Restaurant Foodservice News Official Magazine of the Culinary Federation
STRENGTH, RESILIENCE & CREATIVITY HOW SIX OPERATORS HAVE KEPT MOVING FORWARD THROUGH THE PANDEMIC — PAGE 24
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BRAND STRATEGY Know your audience and build your brand around it PAGE 18
Canadian Trailblazer: Ghost Kitchen Brands | Safety First | Chef Q&A: Peter Keith | Staffing | Getting Tough On Tech
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contents Fall 2021 VOL. 12 NO.1
36 COVER STORY
20 Strength, Resilience, and Creativity How foodservice operators have thrived during the pandemic
16 Marketing Brand Strategy: The New Normal
27 The Culinary Federation’s À LA MINUTE
36 Staffing Luring restaurant workers amid pandemic damage
40 Equipment Getting tough on tech
14 What’s Cooking in Montreal?
42 Safety First How tamper-evident packaging improves food safety and customer satisfaction
34 Sysco's Virtual Kitchen
DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note New Horizons 6 Canadian Trailblazer Ghost Kitchen Brands: Ushering in a New World 10 Chef Q&A Peter Keith: “People have become more creative; the resiliency is shining through” 44 Crunching Numbers The New Menu Mix
(FROM OUR PARTNERS)
By Club House for Chefs
For many operators, the pandemic has moved a lot of things ahead 5 or 10 years.
-— Barry Reid, VP of Sales & Marketing at Flanagan Foodservice
Restaurant Foodservice News The official publication of the Culinary Federation, RestoBiz.ca, RestoBizBYTES and RestoBizGuide.
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021 has been a red-letter year for Canadian foodservice. The industry looks to continue adapting to and rebounding from a pandemic that has stretched over 18 months thus far and which has pushed foodservice – and society at large – through years and years’ worth of trauma and change in such a short space of time. Though the situation has varied significantly from province to province, there have been several truths that have been universal across the country. Operators have had to get used to closing down, reopening under different conditions, and closing again, in some cases on repeat. Toronto has perhaps been the best example of the extent of the challenge that the industry has faced, enduring the longest industry shutdown the world has seen since the onset of the pandemic. There has been pain and struggle; financially, emotionally, physically. But there have also been silver linings, shining lights that point the way forward out of this dark time. An increased appreciation for the work done by frontline foodservice staff is one. Another has been progress in breaking down the taboo that enshrouds the discussion around mental health within the industry, which is one of the topics we discuss in our Chef Q&A with Peter Keith of the Culinary Federation and Meuwly’s in Edmonton. Perhaps the biggest positive outcomes have been the incredible displays of resilience from Canadian foodservice workers and operators and the way the industry has not only adapted to necessary change but embraced it. We’ve seen an increasing proliferation of online ordering, foodservice has picked up the ghost kitchen concept and run with it, and operators have diversified their businesses to cater to the evolving landscape. With so much to discuss since our last issue in late 2020, we’ve tried as always to bring you an educational, informative, engaging, and uplifting mix of content and industry updates. We have interviews with several operators who found strength and optimism in difficult times, an in-depth chat with Marc Choy of the everexpanding Ghost Kitchen Brands, and we catch up as always with the Culinary Federation. Inside, you’ll also find tips and expert advice from regular and firsttime contributors on the topics of marketing and branding, summer operations, menu, and technology. Above all, our message is one of hope and optimism. The challenge and trauma may have been of a magnitude we have not seen before, but as vaccinations rates climb and the industry continues to familiarize itself with its ongoing evolution, Canadian foodservice and hospitality will ultimately do what it always does: survive in the short term and thrive in the long run.
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Magazine Editorial Advisory Board Jason Bangerter
Executive Chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
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Owner and Director of Operations Key Restaurant Group
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USHERING IN A NEW WORLD Virtual kitchens have arrived, proliferated, and evolved throughout the pandemic. Ghost Kitchen Brands, led in Canada by Marc Choy, has been leading the charge.
By Tom Nightingale
6 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
here’s no denying the pain and trauma the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the foodser vice industry. But it’s also sparked innovation and evolution. Ghost kitchens. Virtual kitchens. Dark kitchens. Cloud kitchens. Call them what you will but, in a time when the industry has been gravitating away from the traditional dine-in experience – by necessity more than choice – there’s a new and increasingly popular way of doing things in foodservice. The concept, boiled down to its most reduced form, is based on two simple pillars. One: rather than paying the high overheads on a traditional dining set-up, why not run a delivery/pickup business from a kitchen that is set up to do just that and only that? Two: why offer only one menu, one brand, when you could send out a variety of menus from the same kitchen? To suggest it is a brand new development would be disingenuous – the term “ghost kitchen” has been in fairly broad use since at least 2015, and the modus operandi even longer – but, like with so much, the pandemic has been fuel to the fire. Truly, it is perhaps foodservice’s biggest boom at the start of this decade. Recent estimates suggest the ghost kitchen segment could create a $1 trillion global market by 2030. MAPPING OUT THE FUTURE
While there has been mass adoption of virtual kitchens, it’s fair to say Ghost Kitchen Brands has been helping to lead the charge. The company was founded by George Kottas in the second half of last decade and has become perhaps the most recognizable name in the space. But, as is typical of the foodservice industry, the path has hardly been a straight one. “The funny story George likes to tell is that when he started this business, it wasn't to get into the ghost kitchen model,” Ghost K itchen Bra nds’ President in Canada, Marc Choy, tells CR F N. “ He opened a brea k fast restaurant, partnered with Uber Eats, and quickly realized that there was demand for his restaurant to deliver 24 hours a day. Over time, he added 12-15
of his own developed menus – all sorts of independent brands all built out of that same kitchen for delivery only.” Already, one can recognize the hallmarks of the ghost kitchen concept as it is today. In 2019, Kottas started to add national branded partners – names like Ben and Jerry’s, Slush Puppy, and Cinnabon. “He saw the impact that having national brands had with consumers,” explains Choy. “Very quickly, customers wanted to access those brands because you couldn't find them on any delivery apps.” Choy, a former executive at Quiznos, helped bring numerous others like Cheesecake Factory, Quiznos, and Saladworks. The idea is that combining these brands’ existent pulling power with Ghost Kitchen Brands’ considerable pushing power results in a hugely and uniquely effective distribution network.
A SCALABLE AND FLEXIBLE VIRTUAL FOOD COURT
In essence, Ghost Kitchen Brands has set itself up to be a primary option for consumers’ changing habits. Choy describes it as a virtual food court, where customers can peruse multiple options at their leisure in one central hub. The buzzwords from a consumer’s p ersp e ct ive a re “choic e ” a nd “convenience”. Households looking to feed multiple mouths hungry for different things need not compromise, as they can order from multiple brands and menus in the same place. “If you're a customer on Uber Eats, you can go to Ghost Kitchens and access all our brands on one delivery for one fee,” he notes. “Customers can get any of our brands at anytime of day whenever they want. We will be able to reach any consumer within 30 minutes across www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 7
CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER company has focused its search for locations on places that have high visibility and foot traffic; streetfront locations where customers can walk in and have access to all the brands housed within. THAT SEARCH LED IT TO WALMART.
“We will be able to reach any consumer within 30 minutes across North America – not even Amazon Prime can do that.” North America – not even Amazon Prime can do that.” Indeed, the benefits of that model are myriad. Choy suggests the possibilities offered by this operational model should be “an epiphany” for all foodservice business owners. Ghost K itchen Bra nds br i ngs brands on board with a low level of i nve s t m e nt a n d c o m p a r at i ve ly minimal capital expenditure and help s t hem g r ow, r u n n i ng t he operational side itself rather than leaving it to the brands to fend for themselves as some other models do. Largely, the same equipment and staff can be used for multiple brands. “We have two or three staff working at any one time and they go from brand station to brand station, filling orders as they come,” says Choy. G h o s t K it c h e n B r a n d s d o e s n’t
franchise out as it wants to be actual partners with all its investors. The model also offers security: instead of one brand in a standalone needing to do $1500 a day, the company can do $500 a day through several different brands. “Our economic model is very secure,” Choy adds. “The brands and the landlords are happy because they don't like to see closures or high overheads, and we're happy because we’re working with all these brands which have great brand equity. The magic is in the scalability, and we feel we’ve built a business model that benefits everybody.” CONQUERING BIG-BOX RETAIL
The next step beyond widening the choice for consumers was to take that convenience to customers where there might not be an opportunity for delivery. As such, the
8 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
“The giant of retail giants,” as Choy calls it, has been working with the likes of McDonalds for some years already, offering its millions of customers per year a convenient grab-and-go option. But Ghost Kitchen Brands is changing the game by bringing its plethora of options. For Walmart, the benefit is clear: innovating and improving their customers’ experience and adding another layer of appeal with variety in shoppers’ food choices. Since beginning the process of Walmart adoption this spring with a location in St. Catharines, Ont., Ghost Kitchen Brands now has dozens of locations in Canadian stores, with dozens more under construction. The Walmart locations offer all the brands that are also found in the regular standalone streetfront locations, as the company wants to ensure the portfolio of brands on offer is consistent from location to location. “I'd like to have 250 kitchens open in North America by the end of this year,” says Choy. “Our goal is to have at least 1,000 by the end of 2022. That's an aggressive growth plan, but we’ve put the foundations in place with the right brands, partners, and investors to be able to scale very quickly.” A UBIQUITOUS REACH
As the manner in which foodservice (and other) companies serve customers continues to evolve – with an increasing focus on convenience, efficiency, and digitization, Ghost Kitchen Brands is looking to not only move with the flow but to help carve the path. The goal stated by Choy on the foodservice side is to open a Ghost Kitchen every 12 kilometres across Canada, but the company is thinking far outside that particular box. “We have no shortage of ideas,” Choy says candidly. “This industry is so new, it’s so ripe for different ideas and models and pivots for the foreseeable future. Nobody can predict where we’re going to be – being f lexible is the most important thing.” Another example is what the company has done at the Canada One outlet mall
CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER in Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls. There, Ghost Kitchen Brands has taken over the physical food mall, widening the options from a handful of brands to 15. It has gone down well, and they have spoken to other malls about replicating this transition. Mall eating has been severely impacted by the pandemic, and now may be the perfect time for evolution. Take Cinnabon, for example, which has numerous stores in Canada but is found almost exclusively inside malls. “Everybody knows what Cinnabon is but if the only place you can think to get one is a mall, nobody’s going to really want to go to that length to get it,” says Choy. “So this is a great opportunity for us, for the malls, and for the brands. Instead of multiple vendors trying to survive on their own, utilize this different economic model with even more selection, with the added perk of being able to offer delivery outside the mall. It’s a win for everybody.” That pandemic impact has been a help, if not a catalyst, Choy acknowledges. In foodservice and society at large, it has pushed people towards non-traditional avenues of business, accelerated
innovation, changed attitudes, hastened technological adoption. With that in mind, Ghost Kitchen Brands’ ambitions aren’t constrained to the world of foodservice. As well as other big-box stores in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, talks have been ongoing with a variety of other facilities such as transit stations and airports – “anywhere customers might want the
convenience of having multiple brands in one location,” says Choy. The company is also intending to extend its product line beyond food to include such things as pet food, cleaning supplies, and other essentials. These things are not normally associated with third-party delivery, but the world is changing, and Ghost Kitchen Brands wants to be at the forefront of the evolution.
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“PEOPLE HAVE BECOME MORE CREATIVE. THE RESILIENCY IS SHINING THROUGH.” By Tom Nightingale
Chef Peter Keith has tackled the pandemic head-on with his Meuwly’s brand and is making efforts to break down barriers around mental health. It is fair to say that Peter Keith has thrown himself into the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Over the last 15 years, the experienced restaurateur has excelled in cooking competitions, worked at top-tier Canadian restaurants, and co-founded Meuwly’s, a cured meats artisan market in Edmonton. With the onset of COVID-19, though, his priorities rather shifted. Not only has Meuwly’s – like so many operators over the last 18 months or so – transitioned to online operations, but Keith has joined fellow mental health advocates in furthering the conversation and aiming to break the taboo around speaking out on an increasingly vital topic. Looking to the future, he’s encouraged and excited about the resiliency and innovation he has seen from the industry throughout the pandemic, as well as the reinforced sense of unity and support of local community. CRFN caught up with the Culinary Federation’s National Secretary to chat about his inspiration, the challenges and silver linings of the pandemic, and where we may go from here.
10 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
Canada and bring home Gold for Canada at the World Skills Americas competition, and then represent Alberta at the 2012 Culinary Olympics and get another Gold. We were a team of 20-somethings facing off against these professional groups around the world, it was magical. CRFN: What were some big early turning points on your journey? Keith: While I was working at a top-tier restaurant in Vancouver,
I started to realize that being on the line wasn't the long-term option for me: despite an incredible employer and environment, the physical toll, the stress, was draining. I realized I needed something that fit my life a bit better. I came back to Edmonton and pursued a business degree. Through a combination of chance and eagerness, I met my future business partner, who was looking for a food business to host in his buildings. One of my good friends from a previous kitchen job was diving into the world of charcuterie. The three of us sat down and decided to move forward with cured meats. That was in 2016, and that’s how Meuwly’s came to be.
CRFN: Cured meat products have become popular in recent years. Did you see that demand from the start? Keith: It’s been a whirlwind five years! We jumped into it, started
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. CRFN: What was the spark that truly ignited your passion for foodservice? Peter Keith: What I remember most clearly was watching
cooking competition TV shows like “Iron Chef ” and “The Next Great Chef ” as a 10- or 11-year-old and feeling really inspired by the energy of the kitchen and the look of steely determination on the chefs’ faces. I also remember going to a hotel in Jasper and seeing the chefs in their tall white hats. It was all very alluring. By 14, I had a dishwashing job and from the moment I walked into the restaurant, I had a mission: to learn how to cook, to work my way up, to go to culinary school – to be one of those chefs. I got into the kitchens at the culinary school in Edmonton and was being exposed to the top tier of the industry at the age of 16-17. I was working 30-hour weeks in high school out of drive and passion. That really cemented it for me. I knew this was my path. I was incredibly fortunate to compete in Brazil with Skills
planning, designing, renovating the space. Building a custom, bespoke, artisan meat-processing kitchen is a lot of work and time. As we were building, we started seeing more demand for cured meats, local sausages, so we rented a little space and started producing meats for local restaurants. We wanted to do test batches and small runs of new products – that’s how our subscription box was born, from a need to use up samples and a desire to keep busy while we were building our permanent kitchen and storefront. Again, there was fortune involved: we launched on Facebook, within a few weeks got some local news coverage, and ultimately sold out of our packages with a waiting list of about 100 people. We knew we were onto something. From there, we grew those two channels: wholesale and subscription boxes.
CRFN: How much has the impact of COVID-19 changed the dayto-day for you and Meuwly’s? Keith: Our biggest immediate concern was the probably $10,000
in perishables in our fridge with our retail channels gone. The only thing we could do was create a basic e-commerce store and put together some different grocery boxes. We got to a point where we realized we're in the online business now. I never would have thought of a deli as a business that could create a meaningful e-commerce experience but that’s where the world is now and what people are looking for. We wanted to become a platform for other small food producers and farmers to fill the gap of in-person sale avenues. Customers have been seeking comfort foods, but as they got more used to this new reality, I think they started seeking to replicate the experiences they were missing out on. That’s when we started introducing our build-your-own charcuterie kit, picnic www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 11
12 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
Q& boxes. It’s very experience-driven now. People are recreating dining out in their own home or backyard.
positive has been the pandemic showing that much of our community and nation now thinks of foodservice staff as essential frontline workers. People's health is truly on the line.
CRFN: Discussions around mental health within foodservice and hospitality have really come to the fore amid the pandemic’s impact. Do you think it can be a catalyst for real change on that front?
CRFN: The resilience and creativity on show during COVID-19 has been so heartening for us all. It’s time for the impossible question: where do we go from here?
Keith: Mental health has typically been don't-ask-
Keith: A lot of structural things are starting to change.
don't-tell in foodservice. The attitude of “toughing it out” has done real harm, I feel. In terms of my employment and support systems, I'm one of the lucky ones. But I've watched friends and colleagues struggle – burnout, mental health issues, substance use. I also think mental health awareness and inclusivity and diversity go hand-in-hand. In The Weeds is trying to be the voice for those people. When I heard about In The Weeds starting up and the work of Chef Paul Shufelt and the team, I really felt drawn to it. I wanted to contribute to positive lasting change in the industry. That will be more meaningful than any dish I've ever cooked or any competition I've ever won. After all, I transitioned out of line cooking partly due to that stress. We need to end the stigma, get people talking, break down this ridiculous facade. The time is right; people are ready to talk. We want to be a conduit for change, to try to lead from behind and start the conversations. We’ve done roundtable-type events, fundraising initiatives, funded counseling sessions. I think we were already seeing the early signs of culture shift and COVID-19 has 100 per cent reinforced the need for this change. A huge
Most food businesses will have online operations moving forward but more than that, restaurateurs are realizing that diversifying their business model is so important these days, finding innovative revenue streams. People have certainly become more creative, and the resiliency is shining through. The first wave of COVID-19 prompted a lot of tough conversations. It’s cliched but we’re coming out of it stronger, more diversified, more creative. I think that's the type of change we needed all along to be a more resilient business model. There’s still work to be done: our society needs to have a really mature, honest, inward look at the way we interact with restaurants and foodservice. Food is never cheap, so if you're getting food for cheap, someone down the line is being taken advantage of, whether it's the farmer, the line cooks. It takes an incredible amount of care and work to change that. I hope COVID-19 has initiated this kind of discourse. But for now, we’re just hugely grateful for the Canadians who have kept us afloat, ordering an obscene amount of takeout at the expense of their budget and their waistline and so forth. If I ever have grandkids, that sense of community is something I’ll share with them about the pandemic. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. It speaks to why all of us got into this business, and to what makes our community so great. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 13
WHAT’S COOKING IN MONTREAL? W
ith a diverse population and a rich and ingrained history and culture, one of the many things Montreal is famous for is its thriving food scene propagated by a variety of talented and innovative chefs from all backgrounds. Club House for Chefs was lucky enough to spend some time with four chefs who are helping to continue that tradition through a combination of invention, uniquely crafted homebrewed recipes and menus, and local food sourcing. Chef Chanthy Yen: The Canadian King of Combodia Cuisine Raised in his Cambodian grandmother’s Windsor kitchen after his family fled the Civil War, Yen has taken Canada’s culinary landscape by storm with his passion for this underrated, underrepresented cuisine. The former Executive Chef at British pub Parlement opened Cambodian pop-up Touk in the same building during the initial pandemic shutdown and is also writing the very first Cambodian cookbook in Canada. He ultimately intends to give Touk a permanent home either in Montreal or in Vancouver. “It turned out to be a huge success, not just for myself or Touk but for Cambodian cuisine as a whole, which I was able to bring into the spotlight internationally,” says Yen of the Dan Geltner: A Montreal Food Story Touk concept. “My favourite dish right now is the Nom Banh Having spent all his life living in Montreal Chok. It’s something that my grandmother taught me how to raised on Israeli and Jewish cuisine, make and is a dish I always love to make. It’s the dish that Geltner sees deli and bakery Hof resonates most with the crowd that comes here, even those Kelsten as something of a second trying for the first time.” home. The concept, he explains, is a Yen explains that most Cambodian people in Canada arrived French bakery with Jewish twist as refugees during the Cold War and many have not tasted the based on the concept of using dishes or flavours he uses in a long time, creating an emotional traditional home recipes. Sourcing experience as well as a sensory one. “For those who haven’t ingredients locally and organically in eaten it in a long time, it’s very heartfelt, almost dramatic. I’ve Montreal and utilizing products like had guests who cried while eating it because they were torn Club House La Grille® Montreal away from their families and their environment. For people Steak Spice, Geltner has forged a trying it for the first time, it almost feels like a Michelin-star reputation built around popular staple experience because you are dishes including a brisket sandwich, in-house smoked having the whole-body salmon, and rye bread. sensational experience of “I was born and raised in Montreal, going to all of the best eating Cambodian food, which delis around the city,” Geltner explains. “I always say that I try is fragrant, fresh and new to to make things taste as much like the delis that I grew up eating the scene in North America.” from while trying to bring a lot of modern trends to the original flavours… I get to bring my background to the food here.” During the pandemic, they shifted their operations to put more focus on restaurant wholesale as opposed to retail. As Geltner puts it, “we’re selling more out the back door instead of the front door.” With a longtime loyal clientele, Geltner hopes to build Hof Kelsten’s brands and maybe one day expand into selling sauces to grocery stores. For now, though, he’s content bringing a little bit of his background and upbringing to hungry Canadians.
Nicolas Salinas: A Super Loco Time for Montreal Foodservice Since growing up in a Chilean household and becoming a home cook by age 16, Salinas has become a self-taught restaurant chef and co-owner “Montreal is about every part of the world all mixed together, but the European part is where a lot of techniques come in,” Salinas says. “I’m from South America and put my South American flavour twists in everything I try to do. I’ve done many different types of cuisines including Indian, Asian, French, and Montreal is an open-minded platform for any kind of cuisine.” As part of whatever menu he is working on, Salinas enjoys using Keen’s Dry Mustard, which he describes as an under-served product that chefs and cooks don’t commonly use it as a main ingredient. “It’s very powerful and has a bitterness to it,” he explains. “The flavour profile helps a lot with other spices like paprika, cumin, and pepper. Altogether, it makes a nice balance.” During the pandemic, the former Barroco chef launched Super Loco, a back-alley pop-up based on Chilean flavours, before making the tough decision to shut it down as he was struggling to pay rent, staff, and food costs during tough times. “I was making the dough from scratch, working from a factory, while being a single father to my son,” he explains. “I was always trying to encourage my team and giving them more hours, and taking less for myself, so they could have full pay. I was barely making money myself, headed down the drain. I couldn’t keep going like that.” It remains very close to his heart, though, and never far from his mind. “If I find a local on the street where there’s traffic, I’ll consider a Super Loco comeback.”
Antoine Morneau: From Busboy to Pizza Man Morneau, who has worked his way up to leading the kitchen and ever-changing menu at Fugazzi Pizza, notes how much the Montreal pizza scene has changed over the last decade. “Ten years ago, there was Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, and other very commercial pizzas,” he notes. “Little Italy was starting to do more [independent] pizzas and was a hit with Montrealers. Fugazzi Pizza fits into that more artisanal scene.” Morneau takes great pride and care in offering vegan artisanal pizza that only uses ingredients from Quebec for the dough and offers flexibility in catering to evolving customer preferences. “We do a lot of sweet and sour,” he explains. “One example is adding honey to the spicy sauce. We like this because it pops in the mouth with Fugazzi intensity.” He also knows the value of incorporating products like Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce and Club House La Grille® Smoky Cedar Seasoning into his preparations to add an extra layer of flavour and intensity. “I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce with beef for the sear flavour of the Club House seasoning, which works great. It adds a nice spice to tomato sauce, which, for me, is a go-to. Don’t be scared to use them everywhere. If you like something spicy, Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce is perfect. Plus, the Club House spices go with pretty much everything: chicken, fish, and beef, for sure.” While he’s here, we got Morneau to settle an all-time pizza debate: does pineapple belong on pizza? “For sure it does!”
THE NEW NORMAL By Doug Radkey
Hospitality, since the beginning of time, has been about building connection.
That is not going to change, even with a global pandemic thrown our way. Even though we are seeing the emergence of dig ita l-for wa rd concepts such as ghost kitchens and have made ot her sig n i f ica nt technological advancements over the yea rs , memorable a nd p ers ona l hospitality still requires a level of “connection” that can’t be replicated by the implementation of technology. You can still be a digital-forward business while humanizing your brand simply by building connection. But over the years, that has become a challenging
requirement for many independent bar and restaurant operators out there. That is because there has been ongoing pressure for bar and restaurant operators to first deliver short-term or quick financial results. Pairing this with a lack of strategic clarity and the understanding of what brand strategy actually is ultimately results in a lack of true connection. But having what is often referred to as a brand guide can alleviate those cha l lenges a nd prepa re you for success; not only now, but as we move forward past COVID-19.
16 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
WHAT IS A BRAND GUIDE?
A brand guide takes the heart and soul of your brand — your mission, vision, and values — and translates it into visual representation. It also aligns with having strategic clarity: the understanding of who we are, where we are going, how we are going to get there, and why we are doing this. It drives your identity and your promise. It also tells everyone exactly how to communicate your brand. It is the playbook that explains how your business plans to present itself to the world through its story,
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND BUILD YOUR BRAND AROUND IT
logo, fonts, colours, images, videos, menu, packaging, entertainment, and messaging. It is a reference tool that helps maintain consistency in what your brand looks, feels, and sounds like. You simply cannot generate brand loyalty, differentiation, and consumer spending, or execute as a consistent business, without a brand guide. You can start right now to improve your financial outcome during and following this pandemic by ensuring your brand promise is strong and central to its vision, mission, and values, and in making delivery on that promise as your focus over the next 2-3 months.
When looking at the elements of connection from a business perspective, connection is really the most important part of the customer journey. This is where we live or die by the connection between business and customer. Gone are the days where this was all about the start of the journey or the customer acquisition. In today’s landscape, it is also about customer retent ion a nd what happ ens surrounding the sale of food, drink, or accommodations that makes you memorable to your market. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 17
Within this industry, while many want “convenience” they also want a memorable experience, whether it is onor off-premises. To create conversations, connection, and experiences, however, you need to know your target audience and align it with your brand guide. This newly collected data on attitudes, lifestyles, activities, and spending habits is vital to truly build connection because
how people spend their time and their money leads to psychographic profiles of a target market. You ne e d to k now you r new audience; their new behaviours, their new spending habits, their new travel habits, their new eating and drinking habits, and their new dayparts. However, don’t get too comfortable. As restrictions begin to lift and
v a c c i n e s b e c o m e m o r e w i d e ly distributed, the general population will have more opportunity to once again re-adjust their eating, drinking, travel, and spending habits. How you anticipate and prepare for this will determine the recovery or success of your business. What does this mean for you, as someone trying to navigate the
uncharted waters of the future? You are going to have to focus on serving – not selling. It means you will have to adapt, be flexible, and likely cater to new sociodemographics. You will have to create programs and experiences that cater to both current and new consumer needs while aligning that with your brand promise. You will have to get ahead of the competition in terms of honing in on your brand identity and by creating e levat e d on - a nd of f - p r e m i s e s experiences, by creating new revenue channels, and truly understanding and con ne ct i ng w it h you r t a rget demographics like never before. You must position yourself to make sound adjustments and offer flexibility based on demand, data, guest sentiment, and brand alignment. When you align these profiles with a developed brand guide, the elements of connection begin to happen. This is where you can quickly become a more memorable brand or destination. CREATING DIFFERENTIATION
To stand out in the crowd and not be branded as an average restaurant or bar, you must also have differentiation. Each
consumer in the market values factors that differentiate one brand from the next in their own way, which makes k now i ng you r t a rget aud ienc e invaluable. Differentiation gives your bar or restaurant brand greater importance to a defined target audience because they can resonate with it and integrate it directly into their own lives. Whether you believe it or not, your brand within their lives holds some sort of profound meaning to them. This is where brand connection happens. While food and drink offerings are indeed a large piece of the puzzle in terms of overall experience, there are many other factors needed to deliver value and a profound, memorable experience including eff icient design, service sequence, f lexible revenue channels, culture, diversity, simplification, and strategic clarity. Developing that type of thinking and ecosystem around brand strategy is the mindset you need moving for wa rd i f you wa nt a sca lable, sustainable, profitable, consistent, and memorable brand.
Gone are the days of focusing on revenue per square foot or other va nit y-t y p e met rics withi n this industry. We are entering a new era of operations. If you focus on developing a winning brand with these ideas and strategies paired with delivering true value and a memorable and f lexible experience, the revenue will follow. To survive and now thrive postpandemic, this industry and your brand must prepare to dismantle longsta ndi ng issues; thi nk i n surprising new ways about brand strategy, the guest value, and the total guest experience; and take bold, s t r at e g i c a c t i on t owa r d p r o f it optimization. You can do this and begin to achieve prof it margins you never thought possible by first re-engineering your brand guide, your ideal customer profile, your customer journey map, and your perception of value and align it all with a promise that will excel your brand forward towards being a d i f ferent iate d con ne ct ion a nd a memorable destination.
Doug Radkey is president of KRG Hospitality Inc., a hospitality industry expert, and a frequent CRFN contributor.
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STRENGTH, RES AND CREATIVIT How foodservice operators have thrived during the pandemic Restaurant and foodservice owners have taken bold steps to keep moving forward By Tom Nightingale
20 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 21
Faced with mounting pressure, closures, razor-thin margins, and a range of health and business concerns, foodservice operators have had to tread where they have never stepped before during the COVID-19 pandemic. Battening down the hatches and tightening their operations has, in many cases, not been enough. As various industry-wide emerging trends like the exponential rise of takeout have shown, adaptability has been the only way to survive the pandemic, let alone continue success as a local operation. It’s been a time characterized all too often by tales of woe, as thousands upon thousands of establishments have been forced to close their doors. But some have made it through, and
a common theme has been the will and proactivity to change the way they operate when needed. In partnership with Flanagan Foodservice, RestoBiz spoke to six operators across the province about the tough choices they have had to make since March 2020. “We have some customers for whom dine-in was their whole life,” says Barry Reid, Flanagan’s VP of Sales and Marketing. “Now, they’ve had to pivot massively. Figuring out takeout and thirdparty delivery, getting their voice out there on social media, reassessing menu items, adding patios… For many operators, the pandemic has moved a lot of stuff ahead five or 10 years.” So it has proven. TAKING ON TAKEOUT
The unprecedented necessity to offer off-premises dining has been a defining feature of the pandemic’s impact on foodservice throughout Canada and beyond. Many of the restaurateurs we spoke to have either taken on takeout for the first time or significantly ramped up that side of their operations. One common theme has been shifting menu offerings. Ryan Lloyd-Craig, co-owner and COO of Ignite Group of Brands Inc, which runs Crowsfoot Smokehaus in Conestogo, notes the restaurant decided to limit its dine-in menu to things that would travel well for takeout. “We're not offering nachos, tacos – things that if you opened 20 minutes later would be a poor representation of our restaurant. We’re willing to take the risk of reducing our menu. People aren’t coming to our restaurant for fries; they're coming for amazing smoked meat, brisket, fried chicken.”
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That reduced-menu model was also followed, at least initially, by Michelle and Rick Arsenault, co-owners of the family-run Bluebird Café & Grill in Orangeville. “We reopened with a very small menu, 10 or 12 items, to test the waters,” say the Arsenaults. “But we quickly realized people wanted more of our extensive menu, so we brought back about 75 per cent of it almost right away.” Bluebird already had a small takeout kitchen on-site but many customers weren’t aware of its existence. “One of the biggest lemonades out of all these lemons has been the increased exposure for our takeout kitchen… We’re adding online ordering, which we've never done before, and we’re hoping to open up to a whole new demographic.”
Certainly, the climate of the pandemic has necessitated redistribution of resources. Like many operators, Adam Winkler, owner at Winks Eatery in London, had to add a new shift entirely for takeout. “We went from thinking that we were going to do a couple of hundred dollars a day to doing a couple of thousand,” Winkler says. Gaining traction and maximizing engagement on social media has been crucial. “We’re always putting ourselves out there. It doesn't have to be a deal, it can just be getting our face out there, get customers remembering you. We promote deals, feature sauces: the little things go a long way.” Making that change to off-premises dining was a massive learning curve, something of a trial-and-error undertaking. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 23
COVER STORY “We had to learn on the fly,” says Shawn Gilbert, chef at Guelph’s Atmosphere Café. “Our first takeout menu was perhaps a bit lacking, but over time and practice we really improved it and the operation became a bit smoother. Some of our close friends were quite impressed by how fast we reinvented ourselves…” Gilbert also stresses the increased importance of social media with foot traffic virtually nonexistent in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. “Now, it's almost a full-time job in itself on social media. It’s become a daily operational procedure.” DIVERSIFYING OFFERINGS
For many establishments, the move to takeout has just been one strand of a sea change in day-to-day operations. Pivoting to takeout is a necessary move, but it’s an incredibly saturated market even at local level. Offering something different has been important. “Our true bread and butter during the pandemic has been heat-and-serve kits where we prepare the meal and the customer cooks it at home,” says Gilbert. “By the time customers get most dishes on takeout, they’re lower quality. Now, we do the hard work for you – you just follow our detailed instructions so you can have something of a dining experience at home.” In some cases, those changes have not only been in menu offerings, but on the larger business model. Crowsfoot already had plans to open a general store to accompany its Smokehaus to supply the local community. However, during the pandemic, it quickly pivoted to stock many of its popular restaurant items and products from local providers in the store. “We wanted to grow into stocking our products in the store but very quickly decided to do it immediately,” says Lloyd-Craig. “We went heavy on packaged meats, deli meats, frozen foods. Even for surrounding communities driving through, it’s an opportunity to stop and shop local, and I can frankly say that the general store saved our butt.” It’s not just been restaurants affected. For catering companies, the challenges have been different but no less intense. With the events market essentially drying up almost overnight due to gathering restrictions, they’ve had to think on their feet.
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COVER STORY Cambridge-based Little Mushroom Catering has also overhauled itself. “Pre-COVID-19, we were doing catering from Collingwood down to Simcoe, Turkey Point area, all the way from Hamilton and Burlington to London,” says owner Stephanie Soulis. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Cambridge-based business “basically became a grocery and prepared-meal delivery and curbside service” selling everything from toilet paper and yeast to lasagnas, soups, stews, and chilis. By this point, says Soulis, the 11-year-old company is essentially “like four different start-ups” – there is also now a wholesale business and a kitchen rental business in addition to the to-go meals and grocery, and an online store. “We didn’t have the kitchen rental side or any e-commerce at all before COVID19,” Soulis explains. “There are all these smaller pieces now, things we didn't ever think we’d be doing.” Some of these facets may not continue for the long run but, for now, diversifying has been vital and profitable. COMMUNITY CONNECTION
A constant among every operator we spoke to for this story was a grateful and unequivocal appreciation for the support they received from their respective communities. As the pandemic has gone on, there has been significant visibility of a desire to support small and local businesses. That has certainly been felt across Ontario. “Before COVID-19, we had a really loyal customer base,” says Esch Leblond. “Throughout our shift, they really supported us on social media and helped us through that transition with promoting us, etc. The support from the North Bay community and surrounding areas has been overwhelming at times, seeing how much they support local businesses. We’ve always had that mentality in our community and it’s key to any business.”
Jenn Esch Leblond, who runs mixed catering/dine-in operation Dinner Is Served by Dianne’s Catering in North Bay, explains the bulk of her business pre-pandemic was catering for community events, weddings, and so forth. During COVID19, she has been fielding and coordinating product requests amid huge demand from the business’ Facebook community. The business moved to a new location and set it up like a market, with fridges, freezers, and shelving for groceries and products to offer the local community. Flanagan’s set them up with a big tractor-trailer – “essentially a giant walk-in freezer,” says Leblond – and, while they still do their meals to-go, selling produce has become their new normal. “We’ve really enjoyed the shift,” she adds. “We will get back to catering eventually when events are a possibility again, but this has allowed us to continue working. The new building is phenomenal. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Having the trailer is invaluable, it’s a game-changer for us.” www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 25
There have been other supports, of course. The government played its part – Soulis notes the wage subsidy “have saved us through all of this” – and our interviewees also expressed huge gratitude for the work Flanagan’s does as a partner and supplier. “Flanagan’s take good care of us and that’s been crucial because we didn't know how bad it was going to be,” says Winkler. “We’ve worked with other companies who were less personal, but Flanagan’s treat us like a human being. It’s more like working with a friend.” Community support, though, has been the most essential pillar of survival and success in 2020-21. For many businesses, you live and die by the connection you build with your community, and the importance of repaying that support is far from lost on businesses. “We want to make sure there was an element of giving back in everything we did; that’s part of who we are,” emphasizes Soulis. “Right from the beginning, we’ve had an option for people to add a meal for a frontline worker. Companies have asked to sponsor enough meals for ER nurses or a particular night shift. We also write messages on cookies to say ‘thank you’ to frontline workers.” The Arsenaults at Bluebird started writing on regulars’ takeout bags in the first lockdown. “We were telling them we miss them, and it got to the point where we felt bad not writing a message even to new customers. Now, every single bag or box that leaves here has a handwritten message from staff. It’s a heartfelt thing for us. We bring the bags to cars; that way, we can see the guests. We miss
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them. Those conversations can mean a lot.” Bluebird, like others, also holds virtual events like paint nights and charity events to stay better connected. “We know how difficult it is to stay positive and entertained, and we want to be part of the solution for people. We do what we do because we love it. You have to go above and beyond to create those experiences and build and maintain those relationships.” BUILDING FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
Ultimately, the end goal of pleasing people must never go out of focus, and that’s particularly true in a time like COVID-19. “You just want everybody to leave happy,” concludes Esch Leblond. If, as over the last 16 months, that means displaying more flexibility, more daring, more confidence in changing the way your business operates, so be it. “For all of us, reinventing ourselves has been key,” says Gilbert. “That’s true even at the best of times. You can't stay still: you need to be experimenting, following trends, looking to the future. It’s easy to rest on your laurels by accident and COVID-19 has been a big reminder.” It’s been perhaps an unprecedently challenging time for foodservice, with myriad lessons to learn from the pandemic and moving forward. But, with support from your community and your supplier, respect for and connection with your customer base, and the confidence to be bold in the face of adversity, there can be light in times of darkness.
THE CULINARY FEDERATION’S
À LA MINUTE THE CF WOULD LIKE TO THANK AND RECOGNIZE OUR NATIONAL PARTNERS
+BRINGING THE INDUSTRY TOGETHER | IN THE FIELD | NEW EVENTS AND NEW HORIZONS | THE ROAD TO GOLD
BRINGING THE INDUSTRY TOGETHER The Culinary Federation continues to support Canadian chefs of all ages and backgrounds
WE HOPE THIS MESSAGE FINDS our readers healthy and remaining hopeful as we move into fall. As much of the country navigates various stages of reopening, we can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccination programs continue to roll out. We believe we are turning a corner towards better days very soon and encourage you during this time to continue to persevere. We have been inspired by the tenacious spirit of the culinary industry and know that we will get through this together! Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Culinary Federation has been busy adding value to its membership. Over the past 18 months, we have: • Launched a Monthly Newsletter to all members communicating new programs as well as highlighting new members and partners • Created three custom explainer videos about the CF • Launched a strategic and targeted membership drive through our social channels to include member takeovers, custom video, and membership-made reels. • Launched Business & Personal Skills Development Modules with McKinley Solutions • Launched Culinary Skills Training Partnership with ROUXBE.com • Implemented Johnson Insurance (Home, Auto, Dental, and Health coverage) • Launched Entegra Procurement Services • Partnered with FoodGrads (Young Chef job portal and information hub) • Implemented Last Call On the Line: a six-week series on Addiction Awareness & Mental Wellness • Standardized membership fees across the country, introduced monthly payment options, and waived the initiation fees for all returning lapsed members. • Updated the website to make the experience more user-friendly and collaborative Our latest endeavour, launched in April 2021, is the “In The Field” livestream series, as part of Sysco’s Virtual Kitchen. This monthly series will highlight our members and partners in a raw real-life interaction “in the field”. Our first episodes have received impressive views and engagement numbers, and we are excited to continue the series. We all look forward to gathering together as an industry to celebrate our perseverance and passion when we can. Until then, Ryan Marquis National President
SAVE THE DATE See You (FINALLY!) in Saskatoon, SK 2022 National Conference June 12 to 16, 2022
VIRTUAL CULINARY COMPETITIONS – THE NEW NORM? By Liam Collin, Culinary Arts Student and winner of Skills Ontario Virtual 2021 & Chef Steve Benns, Chef/Professor at Fleming College and CCI Chair, CF
Liam: As a first-year culinary student with minimal restaurant experience, it was a great opportunity to participate in the CF’s Junior Chef Competition in February 2020. I was able to use some of the skill sets that I had learned in college while building new skills through fellow competitors and our chef/professor mentors. Practicing for the CF Junior Competition was a great experience and allowed me to work in a team-based environment. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the competition as 75 cm of fresh snow on the last day of our family ski trip made the trip back to Peterborough impossible; I was disappointed as I was excited about my program and ready to compete. I was grateful for the experience that I had gained and looked forward to future opportunities to compete.
Steve: I was lucky that Liam had practiced for the Junior Chef Competition as many of the skills needed were transferable to all future competitions. He had to juggle school, work, and his personal life as much of his practice was completed at home in his spare time. We only had two or three opportunities to practice in the lab due to COVID-19 policies on campus.
Steve: I met Liam in first semester and could tell that he was a good student with a strong work ethic. I asked him to join our competition team and started to train for the Junior Chef Competition (Feb 2020) and Skills Ontario (May 2020). When Liam got snowed in, I remember thinking that he could shift to the upcoming Skills Competition; but unfortunately the Skills Ontario Competition was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. On a side note, one of our competition team members (Sophie Crowder) won the CF competition (Feb 2020).
Steve: COVID-19 has pushed us outside of our normal activities and made us think about alternative ways to train. I know that Liam spent many hours in front of the television fluting mushrooms and tournee zucchini and celeriac.
Liam: Fast forward almost a year and I was ecstatic when Chef Benns asked me to compete in the Skills Ontario Competition this year. With the pandemic, I had little hope of competing in any culinary competitions during my final year of school. Training for this competition, however, was much more difficult. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I had limited practice time on-site at Fleming College. These restrictions meant a lot of my practice was limited to my free time, in my ill-equipped kitchen in my tiny student apartment. I had also accepted a new position, requiring me to work more hours than in the previous year; all this while still balancing my full-time studies.
Liam: I much preferred preparing for last year’s Junior Chef Competition. Being able to practice as a team with little restriction on practice time or resources was much easier for me to develop skills and to receive more timely feedback during practices. Developing recipes was much easier to do when I was allowed to taste as I was cooking.
Liam: I am grateful for the experience the Junior Chef Competition gave me. The skills I had learned while on the competition team and my time at Fleming were critical in preparing for the Skills Ontario Competition this year. Competing virtually was a challenge for many reasons, but in the long run it was a great experience. Steve: While competing virtually was a challenge, it did make some of the logistics much easier (no hotels, equipment, and transportation). However, it did add some more logistic work (live streaming and picture submission) which was a new twist. Both our competitors (Liam and Liliane) had a good day, with Liam winning the competition and Liliane coming in second. Liam moved on to represent Ontario at the Skills Canada Virtual Competition on May 26 and 27, 2021. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 29
NEW EVENTS AND NEW HORIZONS CF Central Region has united in the face of adversity By Chef Adelina Sisti-DeBlasis, Central Region Vice President
2020/2021 HAS BEEN a challenging year for all of us. Our members use the CF as an opportunity to network and create experiences that enrich their personal and professional growth. To put it in perspective, this pandemic - with the shutdowns, guidelines, and physical distancing - is the direct opposite of what we in the hospitality and culinary world aim for. However, when you tell a chef that some ingredients in their favourite regular dish will be on backorder, the chef does not just cancel the dish; instead, they create something else equally as palatable. This is exactly what the CF Central Region Branch Presidents and their branches have created together. They found strength in unity and produced "United Branches Virtual Zoom Events" where members from all six Ontario branches are connecting in ways normally only done during conferences. This unique alternate gathering connection gives members an opportunity to network with the whole region and also enjoy their regular local branch meetings. By working together, the overall experience has been enhanced through engaging educational content and the workload has 30 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
been minimized as each branch takes a turn hosting. Here is a summary of the events we’ve hosted since last September: • • • •
Demystifing Chocolate with Chef John Placko A Journey of South Indian Spices with Chef Joe Thottungal Hospitality Then and Now with Chef Thomas Heitz McCormick Flavour Forecast: Looking Back to Look Forward with Chef Juriaan Snellen • Understanding Umami with Chef Christopher Koetke • Walk-In Sessions with Chef Kim Sutherland The idea has been so successful, in fact, that we will be continuing these sessions on a quarterly basis throughout Fall 2021. Members are engaged, attendance is up, and new members are joining the CF – a win, win, win, especially during a global pandemic that has significantly impacted our culinary industry.
IN THE FIELD WITH SYSCO
Taking you behind the scenes with CF chefs, cooks, and partners SYSCO’S VIRTUAL KITCHEN (SVK) celebrated its one-year live streaming anniversary this past spring. Part of the celebrations included launching a new series, partnering with the CF, called “Chefs In the Field.” Once a month, host Lisa Evangelos will go behind the scenes with CF chefs, cooks, and culinary partners for an in the field experience. In the inaugural episode, viewers travelled (virtually, of course) to Summerhill Pyramid Winery in the Okanagan Valley with the Director of Culinary Hospitality and CF Western Region Vice President, Chef Jeremy Luypen. Chef Jeremy took us on a tour of the breathtaking winery to discuss Summerhill’s passion for sustainability. We learned about Summerhill’s permaculture design, biodynamic agriculture, and wholistic farming practices. For May’s episode, alongside Canadian Corporate Chef Carmelo Vadacchino (CF Oakville member), we travelled all the way to Deizisau, Germany to the F. Dick Knives Official Headquarters for an exclusive tour of their facilities. We went behind the scenes with CEO Steffen Uebele, from the hardening oven to the robotic knife production line to the manual belt grinding station. We learned about the nearly 250-year-old legacy of F. Dick Knives and their dedication of excellence to their craft. For the June episode, Jay and Lisa were joined by Canadian Corporate Chef and CF National President, Chef Ryan Marquis, as they traveled south of the border to Avery Island, Louisiana - the home of McIlhenny’s famous Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce – for a tour of the barrel aging room, the chili pepper fields, and the production/bottling facilities. It was another “In The Field” experience not to be missed. After a little summer break, SVK “Chefs in the Field” segment was back in September with special guests Brian and Lia McCormick from Clever Crow Farms on North
Vancouver Island. We toured their 5 acre farm, learned about their journey from chef to farmer and everything between. You can catch the post live footage on Sysco and Culinary Federation’s social media platforms. Special thanks to Sysco Canada for partnering with the CF and providing the platform to connect with our membership across the country, continent, and even the world, live streaming on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and coming soon to Roku TV.
TEAM CANADA 2024 Message from Team Manager, Chef JC Felicella AFTER MANAGING CULINARY Team BC and competing at the World Culinary Olympics in February 2020, we were excited to get back into the kitchens and start planning our menus and working on new ideas for Luxembourg 2022. Along with Culinary Team BC, Junior Culinary Team Canada is now under our management and we were looking forward to getting a new team started. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be where we are today. Team meetings over Zoom, coaches giving critiques over email, and virtual events. The management team and competitors have had to get creative to stay sharp and get ready for their next international competition. Each team member will sacrifice hours of personal time and work very hard on their craft to grow throughout the years leading to the World Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany. There are local, regional, national, and international events that feature enthusiastic and talented cooks and chefs who compete on an individual and team basis. Observers and other competitors will witness calm practiced skill, boundless creativity, unlimited talent, and outstanding teamwork. Behind the team lies a support team composed of volunteers, sponsors, managers, coaches, support members, and alternate team members. Training these young minds is our main goal, allowing us to advance Canadian cuisine to higher levels every year and generation. The Culinary Olympics is hosted every four years by the Verband der Köche Deutschlands (The German Chefs’ Association). It is the largest and most prestigious culinary event in the world. In 2020, more than 2,000 chefs, pastry chefs from over 59 countries competed at this five-day event in a wide variety of categories. Junior Culinary Team Canada won two gold medals! Other categories include those for national teams, regional teams, junior national teams, community catering teams, military teams, and individual competitors. The regional competition can also include entries from cities and corporate teams.
Leading the Junior National team is Captain Leah Patitucci. Leah is a returning member from the 2020 Culinary Youth Team Canada and has also competed in numerous other competitions including the 2019 World Skills in Kazan, Russia. Team member Gus Koeingsfest is also no stranger to competitions. He had the opportunity to go to the IKA Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany as a support member to Culinary Team Canada and competed in the Chaine de Rotisseurs Jeunes Chefs competition, winning the regional and national competitions. The team also has the very talented Daniel Calabrese, Simon Dufresne, Ottis Crabbe, and Joey Mai. They are very talented young chefs looking forward to getting some International Culinary Competition experience and giving all their talent to the team and their country. Last but not least, we have Clarissa Roque, who will be taking on the daunting role of pastry chef. She started competing at the age of 15 at the Skills Canada Competitions and in 2019, she qualified to become a part of World Skills Team Canada to compete in Pâtisserie and Confectionery in Kazan, Russia where she won a Medallion of Excellence. Just like Olympic athletes, chefs compete in other international competitions leading up to the World Culinary Olympics. One of those is the ExpoGast, held every four years in Luxembourg. This competition is a stepping-stone for all nations to come together to see everyone’s cuisine and what the new trends will be for the next Olympics. Chefs gather in the gruelling two-day competition to fight for the title of World’s Best! The competition is run very closely to the rules and standards of the Culinary Olympics and is an amazing experience and learning tool for all teams involved. No team has ever won the Olympics without doing well in Luxembourg. Traditionally, Canada has competed and has always placed in the top five countries in the world. Having teams compete at such a level wouldn’t be possible without the support of all of our sponsors and coaches, and we have gathered some of the finest coaches and advisors Canada has to offer!
Leah Patitucci Daniel Calabrese Clarissa Roque Gus Koenigsfest Joey Mai Ottis Crabbe Simon Dufresne
JC Felicella – Manager Bruno Marti – Team Advisor Simon Smotkowicz - Team Advisor Jane Ruddick – Team Advisor Shawn Lang – Team Advisor James Hutton - Team Advisor Scott Jaeger – Lead Food Development Coach Cameron Huley – Development Coach Damon Campbell - Development Coach Suzannah Yeung - Pastry Coach Natasha Morton – Demi Manager Nisse Bourne – Team Culture & Wellness
Poyan Danesh – Marketing Manager / Sponsorship Liaison Christina Cho – Social Media Manager Leslie Stav – Team Liaison Daniel Davyduke – Logistics Manager Marco Baldissera – Equipment Manager Helen Orimaco-Pumatong – Team Chef & Food Procurement
32 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
THE ROAD TO
CULINARY GOLD Culinary Team Canada continues its pursuit of excellence CANADIAN CULINARY TEAMS have competed internationally since 1972 but marked 1984 as the “coming of age” for Canada’s chefs – the year they established themselves as worthy Olympians in the international culinary arena. Culinary Team Canada pursues excellence in culinary arts, skills, and craftsmanship in order to deservedly represent Canada as Culinary Ambassadors of a cuisine that is uniquely Canadian and reflective of the cultural diversity and agricultural abundance of our country. Team members, who have exhibited excellence in culinary skills, are chosen by their peers to represent our country and are volunteers who participate in team activities on their own time.
INTRODUCING …. CULINARY TEAM CANADA 2024 MESSAGE FROM TEAM MANAGER, CHEF PAUL HOAG, CCC, CEC, CHT: Where do I start? COVID-19, COVID-19, COVID-19, COVID-19. What is this thing that has upset our world as we know it? I thought as cooks and chefs, we could go anywhere in the world and find work! Not anymore. Try running a world-class national culinary team that must fly, gather in larger groups to meet and practice, rely on sponsorship dollars to exist, and choose team members without ever physically meeting them or tasting their food, all while hoping the governing body of the event does not cancel the whole competition. COVID-19, COVID-19, COVID-19. Well, we are figuring it out! For sponsorships, thank heavens for LinkedIn. I coldcalled over 200 companies, increasing my LinkedIn contacts to over 800 in four months. The great thing is that the companies that responded are not just fooddriven companies as I had to look outside the box. We executed two team tryouts across Canada using virtual formats (Zoom and Teams). We received word from across the pond that the government IS allowing the event to proceed, a very important step! When it comes to practice, again: Zoom, Teams, virtual show-and-tells. Team members work in their homes or places of work and show it off on scheduled virtual calls. There is always a way around the problems that we face. Think outside the box, be diligent, never give up, and don’t be afraid to fail – it only makes you better, stronger, and more knowledgeable.
Rahil Rathod Jonathan Thauberger Robert Graveline Changlong Yue Rebecca Van Bommel Daley Solomon Vish Mayekar Hannah Bowering Sydney Hamelin Calvin Wat Zagros Leung
Paul Hoag – Team Manager Jud Simpson – Lead Coach Peter Dewar - Cold Kitchen Coach Russ Thayer – Pastry Coach
Carmelo Vadacchino – Sponsorship Lead Rodney Bowers – Public Relations Lead Cameron Callum – Logistics and Public Relations Lead Tony Fernandes – Communications Lead Adelina Sisti-Deblasis – Finance Lead Trena Kraft – Social Media Lead
www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 33
s ’ o c s y S l a u t r Vi n e h c t i K
HIGHLIGHTING REAL PEOPLE & REAL STORIES IN CANADA’S FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY
The authentic program has become a go-to place for positivity and innovation during the challenges of the pandemic.
n a time of unprecedented challenges for Canadian foodservice, Sysco’s Virtual Kitchen Show (SVK) has taken matters into its own hands with a mission to bring real-life stories of positivity, community, and innovation to the industry. SVK is a live and on-demand foodservice program that concentrates on serving up foodservice insights, tips, tools, and everything else operators and other professionals need to succeed in foodservice. It came to life in mid2020, during the early devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way to connect with Sysco’s customer community and continue to provide industryleading support and expertise. While oﬀering professional advice is still a focus, the ultimate aim has been on creating an authentic grassroots industry show that would help foodservice operators not only adapt and progress their business during tough times, but also feel connected as a community and share stories of ideas, inspiration, and innovation. Sysco has heard so many uplifting stories about customers overcoming challenges, shift ing operations, and innovating products and services in a way that have resulted in great opportunities and growth during a time of struggle. Whether it’s transitioning to takeout and delivery, launching pop-up shop models, shifting to a new online and mobile presence, or something else entirely, foodservice's persistence, agility, and creativity in not just surviving but thriving has been something to behold. SVK’s aim is to inform and inspire by sharing those stories of survival and success with the world.
With a rich breadth of content featuring real people and human stories, SVK has become an authentic go-to place for C anadian chefs, restaurateurs, and other industry professionals to revel in tales of positivity anytime, anywhere. Now into its second season, the show has evolved into the SVK Network, featuring 20 shows with over 200 episodes broadcast live twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursday, and reaching over one million people via Facebook Live alone over the last year. Shows are 22–25 minutes long with multiple guests featuring authentic and original content and are easily accessible on Facebook and YouTube. All shows are live, unscripted, interactive, original, and authentic, covering every corner of the industry, ranging from culinary and food trends and recipes to crucial operational topics like restaurant business, social media usage, and diversity. There are also spotlight features, such as a partnership with the Culinary Federation. Chefs “In The Field and Around The World” is a behind-thescenes look at the inner workings of the industry with a light-hear ted insider commentar y on products, ﬂavours, and more. Meanwhile, season one’s biggest show, “The Future of Food – Planning For Food Inﬂation”, broke down one of the top challenges Canadian operators continue to face in 2021. The second season of SVK kicked oﬀ on August 24, featuring even more diverse culinarians and innovative products and topics. The intention is to run the programming as a long-term initi ati ve beyond the pandemic. After all, positivity, a culture of community, and innovation are what Canadian foodservice is all about. So, what are you waiting for? Get involved and get inspired today!
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Sysco oﬀers full teams of sales consultants, culinary consultants, marketing experts, and product specialists whose primary goal is to help foodservice operators develop their menus, market their business, and serve the best food to their communities every day. Find Sysco Canada online or on mobile at @syscocanada on Facebook and Instagram, Sysco Canada on YouTube, or at Sysco.ca.
LURING RESTAURA WORKERS AMID PANDEMIC DAMAG 36 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
Foodservice is facing a staffing crisis as many laid off workers show understandable reluctance to return. So what can operators do? By Tom Nightingale The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on tight-margin industries like foodservice and hospitality were particularly devastating as closures and numerous restrictions have affected the last 18 months and counting. Amid those effects has been the laying off of multitude of restaurant workers, either temporarily or permanently. Now, though, as reopenings continue expanding across the country, employers need to attract workers back to the business, and the demand for labour is expected to ramp up as restrictions continue to ease. The problem is, with COVID-19 having exposed the sheer uncertainty that plagues foodservice and hospitality, many restaurant workers have begun looking elsewhere, often exiting the industry altogether in search of more secure and sustainable long-term employment. That poses what is perhaps an unprecedented quandary when it comes to restaurant hiring. “The staffing challenges are very real and going far beyond the usual,” says David Hopkins, President of the restaurant consultancy firm The Fifteen Group. “We’re seeing challenges with the front of house, with servers, even with management. The shutdowns saw so many people laid off, and many of them got other jobs in other industries.” Hopkins surmises that the restaurant industry usually attracts two types of workers: those who are in the industry for the love of it and the desire to remain in the workforce in the long term, and those who fall into the industry on a temporary basis — for example, while trying to figure out their career path or to help pay their way through college. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 37
“Because of that, when people left the industry to find other jobs during the pandemic, many had no real inclination or motivation to come back,” Hopkins says. It had also led to another concern in training. Ensuring a top-quality guest experience is a vital component for foodservice operations. “That is likely to be a concern,” acknowledges Hopkins. “A lot of restaurants are worried about how they’re going to staff. But you don’t just want staff; you want good staff and people that can execute and are engaged and that you can train. I think it’s a huge challenge for restaurants right now.” Another factor is that the wage subsidies and other worker relief introduced by the government has in no small measure led to some people taking the top-up money to continue their unemployment. So what can be done to reverse the trend? ARE PERKS THE KEY?
As a result of the exodus of the workforce and the struggle to staf f during reopening, restaurants, as well as businesses in other industries like retail, are increasingly offering perks and benefits in attempts to attract and retain staff as a labour crunch increases competition for employees. Such measures seen from restaurateurs in recent months have included upping
wages and offering bonuses like free meals and drinks during shifts. Certainly, Hopkins emphasizes that these sorts of measures can reap rewards. “Perks like free meals can make it a more lucrative and easier job, and also sometimes have better value than the actual money.” Using free meals as an example, he explains that while providing a free meal to a worker may cost a restaurant $5, it means the staff member doesn’t have to go home and cook dinner or buy a meal themselves at a higher price. That adds a layer of convenience that multiplies the appeal. As for other perks that could be introduced, measures like retention bonuses or tuition coverage can provide added incentive for an often-temporary workforce as they give
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potential employees an extra boost that they can’t find in government support. Hopkins also noted that his company is talking to a number of restaurants (mainly full-service restaurants) about the redistribution of tips to help support back of house or other positions more. Serving staff tend to be the best-paid people in the business after tips, often more even than the management of the restaurant,” Hopkins explains. “Most restaurants tip into a house pool that gets redistributed to some of the other staff. Maybe it’s time to revisit that and make those tip pools even bigger and distribute it to all the other staff.” Hopkins notes that could have a significant effect. The Fifteen Group’s studies show that consumers are now tipping more or at least
as much as they did before the pandemic, so servers are making even more money right now per guest. Hopkins and his company have long been advocates throughout the pandemic of restaurants’ raising their prices a little. He stresses that can have a big benefit here, as well. If an operator puts their prices up 10 per cent, servers’ tips also go up 10 per cent, and that gives more reason to redistribute a little more of that to back of house, kitchen staff, and other positions, as well as yielding more bottom-line profit which allows for the raising of wages and more competitive hiring. KNOW WHAT WORKERS WANT
However, while low wages are the most common reason people cite for leaving foodservice work, one recent survey found that more than half of hospitality and restaurant workers who’ve quit said no amount of pay would get them to return.
Indeed, Hopkins stresses that while perks have their place, there is no substitute for being a warm, welcoming, and caring workplace. “Treating staff properly has often historically been a problem in foodservice, but it’s even more important now,” he continues. “One of the best ways to attract staff is through referrals from your existing team. A lot of restaurants will give incentives where, say, if you refer a new staff member, you’ll get a $500 finders fee or whatever it may be. Obviously, those programs only really work if your staff really love working for you – nobody’s going to refer their friends if it’s not a great environment.” Hopkins adds that while 20 years ago, structures around labour laws and paid overtime were severely lacking in foodservice, much progress has been made. However, he adds that he hopes the current climate can prompt “a bit of a reset”. “This could get some restaurants thinking a lot smarter about their hours of
operation and a lot may re-evaluate where they are making that money because of staffing issues,” he notes. A BRIGHTER FUTURE?
“Hopkins predicts that the foodservice and hospitality labour market should continue to rebound into fall as the industry moves past the initial urgent rush to restaff ”? In North America, we’ve started to see some progress already. Major chains like Chipotle, Olive Garden, and McDonald’s, have raised their entry-level pay, and employers are paying people just to show up for interviews, adding signing bonuses, and recruiting younger workers via TikTok. It’s certainly become clear that old restaurant hiring methods are no longer adequate and adaptation is needed. If operators can embrace offering not just financial rewards but improved worklife balance and a better culture, they can still reap the rewards.
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www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 39
GETTING TOUGH ON TECH Restaurants should be discerning and focus their attention on technology that plays an essential role in their operations. By Mo Chaar
The restaurant industry is an ever-changing technological landscape. The pandemic has shifted guest expectations and restaurants are now required to be tech-savvy and offer online ordering, pay-at-the-table functions, third-party delivery, and more. However, with restaurants already struggling in the current climate, most businesses don’t have the financial resources to invest in expensive restaurant technology to meet these demands. The key to investing in technology without breaking the bank is to invest in the right technology: tech that will save money in the long run, cut down on current costs and, ultimately, streamline operations to help boost the bottom line. When assessing tech solutions, restaurants should focus their attention on tech that plays an essential role in their operations. There are three phases of
technology that can be implemented: technology that is essential to survival, technology that will propel the business forward, and technology to invest in once there is additional cash flow. TECHNOLOGY MUST-HAVES
One of the most crucial aspects of restaurant technology is the Point of Sale (POS), a robust system serving as the foundation for
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restaurant operations, such as ordering and reporting. While added features can offer a plethora of benefits, investing in the right POS is imperative to optimizing business success. Integration options are key — modern, innovative POS systems allow integrations with ordering and payment tools to help restaurant operators streamline communication from the various platforms and provide reporting in real time. A contactless payment terminal is essential to reduce high touch points, follow health and safety protocols, and meet customers’ evolving convenience requirements. Without a contactless payment terminal, restaurants will be limiting their customer base and risk rapidly falling behind the competition. Online ordering was also expedited due to
the pandemic, as customer behaviour has dramatically shifted away from in-house dining. Many customers will continue to opt for the convenience of online ordering despite restaurants reopening. QR codes have seen a huge surge in both popularity and necessity this past year. While they may not seem essential, they offer an easy and cost-effective way to reduce high touch points, allowing guests contactless access to menus and other key information. This added convenience has evolved into a guest expectation that is sure to outlast the pandemic. Phase two of essential technology focuses on technology that can be implemented to propel the business forward. This technology includes gift cards, loyalty programs, order and pay-atthe-table technology, mobile apps, and kitchen display systems (KDS). Gift cards and loyalty programs are great ways to gain traction and can be easily implemented to encourage business and repeat guests. Order and pay-at-thetable technology is an easy and costeffective option as they can be built off the pre-existing online ordering systems and readily available QR code technology. Kitchen Display Systems cut down on huma n er ror a nd st rea m li ne communication between front of house and back of house. Additionally, these digital tools replace traditional paper chit systems and support more efficient food preparation, helping to eliminate food waste and save money. The last phase includes technology that can be implemented once a restaurant has additional cash flow, such as selfordering kiosks, reservation systems, and social media. These nice-to-haves will depend on the type of restaurant and their individual needs. Self-ordering kiosks and reservation systems are not expected by guests but can provide added convenience. Social media is very important in building a customer base and reaching new audiences. While it is not necessarily costly, it does require a large time investment which can be challenging for restaurant owners who need to focus their efforts on more operational elements of the business.
necessary or simply a shiny new toy to play with. Finding the right tablet for a restaurant’s needs can sometimes be challenging but it’s worth noting that it’s not always worth investing in the latest tablet to hit the market. While some apps and POS systems will require the purchase of a brand-new tablet, it’s important to think about whether the benefits outweigh the cost. Not only are the latest tablets an added expense, but they are also often fragile, easily breakable, and have the potential to accidentally go home with an employee. It’s important to assess whether you need the latest iPad or if a more cost-effective and replaceable Android tablet is a good alternative. Third-party delivery apps or delivery marketplaces are another area to carefully assess as they incur massive fees from restaurants and are difficult to manage. These costs must be weighed against their ability to bring in new customers. A more viable and costeffective option is to focus on an in-house online ordering platform that lives on a restaurant’s website. This enables restaurants to own the customer relationship and gives restaurants greater insight into data around repeat guests so they can build a loyal following and customize the experience. Digital advertising can be beneficial but doesn’t make sense for all restaurants. The restaurant space is crowded online and there is tough competition for clicks,
meaning restaurants need to commit a significant financial investment in order to compete. Splurging on pay-per-click ads and banner ads may not deliver the ROI to justify the expense. It’s also important to be aware of expensive software licenses that will nickel and dime customers. Some account software and apps require restaurant operators to buy expensive licenses to get basic features. Switching to a provider that offers more features and freedom of choice to integrate into the tech suite that best suits a restaurant’s needs is an easy solution that will save money. The last component that restaurants can skip on is anything too gimmicky. While burger-f lipping robots and delivery by drone may make a catchy media headline, now is not the time to bet on uncertain technology. It’s a good rule of thumb to wait until the kinks of new technology have been found and ironed out before purchasing them. THE RIGHT TECH FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Ultimately, the right technology for a restaurant is going to require taking a closer look at the type of business that is being built. Avoiding the frills and nice-tohave technology at the beginning can help cut down on unnecessary costs and help restaurants focus on building a loyal customer base. A solid foundation is the most important investment that can be made.
TECH TO SKIP
The latest restaurant technology can be intriguing and exciting to have, but it’s important to look at it with a critical eye and determine whether it’s actually
Mo Chaar is the Chief Commercial Officer of Givex, where he oversees commercial strategy and development worldwide as well as managing sales teams within North America. His experience in gift card, loyalty, and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners. www.restobiz.ca | Fall 2021 41
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
SAFETY FIRST How tamper-evident packaging improves food safety and customer satisfaction. By Paul Rutherford
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an enormous increase in restaurant delivery and take-out sales. Recent surveys have shown that the number of Canadians ordering food once a week has increased significantly over the last year, and that trend seems likely to continue.
Unfortunately, with people ordering food more frequently, the risk of food tampering has never been higher. A survey conducted by US Foods found that out of the 500 food delivery drivers surveyed, one in four admitted to eating delivery food before it reached the customer’s home. This has the potential to pose a serious health risk to customers and reflect negatively on the restaurant they’re ordering from. THE HANDS-OFF SOLUTION
Restaurant owners and managers need to ensure they select foodservice packaging that allows their product to be safely delivered to customers. Fortunately, new packaging designs can help them to do just that. Tamper-evident packaging makes any indication of food tampering clear, providing a highly effective deterrent – and solution – to this problem. According to Dan Brannagan, president of Danbree Corporation, a manufacturing representative of foodservice disposable packaging solutions, “Consumers are looking for packaging that they are confident is both hygienic and safe. Tamper-evident packaging gives them that confidence by providing them with an increased level of security over regular containers”. Selecting the right tamper-evident packaging not only prevents food tampering but can also improve customers’ dining experience by properly maintaining food quality and integrity. TAMPER-EVIDENT VS. TAMPERRESISTANT
Along with tamper-evident packaging, tamper-resistant food packaging is also available. So, what’s the difference? While they may sound similar, it’s important to understand the difference when choosing 42 Fall 2021 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
“With people ordering food more frequently, the risk of food tampering has never been higher.” the packaging solutions best suited to your food, and your customers. Tamper-evident packaging provides customers with visible signs that food has been handled, such as a pull tab that must be removed before opening a container. By comparison, tamper-resistant packaging is designed to discourage anyone other than the customer from handling the meal but does not show any visible signs if tampering occurs. For example, packaging that is difficult to open but is resealable would be considered tamper resistant. MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
While tamper-evident packaging is relatively new, there are various types including clamshell containers with pull tabs, sealed delivery bags etc. As more business adopt tamper-evident packaging, the number of options is expected to increase. Many of the tamper-evident packaging options available today are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. These are recyclable and some are made with post-consumer recycled material, making it easy to strike a balance between environmental sustainability and health and safety. So, what should you keep in mind when choosing tamperevident packaging solutions?
1. Assess which type of tamper-evident packaging is right for your business. Select the configurations that best suit the type – and temperature – of the food you serve. Then stock multiple sizes and types so you always have the right container to maintain food integrity and quality during delivery. 2. Buy from a credible supplier. Working with a reputable supplier not only ensures you get expert advice and a highquality product that best meets your needs, but also access to the latest innovations in packaging development. 3. Consider recyclable options. According to a survey by Kearney, 48% of respondents said the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment, and 55% said they were now more likely to purchase environmentallyfriendly products. With concern around making environmentally sustainable choices at the forefront of customers minds, choosing recyclable tamper-evident packaging shows customers that a business is eco-conscious and helps reduce environmental footprint. While there are many types of tamper-evident packaging, they share the benefit of increased health and safety and provide the reassurance that the package has not been opened. That signals to the consumer their foodservice vendor is concerned with their customers’ health and well-being, which can only increase both trust and loyalty. Paul Rutherford is the Director of Sourcing and Merchandising at R3 Redistribution, a national wholesaler of food packaging and janitorial and sanitation products.
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The New Menu Mix By Jeff Dover & Travis Traini
Through the pandemic, customers have had limited ability to dine-in and are ordering food for pickup and delivery more than ever before as less commuting has led to fewer impulse and convenience purchases and more meals consumed in the home. Off-premises business is likely to continue to be relevant as restrictions are lifted. When we are forced to remove dining in, all that remains of the customer experience is convenience and food quality. This has led restaurants to focus on understanding what foods travel well and how to maintain food quality in to-go packaging. Product shortages, increasing costs, and labour constraints have resulted in many operators scaling back their menus. That has allowed restauranteurs to reduce waste and focus on products in high demand, items that travel well, and products with favourable margins against the increasing operating costs during the pandemic. The decrease in menu items available has occurred in most menu categories except for sides, which typically have more favourable margins. Items remaining on menus include comfort foods, “craveable” menu items, and some unique plant-forward and “better-for-you” menu items. The NPD Group notes growing types of cuisine in QSRs include pizza/Italian, Mexican, seafood, and global cuisine (including Indian, Greek, and Mediterranean). These products are easy-to-feed groups, easily portable, and easy for restaurants to shift to portable delivery/pickup formats. Upserve by Lightspeed, which summarized 2020 restaurant menu trends in the United States, also observed a return to comfort foods. Sandwiches and wraps, hamburgers, and pizza were the top-selling menu categories in 2020. The chicken sandwich has experienced a significant growth in popularity, and the crispy chicken version is an example of a craveable comfort food that travels and keeps well for pickup and delivery. Statista found that the chicken sandwich was a key component of 2020’s most-ordered food items, with the spicy chicken sandwich placing first.
Top selling items by menu category Sandwiches and Wraps Hamburgers Pizza Salads Seafood Pasta Fried Chicken Desserts Bread Barbeque 0%
5% Dine-In Menu Trends
Online Ordering Menu Trends
Source: Upserve by Lightspeed: 2020 Menu Trends
Meanwhile, DoorDash’s most-ordered menu items also include comfort food. Chicken-based items like chicken fingers and fried chicken led the way, and breakfast items such as breakfast sandwiches, omelettes, and baked goods also increased in popularity. Comfort foods are likely to remain relevant, while plant-based and healthier menu items will increase in popularity, with more consumers aiming to eat healthier. Vegetarian and vegan menu items are becoming more popular among customers, including those who do not identify as vegetarian/vegan. The NPD Group reports that top tastes through the remainder of 2021 will include hot and spicy foods (including Mexican and Cajun cuisine). International cuisines will be popular with many Canadians suffering kitchen fatigue. Restaurateurs should highlight unique, local, or healthy ingredients, and include comfort food and family-style options.
Jeff Dover and Travis Traini are Principals at fsSTRATEGY, a consulting firm specializing in strategic advisory services for the hospitality industry, with an Fall emphasis food and beverage. 44 2021 | on Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
WE DON’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 UK’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