgoers’ expectations for more natural and label-friendly foods, choosing the right ingredients is key. Sweeteners provide an opportunity to offer sugar alternatives, while maintaining the great taste your diners are not willing to sacrifice. Brown Rice Syrup Brown rice syrup is a label-friendly sweetener derived from rice that can be used in a variety of applications — including bakery, fruit fillings, condiments and sauces. With its mild flavour, brown rice syrup is a great alternative to conventional refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. If you’re looking to swap out one of these traditional sweeteners, the usage rate for brown rice syrup is often the same as its conventional counterpart, at a 1:1 ration — making the swap easier for chefs. Date Syrup Another sweetener making a name for itself is date syrup, which has a similar usage rate as brown rice syrup. Although date syrup has been dubbed an emerging ingredient for 2020, it has been used around the world for centuries — especially in Middle Eastern cuisine. Date syrup has a rich flavour and typically offers the same nutrient profile as the dates from which it was made. Date syrup is a great alternative sweetener that can be added to salad dressings, drizzled on plant-based oats or smoothie bowls, baked in cookies and loaves, or shaken up in artisan cocktails. The Future is Sweet With overlapping consumer trends and a seemingly endless supply of sugar substitutes, it’s an exciting time to revisit how you’re sweetening up your menu. — By Ben Carnevale, food scientist at BlendTek Ingredients Inc.
Michelle Jaelin is the Nutrition Artist, a registered dietitian who uses her art education and skills to present nutrition science in an understandable way. She’s a TV and media personality, writer at NutritionArtist.com and cultural cuisine content creator. Follow Michelle at @nutritionartist on Instagram and Twitter. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 25
THE INDOMITABLE PASSION OF RESTAURATEURS
Restaurant owners are putting everything on the line in 2020 â€“ and winning By Alex Barrotti Like so many independent restaurateurs, Jesse Roberts, the co-owner of Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap in Cranbrook, B.C., is passionate about his unique restaurant and the community it serves.
26 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
For Roberts and others in the restaurant industry, the past six months have been among the most challenging, with COVID-19 making it difficult for independent restaurants to survive. While Fire Hall has not recovered to its 2019 revenue levels, Roberts has been determined to successfully navigate a path to recovery and he is making it happen. “The important thing to do right now is to survive. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t hitting 2019 margins. Just survive and help people where you can,” Roberts says. “We treat staff like family and customers like old friends.” Roberts admits they are working harder for less and need to constantly update practices and policies in the ever-changing operational climate, but it is keeping them open and their staff employed. “We were closed for one month, operated a take-out and
delivery model for one month, and then opened as our current selves – a half- capacity, much- changed, but still the same craft beer gastropub.” Roberts says he recognized that a complete reset was required. “Our old business plan, while awesome in its day, became outdated and irrelevant overnight. After feeling picked-on for a time, we dug deep and, with excitement, built a new plan for this new world,” Roberts says. To adapt to the current business c l i m a t e , F i r e H a l l i nt r o d u c e d online ordering by deploying an app that enables customers to enter their own orders in a menu on the restaurant ’s website for curbside pickup or delivery – without the high commission fees third party delivery platforms charge. With the app, they were also able to announce the availability of ordering online through their social media channels so loyal customers were notified they could once again purchase the craft beer and food they loved. Along with phone orders, Roberts says this enabled them to stay open. Fire Hall also adopted mobile debit/credit card terminals so they could accept payments in their parking lot or at customers’ homes. To reopen their patios and dining room, Fire Hall made a number of lowtech changes for safety and social distancing. They created food and drink stands at customer dining tables so servers and customers never need to pass items directly to each other. They moved their host and payment stands, and also designated different doors for entrance and exit to better control the f low of restaurant traf f ic. Staf f members were also trained in safe cleaning practices, so no one touches dirty dishes with their bare hands. All bussing and cleaning require PPE, with masks required at
all times for all staff. As a further measure to reduce potential contamination among staff, they changed from a jack-of-all-trades manning model to staff having focused responsibilities. Even though Fire Hall is now serving on two patios and in the dining room at 50% capacity, the takeout/delivery revenue stream is still essential. “We’ve not been able to compensate for the losses experienced while closed or during takeout/delivery exclusively. But takeout has helped us bridge the gap between 2020’s half capacity and 2019’s full-scale seating. This allows for 70-80% sales, not 50%,” says Roberts. “We have also used government assistance in every way our business is eligible. From our small business perspective, the government has done a great job and had our back in this process.” Implementing these strategies for reopening has enabled Fire Hall to survive and has put them on the path to recovery. Roberts says, “We are so happy to be open and see our friends, staff, and guests again. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that our lives aren’t complete without them.” Chris Beard, the owner of 850 Degrees located in Toronto, decided not to close down completely when the pandemic hit. “Don’t get me wrong, it was terrible. It was nerve-wracking,” Chris says. “Every night I’d go to bed and I’d think to myself, am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the right thing for me, Chris Beard, and more importantly for my family? And for my co-workers, am I doing the right thing?” By changing their restaurant model from dine-in into a takeout place, and initially cutting back to just two staff and Chris, 850 Degrees has continued to serve their community the pizza and wines they love. They were www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 27
also recently able to rehire eight of the staff they had to furlough. “Obviously, we are massively down from last year, but we are doing well, and our head is above water. People in the community really appreciated the fact we stayed open, and everyone was willing to try to earn an income,” says Chris. “From day one we were wearing masks even when they are costing $65 a mask. Our staff all have face shields and we have provided a safe environment.” As the reopening phases have progressed, Chris has taken a cautious approach, installing safety and social distancing precautions for each step. To make it easier to safely and conveniently place orders for take-out, he implemented online ordering so customers could order their meals from a menu on 850 degree’s website in addition to the phone orders they were used to placing. “There is a big, beautiful ‘Online Order for Pickup’ button on our website now and we let our customers know about online ordering through
social media,” says Chris. “A lot of restaurants have made the mistake of relying too heavily on the delivery apps that are so expensive for restaurants. They end up cutting 30% into the bottom line.” Chris explains that online ordering made the operational process easy – orders came in, staf f had to tap “accept” and that was it. “It is a much faster process, easier, and ultimately cheaper. Using online ordering, we don’t have to invest in a second phone line. Two people on the phone taking orders is expensive. It’s expensive in manpower, it’s expensive in telephones, and there’s a possibility of error,” Chris explains. “When taking orders on the phone, you also might mishear someone saying pepperoni, basil, or whatever. Then the customer comes in and they are miffed because the order is wrong, and we have to fix it. With online ordering, order accuracy has
improved, speed has improved, and labour costs are reduced. It’s a nobrainer.” While 850 Degrees has never offered curbside pickup, they built wooden frame barriers for people to safely walk up to the counter. For the patios to reopen, they built wooden barriers between the tables and limit the tables available to the number that can be properly socially distanced. However, even with the patios open, 75% of the restaurant business is still take - out. With cooler and rainy weather coming, fewer people will be eating on the patio but Chris is watching how it goes day by day before deciding whether he will be opening up the inside dining room, even when the reop eni ng phase allows it, as they would have to vastly reduce the amount of space allocated to safely serve takeout customers. Chris is also offering new promotions, working in collaboration with his suppliers, which has also been an essential element of the success 850 Degrees has had surviving through the pandemic. “I’ve done more promotion in the last three months than the last six years. But they are also promotions that won’t kill you. They enable us to make some money and enable an average family to have a nice dinner at home,” says Chris. “I’ve linked into the local wineries, which are hurting as well, and take off as much of our cost as possible so we can offer promotions that include a bottle of wine. We’d all like to sell it for more, but we’re in it together and this is one way we can we help each other. This way everyone gets a little bit.” But Chris Beard is not just teaming up with his suppliers. 850 Degrees has also given away 500 hot meals to his community through the Salvation Army. TouchBistro data shows that restaurants now have an average of 25% of their orders coming from online. That is expected to grow to 40% during the winter. Every day, there are more stories of how restaurants are reimagining how to stay in business and continuing to provide the food their communities love. This indomitable passion of restaurateurs is truly awesome.
Alex Barrotti is founder and CEO of restaurant POS and payment solution TouchBistro, which has worked with over 25,000 restaurants in 100 countries.
28 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
n e v E We’ve got r e g g i b
Whether you’re building new or upgrading, we’ve increased our rebates for a limited time* on select high-efficiency equipment and products to help you lower operating costs and improve energy efficiency. It’s just one way we’re doing our part to help businesses recover from COVID-19.* That’s energy at work. For details on all our bigger rebates, visit fortisbc.com/bigger. *Increased rebates on select equipment and products are available until December 31, 2021. Full terms and conditions apply and are available on the individual program webpages accessible via fortisbc.com/bigger. FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. do business as FortisBC. The companies are indirect, wholly owned subsidiaries of Fortis Inc. FortisBC uses the FortisBC name and logo under license from Fortis Inc. (20-051.1.26 11/2020)
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NAVIGATING AI HOW TO EMBRACE NEW TECHNOLOGY
From VR training to AR menus, the strange new virtual reality we live in presents new challenges — and new opportunities — to operators and empoyees in foodservice By Doug Radkey
30 Fall Fall2020 2020 || Canadian CanadianRestaurant Restaurant&&Foodservice FoodserviceNews News
www.restobiz.ca www.restobiz.ca || Fall 2020 31
Is your brand ready? Is Canada even ready? For some people, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” One such person is entrepreneur Jose Azares, the founder of NIDUM, a Calgary-based startup on a mission to “harness the power of technology for social good.” It’s embracing virtual reality to create training modules for the local restaurant and hospitality scene and other high-turnover businesses that suffer from staffing pain points — something many of us can relate to. SOLVING A PROBLEM
It’s no secret we live and work in a technology-driven society. If you’re like me, you may even have a so-called love-hate relationship with said technology. With all of the tech surrounding us and continuously advancing in the food and beverage industry, it can be easy to get absorbed and caught up in the next “big thing” that will help you either save time, financial resources, or improve “customer service” levels as many of the products claim to do. The key is finding the right balance of technology that will immediately assist you in meeting both short-term and long-term goals. As we enter the 2020s and look upon 2020 and look upon the horizon of this new decade, I can only assume staff, guests, and operators will not only expect but demand increasingly useful technology. One piece of tech that has caught my eye and the eye of many within the industry is the use of AI in terms of virtual and augmented reality. WHAT IS IT?
What’s the difference between augmented and virtual reality? Here is a quick summary: virtual reality (VR) is an entirely digital environment, whereas augmented reality (AR) mixes the real world with digitally enhanced information or graphics. This type of technology enables an interactive experience within a real-world environment, incorporating a variety of sensory elements developed by “computer-generated information” — something that could benefit your staff, your guests, and your operations. This is where it gets exciting. Both augmented and virtual reality aren’t necessarily mainstream topics that comes up very often within the industry across Canada; however, creative uses of this technology are starting to pop up at restaurant venues of all types and sizes, all across the world. 32 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
With the recent struggles of restaurateurs, especially in the wake of COVID-19, VR training has a potential remedy for many of the issues the industry faces today. This includes more accessible and in-depth training, improved employee retention, targeted advancement of high-performing employees, and, through all of that, better margins and long-term sustainability. NIDUM, for example, is an impact HR-tech company that provides “immersive and effective VR training modules to tackle the biggest staff painpoints to minimize turnover costs.” Using virtual reality headsets, NIDUM consolidates a brand’s training modules into a visual, interactive, and inclusive employment platform that immediately makes that brand stand out from others. These VR training modules and headsets, with visuals that use 360-degree cameras within your venue, can be “prepared per role [FOH, BOH, and management] with content that is straight, concise, and very aesthetically pleasing,” Azares says. Within the front-of-house, they can provide a module on proper greetings, POS ordering, and service sequence, which are all fully customizable and scalable to your operations.
Through a methodology mindset, each role has something key that helps with onboarding new hires. For front of house, that may be showing them how to interact with the customer. For the line cook, they understand cooking is a hands-on experience, and therefore the module may be more about location: where tools, resources, and ingredients are found throughout the kitchen. Azares tested NIDUM in his own restaurant, RE:GRUB, a quick-serve burger brand with two locations in Calgary. With it, he and his team were able to reduce their staff onboarding cost from an average of $2,000 per person to an average of $1,200 per person. From “recruiting stage to sufficient proficiency level,” this $800 is savings per new hire was attributed to a virtual reality program that ensured a new hire was “40to 60-per-cent onboarded and trained” before their first full day on the job, Azares says. Furthermore, not only has the tool improved consistency in training, but it also helps free up busy managers who would otherwise be leading the sessions. In a time where labour is a number-one challenge and expense for many operators throughout the country, a program such as this could be the resolve to many of our problems.
As VR and AR equipment costs decrease, the technologies are finding more traction beyond their traditional realms of gaming and film. Even mobile phones such as the newest versions of the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel have the camera quality and processing power to enable both VR and AR. From gamified food-safety training to simulated menus, virtual reality is becoming a reality for the foodservice industry in Canada and it may be an opportune time for you and your brand to take advantage of this enormous opportunity. Imagine tasking your new hires to (virtually) place vegetables and raw meats on the correct shelf in the kitchen in order to ensure consistency in Canadian food-safety practices. Or how about hiring cooks who can first “virtually develop” and be tested on each dish, or bartenders who can first make signature cocktails, in real-time and in a three-dimensional “world” all
www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 33
without using any real ingredients, ultimately reducing your F&B training costs and waste? Let’s look at your training manuals. The current process of developing printed training materials can not only be costly, but also vary in quality. Does each hire read and retain all of that reading material? The likely answer is no. People retain information much better if they’re able to engage and interact with it in a meaningful way. The generations entering the workforce today have grown up with video, gaming, and technology. More and more, we learn by doing rather than reading. This technology can create a detailed visual world for your team to safely interact with their soon-to-be everyday job surroundings, positioning them to mentally and physically learn the tasks required. Within their virtual world, there could be important touchpoints about fire safety as they “walk” past the fire extinguishers, fire exits, and exhaust hood system. It could have important information about each piece of equipment as they “stand” in front of it. This could all be done without necessarily disrupting your operations while reducing the repetitive nature of certain on-site training aspects. It could also provide an audit and scoring process to ensure your new hires are completing each task appropriately and correctly. The creative training potential here is endless. TESTING YOUR FOOTPRINT
According to Oracle Hospitality’s Restaurant 2025 report, 53 per cent of restaurant operators say design/flow optimization via VR and AR will be mainstream or in mass adoption by 2025. The power of this technology will allow you to perfect the floor plan by testing your kitchens layout, your bartender stations, and your service flow, whether you’re planning a small remodel project or an entirely new venue. You could literally — well, virtually — walk through and make sure shelving is at the right height, that your bar stations are the most optimal setup, that items are within the right pivot movement,
and that there isn’t the potential for congested related accidents long before they happen. Fixing a faulty design after the fact means lost revenue, increased construction costs, and a whole lot of stress. This type of technology has the potential to save thousands of wasted dollars from the incorrect purchase, sizing, or placement of equipment within any bar, restaurant, or foodservice space. When sourcing your next architect, interior designer, and engineering firm for permit drawings, ask if they can provide you with a virtual tour to fully test your footprint before you sign off on it. YOU HAVE THEIR ATTENTION
Because dining out is such a sensory experience, it makes sense that people would start to experiment with how virtual reality can be used in a restaurant setting. “Experiential experiences” have fundamentally changed the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality business. Also known as experiential or engagement marketing, it’s a way for restaurant brands to create strategy and opportunity that invite an audience to interact with the business in a “real-world” situation. Guests are increasingly interacting with their mobile devices — therefore, it is only natural that you will want to leverage mobile technology to enhance the experience they have. With augmented reality, for example, you could partner with your vendors to complement the taste of their product through education on flavour profiles and their appropriate pairings. For example, you could use AR to educate drinkers on the origins, ABV, category and taste of each beer available on your menu. You could take it a step further and introduce virtual reality, where guests put on a headset and take a tour of the distillery, winery, or brewery while they’re waiting on their beverage to be prepared. The same can be said for your food menu. When a mobile phone is presented over your menu in camera mode, the menu could literally come alive on their screen. A multimedia menu allows your guests to see ingredients, allergy information, and nutritional information for any menu item in a three-dimensional format. Your
CANADIAN BARBECUE STARTS HERE
888-887-9923 | kendale.ca chef or mixologist could pop up and explain the dish and the optimal pairing options. This type of technology, strategy, and experience can bridge this gap between guest, product, and product content. The ability to overlay additional information, visual stimulations, and guest interaction on top of specific items gives you and your vendors the chance to combine the digital world with the physical one in a targeted and seamless way — ultimately leading to an increase in sales through experiential experiences. THE BOTTOM LINE
Although this technology often brings an immediate level of skepticism (yes, I used to be one of them), the results are proving otherwise. The selling point here is simple: focused information and engagement that comes with realism. According to Statista, the global augmented reality market will grow significantly to about US$198 billion by 2025. With popular brands such as Apple and Google starting to support web-based AR experiences, the development costs for operators are going down every year which will help the augmented-reality market become more mainstream. Providing the notoriously tight-margined food and beverage industry with innovations that promise a little financial freedom, improved employee retention, quality peace of mind, and experiential marketing opportunities are always welcome. Right now, virtual reality is poised to provide exactly that to the restaurant industry. What’s remarkable about this technology is that currently available applications exist to improve everything from strategic planning to employee training to customer dining experiences. It’s already here and it’s only going to get bigger and better; you just need to start embracing it. Doug Radkey is the president of KRG Hospitality Inc., the author of the book Bar Hacks, and an international keynote speaker on all things restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels. Being in the hospitality industry for over 20 years has allowed him to become a leading voice in the development of detailed feasibility studies, award-winning concepts, strategic business plans, unique menus, memorable guest experiences, and financial management systems. Follow Doug on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or visit krghospitality.com www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 35
THE RISE OF GHOST KITCHENS IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on through 2020, there's a growing trend in the restaurant world: ghost kitchens By John Kelly
36 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
This model, and the closely-related “virtual concept” model, are based on setting up food preparation facilities focused exclusively on online delivery and takeout orders. (The term “virtual concept” specifically refers to models using a restaurant’s existing facilities; ghost kitchens operate out of rented facilities.) For restaurant owners and managers, it’s easy to see the appeal of ghost kitchens. Opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant involves massive up-front risks and costs: typically, an operator has to sign a multi-year lease, hire full frontand back-of-house teams, and invest in additional construction or remodelling. Ghost kitchens, on the other hand, reduce the costs of real estate, labour, and menu innovation by shifting resources to focus exclusively on offpremise sales channels. Furthermore, the ghost kitchen model obviates the need for customer-facing staff such as servers, expeditors, bussers, etc. In essence, ghost kitchens strip food preparation down to its leanest, most necessary elements. Of course, there are drawbacks to the model as well. Restaurants lose the opportunity to make a lasting impression on guests by “wowing” them with an incredible dinein experience. They also lose the ability to upsell on items like alcohol, appetizers, and desserts. And they cannot offer guests the full benefits of the dine-in experience — engaging with personable waitstaff, eating a good meal with proper accoutrements, and, of course, not having to do the dishes at the end. Ross Resnick is CEO of Roaming Hunger, an online catering platform with over 18,000 food truck vendor partners. He sees the explosive growth of ghost kitchens as part of a larger movement in foodservice. “We strongly believe that there is an alignment with the macrotrend in off-premise dining growth, food mobility, and the idea of ghost kitchen space,” Resnick says. “We see food mobility as a cornerstone of essential restaurant infrastructure.” There have already been a number of success stories about brands that have implemented the ghost kitchen model. One such example is craft-casual hot dog and sausage concept Dog Haus, which has seen tremendous results over the past several months. “We added ghost kitchens as an option for new and existing franchisees.
Now more than ever, the trend towards off-site dining experiences via delivery and pickup is changing the entire restaurant industry,” explains Dog Haus co-founder Hagop Giragossian. “The current crisis has made third-party delivery a crucial component to the restaurant business, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to allow people to experience our food and brand.” The Dog Haus team was well ahead of the ghost kitchen curve — the brand actually opened their first facility prepandemic, in the spring of 2019. But they began partnering with commercial kitchen brokers such as Kitchen United and CloudKitchens this year to rapidly expand their presence in the space. “With COVID-19, our timeline has accelerated,” Giragossian says. “We’re working hard to open as many ghost kitchens as possible in the coming months.” The Southern Californiabased restaurant chain currently operates from six ghost kitchen facilities: one in Pasadena, two in Los Angeles, one in Austin, and two in Chicago. But Dog Haus did more than simply expand its ghost kitchen operations—they also developed a roster of sister brands to better meet the needs of the growing offpremise dining market. “Earlier this year, we launched The Absolute Brands, a restaurant group comprised of Dog Haus and additional unique brands,” says Giragossian. “Each new brand offers delicious new items that are offshoots of Dog Haus’ signature menu.” Giragossian says that the Absolute Brands concepts have proven to be so popular, they gave their franchisees the option to run them out of their brickand-mortar locations as well. “Most took the opportunity and are now seeing outstanding results,” he says. “The Absolute Brands have been an amazing resource during this difficult time. We’re seeing franchisees make recordbreaking sales — even compared to before COVID-19.”
It’s clear that consumers are responding to The Absolute Brands in a major way. “Customers are big fans of the ghost kitchen setup,” Giragossian tells us. “Delivery and pickup are booming right now, and with the ghost kitchen model, it’s even easier for our customers to get their favourites delivered right to their door.” Speaking to ongoing consumer concerns about the pandemic, Giragossian explains that “convenience and safety are key right now, and will certainly remain top priorities for months or even years to come. Ghost kitchens are a great resource for nailing both of those aspects.” Although Dog Haus has seen excellent results, ghost kitchens may not be for everyone. “For a restaurant to succeed in a virtual kitchen, it needs to ensure that it’s prepared for delivery and has established strong partnerships with thirdparty delivery providers,” Giragossian stresses. He also says restaurants operating ghost kitchens should be ready to reach audiences through nontraditional marketing channels, particularly digital and social. “Restaurants with a limited digital presence may not be a fit. It’s also essential to ensure that the demand and brand recognition is there for expansion and delivery through an off-site location.” Despite these challenges, it seems clear that the ghost kitchen model is not an ephemeral phantasm. Although dinein service will never go away, ghost kitchens represent a new and innovative means for brands to get their offerings in front of a wider audience. “Takeout and delivery are a great way to enjoy your favourite restaurants wherever you may be,” says Giragossian. “Restaurant brands are absolutely exploring every way possible of getting their food into their consumer’s hands, and this will lead to great success for ghost kitchens.”
John Kelly is CEO of walk-through marketing company Zenreach, which works with restaurateurs including leaders in the virtual kitchen space. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 37
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THE CULINARY FEDERATION’S
À LA MINUTE THE CF WOULD LIKE TO THANK AND RECOGNIZE OUR 2020 NATIONAL PARTNERS PLATINUM
CORPORATE PARTNERS Total Focus Logo Versions Two Colour Version PMS Colours Blue: Pantone 294 Gold: Pantone 116 Generally for use on letterhead and business cards
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NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS | YOUNG CHEF SPOTLIGHTS Reverse Version
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WHY BECOME A MEMBER Join our mission to embrace the future of the food industry while honouring culinary tradition. THE CULINARY FEDERATION gives professional chefs and cooks from across Canada an opportunity to connect locally, nationally, and internationally with culinary peers – to network and learn from each other, give back to the local community, and mentor up-and-coming industry professionals. Founded in 1963, the Culinary Federation is a Canadian association of professional chefs and cooks with more than 1,000 active members and 22 local branches across Canada. We are a culinary community looking for connections, civic and charitable involvement, and opportunities to learn about innovative products and services that will benefit our careers and our culinary skills development. Member chefs, with a combined purchasing power in excess of $100 million annually, come from diverse industry verticals including multi-unit chains, independent operators, international hotel groups, institutional and educational facilities (professors and students), food manufacturers, and food distributors.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP INCLUDE: • Local connections and networking through monthly or bimonthly branch events (virtual and face-to-face) • Opportunities to participate in culinary challenges (local, national, and international), community events, and skills and product knowledge education • Chef certification programs through the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS) and The Canadian Culinary Institute (CCI) • Free online access to business and personal skills development education modules
• Customized programs and offers from our national partner community, including: o Entegra Procurement Services o FoodGrads (Young Chef job portal and information hub) o Dine Aware (food allergy training) o TrainCan (food safety training) o Valuable members-only offers and discounts o Home, auto, health, dental and travel insurance benefits o Accidental death and dismemberment benefit (up to $4,000 per member) o Live Video Networking Generating New Revenue Stream for Members through Foodiez.Live o Community engagement with FoodRescue.ca, Meal Share and In the Weeds
• Culinary skills training through www.rouxbe.com • Mentorship, career development, and opportunities for advancement • Subscription to the quarterly Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News magazine • Involvement in Regional and National Conferences (customized education, networking, local culinary community events)
For more information and to join, visit www.culinaryfederation.ca
CULINARY FEDERATION ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS At the Annual General Meeting held virtually on May 30, 2020, the Culinary Federation confirmed the following:
NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
YOUNG CHEF BOARD REPRESENTATIVES (APPOINTED)
Ryan Marquis, President
Adelina Sisti-DeBlasis, Central Region
Vacant, Eastern Region
(June 2020 to May 2023) – NEW
Vice President, (June 2020 to May 2022) – NEW
Peter Keith, Secretary
Irwin MacKinnon, Eastern Region
(June 2020 to May 2022) – NEW
Vice President, (June 2019 to May 2021)
Andrea Robichaud, Western Region
Mark Davie, Treasurer
Steven Benns, Chair CCI
(June 2019 to May 2021)
(Canadian Culinary Institute),
INDEPENDENT BOARD ADVISORS
Jeremy Luypen, Western Region
Rebecca van Bommel, Central Region
Steve Harding, past director of marketing, Sysco Canada
(June 2020 to May 2022) – NEW
Vice President, (June 2019 to May 2021)
Glenda Taylor, past director foodservice and trade marketing, Saputo Dairy Products Canada G.P.
MEET THE BOARD Get to know these new board members, what they've been up to during COVID-19, and their plans for their term.
CHEF RYAN MARQUIS – PRESIDENT Saskatoon 2021: Conference 2021: We are working on adapting to regional conferences for 2021 (including a hybrid technology platform) so that members and partners who want to gather can do so safely and we can still provide ALL members with education and networking opportunities
PETER PIC CARE OF EDMONTON CONVENTION CENTRE
Keeping busy: [During COVID-19] I have been taking advantage of our new educational platform to brush up on different skills. Another big thing is that I've spent more time with my family.
CHEF PETER KEITH – SECRETARY Looking ahead: COVID has forced us to rethink how we are delivering our services, especially on the digital side. It has posed some challenges, such as for our in-person conference. But I think overall strategic changes will come out of this, too. Words of wisdom: My advice during these times would be to focus on what you can control – the aspects of your life, your workplace, your team – and try to envision what you would like to happen and then put those actions in motion.
CHEF ADELINA SISTI-DEBLASIS – CENTRAL REGION VICE PRESIDENT Keep calm and cook on: Mental health is so important. I hope our industry colleagues don't suffer in silence and know that there are resources where they can talk to someone – or at minimum that they know they can talk to me. COVID-19 hobbies: Not baking artisan breads! I tease because I'm a proficient baker and we chuckle when my fellow baking teachers and I see all the sourdough starters posted on social media.
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Unfortunately, just like so many people and businesses in 2020, CRFN and the Culinary Federation have been set back by COVID19. Several events and steps forward have had to be postponed, including the publication of this magazine. Here, though, we catch up with what the Culinary Federation was up to prior to the progression of the pandemic, as well as some of the exciting steps they have taken in recent months. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 41
AN OLYMPIAN EFFORT Cheers to Canada’s national and regional IKA 2020 Culinary Olympic teams!
CONGRATULATIONS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER to the Canadian teams who competed in the 2020 IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany. Thanks to their Olympian efforts, Canada retains its international reputation as a culinary leader, bringing home numerous medals. The event was also the last time many team members were able to see each other prior to the COVID19 pandemic. Held every four years, the IKA Culinary Olympics is the oldest, largest and most diverse culinary competition in the world. Canada competed against 32 other national teams, with around 60 countries represented and 6,000 entries across all categories.
YOUTH CULINARY TEAM CANADA: 2 gold, 4th overall NATIONAL CULINARY TEAM CANADA: 2 silver, 8th overall CULINARY TEAM BC: 1 silver CULINARY TEAM NAIT: 1 bronze AGRICULTURE CULINARY TEAM MANITOBA: 1 silver TINA TANG, CF OKANAGAN, INDIVIDUAL EXHIBITOR PASTRY ART: 1 bronze
42 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
Canada had five teams and two individual competitors in attendance for the 2020 Olympics, which took place on Feb. 14-19. Competing chefs take part on a voluntary basis – which is q u i te t h e co m m i t m e n t , co n s i d e r i n g m o s t te a m s b e g i n preparations for the event at least two years in advance. In a country as geographically large as Canada, this poses a unique challenge for the national teams, which are comprised of chefs from almost every province. That effor t more than paid off, however, with Canada preserving its international reputation as a culinary powerhouse with the following final standings:
GOING FOR THE GOLD Edmonton’s High School Culinary Challenge celebrates student chefs THE EXCITEMENT IS HEATING up after an intense kitchen battle, and a new team is on top of the culinary podium for the 13th Annual High School Culinary Challenge. A spectacular awards dinner was held at the Edmonton Convention Centre on March 9 to recognize the success of over 50 local students. Teams from St Joseph’s Catholic High School, M.E. Lazerte, and Archbishop Jordan finished first, second, and third, respectively. Nineteen teams from regional high schools competed for gold by preparing a three-course meal at the NAIT kitchens in a thrilling competition on Feb. 22. This project was launched by the Canadian Culinary Federation – Edmonton Branch in collaboration with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and the local school districts. The competition is designed to engage and introduce high school students to the exciting possibilities of a career in the culinary arts. Chefs from the Edmonton area also visit high schools to provide mentorship and coaching to teachers and students. A number of competitors have gone on to participate in the Skills Canada Alberta regional and provincial competitions. All the competing students are honoured each year, and multiple full-ride scholarships are awarded annually to grade 12 students for the cook apprenticeship program. Learn more about the program at highschoolculinarychallenge.ca.
A NEW CHAPTER FOR THE LONDON BRANCH Fuelled by the city’s vibrant food scene, the Culinary Federation is back by popular demand By Bryan Lavery, Lavery Culinary Group, London
A GROUP OF DEDICATED chefs and supporters from diverse foodservice backgrounds have come together to reform the London, Ont., branch of the Culinary Federation. Spearheaded by David Franklin, Central Region VP and corporate chef for Sysco Southwestern Ontario, the first meeting was held at the Four Points by Sheraton on Jan. 27, 2020, attended by 25 participants. In a time of gastronomic revival and transformation for the industry as a whole, the chef shortage is exacerbated by a lack of professionally trained personnel. London has a large population of esteemed chefs and culinary educators, a thriving foodservice sector, and a dynamic entrepreneurial culinary and restaurant scene. As a result, the demand for more highly trained chefs and other culinary professionals is stronger than ever. Hosted by Chef Mike Pitre, Four Points executive chef and a long-time Culinary Federation member, the first meeting aimed to evaluate interest in relaunching a local branch to support fellow culinary professionals. As Chef Franklin pointed out, “This isn't the same organization that you may remember or perhaps have been involved with in the past.” There have been many changes in recognizing the evolving roles of culinary professionals in the kitchen and as educators. Franklin spoke about promoting a better mental-health culture and a dedicated focus on inclusivity, work-life balance, as well as support for education about depression and substance abuse in the workplace. The new branch will provide opportunities to get involved in community events, network and learn more about professional certifications, skills development and culinary challenges for aspiring and professional chefs. Members are connected to other Culinary Federation branches in Canada, as well as countries supporting the World Association of Chef Societies. Franklin concluded, “In short, we’ve had a fabulous response in London and are moving forward!” For more information about the London branch relaunch, contact Chef David Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 416-226-7065. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 43
A NIGHT AT THE MARRIOTT CF Toronto brewed a delicious evening of cocktails and culinary excellence at a face-to-face event prior to the pandemic THE CULINARY FEDER ATION – Toronto Branch held a fun and interactive pre-COVID-19 event at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, hosted by director of operations Michael Jensen and his amazing team. There was a beer tasting bar provided by Railway City Brewing Co. The creative juices really started flowing during a friendly cocktail competition, with product donated by Dixon’s Distilled Spirits and juices, fruits and garnishes provided by Marriott, with a buffet dinner to follow. CF Toronto thanks the Marriott Hotel for such a fabulous evening!
YOUNG CHEF SPOTLIGHT: FRANCESCA AGATEP
This rising star in Manitoba’s culinary community had been preparing food for years for family and friends before realizing it could be a viable career WHY BECOME A MEMBER of the Culinary Federation? There are many reasons, not least of which is it provides a path to culinary excellence on the world stage. This past February, in Stuttgart, Germany, Manitoban chefs including J.D. Braid and Chinnie Ramos put their skills against the best in the world at the IKA Culinary Olympics. But how do you get there? The journey starts as a CF Young Chef member. Francesca Agatep is one such Young Chef. Just a few years ago, she was a regular high-school grad going the university route. But it wasn’t until she took a kitchen job that something clicked. Following the advice of teachers and the CF Winnipeg Branch, she enrolled in the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Red River College. Fast forward two years and Francesca has been hard at work forging a name for herself in the culinary community. She has received four scholarships at Red River College, including the Canadian Culinary Federation Award, and several high-profile competitions. Although events are currently on hold, she plans to compete in the Manitoba Skills Competition and the Chef's Hat Young Chefs Challenge at the next CF National Conference. What else is in store for this recent grad? She says she’s going to keep honing her skills at local eateries Binkys Bakery and Segvia Tapas Bar. She also volunteers 44 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
with Manilla Nights, a series of pop-up restaurants celebrating Filipino cuisine. In the future, she plans to travel while pursuing an interest in Italian cuisine. For now, she seems to have her hands full getting ready to take on the world as a young chef.
PIVOTING TO THE PEOPLE By Chef Kim Sutherland, CF London Branch
TIME – SO MUCH TIME I never had, so much time I never took. And now, after 22 years in a kitchen, I am tapping out. Most restaurants are pivoting their foodservice lines or moving from dine-in to takeout. I, on the other hand, am pivoting my passion – well, kind of. I am turning my attention to the people. I created Walk-In Sessions after I realized a large part of my day was spent counselling staff on their challenges, conflicts, and personal development. For many years I didn’t have a door to my office, so we would meet in the kitchen walk-in to talk things out. I slowly began to realize a shift in the teams – I saw better productivity, consistent attendance, lower turnover rate, and far less drama. Just like deciding what ingredients to use in a soup or what garnish to enhance the final plate, I realized how I showed up as a leader or mentor could make that “dish” taste even better.
SHOWING SUPPORT FOR WINDSOR’S FRONTLINE WORKERS
During my 15 years as a corporate chef, I was gifted with the opportunity to participate in various leadership training programs and coaching courses, and I also pursued my own yoga teacher training. All of this, combined with a passion to help people discover their greatest potential and a belief that the kitchen truly is a safe space, emulsified into the Walk-In Sessions – a training guide for kneading together a mindful brigade and a more conscious kitchen. As an industry, we can’t go back to the old way of thinking. This pandemic has happened for us, not to us. Now is the time to make the change! Meet me in the Walk-In and we will fill the menu with respect, kindness, hard work, and grace as we create an industry that has a future. Cheers! Chef Kim Sutherland can be reached at email@example.com. For more information regarding Chef Kim’s Walk-In Sessions, visit her dedicated Facebook page at facebook.com/walkinsessions
LENDING A HELPING HAND IN OAKVILLE
THERE WERE smiles for miles behind these masks! CF Windsor was happy to be back in the kitchen making energy bars for frontline workers with the help of Essex Golf & Country Club. A big thanks also goes out to Sysco Canada for the donation of ingredients!
A GLOBAL CRISIS DID not stop CF Oakville branch members from seeking out ways to help people in need. Through a mutual connection, the branch learned about the Reena Foundation, a non-profit organization which promotes dignity, individuality, independence, personal growth, and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. Many of their frontline personal support workers were either infected or exposed to COVID-19 and had to self-isolate at a Best Western hotel, away from their families and the comforts of home. Over the course of several weeks, CF Oakville’s member volunteers, along with other partners, rallied together at C.W. Shasky to prepare grocery hampers, hot meals, snacks, and beverages to deliver to the workers. Thanks to CF Oakville members and all of the wonderful partners who donated their products and time to this effort! www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 45
YFC LONDON RAMPS UP COMMUNITY EFFORTS YFC LONDON IS AN ORGANIZATION that works with youth aged 10 to 18 and their families who are encountering barriers to necessities such as healthy food sources. When the pandemic hit, YFC had to change the way they delivered their services, as they could no longer meet and gather in groups or feed others through their cafeteria and other outlets. Instead, they began delivering meals to around 180 families every night and transitioned their 18,000-square-foot facility into a food procurement operation that could help more people in crisis. The newly formed Culinary Federation London Branch made contact with the Deputy Mayorâ€™s task force to help meet the food crisis, and Jason Miller and David Franklin answered their need by providing an additional eight chefs; other sources of food were also provided through donations from local farmers and other broadline distribution sources. In addition to the original 180 families receiving meals, food boxes were provided to over 350 families through two resource centres, and their next goal is to aid farmers in getting fresh produce to families in need. During the pandemic, a space within the London facility had been renovated to include a brand-new walk-in fridge and freezer. There are also plans to add a dedicated production and processing area separate from the cafĂŠ. The local Culinary Federation Branch and YFC London are looking forward to a long relationship in helping others.
A LETTER FROM OUR SASKATOON BRANCH PRESIDENT
DEAR CHEFS, FRIENDS, AND COLLEAGUES, As I write and reflect on our Saskatoon 2020 conference, I am reminded of many things. I am grateful for the life and opportunities this industry has given me. I have travelled and worked in some incredible places, and have met so many amazing people. Having made Saskatoon my home since 2007 after taking on the role of Chef at The Saskatoon Club, I realized this was going to be a long-term change. This is when I became much more involved with the federation than I ever had in the past. The relationships I have built these last thirteen years have helped shape my career path. While there have been highs and lows on the journey, I would not change anything that has brought me to where I am today. I am deeply saddened that we were not able to gather together for the National Conference in 2020, but I am thankful for my health and wellbeing, and I wish that for each and every one of you and your loved ones. I am optimistic that we will host the Culinary Federation community in Saskatoon in the future, and really look forward to sharing with you some of the great things this city and province has to offer, and what makes it so special to me. Until we meet again. In health and happiness, Anthony McCarthy
46 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
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HOW WINNIPEG’S WINNIPEG’S JESSE JESSE FRIESEN FRIESEN IS IS TAKING TAKING HOW CANADA’S CULINARY CULINARY COMPETITIONS COMPETITIONS BY BY STORM STORM CANADA’S
hef Jesse Friesen still finds time to compete in Canada’s culinary competitions despite his busy schedule. A born and raised Winnipeg native, Friesen graduated with honours from Red River College’s Culinary Arts program before spending nearly six years behind the line of D.T Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Having since become Executive Chef of both Pizzeria Gusto and The Merchant Kitchen, Friesen is also a fixture at the Canadian Culinary Championships and Gold Medal Plates. Since 2015, Chef Friesen has taken home silver, and gold, medals at Gold Medal Plates and made appearances at events like the IKA Culinary Olympics; but he wasn’t always a born competitor. “When I was an apprentice, I never actually saw a point of competing. My mentor, John Feliciano, told me that it’s not only to challenge yourself. It’s more for networking, showcasing your skills,
PIRI PIRI FRIED CHICKEN SALAD INGREDIENTS Piri Piri Oil 1/2 cup Club House Piri Piri Seasoning 1 cup canola oil Roasted Red Pepper Dressing 2 red peppers, roasted 1 garlic clove, sliced 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup cider vinegar 2 tbsp Billy Bee Liquid White Honey 1 tsp Club House Cumin, Ground 1 tbsp white sugar 1 tbsp Club House Sea Salt, French Mediterranean 1 cup canola oil Chicken Brine 4 cups water 1/2 cup soy sauce 1 each garlic clove 1 cup Club House Sea Salt, French Mediterranean 1/2 cup white sugar 1 jalapeno pepper Piri Piri Fried Chicken 4 each chicken thighs, boneless and brined 4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup Cornmeal 1 tbsp Club House Cumin, Ground 1 tbsp Club House Piri Piri Seasoning 1 tsp Club House Sea Salt, French Mediterranean 1 tsp Club House Pepper, Black Ground 2 cups buttermilk 4 L canola oil 1/2 cup Piri Piri oil Salad 4 each Piri Piri Fried Chicken 2 heads butterleaf lettuce 1 cup chickpeas, cooked 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled 1 avocado, sliced 1 jalapeno, diced 1/2 cup red onion, pickled 1/2 cup cilantro, sprigs 1/2 cup roasted red pepper dressing 4 lime wedges *Reg. TM/MD McCormick Canada, Used Under Licence.
INSTRUCTIONS Chicken Brine: Combine all ingredients into a pot and simmer. Strain the liquid and chill. Once chilled, add the chicken and refrigerate 2 hours. Piri Piri Oil: Combine Club House Piri Piri Seasoning and oil together in a mixing bowl, mixing well. Roasted Red Pepper Dressing: Add roasted red peppers, garlic, cilantro, Billy Bee Honey, Club House Cumin, Club House Sea Salt, sugar and cider vinegar to a blender. Puree until smooth. While running the blender, very slowly add the canola oil to emulsify. Piri Piri Fried Chicken: Heat oil in a heavy pot to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken from brine, and cut into strips. Combine the flour, cornmeal, Club House Cumin, Club House Piri Piri Seasoning, Club House Sea Salt, and Club House Black Pepper, in a bowl and mix. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl, and ready a clean pan. In an assembly line, dredge, shaking off excess, before coating the chicken completely in the buttermilk and dredging again, this time pressing firmly. Storing chicken in the clean pan, repeat until all chicken is dredged. Fry the chicken approximately 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Lightly brush the piri piri oil onto the chicken while it is still hot. The fried chicken will become red and vibrant with a lovely spicy aroma. To serve: Hand tear the butterleaf lettuce and portion among 4 bowls. Lightly drizzle the roasted red pepper dressing on the lettuce. Top the lettuce with chickpeas, queso fresco, pickled red onion, avocado and cilantro sprigs. Place the piri piri fried chicken beside the salad, finishing with a lime wedge.
learning, and then hopefully sucking up some glory at the end of the day.” “Work comes first, of course, but planning to get to a competition, especially one out of town, is like a second job. There’s a lot of practicing, tasting, inviting people to come to try your dishes… There’s a lot of extra work and late nights that are required in the preparation process.” Chef Friesen hopes that his dishes, restaurants, and accolades will inspire the community in Winnipeg to push the envelope and to try new things. “Winnipeg’s food scene is vibrant. The sense of community behind it, plus the people who put the work into the food and drinks, is a big deal. I feel like Winnipeg is moving forward with more people not only coming and eating food but also getting to know who prepared it.” We asked Chef Friesen to inspire us, and he shared his Piri Piri Fried Chicken Salad recipe, developed for Club House for Chefs.
Snacking and other in-between meal occasions are on the rise, especially with new tech-driven trends By Asad Amin
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We are a nation of grazers. We’ve written before about the growing importance of snacking as an everyday behaviour in all Canadian households; this trend has only continued, aided in part by technological innovations. But before we delve deeper, let’s recap some key points gleaned from the Ipsos Food a nd B everage Group’s prev ious takeaways. Snacking is an obvious area of opportunity in foodservice, considering its outsize role in the home. Reported snack occasions across all venues, in-home and out-of-home, currently account for more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of all consumption occasions. That’s twice the size of traditional meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Notable is that snacking habits in foodservice remain relatively under-
developed, accounting for just a third (32 per cent) of foodservice occasions. This rings especially true when considering that snacks are outpacing regular meal occasions in dollar growth, representing more t ha n $12 .6 - bi l l ion of t he foodservice sector in 2019. Snacking is most prominent in the QSR channel, driving over a third of QSR traffic, compared with 10 per cent
Snacking is an obvious area of opportunity in foodservice, considering its outsize role in the home.
50 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
of FSR traffic. The afternoon represents the largest snacking daypart, but morning snacking has gained the most in traf f ic versus other dayparts. Morning snacking motivation is more related to health and fuelling up for the day, while evening is reserved for more indulgent snacks. The future of evening snacking could also be quite lucrative, given the explosive growth of foodservice delivery services on offer, as well as with the legalization of cannabis, which we’ll touch on later. It is vital that foodservice operators and manufacturers work toward building and retaining brand loyalty with their customers and consumers at a young age. As a point of reference, in foodservice, the sweet spot for snacking is among millennials and Gen Z teens, close to half of whom account for all snacking occasions. While most consumers are traditionalists, what is evident is that the younger, under-40 cohort clearly is over-developed in consumption of smaller, more frequent meals. Occasionagnostic, or “anytime,” offerings appeal to the millennial and Gen Z cohorts, the former of which continues to drive the highest traffic growth. Repositioning a current product or innovation as occasion-agnostic is a first step toward a return on investment. Also, consider beverage offerings, portable packaging, daypart needs, and that the average eater cheque for a snack-based occasion is close to $5 (about half the industry average for traditional meals). Our data shows that snacking purchases in the foodservice channel are more impulsive than planned. This
presents a sizeable opportunity to drive awareness of snacking products that are tailored to the needs of consumers, including by daypart. IMPACT OF DELIVERY
Delivery and mobile ordering continue to display strong signs of growth across the sector, primarily driven by younger cohorts. So, it seems logical that snacking occasions would naturally be higher in these channels. However, on a high level, this doesn’t seem to be the case: there’s no indication that snacking occasions are more developed in the delivery channel across total foodservice, which could be attributed to additional fees involved in the channel. Consumers could be focused on big-ticket meals as opposed to smaller ones when using delivery services. Case in point: dinner is one of the most developed delivery occasions. In contrast, drive thru and takeout channels are clearly overdeveloped for snacks, generating 38 per cent of traffic. There is one cohort that is taking advantage of delivery when it comes to snacking: cannabis users. We observed through the Foodservice Monitor that 1 in 10 cannabis users opt for delivery – more than three times as much as noncannabis users. This is even more pronounced during snacking occasions. And we know that evening is prime time for the munchies, where cannabis consumption is most developed. ERA OF MICROMARKETS
Another area of growth in our slowing industry is in retail, which grew double digits last year. While home meal replacements are driving much of the growth, the opportunity for snacking lies specifically in the convenience, gas and vending-machine channels. The appeal and nature of these retail options are primarily driven by one key driver: convenience. Hence, we are starting to see the growth and appeal of a relatively new channel within this space, called
micromarkets or unattended retail. These are a hybrid of vending machines and convenience stores that optimize the grab-and-go experience. METHODOLOGY
These findings are sourced from two studies within the Ipsos Food and Beverage Group. The primary source was The Ipsos Foodservice Monitor ( F SM ) c onsu mpt ion t r acker ; a continuous diary that tracks what Canadians ate and drank yesterday at any foodservice establishment. For the
survey, a sample of 36,500 Canadians are interviewed online annually using a 15 - m i nut e d e v i c e a g n o s t i c questionnaire. The study reports on industry size and channels, visit details, party dynamics, menu choice, visit motivations and demographics, among many other metrics. Data was also sourced from the FIVE consumption study, which captures consumption across all venues, including in-home. FIVE is also an online tracker in field every day of the year with an annual sample size of 20,000 individuals.
Asad Amin is a vice-president with Ipsos and leads the firm’s Foodservice Monitor (FSM) and FIVE studies as part of the Ipsos Food and Beverage Group. The Group employs 13 full time researchers. Based in Toronto, Asad leads the team of research experts dedicated to serving the market research needs of the food and beverage industry across Canada. Asad can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-292-1748. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 51
A R E L I A BL E FAMILY
TASTE THE INN VATION C LEAN LABEL | GLUTEN FREE | IN STANT
FINANCING THE FUTURE
Alternative lenders offer a viable route for foodservice operators to get the equipment they need without crippling cash flow
The old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what about when it is, in fact, broke? Foodservice equipment can be prohibitively expensive. From maintaining current facilities to purchasing new appliances, keeping a kitchen running in top-notch shape is a costly business. Operators dealing with already-tight margins may not have the cash on hand to fix or upgrade insufficient appliances. At the same time, many operators are also leery of debt financing and the prospect of paying back a loan with interest. But the truth is, it’s a viable route for many businesses to get the equipment they need without crippling cash flow – and it’s catching on. Financing of foodservice businesses by non-bank, alternative lenders has been exploding, and it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight. While growth and expansion in the foodservice industry over the past decade has soldiered on at a relatively steady 1 to 3 per cent, financing as a means to pay for that growth, especially by non-traditional lenders, has taken off. Some non-bank lenders have been seeing double- and even triple-digit growth over the same time period. That shift is being driven by a many reasons – but mostly, it’s an option that just makes a lot of sense, especially for smaller operations. One such operation is Rosso Pizzeria in Edmonton. Business has been growing, and in fall 2019, operator. operator David Manna decided it was time to open a second location. But Manna needed help with the startup
costs and wanted to take advantage of the benefits of equipment financing. “I thought it would be easy. I’d been dealing with the same branch my whole life, so when I walked into the bank, I figured the manager would be able to help me out,” Manna says. “I was wrong. I really got the feeling mine wasn’t the kind of business they were interested in working with.” Uncertain about where to turn, Manna asked his local equipment dealer what to do. They directed him to a company called Econolease. “It was a completely different vibe from the bank,” he recalls. “They understood what I was trying to do. The person I spoke with said this is what they specialize in.” Econolease is one of a handful of alternative lenders that has targeted the foodservice industry. It offers equipment leasing, rentals programs, and working capital loans – products that have been specifically developed for the foodservice industry. “The foodservice industry is an amazing marketplace. It just operates with different performance metrics than other conventional businesses,” says Econolease CEO Michael Yablon. “It’s why it’s often difficult for banks to get it. We saw that as a market opportunity.” Started in 2005, Econolease is Canada’s largest non-bank provider of foodservice financing. Each year, they work with thousands of operators, both independent and franchise. “The demand has been incredible,” Yablon says. “We keep adding staff and
systems to our business. Every day, it’s about working on making it easier for customers to do business with us. That’s really where we differ from the banks.” Alternative lenders have been years ahead of banks in terms of offering new products and services to their customers. They were the first to deploy digital-contract services like DocuSign, easing a common customer pain point. Autoscoring and pricing systems let customers get instantaneous credit decisions; new software platforms allow customers to apply online and interact with their lenders in real time. “I applied online,” Manna says. “Econolease sent me an email with my approval. It was instantaneous." And rates offered by alternative lenders continue to be competitive. According to Trevor Calvert, CEO of R.E.D. Canada, the trend isn’t slowing. “The speed with which we’re seeing this transformation has been incredible.” R.E.D. Canada (Restaurant Equipment Distributors of Canada) is the largest memberowned foodservice equipment buying group in the country and represents the highest number of independent food equipment dealers in Canada. “Increasingly, our dealers are seeing less cash sales, and more transactions being done through finance companies,” Calvert says. Banks are historically slow to move, whereas alternative lenders can be more nimble and innovative, and are willing to take risks on new business models. “It’s just easier dealing with companies that understands our needs,” says Manna. “I have enough on my plate each day. If I can do it quickly and keep it simple, that’s what matters most to me.” www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2020 53
WHEN IT COMES TO ROI, EGGS ARE LIQUID
Why the staple food is a return-on-investment dream By Get Cracking® There’s a classic “What Am I?” riddle from JRR Tolkien’s rendition in The Hobbit, that goes like this: A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. The answer, of course, is “an egg.” With the COVID-19 pandemic putting pressure on already razor-thin margins, a golden treasure is exactly what your foodservice operation needs. Eggs are a low-cost, highmargin ingredient you can incorporate seamlessly into your existing menu or as part of a simple revamp. Recent data shows just how valuable eggs can be. Egg servings in the foodservice industry increased by 10 per cent over the past year. In fact, 1 out of every 10 food orders in Canada over the last three years included the popular breakfast item. Of course, eggs are not just for breakfast. They are easily included in mains, appetizers, and desserts for any time of day, and as part of any cuisine. Add a poached egg to your famous pho to make a colourful splash and boost its Instagram appeal. Create a devilled egg platter to showcase
you r chef ’s creat iv it y. O r, r ide autumn’s perennial #1 trend and whip up a fast and fabulous pumpkin spice egg custard. Eggs are also highly versatile. Swapping out your usual proteins in a meal for eggs can potentially make a dish halal, kosher, vegetarian, or keto-friendly — or all of them simultaneously. In a time when customers can be hard to find, why wouldn’t you want to broaden your appeal? We’ve shown you how eggs add value to your menu. Let’s shift the scene to the back of house. Physical distancing regulations make it difficult for a kitchen to oper-
ate at peak efficiency. In most cases, eggs can be prepared by the most junior kitchen staffers using only basic equipment and minimal space. They’re quick to prepare, too; used in place of another protein, eggs can shave minutes off an order and expedite turnover. Or, offer eggs as a premium upgrade, such as a sunny-side-up on a burger. You can boost the price point with a negligible increase in prep time. Versatility. Profitability. Simplicity. Trying to solve the riddle of how to quickly boost your menu? Eggs are the answer. Visit foodservice.eggs.ca to learn more.
Get Cracking® is the Egg Farmers of Canada’s consumer brand, which aims to inform Canadians about the versatility and ease eggs provide as a diet staple any time of the day. Get Cracking® also provides a variety of delicious and innovative recipes to help Canadians include eggs as part of their everyday diet.
54 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
Eggs are the versatile, margin-friendly protein solution that adds value anywhere you use them. Visit us online for inspiration on how to boost your menu and make your bottom line shine. foodservice.eggs.ca
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
PACKAGE DEAL As the ‘food anywhere’ delivery trend continues to reshape the foodservice industry, operators must increasingly concern themselves with keeping their dishes under wrap – literally By Sara Burnside Menuck
The sit-down restaurant experience has never been the sole concern of foodservice operators: the concept of takeaway meals has existed about as long as human society. But even prior to COVID-19, our time-crunched, technology-driven world has made off-premise dining more attractive to consumers. Forbes reported last year that online food delivery alone is forecast to account for $200 billion in revenue by 2025.
56 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
But while ensuring a “restaurant-fresh” experience is important, consumers also have the planet in mind: FPI’s Trends Report 2019 notes that consumers are most concerned about the environment when it comes to single-use food containers. They want assurance that packaging is made with compostable or recyclable materials, while still getting that restaurant-fresh experience. A Dalhousie survey found that 94 per cent of respondents said they were personally motivated to reduce single-use plastic food packaging because of environmental impact. While manufacturers can be slow movers, they are starting to pay attention to consumer demands, says Anna Valenta, marketing manager for Calibre Inc. “They’re hearing the consumer and seeing there’s a demand and that they must change in order to stay relevant,” she says. For example, leading foodservicepackaging company Dart Canada promotes its use of third-party certifications to assure customers that its materials are sustainably sourced, says Michael Moore, marketing manager. Some of those certifications include the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the USDA BioPreferred designation. Novolex, another leader in packaging choice and sustainability, has engineered various way to capitalize on their facility operations. Shelly Saunders, national sales manager for Novolex’s Polar Pak line, points to the company’s plant in Franklin, Ohio, as an example of innovative design on the manufacturing level: “The facility uses suction vents in
Because off-premise orders can travel significant distances before being opened by the consumer at home, it’s important to be able to assure consumers that their food is safe, as well as delicious. its rafters to collect paper scraps off the line and floor that can later be recycled,” she says. But packaging must also still perform its original purpose: to carry food from one place to another, without compromising food safety or quality. This need has led to a number of developments and innovations in packaging design. Moore points to Dart’s SafeSeal products, specifically designed to inhibit tampering and eliminating the need for shrink bands and wrap labels. Because offpremise orders can travel significant distances before being opened by the consumer at home, it’s important to be able to assure consumers that their food is safe, as well as delicious. The distance travelled poses its own challenge: Who hasn’t felt the pain of ordering a burger and fries, and finding soggy spuds upon delivery? FPI’s report cites stopping leaks, spills and stains among Canadians’ top attributes for food packaging. These are unfortunate hazards that can negatively impact customer experience – and may turn them off of a business entirely. But solutions exist. Take, for instance, Genpak’s Clover line of takeout containers. The vented design helps keep food fresh – even those crispy fries – while still providing 360-degree closure to secure against annoying spills. But there remains a central question: How do foodservice operators balance reducing environmental impact while still
improving customer experience, food quality and cost effectiveness? The Dalhousie study found that 38 per cent of Canadians are willing to pay a premium for biodegradable packaging – but restaurants may not be, at least not right now. That’s not to say that eco-friendly packaging will always be at odds with consumer demand. With increased global pressure for environmental accountability, industry experts such as Calibre’s Valenta predict that more options will become available. Valenta points to a new company Calibre will be supporting called Eco+, which aims to provide eco-friendly packaging at a friendlier price point. As products become more widely available, and at a cost businesses can work with, operators may be able to better balance consumers’ dual demands for reduced environmental impact and increased off-premise dining. Dart Canada’s Moore agrees that it’s important to address consumers’ environmental concerns: “We give people the freedom to enjoy their food and drinks anywhere – and we accept our responsibility for the environmental effects of that freedom.” By moving toward more environmentally responsible materials and processes, “we are minimizing our company’s environmental impact … with thoughtful design for sustainability.”
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Tastes continue to evolve, but don’t forget about the classics By Scott Stewart In 2020, Canadian menu trends have continued to follow the trajectory of recent years. Specifically, demand for ethnic flavours have further evolved on restaurant menus. Not only are ethnic flavours an increasingly important part of the overall food market, but restaurants are the tip of the spear when it comes to trial; according to Mintel’s research, 65% of consumers say that they like to try internationally-inspired foods at restaurants before making them at home. When it comes to what particular ethnic menu trends to expect in the months ahead, Mintel’s Flavour and Ingredient Trends insights suggest that we will start to see more from the countries that consumers are already familiar with. For instance, North American consumers have embraced Japanese cuisine in the form of sushi, matcha and ramen – but there is much more to Japanese food than those mainstream dishes. Soufflé pancakes or katsu sandos (sandwiches) are examples of Japanese foods that consumers are now more willing to try because the country’s cuisine has established itself in the Canadian marketplace. The same is true of Indian food. Staples like curry and masala have become so popular that they are even available in non-Indian restaurants today. As a result of a general familiarity with Indian food, North Americans are more open to trying more regionally-specific Indian dishes, such as street food sandwiches like kati rolls. And finally, the success of Mediterranean cuisine has created an interest in what other flavours can be found in that region. Expect the Eastern Mediterranean to become more relevant as consumers look to countries like Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey for inspiration now that hummus and tzatziki have become mainstream products. Yet despite these exciting trends in the restaurant industry, it is important not to lose sight of the importance of current favourites. According to Mintel’s research, the majority of restaurant consumers say that seeing bacon, mushrooms or garlic in a menu item description would make them more likely to order that dish. In comparison, a popular Mediterranean product like feta cheese only makes 42% of
consumers more likely to order a dish – and it actually makes a third of consumers (32%) less likely to order. This means that while the restaurant industry is always looking to evolve and proactively offer the latest flavour trends, it cannot forget that many consumers still simply want the classics they’ve been ordering for most of their lives. Even though restaurateurs may wish to inspire their patrons with uniquely influenced ethnic dishes, the reality is that a feature item with a bacon topping is much more likely to resonate and motivate customers to order it. The key for stakeholders in the industry is to be open to change and innovation on their menu, but also keep themselves rooted in the foods that Canadians have been eating for decades. Expect that consumers will become more interested in trying new flavours from international cuisines with which they are already familiar – but at the same time, recognize that more often than not, they will opt for what they know and love. 58 Fall 2020 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
WE DONâ€™T BREW OUR BEER FOR THE AWARDS. BUT HE DOES! Our brewmaster, Andrew Kohnen, threw away a successful career in logistics to pursue his dream of reconnecting with the brewing roots of his family. This carried him to the UKâ€™s prestigious Brewlab in Sunderland, England, where he procured the alchemy that would drive his signature brewing style. He took what he could from there and ventured to Scotland, Cornwall, and ultimately to Krefeld, Germany, working in the same brewery that had belonged to his ancestors. He came home to Canada for Hockley. You could call it dumb, but we call it destiny.
Andrew Kohnen Brewmaster
Butter Chicken entrée is the
Introducing Bombay Butter Chicken Soup.
Your guests want the restaurant experience and the unique tastes that come with it. Satisfy their cravings with new Campbell’s® Verve® Bombay Style Butter Chicken Soup. Featuring butter chicken, a top ranked growth driver for ethnic cuisine in Canada, this on-trend choice allows you to offer an authentic, soughtafter flavour without sacrificing labour.
AN EXOTIC BLEND OF SPICES COMBINES WITH CHICKEN AND RICE TO EVOKE AUTHENTIC FLAVOUR AND CREATE A TWIST ON A POPULAR ENTRÉE IN INDIAN CUISINE.
item through Uber Eats and #2 through Doordash across Canada1
of consumers say it is
that the soup they order at
restaurants is something
they can't make at home
60% of all eating occasions are
WHEN SOUP IS INCLUDED IN A MEAL,
THE EATER CHEQUE
Sources: 1. Here are the top 3 comfort foods ordered in B.C. during the pandemic, Vancouver News, May 2020. The Deep Dish: Food Trends in 2020 Door Dash, July 2020. 2. 2018 Culinary Trendscapes Report, Technomic, November 2017. 3. The NPD Group, June 2019. 4. The Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, Technomic, 2018.
Learn more and explore full product details at campbellsfoodservice.ca/butterchicken.