What is your inspiration behind the menu at Buffalo Bar?
American style of cooking with a high amount of smoking, from BBQing the sauces, cheeses and vegetables as well.
What are the ingredients you couldn’t live without?
At the moment it would have to be dill, sour cream and wood chips.
Have you noticed more of a trend towards hot food?
Yes definitely. You see more and more hot sauces on the shelves in supermarkets and on the tables in restaurants with the rise of the American food trend of cooking.
How do you incorporate Tabasco sauce into your cooking?
I love to use the whole range of Tabasco Sauces to enhance the flavour of sauces and proteins in my cooking at Buffalo Bar. Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce livens up almost any dish and I recently used it with freshly shucked oysters and smoked sour cream. I’ve also experimented with Tabasco Sauce in a dessert, making a brulee banana split with Tabasco Chipotle Sauce resulting in a rich smoky flavour.
Jerk spice (see recipe below)
200g chicken breast
Jug XXXX Summer beer
10g chipotle chilli
20g sour cream
Original Tabasco Sauce to taste
Dill to garnish
Beer batter ingredients:
250ml XXXX Summer beer
10g corn flour
50g garlic powder
30g cayenne pepper
30g ground black peppercorn
30g dried thyme
30g dried parsley
100g demerara sugar
30g onion powder
20g ground allspice
15g ground nutmeg
30g ground cinnamon
3 dried chipotle chilli
Dust chicken breast in jerk spices, then place in Cryovac bag, seal. Place in sous vide at 67oC until required. Place camembert in Cryovac bag and, using the hand smoker, smoke the chicken in the bag and then seal tight. Smoke for a couple hours then open and place on a tray, glaze with Original Tabasco Sauce and finish in the oven until ready. Portion cauliflower into bite size pieces, then smoke in the smoker for 1 hour. To make the XXXX Summer batter combine flour, egg, corn flour and turmeric and slowly pour in beer, whisking constantly until smooth. Place smoked cauliflower in batter then deep fry until golden brown. Mix sour cream and chipotle using hand blender until smooth.]]>
Recruiting can be costly, time consuming and doesn’t always result in the right candidates being hired. New mobile-based recruiting platforms Found is looking to bring recruitment into the 21st century, with a number of high profile hospitality groups already signing on including The Lucas Group, Adriano Zumbo, Sydney Collective, Drinks Group, Sydney Restaurant Group, Kensington Street, McDonalds, Subway and Dominio’s.
Targeting millennials in particular, the mobile app allows job seekers to fill out key information like experience, education, certifications, references, location, availability, and citizenship status, making it easier for employers to connect with the right people.
“Initial research a couple of years back showed that 89 per cent of millennials believed a mobile device was an important tool for job searching, and yet there was nothing in the marketplace at the time that allowed job seekers to search and apply for jobs directly from their phone,” said Andrew Joyce, Found’s co-founder. “Given that Millennials spend significantly more time on mobile devices than on traditional desktop/laptop computers it was vital for Found to be mobile-first. It has always been our focus.”
Found job ads can be targeted to specific groups of candidates based on experience, meaning they’re more likely to be seen by candidates that match certain criteria. In addition, employers using the Found platform can search its candidate database of over 370,000 Australian job-seekers, and filter the results based on experience.
“Hospitality is one of our largest industries using the platform,” Joyce said. “The industry has a high-turnover rate which means that restaurateurs are constantly having to look for good staff at all times of the year, but particularly in the lead up to the busy Christmas and summer period.
“One of our key hires this year was Simon Etchells, who was part of Dimmi as that business grew and built into an incredibly successful hospitality tech business, so his industry knowledge and contacts have been key for us.”
A full-time development team of five people based in Sydney continues to update the platform, with video uploads also a possibility in the future.
“Found is helping Aussie businesses save big bucks compared with traditional hiring platforms, a huge saving for restaurants and cafes that run on tight 3-5 per cent profit margins,” Joyce said.
See what Craig Macindoe, food and beverage Manager from Kensington Street, has to say about hiring staff on Found here.]]>
Rod McMullen, the CEO of Krogers Supermarkets in the US, recently said “the one thing that keeps me awake at night is food safety”. If perishable food temperatures are not maintained within the safe zone, the business impact can be substantial. The US Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle is an obvious case in point. According to CNN Money, the food safety crisis at Chipotle wiped out US$11 billion of the company’s market value.
The benefits of wireless temperature monitoring technology offered by ASX-listed CCP Technologies has been acknowledged this week by Channon Refrigeration, with the two companies signing a reseller agreement.
CCP is a low-cost critical control point management system, which uses wireless smart IoT sensors to capture data 24/7 (such as temperature, humidity and open/close events). Sensors are installed in refrigerated environments and the data is delivered to the company’s data cloud platform where it is analysed to deliver business intelligence. Customers access this information through web and mobile dashboards and receive real-time alerts via SMS, email and push notifications.
Established in 1976, Channon’s is a leading provider of commercial cooking and refrigeration equipment to Australia’s hospitality industry. The agreement will support CCP’s growth by expanding its reach to the food industry.
“This is an exciting channel partnership for CCP,” said Michael White, executive director and chief executive of CCP. “Channon’s are well-known in the industry. Initially, the agreement estimates sales of 2000 monitoring points.”
Channon Refrigeration supplies refrigeration equipment and services to a large range of businesses including hotels, clubs, cafes, breweries, restaurants, supermarkets, fast-food chains, including Clubs Australia.
John Channon, managing director of Channon Refrigeration, said the company is known for its 24/7 servicing with technical service and installation divisions operating around-the-clock nationally.
“CCP takes us into providing proactive refrigeration services,” he said. “With CCP installed at a customer site, our national network of fully qualified technicians can quickly respond to any alert or predictive maintenance notification before the customer know there’s a problem.”
Channon’s has already introduced CCP to its customer base and proven its ability to deliver blue chip sales opportunities, said White. One of their customers, a large club in Sydney with over 120 monitoring points, is currently trialling the CCP solution.
CCP’s current customer base in Australia and North America includes many well-known corporate brands seeking a comprehensive IoT critical control point management system. By building a strategic partner network and offering an affordable solution, the company anticipates rapid growth and expansion of its install base.]]>
What’s your take on the government’s recent decision to scrap the 457 visa and replace it with two stricter ones?
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a crisis but there certainly is a shortage and the recent decision does make it difficult, particularly for businesses in regional areas. For our business it’s been a little different, as we’ve got a greater pool of domestic talent in inner Melbourne. We’re extremely thankful for the skilled people we have from overseas who provide a wealth of diverse knowledge and experience to our teams.
Are our training institutions in need of an overhaul?
No. After recent meetings and constant dealings with our quality training institutions I’m convinced more than ever that we’re heading in the right direction. I certainly feel that there is a responsibility for us as employers to maintain strong relationships with these institutions and be constantly feeding back to them. By doing so we ensure that training programs stay relevant, internationally competitive and comparative, and ensure there isn’t a domestic skills crisis.
At what point did you implement an in-house training program?
We’ve done it for years and it’s something that we’ve been very focused on for a while now. We recognise and understand the importance of training and development in an industry with such high attrition rates and we’re committed to this investment. We’re committed to growing our own staff as we’ve seen the benefits of developing internally to maintain our position in the industry.
Is the industry selling itself well enough as a professional career rather than a stepping stone along the way to another career?
Most definitely, now more than ever and I think the commitment to training and development is largely responsible for that. Our staff enjoy training and can see the tangible benefits for their positions within the hospitality industry but also professional skills they can transition into other industries.
What are people starting at entry level looking for career-wise that you offer?
Progression. Most people who come to us for an entry-level position are looking for some form of education or training, and learning progression.
Do you see people switching from front of house to back of house (or vice versa) or do they tend to stay put?
We do for both sides or in both scenarios and it is something that we actively encourage. We have chefs enrolled in WSET (wine training program), and front of house staff doing shifts in the kitchen. Our chefs love running food to tables – it gives them direct interaction with our customers which is a sometimes new experience for them.
What did you take from your career progression that you have adapted into your business model for staff retention?
I’m extremely grateful for the learning and training offered to me as someone who entered the industry, it’s made a lasting impression so reinforced my commitment to it for my staff. I would say this reflects on Andrew’s (McConnell) experience as well and that’s why we commit to developing people. Offering opportunities and development doesn’t just shore up one pathway, it can take many different routes.
Other than making for happier staff, is it also good business sense?
Absolutely! Like Danny Meyer says: ‘Put your employees first, customers will follow’. In addition to that there is obviously a significant cost associated with high staff turnover and constantly recruiting. It makes good business sense to look after the staff you have!]]>
New Social Dining Trends research released by restaurant reservation platform OpenTable found 1.8 million Aussie diners are making decisions about what to order at a restaurant based on the information they find on social media. It proves that social media is now more powerful than ever before, and that there’s never been a more vital time for cafes, bars and restaurants to be digitally savvy.
Joseph Abboud, owner and executive chef of Rumi Restaurant in Brunswick, Victoria, says social media has been an extremely useful tool for the Middle Eastern restaurant.
“Back in 2006 we didn’t even have a website and I remember someone said to us if you aren’t on the internet you don’t exist,” he says.
Fast forward to today and Rumi Restaurant is active on social media, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, and uses it as a tool to connect with existing and new customers.
“As a marketing tool it gives us the marketing reach and opportunity that we may have never got waiting for the mainstream media to print more about us,” says Abboud.
OpenTable’s research reveals more than 20 per cent of Generation Y consumers use social media channels, hashtag researching and food blogs to decide what to order. Sydney food blogger Joe Tavella from 2HungryGuys says it is essential for venues to connect with their customers online.
“It’s very important for restaurants to get on to social media because it’s not only a way to promote their restaurant, it’s a way for them to actually connect with people, to connect with their diners,” he says.
“People are really enthusiastic about food and I think social media has had a really large part in that. What better way to promote your restaurant than to get it out there on a social platform and allow everybody to experience it. I’s a great way for people to be able to try before they buy.”
But the social media landscape can be a somewhat confusing, and with various platforms and a heap of social media jargon to navigate, it can be difficult to know where to start. OpenTable’s annual Tech and Dining Survey revealed Facebook is Australian diners’ preferred social media channel (59 per cent) to connect with restaurants or chefs, followed by Instagram (45 per cent) and Twitter (16 per cent).
The report also found nearly half of Australian diners check-in at the restaurant’s location via social media; two in five share their experience on social media with commentary or photos; and over a third tag the restaurant and/or chef on social media. These finding reiterate the importance for establishments, and even their chefs, to be active on social media, to ensure they receive the coverage diners want to give them.
For Rumi Restaurant, Abboud says while Instagram is a great platform to provide entertainment in the form of photos, Facebook is best used to share news, special offers and posts that include a call to action.
“Our vegan feast has been very successful through Facebook, getting the word out there and having it spread through Facebook,” he says. “Other than events like our vegan feast, it’s very hard to gauge what impact social media is having, but when you have a call to action it definitely contributes to the success.”
Abboud recommends nominating one person, either an employee or an external social media specialist, to take care of social media channels, to maintain “a baseline of content, regularity and tone”.
“That person could be within your organisation, but they need to be specifically thinking about the social media content as a whole not just random posts,” he says. “I’ve found that very beneficial.”
But even with a social media strategy in place, Abboud admits sometimes you just can’t pick what will perform well on social media; one of the restaurant’s highest ever performing Instagram posts was in fact a photo of Beyoncé.
“One of our most popular posts was when Beyoncé named one of her kids Rumi,” says Abboud. “I was just like, I can’t believe it, of all the beautiful food content that we’ve got, this one gained the most traction.”
But having an active social media presence is just one piece of the puzzle for hospitality establishments. Another major component lies within the restaurant or café itself. OpenTable vice president APAC Lisa Hasen says this new breed of “digital diners” are in search of not just delicious food, but a great overall experience as well.
“As a result, we’re seeing restaurants emphasise the way in which food is being plated up, as well as the design concepts and the styling of dining spaces to make eating out a very visual and memorable experience,” she says.
“As the digital diner continues to evolve, restaurants can make simple changes to help capitalise on the trend, from techniques such as creatively plating up dishes or introducing a quirky cocktail, to making sure restaurants hashtags and social properties are prominent. Even small changes like reviewing light exposure over dining tables to maximise photo content can help lure new diners into your restaurant and help amplify your restaurants’ brand within the digital community.”
Tavella says good lighting is great place to start for restaurant owners wanting to make their venue more “social media friendly”.
“I think that whole dimly-lit restaurant vibe is a bit old-fashioned,” he says. “People want to see their food and visually experience it. So having an Insta-worthy meal that you can actually see is very important.”
A restaurant’s atmosphere is now more important than ever, as live-streaming video is gaining popularity as a social media tool.
“A lot of people are starting to go from that single picture platform to actually videoing where they are and what they’re doing at all times of the day,” he says. “So you’re not just seeing one dish you’re seeing the whole experience of a restaurant.”
Tavella says, as a whole, the rise in social media within the hospitality industry is a positive thing.
“It’s made it a lot easier for diners to pick and choose where they want to eat. But at the same time it is a little bit of a catch 22 for the restaurants, because now they have to step their game up,” he says.
“It’s not just about the food anymore it’s about how it looks and feels, how the restaurant looks and feels, the vibe. I think social media has improved it because it’s allowed the industry to be pushed into stepping up their game to make things a lot more interesting.”]]>
Why did you launch the business?
A friend of mine who is a chef was always moaning about the awful clothing he was expected to wear. He was always hot, uncomfortable and restricted by the fabric, shape and style of the uniforms. He asked me to design a chef uniform which would be cool, comfortable and that he would feel great in. I laughed off the idea at the time – I was a fashion designer and knew nothing of the hospitality industry.
That was seven years ago when I still lived in Cape Town. After coming to Australia I noticed that chefs were being acknowledged as the new rock stars of the hospitality trade. But these new stars were wearing the same old uniforms and I thought, ‘okay, maybe Pete’s (my chef friend) got a point. I’m going to do some research and find out more.’
What did you see was lacking in the hospitality uniform market?
There were no stylish, comfortable, trendy garments to match the celebrity chefs, the trendy establishments and their brand identities. Everyone works so hard on developing and promoting their unique brand but due to limited choice in the marketplace, their staff end up wearing the same uniform/apron that their competitors and neighbours do.
And staff want to be happy when they work. Looking good adds to staff morale but they need to be comfortable too. This was another thing missing in mainstream uniform options.
Why use organic cotton?
Have you seen the latest Blade Runner movie? When I was watching it, I thought ‘the way we’re going, it’s not impossible to imagine that in the year 2049 we may be living like that’ and I don’t think of any of us would choose that. If we chose an organic method of agriculture, we and our ecosystems will both be way healthier.
What sort of testing did you do?
Having been in the fashion industry for many years I had extensive experience in fabrics, but I was new to the hospitality industry so there was a steep learning curve. We gave our first samples to chefs and bakers to test in the kitchen, and this was an enormous help in perfecting fabric weight, style, functionality and longevity.
What has been the feedback?
Overwhelmingly good. We have very loyal customers who tested us in the beginning by buying one jacket or an apron, then returned back to buy for their immediate team, and now we’re dressing entire teams throughout their restaurants and hotels. Our garments are even purchased as gifts for visiting international chefs, this is a great testament to our market perception.
Are operators open to spending a little bit more on keeping their staff comfortable?
Yes. As we all know, one of the biggest problems in the hospitality industry is staff retention. It costs way less to dress a staff member in an awesome uniform which makes them feel proud, part of a team and very comfortable to work in, than it does to recruit and train new staff members. If staff are comfortable in their day, they will be more creative, efficient and deliver better results. Great uniforms help to promote team pride. We have heard this over and over again ‘these uniforms make me want to go to work’. Isn’t that what every operator wants to hear?]]>
1kg pulled smoked pork shoulder
800g chopped brisket
500g diced Texas hot link (sausage)
3 onions, diced
10 garlic cloves, crushed
50g dried chives
empanada pastry/pie crust
Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
Prepare leftover meat by pulling or chopping, keeping it chunky for texture. Slowly sweat onions in olive oil until translucent and add garlic. Add the meat to the pan, then add gravy to a saucy but solid consistency. Season with dried chives, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool. To build the pies, using an empanada press place a slice of burger cheese on the pastry, place 60g of the meat mix, fold and seal edges using water. To cook, best results are to deep fry, however they can also be baked. Serve with Tabasco Chipotle Sauce.
Baked cream cheese curd:
1kg cream cheese
100ml lime juice
Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Whisk together eggs, sugar, cornflour then add the cream cheese. Once all the ingredients are smooth, gradually add the lime juice. Place onto an oven tray, and bake at 170°C, until the core reaches 72°C. Cool, place into piping bags and use as required.
250ml thick cream
50g pure icing sugar
25ml lime juice
Place all ingredients together and whisk together till still peaks form. Transfer to piping bag, refrigerate and use as required.
Tabasco green sauce and apple granite:
150ml cloudy apple juice
150ml ginger beer
25ml tabaco green sauce
2g green food colouring
Mix all ingredients together, freeze solid, and scrape ice and use as required.
Macadamia nut crumb:
100g macadamia nuts
Dry roast the macadamia nuts for 45 mins at 65°C, cool and pulse. Rub all ingredients together to a crumbly texture. Slow roast in the oven, until light even in colour.]]>
I think in some instances it has, although it is still heavily male dominated. There are some great initiatives and networking opportunities coming through the industry which pulls women together which I think is great.
How did having a child change the working dynamic for you?
I have always enjoyed working and it’s an important part of my life. As best as I could, I wanted to really try to deliver the same quality of work once my daughter became a part of my life, as I did without her. I can say it has changed; I find that I use every minute of every day, and I am constantly juggling time between the two but I am lucky that I have a very supportive work culture, and a very supportive family network which has been the key to making this work so far. When it does get tough, I try to remind myself to prioritise and get through the important things, in both work and family life.
Why did you transition from restaurants to a QSR chain?
I had been working in restaurants for the best part of a decade, and felt a strong need for a change. I knew that I still loved cooking and being in kitchens, but I was just looking for a change in the day to day and maybe try something a bit different. Whilst looking into other hospitality avenues such as food styling and teaching, a role came up with Jamaica Blue training in their cafés. Initially I was really attracted to the travelling component, and a role that meant I could interact and share my skills with young staff all over Australia. Then as the years went on, I became more and more intrigued in the franchising industry, how it worked and how I could put my foot print here.
What mindset did you bring with you to Jamaica Blue?
I think my message has always been that simple doesn’t have to mean average quality. I strongly believe that you can deliver a good quality dish that is simple to execute and tasty. Good food is about fresh produce, taste and consistency; regardless if you are working in a 3 Michelin Star restaurant or the café down the road, those three key things remain the same no matter what kitchen you are in.
Why the focus on health?
Our customers have a choice what they choose to eat when they are out and about, and it is important that our cafés can deliver a healthy offer if that is what the customer requires.
Why is the responsibility of restaurants/cafes to provide a ‘healthy’ product?
I think that this is really something that has become important over the last few years, and I agree that as part of the food service industry we do have a duty of care to provide our customers with at least a choice to purchase a wholesome and nutritious offer. I think there is still some debate between what consumers perceive as healthy and what the dietitians specify as healthy, so it can be a tricky brief to meet, but for me it’s about going back to basics; wholefood ingredients, unprocessed, made fresh.
What exactly is a healthy product?
Healthy means a lot of different things to different people. At Jamaica Blue we worked closely with Food Nutrition Australia to create a criteria around our healthy eating range “Signature Harvest Collection”. For Jamaica Blue it means wholesome ‘real food’ ingredients at a smaller portion size, with a lower kilojoule count that is made fresh on site.
Do you keep healthy yourself?
If I’m honest, it’s a challenge to find ‘me time’ at the moment, so I can’t say I am where I want to be, but I am striving to get there. My husband and I make an effort to cook healthy and nutritious dinners each night which gives us time to connect and chat about our day. I have taken up swimming on the weekend with my daughter, so that’s a good opportunity to spend time with her and get in some exercise at the same time. Yoga is my favourite go-to for wellness, mind and body balance.
Does the culture of kitchen need to change to create a better work/life balance?
I think the industry has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. With the current economic climate and the shift in dining from dinner and restaurants, to brunch and cafes it has allowed the industry to change up its demand on hours and offer staff, both front and back of house a choice when they want to work. I believe that people in this industry are in it because they are passionate and want to be here; this is probably what drives the stereotypical culture of long hours and an over commitment to work. The people in the industry are the ones who need to drive the change for the future generations and set the expectation of what it should be moving forward.]]>
Despite only launching three months ago, the new B2B arm of FoodByUs has achieved 65 per cent month-on-month growth, with its combination of technology, distribution logistics and online transparency winning over cafes and suppliers alike.
Throw in GPS tracking for deliveries and mobile ordering along with an integrated payment system, in addition to a rating system to maintain quality control over suppliers, and you have a ready-made disruptor for the foodservice industry.
“We couldn’t ignore the growing number of calls we were receiving from cafes,” says Ben Lipschitz, co-founder and managing director of FoodByUs.
Following the successful launch of their initial business to consumer arm the company has “solved a much harder problem without really meaning to”.
“When we applied it to the café side they loved the solution,” says Lipschitz.
“We had already worked out how to get food from many different suppliers, on the home based cooking side, to many different buyers.
“So the logistic side that we had to offer became a huge value add to the suppliers and the cafes. And then if you layer on top of that all of the online ordering, easy searching through new suppliers, it’s actually growing and growing.”
With seed investment from Macquarie Bank, the new B2B platform was simply a good idea waiting to happen.
“We were really surprised when we started digging deeper into the dynamics of the [foodservice] industry how certain things were being done from a supplier and buyer point of view,” he says.
“Things such a pre-defined routes of delivery, where perhaps a delivery might only be every second Tuesday. Even how ordering was done, with phone and fax and email, all these ways of collecting the orders, and we thought ‘why isn’t anyone building an open marketplace around this sort of stuff?”
The changing face of the café sector was also important, with operators forced to find new ways to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
“No one was out there saying ‘we have vegan donuts or colourful croissants or whatever’ to really help cafes get what they want when they want,” he says.
“Three months ago started to get enough calls from cafes looking for some of these high end suppliers [from our consumer side] that we decided to give it a go.
“The technology was mostly there, but more to the point was we put feet on the ground with a dedicated sales team actually going and meeting these cafes. That was the game changer for us. The technology helps everyone get to where they want a little easier but there is no substitute for being able to meet someone, see the venue and see the vibe and offer the products accordingly.”
New and emerging companies will be pitching their ideas to the panel, with only one walking away with entry into the FSAA Understanding Foodservice program.
There is a diverse range of pitches in the Lions’ Den – what will you be looking for?
Many factors determine the success or failure of pitch; but keeping it simple is a solid start point. The big idea. The market. The business model. Less is always more. Present in a way that’s to the point. Take a tune in or tune out approach. If you can’t win over a Lion in a few minutes, chances are you’ve lost the interest and confidence in your idea. If we can’t grasp the concept quickly, we’ll likely assume your customers won’t either.
Is it about the pitch or the idea?
Coming up with creative ideas is easy; selling them to strangers is hard!
What has been the biggest innovation in foodservice in the last decade?
Gluten free has changed the landscape. We saw and acted on this quickly and we continue to embrace it with over 40 products available today. Now it’s mainstream, but at launch 10 years ago it was pioneering.
Do you think the foodservice industry is naturally innovative or can it do better?
Very innovative! Many trends start and gain momentum in foodservice, especially on the restaurant side. But, I believe manufacturers must be faster to help fuel that innovation in the future.
What innovation have you seen in practice at Nestlé Professional?
Our ‘one step smoothies’ that we call easy ice blends were recently introduced. frozen concentrate of fruits, pre-measured that you just add water, and blend. Any operator can offer great smoothies that consumer’s love.
The Lions’ Den will take place at the Talking Food Stage on Level 1 of the ICC Sydney on Wednesday, September 13, at 2pm.]]>