CRFN Summer 2022

Page 1

Canadian

&

Summer 2022

Restaurant Foodservice News Official Magazine of the Culinary Federation

CANADA'S MID-YEAR REPORT EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY: HOW HAS THE INDUSTRY STACKED UP IN 2022?— PAGE 20

Publication Agreement #40033126

A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY How Instagram can be the ultimate tool for restaurants PAGE 40

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OFFICIAL E-NEWSLETTER:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:

Canadian Trailblazer: Bika Farm | Chef Q&A: Doug Hyndford Canada's Most Wanted | Omni-channel marketing | Automation



contents Summer 2022 VOL. 14 NO. 1

SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT 25 The Culinary Federation’s À LA MINUTE

ADVERTISER FEATURES (FROM OUR PARTNERS)

14 COVER STORY

FEATURES

20 Canadian foodservice’s mid-term report Expectations vs. reality: how has the industry stacked up in 2022?

14 Menu Canada's most wanted

DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note Where have we been, and where are we heading? 6 Canadian Trailblazer Turkish delight: Chef Fisun Ercan honours her sustainable roots at Quebec’s Bika Farm and Cuisine 9 Chef Q&A Doug Hyndford: Bringing millennia of culinary history to life at Wanuskewin Heritage Park 46 Crunching Numbers Guess who’s coming to dinner? (Plus breakfast and lunch)

34 Sustainability Plant-based meals are now a menu must-have 36 Operations Halfway through 2022, where do we stand? 38 Marketing Why omni-channel marketing is a cornerstone of restaurants’ future 40 Social media How restaurants can utilize Instagram to great effect 44 Beverages Alcohol sales are changing to capture a new generation of customers

12 Bridging the gap between digital & physical presence By Sysco

18 Bring your menu to life By Custom Culinary

33 Up your game By CookUp Co.

Even only midway through the year, there are many trends in this space to analyze as a state-of-theindustry-update.

-— David Hopkins, President of The Fifteen Group


EDITOR'S NOTE

WHERE HAVE WE BEEN, AND WHERE ARE WE

HEADING?

&

Canadian

Restaurant Foodservice News The official publication of the Culinary Federation, RestoBiz.ca, RestoBizBYTES and RestoBizGuide. PUBLISHER: Chuck Nervick chuckn@mediaedge.ca EDITOR: Tom Nightingale tomn@mediaedge.ca DIGITAL MEDIA DIRECTOR: Steven Chester stevenc@mediaedge.ca ART DIRECTOR: Annette Carlucci WEB DESIGNER: Rick Evangelista PRODUCTION MANAGER: Rachel Selbie rachels@mediaedge.ca

I

t has been only around six months since we last published an issue, but as has become all too clear over the last years, that is a long time for Canadian foodservice. In summer 2022, this issue attempts to define and explain some of the trends we have seen in the industry over the last six to 12 months, as well as to tentatively chart a path forward. We have enlisted a number of industry experts, from Technomic to the NPD Group, the Fifteen Group to Ipsos, to lay out the fundamentals of where we stand, assessing evolving menu trends, consumer sentiment, operational shifts, and the challenges still facing Canadian restaurants as we look to the second half of the year. As always, we also spotlight one or two chefs to discuss some key issues on the ground in foodservice. Our Canadian Trailblazer feature sees us chat to Chef Fisun Ercan at Quebec’s Bika, a truly holistic Turkish-cuisine farm-to-table experience that focuses on sustainability as more than just a buzzword. Bika has won recognition and awards for the integrity and quality of its operation, and we hope you find the interview as fascinating as this editor did. Our Chef Q&A discusses with Chef Doug Hyndford of Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatchewan how Indigenous culture can be remembered, celebrated, and perpetuated through food. Chef Doug featured at our partner the Culinary Federation’s National Conference in Saskatoon in mid-June, and we enjoyed lifting the lid on his way of thinking before that show got underway. Speaking of the Culinary Federation, our regular A La Minute insert spotlights how they have been continuing their fine work in Canadian culinary throughout the challenges of the pandemic. Chair of the Federation Doug Overes discusses the challenges of attracting and motivating young culinary students and cooks to an industry that has had its flaws spotlighted over the last two years, and we recap some fantastic recent events that tackled that test head-on. There is much more inside these pages, too, from social media strategy to omnichannel marketing. We hope you come away with a clearer picture of where Canadian foodservice is at right now, and a reiteration of the message that this industry — for all the trauma since early 2020 — will endure and prosper. Thanks for reading. Tom Nightingale tomn@mediaedge.ca

CIRCULATION INQUIRIES: Adrian Holland circulation@mediaedge.ca

Magazine Editorial Advisory Board Jason Bangerter

Gary McBlain

Executive Chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa

National Director of Culinary ServicesAmica Mature Lifestyles Inc.

Donna Bottrell, RD

Brent Poulton

Owner, Donna Bottrell Food Consulting

CEO, St. Louis Bar and Grill

Andrea Carlson

Doug Radkey

Chef/Owner, Burdock and Co.

Owner and Director of Operations Key Restaurant Group

Connie DeSousa and John Jackson

Matt Rolfe

Co-owners/chefs, Charcut/Charbar

Jeff Dover

CEO and Hospitality Leadership Coach/Speaker, Results Hospitality

Principal, fsSTRATEGY

Ryan Marquis Corporate Chef, CW Shasky

PRESIDENT: SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT:

Kevin Brown Chuck Nervick

Published by: MediaEdge Communications Inc. 2001 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 500 | Toronto, Ontario M2J 4Z8 Tel: 1-866-216-0860 Fax: 416-512-8344 E-mail: info@mediaedge.ca | Website: www.restobiz.ca Copyright 2022 Subscription Rates: Canada: 1 year, $50*, 2 years, $90*, US $75, International $100 Single Copy Sales: Canada: $12* * Plus applicable taxes Publications Mail Agreement No: 40033126 PAP Registration No. 10983 ISSN 1494-7625. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Publications Assistance Program towards our mailing costs. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News or the editorial staff. Although every care will be taken of material submitted for publication, Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News, its servants or agents accept no responsibility for their loss, damage or destruction arising while in its offices, in transit or otherwise.


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TURKISH DELIGHT Chef Fisun Ercan honours her sustainable roots at Quebec's Bika Farm and Cuisine By Tom Nightingale Photos: Sylvie Lie

6 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER

N

estled in the southern Quebec countryside just outside SaintBlaise-sur-Richelieu, about 45 minutes from downtown Montreal, Chef Fisun Ercan runs a truly local and sustainable food experience that pays homage to her roots in Turkey. At Bika Farm and Cuisine, which she founded with her husband in 2018 after 14 years in the restaurant business in Montreal, she provides high-quality Turkish cuisine with a strong emphasis on sustainability and local sourcing. That reflects the core learnings of her upbringing on the Aegean coast. There, as a child with foodie parents, she grew up with a keen sense of family, what it takes to prepare a meal and entertain g uest s, a nd t he i mp or t a nce of sustainability and respecting the environment and the earth. Being a chef is her third life, she explains, having previously studied in both economics and f inance and computer programming in Turkey. “But cooking wasn't something I learned later in life — it was always with me,” Ercan says. “I grew up in a family who almost literally lived in the kitchen and in an environment where everything was local, eating what was available seasonally with nothing was really produced for big markets. The scene of the table changed every time. It was a joyful life.” Erca n’s move from Turkey to Montreal changed her life in many ways, of course, not least by opening her eyes to the fact that the local, sustainable model she had always known wasn’t necessarily replicated around the world. “It was the first time I really saw the ‘global’ way of eating, where every season’s produce from every geographic region of the planet could be found in one place in the supermarket,” she explains. “That was a big shock for me.” That love of cooking and exploring food only intensified, though — “I was even going to other people’s houses to cook for them!” she laughs — and in her early 30s, Ercan found herself going to culinary school. She admits she felt old to be entering the industry, but within months of completing her studies, she was running a restaurant with her husband. “I just wanted to share the joys of Turkish cuisine with people.”

“Everything had that second, third, fourth life. You never, ever wasted it.” FULFILLING A DREAM

Over the years since, Ercan has garnered quite the reputation within Quebec’s culinary scene. But it was her move from Montreal restaurants to countryside farm-to-table operation that has truly fulfilled her. Ercan doesn’t like to call Bika Farm and Cuisine a restaurant, instead emphasizing its dual role as farm and kitchen. She strongly believes in the benefits of eating according to nature’s cycle, and as such, her establishment provides a holistic culinary experience that all revolves around the garden, where a wide assortment of vegetables and herbs are grown without herbicides or pesticides and are renewed according to the season’s harvest. Respect for the earth is a fundamental part of the Bika journey. “For me, environmental responsibility and sustainability are not new and are not a trend,” Ercan continues. “I lived with that for 28 years until I came to Canada, and it’s continued into my professional life. My acute areas are eco-responsibility and small production.”

Bika also retains a strong focus on local sourcing and sustainability. Ever y t hi ng is et hica l ly g row n, responsible, and sustainably farmed. Ercan sources mainly locally in Quebec but also turns to New Brunswick and some other regions to help with fish. The local approach goes beyond just what is served to guests from the kitchen — on the table are accoutrements like cutlery and napkins from local artisans and producers. The sustainability aspect also runs deep — Bika boasts a filtering system that goes towards watering the vegetables, as well as a container collecting run-off rainwater. For guests, the dining experience begins with them being led through the garden and introduced to naturally growing ingredients that will shortly become the components of their meal. They then proceed to the sleek and chic greenhouse with a cathedral ceiling, desig ned by Mont rea l desig ner Alexandre Laf leur, that serves as a transparent dining room, seating 16 to 18 people with some additional seats outside and offering stunning views of www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 7


CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER

the natural landscapes of Saint-Blaisesur-Richelieu. There is no pre-determined and predisplayed menu, just a handcrafted day’s selection based on the ingredients available to harvest in the garden, as well as what the farm has previously been able to preserve and what is provided to it by other local organic or eco-responsible farms. Ercan calls it “ingredient-based” food rather than one that hinges on recipes or techniques. “The ingredients do most of the hard work, really.” Ercan likes to ensure guests are fully versed in the local and sustainable ethos, too. As every dish in the day’s single six-course tasting menu is served, her team explains to diners the Turkish inspiration in the menu for the evening, where the ingredients were sourced from, and how it reaches their table. "We are not like a regular restaurant,” says Ercan. “Every service is an event.”

bones were boiled and either used for broth or boi led down to a lmost nothing and composted. Even the feathers, you could make stuffing for small cushions. Everything had that second, third, fourth life. You never, ever wasted it.” At Bika, she perpetuates that ethos, using or composting almost everything that is grown on the farm or sourced by the business. If a particular ingredient is in surplus and cannot be served in the dining room before the harvest is out, Bika’s team either transforms the ingredient for other dishes or preserves them for when supplies are low. “It’s either that you use or transform them or they go in the garbage or the compost,” she says. “That’s an easy choice. We compost everything and we use almost everything — serving immediately, transforming for different dishes, using in preserves — apart from certain things that literally cannot be used.”

NOTHING IS WASTED

DESERVED RECOGNITION

Key to the operation is the tenet that everything is used and nothing is wasted; an approach that has stuck with her throughout her life since her upbringing. “When I was young, we would prepare a chicken not just for that day’s dinner — you could use the breast for dinner, the wings or legs for tomorrow's dinner or lunch, eggs for breakfast and lunch, the organs for other things. The

Ercan, of course, will say she does not do what she does for the recognition, but the recognition has come anyway. Guests tend to leave not only full but fulfilled — “they love the approach we take,” ref lects Ercan proudly and gratefully. Prestigious reward recently came in the form of Bika being named not only to Canada’s Top 100 Restaurants list but also as the winner of Best Farm-to-

8 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

Table on enRoute magazine’s Canada’s Best New Restaurant list for 2021. “That was fantastic,” beams Ercan. “Canada is so big and there are so many people doing different and great things, so I'm really honoured. I'm working like crazy — I passed through a few burnouts! — but I cannot just do something that is purely business, I need to have this meaning and ethos behind it. So, when recognition comes like that, I feel just thrilled that someone sees what we are doing.” As for what’s next, Ercan would like to expand Bika’s offerings as and when is viable, to include affordable ready-to-eat lunches from the garden so that people can have them for their picnics or their lunch. Bika will also keep running classes and workshops on sustainable farming and cooking, and the end of the current season will see a new round of ingredient transformation that creates new jams, sauces, fermentations, and pickles. Somehow, Ercan has also found time to author and publish a book Racines, which means roots in French, which details her roots in Turkey, her Quebec journey, and her sustainable farm-totable operation. “Then, suddenly, you’re in the fall and the harvest and it’s time to start over again!” she concludes with a grin. It’s a breathless and intense cyclical operation, but it’s the perfect testament to her childhood and her core values. “It’s so, so worth it.”


Q&A

DOUG HYNDFORD BRINGING MILLENNIA OF CULINARY HISTORY TO LIFE By Tom Nightingale

Wanuskewin Heritage Park’s executive Chef Doug Hyndford is staying true to the land and its people In the heart of Saskatchewan, three kilometres north of Saskatoon, sitting above Opimihaw Creek and not far off the Saskatchewan River, is a place that typifies Canada’s rich cultural history. Wanuskewin Heritage Park’s archeological resources represent 6,400 years of the Northern Plains peoples — twice the age of Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza. Within its 240 hectares (590 acres), there are 19 sites that represent the active and historical society of Northern Plains peoples, composed of Cree, Assiniboine, Saulteaux, Atsina, Dakota, and Blackfoot. These migratory nations who roamed the plains came to hunt bison, gather food and herbs, and find shelter from the winter winds. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 9


Q&A

electrified bear wire in a couple of tents. That was an amazing time. CRFN: For you, what makes Wanuskewin so special and how does

the Park celebrate its heritage?

Hyndford: Wanuskewin Heritage Park really is a living reminder

of the people’s sacred relationship with the land. All this feeds back into our non-profit structure — everything filters back to help support Indigenous job creation and programming opportunities. These days, the site serves as a scientific, cultural, and educational authority, a gathering place for present-day spiritual uses, and a tourist attraction. In addition, of course, it’s also a hub of fantastic culinary activity.

CRFN: What does it entail to create a culinary experience true to

the land here?

Hyndford: We’re proud to offer an array of catering options that

Already a National Historic Site of Canada due to its significance, a process is currently underway to recognize the heritage park with UNESCO World Heritage designation. It’s a status that one could hardly argue the park doesn’t deserve. Managed as a non-profit site and organization, Wanuskewin’s mission is to sustainably operate a Heritage Park under the leadership and guidance of First Nations people that contributes to increasing public awareness, understanding and appreciation of the cultural legacy of the Northern Plains. CRFN caught up with Executive Chef Doug Hyndford to discuss why paying homage to that history and culture is so important. CRFN: Tell us a little about yourself ! How did you end up at

Wanuskewin?

Doug Hyndford: I actually returned to Wanuskewin in

September 2021, having previously worked as the chef on site over a decade ago. Away from the Park, I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty varied experiences. Before my first spell here, I worked as executive chef at two Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority casino properties. Then, in the intervening years between my two periods at Wanuskewin, I worked at a Radisson hotel, as executive chef at the Saskatoon Inner Conference Centre, and as director of culinary at Spirit Ridge Resort in B.C., as well as serving as part of the membership chair of the Culinary Federation. My work has also taken me to an island in the middle of Lake Athabasca, with just a crew of six geologists and prospectors, where I was cooking behind an 10 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

are healthy and made in-house with locally sourced products and ingredients and reflect a mix of traditional Indigenous cuisine infused with a contemporary style. At its core, our culinary operation revolves around pre-contact ingredients — ingredients sourced from the land that pre-date European arrival in the area. That includes traditional fare such as goose soup and bison stew, foraged ingredients including chokecherries, sage, and Saskatoon berries, and more modern twists such as bison burgers. Much of Indigenous cuisine is based on an expansion of the idea of the Three Sisters — squash, corn, and beans, and the idea that they should be planted together, grown together, and eaten together. Prickly squash varieties keep the raccoons and the deer at bay and the corn being a nitrogen-taker and beans being a nitrogen-fixer means that it also fixes its own soil. That gives you a whole holistic worldview in one cuisine. In the dishes, there are stories and an importance that is translated through food. Bison features prominently — they were reintroduced to Wanuskewin in 2019 through a partnership with Plains Canada and members of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation. Those bison have not only enriched the land, but they have also helped to uncover even more history — they lead park staff to discover four old ribstone carvings in the middle of nowhere!

CRFN: Wanuskewin also offers some unique culinary experience

— can you tell us more about those?

Hyndford: It doesn't matter where you are from in the world —

you have to eat. Food and smells and tastes conjure up memories or experiences. That is no different in Indigenous cuisine. As another part of that goal of educating on and perpetuating Indigenous history and culture, we host experiences such as Han Wi Moon Dinners, bannock bakes, and dried meat platters. Sitting around the table breaking bread — or, in our case bannock — is an opportunity to share stories across generations and bring those


foodservice operation; how did Wanuskewin Heritage Park’s operations have to change?

Hyndford: It was difficult. There was a

tough pivot trying to keep our culinary staff employed and we had to think outside of the box. Offering takeout and delivery, keeping the gift store just outside of downtown Saskatoon stocked, and adjusting the menu all became key. We pivoted to that “we’ll bring the food to you” approach. In winter, it was hard to make those adjustments. I was getting tired of throwing out produce that I was prepping because nobody was here. So, we did things like pickle our veg to give it an extended lifespan — essentially finding ways to preserve and extend shelf life on some of the items. Like everybody else in the industry, we had to think of a new way of generating revenue to keep our staff employed.

Exciting

C AN AD IA

CRFN: The pandemic has affected every

Extensive

Q&A

D FOO F OC U N

ORG S.

comforts and good times. This is all such an important part of any culture, and to share that experience from an Indigenous perspective just gives a glimpse into the life, the history, and the values of us as a people at Wanuskewin.

ate r b e l e C Let’s ers m r a F & od o F n a i d Cana

is ow food h e r lo p x a. de Come an d raised in Canad n grown a

CRFN: Wanuskewin was a host site for the 2022 Culinary Federation National Conference. What do you hope visitors take away from the experience? Hyndford: We held a wide range of

events on offer to showcase the park’s history and culture, from an interactive bannock bake at a teepee village to walking tours, a native plant walk, a backin-time archeological walk, all sorts of things. On the culinary side, I didn’t want it to become “Doug’s Indigenous culinary experience”. This has been the site of so many different people coming together so I wanted to open up that experience to many Indigenous chefs. I thought I could do the backbone work on the usual fare, and we could have live-action stations from other different Indigenous chefs to round out that experience and make it more fulfilling and inclusive. Ultimately, there are a lot of people and chefs out there all over Canada who might not have any idea about us or even Indigenous food in general. There are things that people may not think about that have a totally different meaning in Indigenous culture. It’s an honour to share this experience and knowledge with Canadians. www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 11


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beyond what’s on the menu. Restaurant operators experiencing business troubles often hyperfocus on food cost, labour, and fixed costs as the root of the problem, but it’s possible that customers may not be choosing your restaurant simply because they do not know what to expect when dining there. In a survey completed by Datassential, Gen Z & Millennials stated that they rely on social media more to determine where to eat rather than what to eat. In fact, more than half (56%) of the surveyed customers stated they have visited a restaurant or café because they saw something on social media that prompted them. Therefore, promoting more visibility into your operations atmosphere, dining experience, and location in addition to sharing menu details will help diners make more informed decisions and hopefully select your restaurant over others. Interested in improving your digital presence? Become a Customer with Sysco Today and schedule a one-onone consultation with our Business Resources team! www.sysco.ca 6%

22% 18% Consumers rely on social media 28% 17% 34% more to determine where to eat 40% 42% 54% Total Gen Z Millennial Gen X 25% Boomer 57% rather than what to order. 24% 77% Importance of social media when 32% 24% deciding what to order when eating out: Extremely/very important Somewhat important Not very/not at all important Integrate all digital touchpoints like your website, social media, and Google Business profile to depict additional features of your establishment.


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Canada’s

MOST WANTED

By Vince Sgabellone

Canadian consumers have shifted the way in which they access and consume restaurant meals over the past two years. How they place orders, why they choose to eat out, where they consume their meals, and who is consuming.

14 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


MENU

And what about the “what”? Have Canadians changed what they have been eating? The answer to this isn’t so straightforward, but I’ll try to unpack it for you. The chart below illustrates the top food categories sourced from Canadian commercial foodservice establishments, as reported in The NPD Group/CREST® consumer panel database. These seven items have been at the top of this list for as long as I can remember and yet there are many interesting trends to report. FRENCH FRIES

French Fries are the most popular food item in Canada by far, and the only one to top out at over one billion servings per year. They pair well with just about anything and they are more popular than ever among all age cohorts. Innovations like sweet potato

fries and poutine provide a good foundation for flavour innovations, but the traditional fry still accounts for about 80 per cent of all servings. BURGERS

Burgers are the top entrée item in Canadian foodservice, growing in both relative popularity and absolute servings since the start of the pandemic. Much like fries, burgers have wide appeal among all cohorts and dayparts and they provide operators with a platform for flavour innovation. This stalled a bit during the pandemic, but bacon, cheese, onion rings, and gourmet sauces remain popular enhancements. Meanwhile, the pandemic also led to an increase in large burgers as meal occasions shifted a bit from lunch to supper and consumers upscaled their demands.

BREAKFAST SANDWICHES

Breakfast sandwiches have been growing in popularity for the past decade, and that trend did not slow down much despite the recent disruption in our morning routines. Recent innovations that keep this category fresh include new carriers like waffles and wraps, and newer proteins like chicken and plantbased sausage. Meanwhile, a major new entrant in the QSR breakfast landscape will certainly generate further innovation and even greater sales growth. CHICKEN

This ubiquitous protein takes on so many forms, it is no wonder this menu category has so much appeal. While the overall incidence has increased, the subcategories have shifted. Nuggets and strips

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The content of this promotional campaign represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the European Research Executive Agency (REA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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MENU have risen substantially thanks to their popularity with kids and the at-home family occasion. Meanwhile, fried chicken received an early pandemic boost, similarly because of families and the ease of access for delivery and digital ordering. Innovation in this space tends to be limited to dipping sauces. Instead, the truly innovative chicken trends come in the form of a sandwich (see below).

Top Food Items – Commercial Foodservice Menu Importance (servings / traffic)

French Fries Burgers 10%

Chicken*

9%

Donut Pizza Chicken Sandwich

legions of hungry students and office workers who were staying home. The pizza category continues to compete for customers with a steady stream of topping innovations, crust styles, and unique marketing initiatives like subscriptions.

PIZZA

Pizza was one of the early beneficiaries of restaurant lockdowns. More than any other restaurant category, the pizza operators were ideally situated to serve Canadian families sheltering at home. However, their fortunes were muted by the loss of lunchtime slice traffic, which depends upon

13%

Breakfast Sandwiches

DONUTS

Donuts have grown their popularity during the pandemic, even though coffee sales dropped by almost one third in the first year. As with breakfast sandwiches, consumers found reasons to order this favourite breakfast and snacking treat. The recent introduction of donuts at a major burger chain has created even more upward momentum.

17%

CHICKEN SANDWICHES

This may be the last item on this list, but the category is by no means the least of the bunch. In fact, at current growth rates, this menu item can be expected to take over pizza for the #6 spot very soon. The chicken sandwich craze that began in the U.S. in 2019 reached our

8% YE Mar '19

7%

YE Mar '22

6%

market about a year later and has resulted in servings growth ever since. A steady stream of new offerings — from new formulations, unique toppings, and flavourful sauces — have provided enough variety to attract a continuous stream of returning and new chicken-curious customers, fueling this fastest growing of all categories to over 13 per cent growth since 2019. THE BEST OF THE REST

Three more macro food trends have emerged during the past two years. These have contributed to the continued strength

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MENU

of the listed categories, while supporting others not included above. The first to consider is the rising influence of Asian cuisine and its associated flavour profiles — especially Korean, Vietnamese, and Indian. Indulgence is next. This trend takes on many forms including larger servings, an increase in sweet treats, more snacking, and extravagant toppings. Finally, we have the spicy trend, which has

influenced all the food categories above with the exception of donuts. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before that final line is crossed. If there is one thing we all needed these past two years, it was some extra comfort. That is the common

thread that connects all these popular food items. Restaurants have always provided an escape and an experience, not just a meal. It’s nice to see they were able to provide some tasty emotional support as well, all packed up in a brown paper takeout bag.

Vince Sgabellone is an Industry Analyst specializing in Canada foodservice at The NPD Group, based in Toronto.

WE BRING FOOD TO LIFE

Local restaurants are at the heart of our communities. Catering to small businesses, we are your partner in foodservice. With all of the products you need, flexible payment options and no delivery minimums, we are ready when you are.

NO DELIVERY MINIMUMS

For non-contract customers on their scheduled delivery days.

Learn More at Sysco.ca/delivery

CRF_WBFTL.indd 1

10:51:15 AM 17 www.restobiz.ca 5/24/2022 | Summer 2022


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roasted flavour profile of traditional brown gravy without any meat or dairy ingredients. What’s more, they’re easy to prepare! Simply add one pouch to four litres of water, whisk, boil, and serve. With a unique versatility across the menu, Custom Culinary® gravies are perfect as a standalone gravy or the base ingredient in your own creation for appetizers, side dishes, breakfast entrées, and more. MAINTAIN TEXTURE AND TASTE WITH BOLD GLAZES Maintaining the desired texture and mouthwatering flavour of a wide range of menu items including wings, fries, pizza, fried chicken, cooked pasta, salads, popcorn, and more has never been easier thanks to Custom Culinary® Flavour Glazes. These unique oil-based liquid seasonings, which can be used before or after cooking to customize the flavour experience, deliver superior performance in a wide variety of applications. Developed to impart bold flavour and evenly coat your favourite foods, with better yield than traditional sauces, a little goes a long way, too – you can use as little as one-third of what you might use for a regular sauce application on a product.

In today’s world, where so much restaurant business relies on takeout and delivery, Custom Culinary® Flavour Glazes also keep fried foods crispy for a longer period of time — with the addition of bold flavour. Custom Culinary’s Buttery Garlic Flavour Glaze brings a classic garlic butter flavour seasoned with parsley and a hint of lemon; the Hot Louisiana Flavour Glaze provides a delicious blend of garlic, chili, and black pepper that is perfect for adding spice and flavour to a variety of dishes; the Sweet & Smoky BBQ Flavour Glaze accents a barbecue flavour with paprika and smoky wood notes; and the Parmesan Truffle Flavour Glaze offers decadent notes of truffle and parmesan flavours, finished with herbs and garlic. Whichever glaze is right for your dish, this range maintains a crispier texture and a more intense flavour profile, adds a premium glossy sheen to foods, provides more consistent uniform coverage than dry seasonings, comes in a convenient pouch format that is easy to handle, and is suitable for both hot and cold applications. With Custom Culinary® gravies and glazes, you’ll find that upgrading your menu and keeping your customers satisfied and coming back for more has never been easier. Variety truly is the spice of life, and Custom Culinary® is the solution for all seasons! Visit www.customculinary.ca for more information.


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CANADIAN FOODSERVICE’S MIDTERM REPORT Expectations vs. reality: how has the industry stacked up in 2022? At the start of the year, amid what was still significant COVID-19-related turmoil and evolving restrictions and operations, Technomic mapped out some predictions for the Canadian foodservice industry. By Katie Belflower

20 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


COVER STORY

T

www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 21


COVER STORY

Now, more than halfway through 2022 and after so much has changed (again) in the industry and beyond, Technomic has compared its new year predictions with where we stand in June 2022. FORECASTING THE FUTURE

Canada’s pre-pandemic $95 billion foodservice industry was battered by sales losses of nearly 29 per cent as we entered 2021. While we thought COVID-19-related restrictions — influenced by new caseloads and the looming impact of virus variants — may directly affect consumer visitation and behaviour in 2022, Technomic research suggested the new year would also bring an upswing in the Canadian industry’s sales and overall performance. Our data showed Canada’s foodservice sector was expected to reach $74.8 billion, reflecting roughly a 21 per cent increase over 2021 and just three per cent below pre-pandemic sales levels. From a segment perspective, limited-service restaurant sales were projected to rebound at a nominal growth rate of 7.3 per cent, and full-service restaurants were poised to grow sales by a nominal rate of 26.2 per cent in 2022. Mid-Year Status: Canadian foodservice sales have certainly begun to rebound in early 2022, with commercial foodservice sales up nearly 18 per cent over the last year and indexing showing that industry revenue will be at 97 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. As COVID-19 restrictions have eased and indoor dining has begun to make a comeback, Canadian foodservice industry employment has also begun to recover, showing 12 per cent year-over-year growth in February 2022. When it comes to segments, predicted nominal rebound rates have been adjusted to be slightly lower, with limited-service sales projected to grow 7.1 per cent, and full-service sales estimated to grow 20.9 per cent in 2022.

22 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

LEANING INTO LEANNESS?

By the end of 2021, operators were getting leaner on multiple fronts, from downsized staff to smaller unit footprints to trimmed menu selections, in an effort to respond to changing conditions. In 2022, we expected restaurant chains to accelerate investments into more compact models that service delivery and takeout while operating efficiently with fewer workers on hand. Ghost kitchen outsourcing was expected to emerge as a primary avenue to allow brands to expand without additional spending on real estate. And we were ready to continue to watch menus shrink in favour of optimization strategies that help make food prep simpler while reducing costs. Mid-Year Status: Restaurant chains have been balancing investments in traditional expansion and digital operations. As predicted, some operators have been leaning into technologydriven enterprises that focus on delivery and takeout models. For multi-concept operator Recipe Unlimited, for example, e-commerce sales have continued to grow, even as dining rooms have reopened. On the flip side, rather than getting leaner, many operators — including Mary Brown’s, Popeyes, and Jollibee — have been expanding by opening units in new regions. And despite overall menu items decreasing two per cent year over year, the fact that this is compared to a nine per cent decrease from pre-pandemic to today signals that a slow road to menu recovery may be starting. MENU PIVOTS SUPPORTING SUPPLY CHAIN-GES?

We expected persistent supply chain issues to inspire creativity and require flexibility in 2022. Specifically, quirky preparations of familiar ingredients were projected to allow for exciting menu additions without new SKUs — think pickled apples, candied garlic, or salt-baked root veggies to impart new flavours and/or textures while, in some situations, even extending shelf life.


COVER STORY

TIME TO

BEEF UP YOUR BUSINESS The Canada Beef team has a steak in your future!

PROMOTION/EDUCATION/TRAINING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

• Foodservice operator promotion and sales building programs

We tipped inventiveness with favourite fare to also help operators stand out without overhauling entire menus, such as chicken sandwiches or pizzas differentiated with global toppings. And, because of ingredient shortages and sourcing issues, nimbleness would be table stakes, with operators ready to implement menu swaps that take advantage of more readily available and economical ingredients. Mid-Year Status: The menu creativity we predicted for this year is already apparent, with innovative preparations (e.g., grilled lettuce at Tanto in Toronto) and quirky takes on classics (e.g., Mucho Burrito’s Tandoorito featuring tandoori chicken and chutney crema stuffed into a burrito) popping up on menus. We’ve also seen menu swaps when it comes to proteins, with limited-time offers such as Quiznos Canada’s Bison Reuben Sandwich. With enduring supply chain issues impacting operators, creative menus that embrace flexibility will continue throughout the year.

• Distributor support programs • Branded and co-branded support programs • Cooperative advertising support • Development and production of custom marketing resources • Beef buyers guides, wall charts and reference materials • Partner programs • Butchery and culinary education resources for food processor, retail, foodservice and academic teams • Education and training video production for industry • Food safety and quality assurance • Consumer product experience support • Value chain familiarization for domestic and export market buyer groups • Event marketing and trade show activations • Carcass utilization and value optimization • Engagement in online seminars and conferencing

THE EVOLVING FACE OF HOSPITALITY

We knew restaurant hospitality would look very different as we headed into another pandemic year. Some practicalities of on-premises dining were likely to continue to be stumbling blocks for operators who were — and still are — trying to balance safety and hospitality. And some of these decisions — whether mandated or not — could have caused controversy among consumers. For example, we wondered if vaccine passports or negative COVID-19 tests required for dine-in customers may be here to stay, along with charges for no-show reservations or last-minute cancelations. Conversely, we predicted that gone by the wayside could be extensive staff interactions for ordering and payment (thanks to contactless operations), physical reusable menus (with QR menus taking permanent hold), and high-touch food and drink areas (such as communal condiments and fountain drink stations). Mid-Year Status: Within the first few months of 2022, as the Omicron wave seemed to slow, several provinces lifted mask and vaccine mandates, leaving restaurants to adapt to new hospitality

• Web-based education and training for processing, retail and foodservice professionals • Market insights and trends analysis For more information about promotion and marketing: Rod Koning, Executive Director, Channel Marketing rkoning@canadabeef.ca | cdnbeefperforms.ca | canadabeef.ca For more information about education and training: Mathieu Paré, Executive Director, Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence mpare@canadabeef.ca | cdnbeefperforms.ca | canadabeef.ca

* Access to CBCE facilities will be in accordance with current COVID-19 health guidelines.

www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 23


COVER STORY The future for the foodservice industry looks hopeful, but only time will tell how comfortable and confident consumers will feel in traditional hospitality settings. ALL BUTTERED UP

Finally, with comfort food trending highly during the first 18+ months of the pandemic, we projected that many operators would turn their attention to butter, a versatile staple ingredient in most kitchens, with flavoured butter being grounds for endless culinary experimentation, ranging from umami-rich kombu or yeast butters to cocktails featuring herb-infused and browned butters. Beyond the classic dairy product, other buttery ingredients such as buttermilk, butterscotch, and ghee/clarified butter were predicted to gain attention. Elevated versions and applications of nut butters were also in line to continue to grow in conjunction with the plant-based trend, with pistachio and macadamia butters finding momentum, with peanut butter also making headway in new directions, such as on burgers or in cocktails. Mid-Year Status: Our predicted butter trends have already made moves in 2022 in the form of funky-flavoured butters (e.g., sake kasu butter at Burdock & Co in Vancouver and Aura in Victoria), innovative uses of buttermilk (e.g., buttermilk sorbet at Biera in Edmonton) and elevated versions of nut butters (e.g., hazelnut butter at Toque! in Montreal). Given that we’ve already seen operators get buttered up, expect further exploration throughout 2022. Additionally, look for requirements once again. As we tentatively move forward, innovation with new textures, such as butter powder, currently restaurants will continue to balance safety and hospitality — found at Straight and Marrow in Vancouver. perhaps with hybrid operating solutions, such as restaurants defaulting to QR menus but offering physical menus for those who Katie Belflower is an Associate Editor at Technomic and a regular CRFN contributor. prefer them.

RAISED BY A CANADIAN FARMER Means more now than ever.

brand@chicken.ca | chicken.ca | chickenfarmers.ca 24 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News CRFN-CFC-Canadians want ad ½ page H ad.indd 1

2022-05-02 11:30 AM


THE CULINARY FEDERATION’S

À LA MINUTE THE CF WOULD LIKE TO THANK AND RECOGNIZE OUR NATIONAL PARTNERS

+MOVING FORWARD | COOKUP HOOKUP BRIGHT FUTURE | BOOSTING FOODSERVICE'S APPEAL


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

MOVING FORWARD The Federation took strides in the last year and is proud to continue to serve the industry

DEAR FRIENDS, IN JUNE, close to 200 chefs, cooks, and culinary partners gathered in Saskatoon for our first National Annual Conference since 2019. We were thrilled to be back in person and able to Reset, Reconnect, and Revive the Culinary Industry through networking, education sessions, product showcases, culinary competitions, and awards celebrations. If you couldn't join us this year, we felt your absence, and we hope to have you with us next year in Niagara Falls as we celebrate our 60th year. Our Federation family was more crucial than ever during the pandemic. Even though the last two years put roadblock after roadblock in our path, we found new ways to connect and thrive amidst them. If you are still feeling the isolating effects of the pandemic, we invite you to find a branch near you to come and connect with your culinary peers — there is a place for everyone. Our membership has held strong throughout difficult circumstances. During these times, your national board, administrative team, and I continued to do our best to bring value to returning and new members. I wanted to share some of the ways we continued to activate the four pillars of the Federation – Education; Health & Wellness / Community Involvement; Culinary Challenges / Competitions; and Networking and Personal/Professional Development over the past year: Federation Family Campaign Social Media Campaign — a main CF branded video about the federation being one big family of chefs, cooks, and culinary partners. Custom local branch branded videos as well. Family Food Culinary Competition Students from Culinary Programs across Canada competed in a culinary knowledge bowl, with two teams gathering at the National Conference for the finals. The two finalists were Fanshawe College from the Central Region and NAIT from the Western Region. It was very close finish, with NAIT narrowly taking first place with their answer to the final question. February Wellness Challenge Members joined our Wellness challenge to increase their physical activity and wellness for 28 days. We tracked the activity in our Strava App Challenge Group with our Wellness Ambassador Chef Mike Pitre. Thank you to everyone who participated. CF Apparel Fall & Spring Lines We had our first ever Culinary Federation Branded Apparel line created, with two seasons of orders (October and April). The feedback from the membership has been very positive — the quality of the apparel has been very impressive.

26 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Reintroducing In-Person Branch Meetings Almost all branches have now re-introduced local meetings — workshops, culinary competitions, networking opportunities and local philanthropic endeavours. We are so proud of our local branches. Online Regional Conferences The Western Region, Central Region, and Eastern Region all conducted their regional conferences online between March and May. Sysco Virtual Kitchen - Chefs in the Field Series Over the last year our SVK Chefs in the Field Series has seen the following special guests — Amy Symington, a Plant-Based Chef out of Toronto; Monin Headquarters and Factories across the US; Chicken Farmers of Canada; Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon; Prince Edward Aqua Farms; Raspberry Point Oysters; and Clever Crow Farms on Vancouver Island, SVK Virtual Kitchen — Influencer Fridays with some of our Young Chef Members! Weekly reviews of SYSCO products by Jesse Kushneryk, Eli Cami, Brittany Failler. Monthly Hot Off the Grill Newsletter Monthly Member Features, Culinary Team Features, Culinary Partner Features, New Member Welcomes, etc. Chicken Challenge with Chicken Farmers of Canada Monetary prizes and donations to food banks for the top three winners in September 2021. Minor’s Ready to Flavour Culinary Contest Culinary Contest, featuring Minor’s flavour concentrates, May/June 2022 National Day of Truth & Reconciliation Member Activation Call to action to our membership to donate and recognize our Indigenous chefs and culinary partners. Members made Bannock and Fry Bread recipes and shared them online to encourage other chefs to take part, acknowledge the work we still must do regarding reconciliation, and donate to various organizations supporting reconciliation programs. I would like to take a moment to recognize the efforts of Lisa Evangelos, our National Administrator, and Sue Mercer, our Communications & Conference Manager. Their support and drive to continue to improve communication and benefits to the members is a main component of the accomplishments of the Culinary Federation this past year. In conclusion, I want to acknowledge the National Board of Directors and Local Branch Boards that have persevered throughout the pandemic to continue to connect with our Culinary Federation family. Your efforts are seen and celebrated, and we thank you for your passion and dedication to the culinary industry and your fellow chefs. As always, the National Board, administrative team, and I will continue to do our best to work hard for the membership in the coming year. Thank you sincerely. Ryan Marquis National President


LOCAL EVENTS

COOKUP HOOKUP Connecting chefs in need with cooks of the future By Tom Nightingale

THE CULINARY INDUSTRY has been struggling with staffing through the pandemic, but the Culinary Federation is doing all that it can to help ease the pain. The Federation’s Toronto branch recently held an exciting icebreaker networking event at Shalit Foods Inc. in downtown Toronto with the goal of connecting chefs who are looking for more staff with talented up-and-coming and inspiring cooks. Shonah Chalmers, CF Toronto branch president and culinary professor at Humber College, explains she was getting bombarded with emails from chefs lamenting the lack of staff, and decided that she and her CF colleagues could help. “It was really a desperate call-out,” Chalmers says. “So, I wondered what I could do from where I sit to help this.” It all started, she says, with the desire to introduce chefs in need to cooks who needed work in a safe space. It can be hugely daunting for young and aspiring professionals to connect with potential employers in a formal setting, so Chalmers wanted to break down those barriers and get conversations started. “Chefs were telling me that so many interviewees weren’t showing up, weren’t emailing, weren’t calling,” she continues. “I think it's partly the pandemic and partly that fear of being judged in a formal setting. Because 28 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

of those factors, they are missing out on great opportunities and restaurants are missing great cooks. So, Chalmers decided to be a “wingman” for culinary students. She linked up with Carmelo Vadacchino at CookUp Co., drummed up interest from chefs — “people Carmelo and I both knew would treat young chefs and help grow them and train them” — and started reaching out to young chefs at various Toronto-area colleges to invite them. She admits the process was a learning curve for her, too. On the advice of her teenaged godchildren, she focused more on social media interaction, filming an Instagram Reel in which she talked honestly about her career and what she was trying to do. Suddenly, there was enough fuel on the fire. “We got 3500 impressions overnight and loads more people signed up with people sharing it and talking about it,” she says. Ultimately, the event proved to be well-attended, with numerous chefs and CF members turning out to chat to the young cooks and students who attended. The list included: MASSIMO CAPRA of Capra’s Kitchen in Mississauga JOAN MONFAREDI of TWO13 Kosher Food Design Catering in Toronto


LOCAL EVENTS

TED READER of The Joint: BBQ in Whitby NICK LIU of Dailo Restaurant in Toronto TONY FERNANDES of Royal Equator Inc. (hotels) at Toronto Airport Hotel ANDREW CERNIUK of 360 CN Tower (restaurant and events) in Toronto KIRE BOSEOVSKI of Feed me fine Foods: Big D’s BBQ (restaurant, catering & meal prep) in Mississauga & Newmarket AMANDA RAY of Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County LAURA MAXWELL of Drake Hotel in Toronto “Chefs started arriving and some wanted to talk to caterers, some to hotels, some to restaurants,” recalls Chalmers. “We got a really great diverse crowd. In the end, the chefs were so thankful.” It has proven successful, too, with several of the attendees having since been hired for jobs that in some cases they would never have been brave enough to apply for via a typical interview process.

“These inspired and aspiring young cooks have met chefs they're not going to forget, and the chefs have met people that they are going to be keen to work with,” Chalmers beams. She notes there has already been keen interest in similar events in the future. Not only was the event about inspiring the chefs of the future and connecting them with mentors and employment opportunities, but it also served as an invaluable educational experience for the senior chefs who attended. “The bottom line is that we need to connect with the audience,” Chalmers says. “The way we’re hiring has to change. It doesn't change the hard work and the great food, but in some ways, we’re going about it all wrong. “Our soft skills are 20 years old. It’s easy for the social side to be lost. Young people are good at socializing among themselves, but it can be intimidating talking to older people in the industry they want to be in, and we’re in danger of ending up with talented people who really just don't know how to facilitate their own success. They need a wingman! We need to offer a handle for people to grab onto, we need to form and strengthen those bonds. That’s our goal, always, and it’s so worth it to add another piece in helping the industry recover and thrive.” www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 29


INTERVIEWS

CANADIAN CULINARY PROGRESS PROMISES A BRIGHT FUTURE Culinary Federation Chair Doug Overes says motivating and inspiring young chefs is key for the industry By Tom Nightingale AFTER SUCH A DAMAGING and painful two years, how does the restaurant industry keep young and talented chefs motivated and keen to build a career in the industry? That just might be the million-dollar question amid the high-profile and lingering talk of a labour crisis and the magnified challenges of kitchen work that have been thrust sharply under the spotlight since the pandemic kicked in with full force in March 2020. “We were probably the hardest-hit industry by this pandemic,” Doug Overes, the chair of the board of the Culinary Federation, tells RestoBiz. “We have seen a massive exodus of cooks out of the industry — particularly line cooks, prep cooks, and those sorts of workers — to go into other industries that are more stable in terms of hours and guaranteed pay.” The restaurant industry, of course, is constantly evolving and innovating, but rarely has the need to balance the experience and accomplishments of what one might term “the old guard” with the fresh ideas and technologically fluency of younger generations been more acutely felt than in 2022. THE FUTURE IS NOW, BUT HOW CAN CANADIAN FOODSERVICE ENSURE IT LAYS THE PATHWAY FOR A SUSTAINED STEP FORWARD? That question is often on Overes’ mind in his day job, where he is the chair of the School of Culinary Arts at Lethbridge College in southern Alberta. Overes has been instructing at the college for the past 25 years after graduating himself from the school’s Professional Cooking program back in 1987. He has been in his role of chair for eight years, although he still also teaches. With his various roles at Lethbridge and the Culinary Federation, Overes has a foot in both camps, as he puts it. “I have a very good relationship with the old guard of the Federation, but I also identify with and get along well with the new up-and-coming young chefs,” he says. Educating the next generation of chef talent is a profession of passion. So, too, is culinary and kitchen employment itself — there is some work to be done, though, to keep that flame burning after the last two years. Overes notes that Lethbridge’s culinary school caters to a wide range of demographics, with great variations in age, gender, experience, race, and social background. There is “a massive waitlist” made up of international students in Canada on visas, as well as students right out of high school and mature students there to take on an apprenticeship and get extra training. “It's a very diverse industry and I don't expect it's ever not going to be,” Overes says. Unfortunately, the toll of the pandemic has been clear in the enrolment numbers, which have taken “quite a hit” compared to pre-pandemic. The pandemic is going to affect so much for years to come, and Overes admits it’s going to take “a lot of work” to try and motivate people to come back into the industry. However, as the pandemic hopefully fades away, the industry veteran spies “a huge opportunity” to push the envelope on attracting foreign workers and tap into the existing domestic pool to keep Canadian culinary stacked with talent. 30 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

A MODERN FEDERATION FOR MODERN TIMES One of the conversations the Culinary Federation has been having, continues Overes, is about how to pinpoint talented individuals, get them involved in an association or a formal cooking program, and nurture them along the way. Certainly, the Federation has made bolstering foodservice’s appeal as a career industry one of its key priorities over the years. Overes has been with the Federation since the early 1990s in various roles, from local branch secretary to president to Western Regional VP and now chair of the board, earning a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work. In that time, as with his quarter-century at Lethbridge, he has seen not only the day-to-day inner workings of a restaurant kitchen evolve drastically, in some ways almost unrecognizably, but also the discourse within and around foodservice. Overes speaks frankly and forthrightly about that evolution. “It’s sad to admit but in the past, the industry has been abusive in some ways, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, psychologically. Even just 15-20 years ago, it was a different era. Many young chefs were wary of the old guard, of their methods, of their management; there was very little relationship-building.” He adds that a lot of chefs used to opine that a chef was never a true chef unless they had worked at a hotel or restaurant. “It was all about your pedigree, your status.” That kind of mentality has changed immensely. As the industry and the Culinary Federation’s work within it evolved, there was more invested in promoting friendly competition and opening up opportunities to a wider range of chefs, recognizing the increased diversity of the industry’s workforce. Gradually, the Federation’s focus shifted further towards education, inclusion, and relationship-building across the industry overall, particularly for the “new guard” of younger chefs. These days, the Federation’s board is also made up of numerous independent members, whose valuable perspectives Overes describes as “a breath of fresh air”. Today, Overes, who has been proud “ever since I signed my first membership document”, says he loves the direction the Federation has taken. “I’m even more proud now, I really am. Our ‘A Chef Wears Many Hats’ initiative is a great example. Gone are the days of the old guy wearing the big white hat and the necktie and the gleaming whites; cooks and chefs come in all forms now, in every sense, and it's refreshing as an older guy to see that. Young people and professionals have so much energy and enthusiasm and we need to tap into that enthusiasm and diversity in the trade.” PUSHING THE POSITIVES Ultimately, while there is no magic formula, attracting and retaining young chef talent boils down to providing easily accessible channels of entry, offering younger generations what they want from foodservice work in the post-pandemic world, and ensuring the industry’s image is not only rehabilitated but enhanced.


INTERVIEWS

Thankfully, says Overes, the conditions for success are there, even with the setback of the pandemic. “Young chefs have so much more at their disposal now, the networking tools and educational tools. It's incredible and it’s exciting and I'm glad that we as an industry have embraced this trajectory. There are opportunities everywhere, as well as increased awareness of those opportunities.” Traditionally, in a country as large and expansive as Canada, mobility has been a big challenge that foodservice, along with many other industries, has had to overcome. But the proliferation of digital tools has made the world far smaller in metaphorical terms. Social media and other digital and visual platforms, notes Overes, allow the industry to be connected “coast to coast, across five time zones”. That has given the culinary industry a tremendous foundation on which to build. “Creating a platform where chefs can connect and innovate on their own time in their own geography but in collaboration with somebody on the opposite side of the country is a great thing.” There are still obstacles to overcome, of course. While there has been a far greater discussion around mental health in the kitchen in recent years, magnified by COVID-19’s impact, Overes stresses that the industry must continue to bolster the confidence and mental health of young students and cooks. “It’s hard for the industry on the ground level to do that amid the hectic

day-to-day, so as a Federation we need to ensure we are stepping up,” he says. Then there are the inherent issues of variance affecting the industry. While, say, an electrician in Alberta may be little different in practice from someone in the same trade in Toronto, foodservice has so many divergences that it is hard to approach single-mindedly. A cook at a finedining restaurant will likely be on significantly different pay and potentially in very different conditions than a line cook at a pizza parlour, and there are also geographical divides when it comes to the balance between remuneration and cost of living. “Those gaps will be difficult to bridge as long as I’m alive,” concedes Overes. But, in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to ensuring Canadian culinary and foodservice holds the recognition and reputation it deserves, things are heading in the right direction. “As both a Federation and a college culinary department, I and we have an obligation to help raise that profile and appreciation,” Overes concludes. “We have a lot of work ahead of us to extol the virtues of the cooking industry. It is a grueling industry with its own shortcomings and, really, you have to be either passionate or crazy — on some days, it alternates between the two! “But we really need to push the positives. It's a very social industry, it's a very creative industry, and it can be a very rewarding industry. That’s the heart of it all.”

CHEF TONY FERNANDES Receives CF Lifetime Achievement Award CHEF TONY FERNANDES, an executive chef and food and beverage director and a Canadian Culinary Federation Toronto branch member, has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Culinary Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the Central Region. The award was established by the Culinary Federation to honour and recognize those who have achieved excellence in the culinary field and made significant contributions to the culinary profession over a period of at least 20 years through mentorship, continual personal education, and training of the Culinary Federation’s new chefs in the culinary world. Fernandes is a 40-year expert in the culinary industry who has worked in five-star hotels and resorts around the world. He is a Worldchefs-certified Executive Chef and is also one of very few Worldchefs International Certified Judges. He also serves as a Special Advisor, North America, for the World Cultural Culinary Heritage Committee. “To receive this honour and recognition, I feel very, very proud,” Fernandes told RestoBiz. “You don’t realize what you have done in your career and your life until you look back. For many chefs, it can sometimes go unrecognized. I am a third generation chef, after my grandfather and my father, and when something like this happens, you feel that everything has paid off. I feel very proud and honoured.” Among Fernandes’ credentials are more than 45 medals won as a competitor or a coach at various chefs competitions around the world, including the Culinary World Cup and Culinary Olympics; numerous advisory, organizational, and educational roles at institutions and events; and designing and opening restaurants in Dubai and Canada. He has also played a long-term role with the Culinary Federation, having been a Vice President and a Director of the Toronto Branch in the past. He also won Central Region Chef of the Year in 2015 and was inducted into the Prestigious Honor Society of the Federation in 2019. “The Culinary Federation is an organization that you want to be a part of,” added Fernandes. “There’s so much education and great things that go on with the Federation and it just reiterates that the culinary world is always alive and moving forward. You have to be passionate and have so much love for this particular scene because a lot of hard work goes into this particular job. The Federation helps you out and keeps that alive.”

Shonah Chalmers, Culinary Federation Toronto branch president, added: that what sets Fernandes apart from all other candidates for the honour is “his willingness to continually support our industry in so many meaningful ways,” from judging local competitions to advising committees on where the industry should be moving towards next. Chalmers called Fernandes “a trendsetter who aims for top standards every time”. www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 31


LOCAL EVENTS

BOOSTING FOODSERVICE’S APPEAL AS A CAREER DESTINATION Thistletown Collegiate Chef Instructor Keith Hoare and the CF Oakville branch hosted an event devoted to tackling culinary's image problem.

FOODSERVICE’S REPUTATION has suffered some damage in recent years and under the harsh spotlight of the unprecedentedly difficult circumstances created by the pandemic. But, for its flaws, it remains a labour of love and an industry in which talented and committed chefs and cooks can flourish and forge long and successful careers. The key is getting that message out. Keith Hoare, Chef Instructor at Thistletown Collegiate, and the Culinary Federation Oakville branch recently hosted a career path event dedicated to helping to solve this problem. “One of the biggest challenges right now is to get young people excited about careers in hospitality,” Hoare laments. “There’s been a big exodus of people because of the pandemic and there's been a whole litany of complaints. I wanted to show my students that the industry is worthwhile pursuing and that there's a whole list of pathways and career choices.” Hoare reached out to colleagues, industry leaders, and friends to put together a roster of people who have reached significant success in a variety of different fields in the industry. Those included the likes of the hotel’s own events and catering leaders; Culinary Federation Oakville Branch President Lisa Alexander; Chris Zielinski, the Executive Chef at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment; Philman George, the Corporate Chef at Highliner Foods; and Carmelo Vadacchino, the Corporate Chef at CookUp Restaurant Supplies. The group came together for a conference on May 2 at Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto that was devoted to trying to answer some of the key questions facing the industry, from how hospitality can change its perception to how it can appeal more to younger generations and how it can better support workers and aid their mental health. One of the panels consisted of managers at the hotel who spoke to students about their varying journeys and roles in the business, and another saw seven executive chefs talk about their own pathways and the benefits of a career in foodservice and hospitality. Hoare hails the chefs involved for their commitment and eagerness to talk to the culinary students about the industry. “For the most part, culinarians are the most generous people, because they take care of people for a living,” he says. 32 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

Overall, there were 15 guest speakers, and Hoare emphasizes that he was “really humbled” by the turnout. “One example is Zielinski,” he notes. “This event was on the same day as the first game of the Maple Leafs playoff series with Tampa Bay Lightning, so he had players to feed and restaurants to run on his most important day of the year, he’s hosting 20,000 people for concessions and dinners, and he still took an hour out of his day to come and talk to the kids. That speaks to the level of commitment of people in hospitality to make that sacrifice and find the time.” A third panel was an all-star women-in-hospitality panel co-hosted by Alexander and Hassel Aviles, Executive Director of mental health and addiction non-profit Not 9 to 5. That focused, among other things, on the importance of supporting the mental and emotional health of foodservice workers. On that front, Hoare describes the pandemic as “a watershed moment” for the industry. “People didn’t really come out and talk about their mental health or their wellbeing very much before,” he says. “It was always viewed as a sign of weakness in a kitchen environment, unfortunately. The pandemic shone a focus on that because more people in society in general were feeling anxious and distraught, especially if they were thrown out of work or if they had loved ones who were ill. It’s become more acceptable to talk about those issues.” Ultimately, the event reiterated that the industry is working hard to make its workplaces safer and more inclusive environments that are in tune with workers’ needs. “We want students to know that if you’re considering entering this industry, this is the time to do it,” Hoare stresses. “There are so many people looking to make changes and improve it. It's already happening — the industry is responding well to the spotlight that has been on it in recent months. “Unless we continue to address this as an industry, we’re never going to shake the labels we have with some people. We must reset as an industry and refocus on the environments that we have as workplaces. People aren’t going to put up with harassment, abuse, wage theft, improper tip pooling. If we don't attract young people and we don't make this industry a great place to be, we're not going to have enough workers.”



PLANT-BASED MEALS are now a menu must-have By Riana Topan

The sustained interest in plant-based foods has moved the industry from a “trend” to a global movement, and the still-growing market shows no signs of slowing down.

34 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


SUSTAINABILITY

Canadian consumers have demonstrated a consistent appetite for plant-based options, especially plant-based proteins, in recent years, with over 6.4 million people reducing or eliminating their meat consumption. Moreover, 67% of Canadians report that they consume plant-based foods frequently and the plant-based market is reportedly now worth $1.1 billion in Canada. Health, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, taste, and price are cited as the reasons, according to research from Dalhousie University in 2018 and 2021. Dozens of new plant-based start-ups have launched in the past couple of years, offering innovative products like milk made from millets, buckwheat, or sesame seeds, and new varieties of plant-based seafood. Several leading quick-service chains including A&W, Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Pizza have introduced high-fidelity plantbased burgers, chicken, pepperoni, and ground meat. Many of the changes implemented by the restaurant and foodservice industries are motivated by sustainability goals and a desire to reduce the sector’s impact on the planet. In this regard, a shift to plant-based options is a high-impact decision. Plant-based dishes have a carbon footprint that is up to 85% lower than dishes with animal products, and serving just 1,000 plant-based meals would save an estimated 1,600 kilograms of CO2 — equivalent to the emissions that would be generated by driving the distance from Chicago to Paris. Of course, the changes are also market-oriented. Guests expect to see healthy, sustainable, and veg-friendly offerings on menus, and they are more likely to select a restaurant that is responsive to those preferences. By maintaining a robust set of enticing plant-based options that appeal to vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and omnivores, an operation can win the support of diverse sets of diners. The fact that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands offers additional incentives to operators. Thanks to social marketing research and real-life case studies, we know that there are several proven ways to nudge clients towards new plant-rich and planet-friendly choices at your establishment: • Give dishes names that reflect the food’s provenance, flavour, look, and feel; avoid terms like “meat-free”, “vegan”, “vegetarian”, and other labels that suggest a dish is restrictive or unsatisfying (such as “low-fat” or “healthy”). • Integrate plant-based options into regular menus rather than placing them in a separate section or a separate menu, so that they are presented as options intended for everyone and not just those following a special diet. • Since diners make decisions primarily based on taste, ensure that plant-based dishes look and smell appetizing, and feature them with appealing visuals onsite and on your website and social media. • Include thoughtful environmental messages on restaurant menus, to reinforce customers’ understanding that a small change to their food choices like choosing a plant-based meal can lead to a big difference for the climate (e.g., saving greenhouse gases equivalent to the energy used to charge a cell phone for two years).

• Finally, present veg-friendly fare first on a menu or in a buffet and give guests the option of adding animal proteins if they want. Making the plant-based option the default or first choice is a great way to help plant-forward options succeed. With the food landscape rapidly evolving, restaurants and foodservice operations can set themselves up for success by embracing plant-based foods. There are countless options to work with and more being launched every month. And, animal-free meat and dairy products are now being made through cellular agriculture and fermentation, and once available commercially they promise to provide chefs with a new range of ingredients to play with, without the downsides that come with conventional animal proteins. Riana Topan is a campaign manager with Humane Society International/Canada, where she runs the Forward Food program, which helps institutions across Canada increase their offerings of delicious and nutritious plant-based options that are better for animals, the environment, and human health.

WHY ARE CHEFS SWITCHING TO SUNFLOWER OIL? Customers want menus with healthier, sustainable ingredients. Buy USA Sunflower Oil SunflowerNSA.com

www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 35


MIDWAY THROUGH 2022, WHERE DO WE STAND? In the face of price increases and labour shortages, restaurants continue to innovate from the back of house to the front By David Hopkins

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OPERATIONS

It’s difficult to believe that we’re so far through 2022, but here we find ourselves in August. Now, more than two years into the pandemic, foodservice businesses are continually facing challenges while also experiencing new successes and new innovations. There are many trends in this space to analyze as a state-of-the-industry update. One of the biggest challenges faced by restaurant operators has been increased prices and supply chain issues throughout COVID-19. There are a couple of ways businesses have combated this to mitigate economic pressures. The most apparent of these was price increases. We have found from our clients and projects that strategic menu engineering is more effective than an acrossthe-board increase in this regard. Menu engineering involves a strategic review of your menu that identifies popular and profitable items. Analyzing menu items on a graph based on popularity and margin helps operators understand how each item contributes to profit. Additionally, ensuring your entire menu is properly reciped and costed and converts into bottom-line profitability will work to increase restaurant profits. You’ll get the most bang for your buck while establishing a pricing system that suits the needs of your operation and guests. Another tactic that many operators have taken on is reducing the size of their menu altogether. Restaurants have opted to streamline their offerings, especially with staffing shortages, supply chain and inventory issues, and higher food prices. This approach will also ensure that your kitchen can run more smoothly and efficiently and help you manage inventory. Restaurants have also strived to mitigate economic pressures by adopting technologies to improve efficiency and take on some of the workload. From simple implementations such as contactless ordering to advanced, automated inventory management systems, technology can significantly support foodservice businesses with a limited labour pool. For example, operators can often spend days on end in the office with inventory management, inputting recipes and costing menu items. Implementing a streamlined system requiring less input allows businesses to earn valuable time, energy, and costs back. QR codes have also exploded in popularity over the last two years, and that’s something we don’t expect to see slow down any time soon. This technology has benefited both businesses and consumers, allowing operators to easily update menus and online information without the cost or hassle of

reprinting collateral, and affording customers a more sanitary dining experience. We also expect to see restaurants continuing to diversify their revenue streams. First adopted during indoor dining closures, this strategy has allowed businesses to bolster sales and become more resilient — now and in the case of future unforeseen circumstances. Offering retail items or small “pantries,” providing pre-made meals or meal kits to-go, or selling and delivering alcohol are all tactics that have been employed by restaurant operators in an attempt to diversify their offerings and drive business. Another challenge the foodservice industry continues to face, of course, is the labour shortage. Based on the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, open restaurant positions are still high, and operators continue to have difficulty finding and retaining workers. Based on a survey of 3,000 restaurant operators and 1,000 customers in November and December 2021, “seven out of 10 operators reported not having enough employees to support demand at their restaurants, and the majority said they don't anticipate the labour situation to improve in 2022.” Indeed, the reduced labour pool is expected to remain a reality for the foreseeable future, and operators must adapt to that. It will be imperative to invest in staff holistically; signing bonuses are compelling draws for potential employees, but only until a more lucrative option comes along. Ultimately, operators must create ongoing, value-add opportunities for staff to remain competitive. Management must also foster positive work environments and be prepared to demonstrate that to potential employees. With the often toxic nature of the restaurant industry becoming increasingly exposed, workers are no longer settling for the subpar, often unsupportive, and at times dangerous work environments they previously did. Establishing open lines of communication

from staff to management and having a system for implementing and enforcing protocol is critical. It may also be strategic to alter your immediate business model in the form of changing hours or days of operation to boost profitability; it may no longer make sense to be open on Mondays or slow times based on limited staff availability. Another trend we’ve noticed across the industry is an influx of programming, specials, and events at restaurants. It appears the novelty of “just being open again” is no longer enough; consumers are looking for engagement and excitement with their meal. Selling guests on a larger experience is becoming the norm more and more, with an increasing amount of “activity” or “fusion” concepts popping up, such as arcade bars, retail/restaurant fusions, and more. More conventional restaurants are also adopting the approach of bringing more intrigue to their spaces. Live music nights, half-price wine nights, stand-up comedians and interactive artworks are among a few examples of the uptick in restaurant programming. Following the popularity of ghost kitchens and food trucks, the trend of “pop-up restaurants” will also be interesting to follow in the second half of 2022. Without the commitment of a lease or permanent real estate location, restaurant pop-ups — either standalone or within other establishments — have been increasingly appearing across the country, affording operators lowered overhead costs and the ability to be more mobile and seasonal. It’s clear that the restaurant industry is still facing its fair share of challenges and will continue to throughout this year. But we are encouraged to see the enthusiasm of consumers to return to restaurant dining and the rise of new innovations and trends emerging. As the year progresses and the industry continues to prove its resilience and make changes for the better, it is certain to make a full recovery and then some.

David Hopkins is the president of The Fifteen Group, a hospitality management and consulting agency that works with hundreds of restaurants across North America, and a regular contributor to CRFN. www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 37


CONSUMER CONNECTIONS Why omni-channel marketing is a cornerstone of restaurants’ future By Mark Plumlee

Consumers are more fractured than ever before. People receive their information from different channels and different devices, and businesses and brands must compete with a thousand other distractions at any given moment. This makes the job of marketing a restaurant much harder, but it also provides interesting opportunities. Advertising on a single platform is no longer enough to reach a significant chunk of consumers. So how do restaurants ensure they are cutting through the noise to achieve touchpoints with potential customers? WHAT IS OMNI-CHANNEL MARKETING?

Omni-channel marketing is the promotion of products and services across all channels, devices, and platforms using unified messaging and a cohesive brand. It ensures operators reach their customers wherever they are via their preferred medium and device. Marketing is a game of touchpoints, and the more a restaurant is visible to customers, the greater chance they think of that restaurant the next time they decide to go out to eat. So, a restaurant needs to be everywhere, all the time? That sounds… complicated. Let’s simplify it. Here are the seven biggest marketing channels for restaurants. Maintaining consistent messaging and brand voice across these 38 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

avenues will put a restaurant well on its way to a successful multichannel marketing strategy. THE MENU

The menu is the foundation of a restaurant brand, the tangible piece that customers can pick up and handle. The rest of marketing starts there and spreads out to other channels, so restaurants must make sure their menu design reflects the spirit of their restaurant. More than a branding tool, the menu can also be a place to inform customers and display important messaging, whether that’s happy hour prices, new operational hours, seasonal specials, happy holiday greetings, notes from the chef, or anything else. To this point, the ability to quickly make changes and updates to the menu design is vital. Not only will this help with dynamic pricing, but messaging can be altered to


MARKETING

incorporate a menu into omni-channel marketing efforts. Menu maker tools make it easy with thousands of preset templates that can be edited and updated in minutes. THE ONLINE MENU

In today’s age of digital marketing, an online menu has become an essential part of marketing efforts. This should be both highly functional and branded; gone are the days when a PDF of a paper menu will suffice. Once a stellar online menu is published and live, it can be an incredible marketing tool, especially for promoting takeout. Having issues with third-party delivery apps? Include a button on the online menu to order directly from the restaurant. Need to close for a holiday? Put a ribbon at the top of the menu notifying customers of an upcoming closure. SOCIAL MEDIA

Having a presence on big social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is increasingly important to provide further touchpoints to reach more customers. Social media also functions as a great platform for updating customers on any changes at restaurants. A lack of social media presence can also make a restaurant seem unprofessional. The truth of the matter, though, is that many restaurants can’t afford to have someone take the time to operate social media properly. It can be timeintensive and require a certain degree of design expertise. Fortunately, there are free social media templates online that cover ever y o c ca sion , a l low i ng restaurants to maintain a healthy social presence without breaking the bank to hire a social media editor. WEBSITE

People can still overestimate what a website — clearly a vital tool in 2022 — means for restaurants. It doesn’t need to be complicated with multiple pages. What’s more important than overwhelming customers with every piece of info they could ever need is distilling the basics into an easy-tonavigate format.

Within five seconds of being on a restaurant’s website, customers should be able to find the key info: menu, hours, location, online ordering form or preferred delivery app, and a banner for any custom or urgent messaging. That’s it. That’s what is needed front and centre. Everything else — story, social media, sustainable practices, etc. — can still be included, but shouldn’t distract from the most important info. GOOGLE

One of the best ways to reach new customers is with Google and local SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the art/science of ranking higher on Google. Since most people click the top result on a Google search page, top rankings can have a massive impact on a restaurant’s reach and views. For the average non-chain restaurant, it’s all about optimizing for local SEO, or searches tied to a certain geographic region (i.e., “Vancouver burritos” or “pizza near me”). Ranking for local searches can bring in new customers that never would have discovered a restaurant otherwise. So how does a restaurant rank well for local SEO? Google is fairly tight-lipped about what actually impacts rankings, but here are some things that are known to help: 1. Conduct keyword research

A restaurant operator needs to figure out what specific terms people search for when looking for menus similar to theirs. Nailing down exact terminology can make a world of difference. Google Ads can help unveil what search terms customers use to locate related businesses, both locally and nationally. The results may be surprising. It’ll also help uncover what search terms should be targeted and what’s out of reach. Some keywords are so popular that it could be a waste of time to pursue them, and Google Ads can clue you into what keywords you should target instead. Plugging a keyword into the Google search bar and seeing what pops up in the suggested searches dropdown is also

useful. Again, the results are often surprising, but they are rooted in analytics from actual searches. This is a great way to discover longtail searches that won’t be as competitive on account of their specificity (an example of longtail would be “smothered burritos in Scarborough, Toronto”). When you have a list of potential keywords, it’s important to determine which ones receive higher search volumes. There are lots of tools to help with this, both paid and freeto-use. 2. Create a separate URL for the menu

Giving a menu its own page with its own URL immediately lets Google know the general contents of the page. Google then knows that when someone searches for the menu, they can direct them right to the most relevant information and URL. This creates the best customer experience, which is what Google cares about and rewards. PRINT MATERIALS

Print materials, like restaurant flyers, table tents, and sandwich boards, may seem outdated in an era of digital marketing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are still an essential part of any omnichannel marketing strategy. The digital space has grown so crowded that sometimes, a restaurant needs to stand out in print. Not only that, but print can serve as a bridge connecting print marketing with digital marketing. A table tent with a QR code on it can instantly move a customer from physical marketing to a website or social media, connecting a restaurant’s many channels. REACH CUSTOMERS ANYWHERE, ANYTIME

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to reach customers, but harder than ever to actually gain their attention. With an omni-channel marketing plan, restaurants can increase their odds by simply increasing the number of touchpoints.

Mark Plumlee is the Sr. Editor for MustHaveMenus, a DIY design and digital marketing service for restaurants, and has written for CRFN and many foodservice publications on food industry trends and technology. www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 39


A DIGITAL WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY How restaurants can utilize Instagram to great effect By Sylvia Tomczak

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Influencers, inspiration, and innovation — that’s all part of the Instagram effect.

The way we consume both food and media has changed drastically in the last decade. With so much of life revolving around social networking apps, it’s no surprise businesses are increasingly prioritizing an online presence, and Instagram is a particularly useful tool for restaurateurs to better build a brand and maintain a following, all the while learning new things and adding to the creative world of F&B. The stories of restaurants in Montreal and Vancouver are great examples of how platforms like Instagram can boost business. Here, two operators and their social teams share proven strategies and unique perspectives on how to gain traction on social media. KEEP IT FREQUENT & ON-BRAND: GENTILE PIZZA PARLOUR

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Montreal’s Gentile Pizza Parlour have gained a following of over 7,000 on Instagram, almost all through organic growth. Though they have boosted some content through ads, the greatest exposure has been from working with loyal customers, food influencers, and local food blogs. It also helps that they receive shout-outs from their sister company, Café Gentile, which has a following of around 14,000. Utilizing other pages that fall under the same branch of companies (or even working with other local businesses) can be a great way for both brands to be seen by new audiences. Social media strategist Julia Rompré, co-founder of Camarade, the agency hired to manage the Parlour’s Instagram and

Facebook, acknowledges it’s often difficult for brands to manage their social media pages, especially when it boils down to having that aesthetic eye for producing attractive content. While some foodservice businesses manage their own pages, outsourcing the work to an agency can be helpful as these agencies take the guesswork out of how to create aesthetic and digestible content, while keeping a business’s social media account constantly active with new posts and stories. While it may be hard for restaurateurs to accept they need help, most agencies work alongside business owners to better grasp the restaurant’s vibe and goals. Rompré’s team is responsible for creating the funky aesthetic behind Gentile Pizza Parlour, a feat that she explains relies heavily on inspiration from both Instagram and Pinterest. Since Instagram is such a visual platform, restaurants can blossom online by sharing the ins and outs of daily operations. The content is easier to consume than articles or menus and lets people immediately know what the restaurant is all about in an easily digestible way. This push to keep posts v i sua l avoi d s p a g e s b e c om i ng unaesthetic and shifting further away from user-friendliness and desire to engage. It’s important for the brand to be consistent in this visual content, too. An Instagram page should also allow a brand’s personality to accurately shine through — i.e. the aesthetics presented online should www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 41


SOCIAL MEDIA

“The worst thing is to post five times during one week, then not at all for weeks.”

match what consumers can expect their experience to be in-person. The funky, retro, arcade aesthetic exuding from the Parlour’s Instagram reflects the vintage vibe presented on-site. Managing everything from strategic planning to marketing, Rompré meets with the Parlour once a week to shoot all kinds of content for staggered publication, while fresh and relevant content is still always being photographed and videoed with the arrival of new dishes or featured weekly pies. Gentile averages a minimum of three posts and four stories per week — of course, having a schedule is vital for creating and maintaining engagement. “The worst thing on social media is to post five times during one week, then not at all for weeks,” explains Rompré. The more you post, the more viewers can engage as the more likely it will be to remain on their radar due to algorithms. There is strength in numbers, which is why frequent posts can help a restaurant stay relevant online. However you handle your social media, the main takeaway is to be consistently active to avoid disengagement and to pique the interest of consumers. While followers are important, engagement is what will translate into customers and sales. “Engaging with the community and

following and commenting on other businesses’ pages draws people in,” notes Rompré. “As consumers, we want to see the people behind the brand.” Once people are engaged and listening, it is easy for them to cross the barrier from a follower to a paying customer. USE YOUR AUDIENCE AS A TOOL: TACOFINO

Melanie Trottier, Social Media Lead at Arcade Studios, which executes the social media strategy for Vancouver’s Tacofino alongside the restaurant’s internal team, emphasizes the importance of community collaboration. Early adopters of Instagram, Tacofino has been online since 2012 which explains the bulk of their slow and steady organic growth. They now have neatly 43,000 followers. “It’s been a journey to figure out what works on Instagram and how we can accurately portray and celebrate our restaurants, along with sharing the people who make them great,” says Trottier. Tacofino strive to create unique and original content but do also take inspiration from numerous accounts. Using bright and contrasting colours, the brand radiates a cool alternative attitude that often borrows from pop culture. By linking relevant

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memes to their page, they appeal to a wider audience and key demographics such as Gen Z and Millennials. Taking advantage of unique features of Instagram like Highlights and Reels is a great way to differentiate your page from others. “People treat Instagram as the new website homepage,” Trottier explains. “When someone is looking for an answer to a question, they will check Instagram first before going to your website, so it’s imperative you have all of the relevant information ready for them.” This is why Tacofino keep information accessible in their Highlights: customers always have answers to their questions. Likewise, because of this draw towards socials, a lot of customer service is happening via Instagram DMs. Trottier stresses the importance of having someone monitor and tend to comments and messages in a timely manner. Incorporating Reels into their strategy has also been a beneficial means of boosting engagement. With some of Tacofino’s Reels reaching over 11,000 views, Trottier explains that video is “a must” to succeed in social media. Introducing their own tacoinspired Instagram filter was also a novel way to win new followers. While Tacofino’s main content is planned every two weeks, they add impromptu posts and stories based on what’s happening that day. Much of their content is also dependent on their community. “We love to partner up with local chefs, businesses, and even customers,” says Trottier. “It’s a great way for us to get to know our patrons on a deeper level.” User-generated content (UGC) has been a big part of Tacofino’s strategy and success. “We’re lucky that our community


SOCIAL MEDIA shares Tacofino moments every day,” acknowledges Trottier “Some days, we could get up to 50 Instagram story tags.” Rewarding those who post about your restaurant is a solid strategy. Customers’ posts are often the most trusted by others since the content is authentic and credible because it’s not sponsored. “Once you get to a point where you are getting a lot of UGC, you can handpick the best-quality content to repost,” concludes Trottier. “This will eventually level up the type of content your customers put out. It’s a win-win.” BE BOLD

Ultimately, there is no singular formula to follow, but these tips and tricks give some insight into what’s working for these businesses and how others can learn to do the same. Whether it’s a focus on frequency, building a community, or keeping things candid, any foodservice business has the power to accelerate their profiles within their means. Either working with agencies or as a DIYer, Instagram is a platform that businesses can constantly be learning from and adapting with. It’s a key weapon in the battle — make sure you are using it.

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Sylvia Tomczak is an alumna of the University of Gastronomic Sciences studying food culture, communication, and marketing, and a repeat CRFN contributor.

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Today's

DRINKS

Alcohol beverage sales are changing to capture a new generation of consumers By Travis Traini

44 Summer 2022 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


BEVERAGES

Years before the pandemic, the foodservice industry had been experiencing a decline in the sale of alcoholic beverages for young customers aged 18 to 24 years, making up seven per cent of all alcohol orders at drinking places in 2020 compared to 27 per cent in 2013. This decline, unsurprisingly accelerated by the pandemic, is part of a longer-term trend of fewer young people going out to drink at licensed establishments and going out less often. The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada may play a factor as well, as those partaking in marijuana before a night out are considered in some cases less likely to mix and drink alcohol. During the pandemic and the closure of dining rooms and drinking places, takeout and delivery of alcoholic beverages became permitted to assist restaurants with reduced revenues. Restaurants quickly seized this opportunity and after the first year of the pandemic, 49 per cent of surveyed restauranteurs started offering takeout/delivery of alcoholic beverages. Beer was the most popular alcoholic drink ordered for takeout/delivery, followed by wine and then ready-to-drink canned beverages such as hard seltzers, vodka soda, gin and tonics, and so forth. Looking ahead, nearly 30 per cent of 18to 34-year-olds are interested in purchasing alcohol for delivery or takeout from a licensed restaurant or drinking place over the next 12 months, compared to just eight per cent of those 55 years of age or older. Do-it-yourself drinks are in vogue, too. Curren Goodden Associates’

2021 Canadian Spirits Report + Bar and Beverage Showcase indicated that 34 per cent of consumers who report ordering spirits on-premises have also ordered a cocktail kit for takeout/delivery. Ready-to-drink beverages such as canned margaritas are one of the fastestg rowing alcohol categories and DoorDash’s Future Market Insights projects that the global drink cans market will grow by 2.3 times through 2031. Alcohol takeout and delivery has also given consumers access to unique bottles that they might not have been able to source elsewhere, which is predicted to have an ongoing appeal beyond the pandemic. The overall popularity of hard kombucha, hard iced tea, and hard seltzers are increasing and expected to continue for a greater variety of non-traditional hard drinks in 2022. “We’ve seen hard seltzer move into hard everything else,” said Kara Nielsen, Director of Food and Drink Forecasting at trend forecasting company WGSN. Beyond delivery, pairing, and experience packages being put together by restaurants to expand into this new off-premises revenue stream, foodservice operators should also be taking steps to modernize

their beverage menus to appeal to the changing tastes of younger customers. Younger customers are less interested in traditional alcoholic beverages and demand low and alcohol-free beverages (an expansion of the mocktail programs at many bars and restaurants has been seen in the market). A 2021 study by IWR Global found that 60 per cent of respondents reported an intention to try new no- or low-alcohol brands and predicted 3.6 per cent growth in the category in Canada by 2024. Another growing beverage segment, especially for younger customers, is alcoholic beverages that include ingredients and supplements with health benefits, including hard kombucha and botanical spirits, allowing consumers to enjoy drinks that are flavourful without the use of sugars and syrups. Beverages with adaptogens (herbal pharmaceuticals stemming from roots and herbs from Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions) are also increasing in popularity. Restauranteurs should continue to develop this new off-premises revenue stream and expand dining room beverage menus to meet the needs of young customers. Offering a wider range of premixed canned alcoholic beverages on off-premises menus and expanding mocktail options and selections of low alcohol beverages with health benefits are expected to become more in demand and may help restauranteurs keep up with the needs of a new generation of customers.

Travis Traini is a Principal at fsSTRATEGY, a consulting firm specializing in strategic advisory services for the hospitality industry, with an emphasis on food and beverage.

www.restobiz.ca | Summer 2022 45


CRUNCHING NUMBERS

Guess who’s coming to dinner? (Plus breakfast and lunch) By Asad Amin No, this title is not the opening to a classic Sidney Poitier remake, although one does exist. It regards the new diner who visits restaurants. Despite stern challenges such as inflation, the Ukraine war, supply chain challenges, and labour shortages, our Ipsos Foodservice Monitor Diner Optimism Scale is the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. Considering our lives are very different now than early 2020, there are significant behavioural changes of which we should be mindful. The best way to understand these is to analyze daypart by daypart. Slow start Breakfast traffic growth (+29% YoY) has been the strongest of all meal dayparts through the 12 months up to the latest data in February 2022, albeit still below pre-pandemic levels. What’s the same? Breakfast foods are still the most likely to be sourced from home and this could still hinder a full recovery if consumers continue working remotely; there is a considerable loss in morning commute traffic that is hard to replace. QSRs still dominate morning traffic (74%) but FSRs are slowly starting to regain their share. What’s changed? Average eater cheques (AEC) have grown at breakfast more than any other daypart. This is driven by higher menu prices, but we also see food-only occasions higher than previous years while morning beverageonly occasions are shrinking, with many making coffee at home. Dine-in dropped from over one-third of all traffic pre-pandemic to one-fifth, and drivethru still has the lion’s share of morning traffic. The strongest-growing morning drivers have an emotional tinge to them, including mental and emotional uplift factors such as taking a break. Lunch limitations Lunch traffic also improved at +27% YoY. While we see a gradual return to work, those working from home remain steady and will continue to impact lunchtime traffic, particularly in urban centres.

What’s the same? Consumers carried their meals from home at lunch more than any other daypart, and this has accelerated. Not only is there less lunchtime traffic due to the urban exodus, but operators also have to vie with home-prepped meals, particularly with inflation and increased pressure on disposable income. What’s changed? Off-premise dominates, particularly takeout (40% of traffic) followed by drive-thru. Dine-in currently only accounts for one-quarter of lunchtime traffic; at its mid-pandemic heyday, it owned more than half. The significant proportion of consumers working from home are unlikely to have co-worker or business lunches or afternoon coffee runs. Dinner diversity While dinner traffic is up 20% YoY, it did not bounce back as much as breakfast or lunch. Keep in mind, however, that dinner had declined the least among key dayparts. What’s the same? Boomers and Gen X still drive the majority of traffic but Leading Millennials (32 to 41 years old) are leading the resurgence, with more pent-up demand and eagerness to return to restaurants than older cohorts. FSRs remain heavily dependent on dinner driving approximately 50% of sales. What’s changed? Dine-in peaked in August 2021 for dinner at 28% of traffic share, so that could be the new threshold target by early fall of this year. Meanwhile, delivery has taken a sizable chunk of all channels at dinner, where it’s the strongest, accounting for 13% of traffic. In conclusion As difficult as the past two years have been, the response has been equally nimble and resilient. The lesson is to expect the unexpected. Operators who are ready to welcome and address the needs of new and pandemic-weary diners will be the ones who will have a headstart.

Asad Amin is a Senior Vice President with Ipsos and leads the firm’s Food and Beverage syndicated services in Canada. 46 Summer 2022 | 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

HOCKLEYBEER.CA


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