Getting to Know Chef Jim Berman The Host Behind New Foodable Podcast—Chef AF

“I am, quite honestly, a very unintentional cook,” says Chef Jim Berman.

In this episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron sits down with Chef Jim Berman, a longtime Foodable expert contributor, whose currently working as a corporate chef for a regional group that has six operating properties.

“I was a private school wonder-kid if you will in that I went to a fancy private school and I was going to be an investment banker because my dad said ‘You’re going to be an investment banker!’ …and I found that in between semester of going to school being a cook was a pretty easy way to find work and it was pretty rewarding and the lifestyle was certainly an adventure,” says Berman. “And then a few years into it, I thought maybe this is something I’m going to do for real.”

Berman is the host of Foodable’s newest podcast show—Chef AF, It’s All Food!

“So, boiled down, reduced. [Chef AF] really is about real, relevant, almost gritty insight about best practices, worse practices...,” says Berman. “You know, one of the things I came up with when we were conceiving the show is cues and miscues. I think bad missteps we can learn from…”

Listen to the podcast to learn more about how Chef Berman thinks about food and get a sneak peek into what to expect from the first season of Chef AF!


Show Notes:

  • 1:43 - How Jim Berman got into the restaurant industy

  • 3:28 - Chef Jim Berman’s current role

  • 6:01 - What kind of content do you look for as a foodservice professional?

  • 8:07 - What to expect from Chef AF

  • 15:05 - What Chef AF will mean to operators?

  • 20:25 - Role of Social Media today

  • 29:53 - What Chef AF could mean to listeners and possibly guests

 
TBR-logo(black).png
 

Ghost Kitchens, Abandoning Third-Party Delivery Partners and More Challenges Operators Will Face in 2019

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

While there is a lot of discussion surrounding cannabis within the restaurant space in addition to new spotlights on fermentation, craft ‘tea bars’, farm-to-table (2.0,) breakfast day-parts, and plant-based food – there are also some ‘trends’ we should expect to see from the operations side as we celebrate the beginning of 2019.

Each individual venue, whether it is a restaurant, bar, cafe, food truck, or lounge etc. has their own distinct problems to solve, but the one constant among successful operators that we see today is their ability to adapt to change.

This means adapting to a change in consumer behavior, cost structure, supply chain dynamics, labor dynamics, and their hyper-local market & competition, to name a few.

Striving to manage the ‘unknown’ within these categories, however, can be quite scary for many new or seasoned, independent restaurateurs.

Operators must innovate to adapt efficiently to the ever-changing external & internal economic conditions – something that is incredibly important, and is arguably more important than ever, as we shift focus into this New Year.

Let’s have a look at the most critical changes operators should be adapting to:

Third-Party Delivery Pushback

There’s no question, delivery, and off-premise dining has disrupted and caused havoc on much of the restaurant industry over the past couple of years – and more so in 2018. The economic models and regulations surrounding third-party applications have recently come under scrutiny by consumers, restaurateurs, governments, and even the delivery drivers themselves.

While delivery and off-premise dining as a revenue channel shows no signs of slowing down – expect independent restaurant operators to change focus and develop their own strategy (online ordering + delivery) to effectively control costs and improve profitability (no more 20-30% commissions) while protecting their brand (through better quality control and customer service) and keeping that invaluable consumer data in-house.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The Rise of Ghost Kitchens

While independent operators are adjusting to the change in delivery logistics and off-premise dining – they also need to keep in mind another ‘disruptor’ that is starting to emerge. It is what’s referred to as the "ghost kitchen."

These ‘restaurants’ (we use that term loosely) are delivery only and have no typical restaurant venue; where guests can walk in, sit at a table or even pick-up their own takeaway order.

What’s the business model? Their food is only accessible online or through a mobile app, and is exclusive via home delivery.

Thanks to the data that has been made available now to tech giants such as Amazon and the leading third-party delivery platforms (UberEats, Foodora, Skip the Dishes etc.) – expect to see more of these ghost kitchens serving unique dishes with flexible menu options that they know guests will be eager to buy and pay more for due to its level of convenience.

Smaller Foot Prints

Coinciding with the increase in delivery, off-premise dining, and on-demand consumers, expect to see both traditional restaurant start-ups and even already established brands looking to operate out of a smaller footprint.

To maximize a small space that will also drive a high-profit percentage per square foot, restaurateurs need to truly understand their concept inside and out. Operators need to create a variety of financial scenarios and menu choices (and sizes) and determine the absolute minimum needed to execute the concept in terms of space and financial projections.

Smaller spaces utilize minimal expenses in rent, staffing, and other fixed costs - however, smaller spaces often bring in a smaller portion of customers in relation to its size. This is where the right balance in menu prices, menu options, productivity, and the understanding of one’s concept, demographics, and potential flow of traffic throughout its dayparts, is crucial; whether dine-in, take-out and/or delivery.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Tablet Hell

How many restaurants are operating with the view of a cockpit at its point-of-sale? It seems every data provider, mobile ordering system, and POS solution provider needs to have their own tablet or screen, creating a nightmare for both front-line staff and management alike.

To ease operations as we roll into 2019 – expect to see further partnerships and all-in-one solution providers to hit the scene, consolidating all of the technology into one, easy-to-use platform.

As we know, communication is fundamentally important in the restaurant space, so it only makes sense that operators should be looking to combine their accounting, inventory, sales reports, labor management, vendor management, online ordering, catering, and delivery logistic communications into one database.

Every operation has a different way of doing business with different uses for data. That being said, while having consumer & restaurant data might seem like the goal, finding ways to turn analytics into actionable items for a restaurant should actually be the mindset; something that needs to be a focus in 2019 to remain scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent!

Labor Consolidation

With smaller spaces in addition to the ongoing changes in how we operate today, and not to mention the always increasing wage structure within the industry – it only makes sense for operators to consolidate their labor. This doesn’t mean burning out employees or giving them more tasks then they can handle. It means finding ways to maximize efficiencies.

As you can see so far, smaller is becoming better. With the increase of open concept kitchens in the smaller foot-print restaurants, why can’t cooks cross-over to be service staff when the meal is ready? Why can’t mixologists and bartenders help out in the kitchen and also close out food orders?

Expect to see more of a blended FOH & BOH operations or a ‘one-house’ approach in cross-training to control labor costs, lower turnover, and maximize efficiency.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

With all of this said, are dine-in restaurants or your neighborhood pub a thing of the past? Not necessarily, if the operators create differentiation and memorable experiences while they focus on their own branding.

Restaurants today have to compete with supermarkets, food halls, food trucks, meal kits, ghost kitchens, and other third-party applications. The time is now for operators to innovate and adapt to the ever-changing external & internal conditions of this cut-throat industry.

It is possible to be profitable with a strategic mix of dine-in, take-out, delivery, and catering revenue channels if they’re in fact - open to change!

Burn, Burning, Burnt: How to Avoid Losing Kitchen Staff in This Industry

Burn, Burning, Burnt: How to Avoid Losing Kitchen Staff in This Industry

You want a sharp staff, but they are worn dull and nowhere near as effective as when their utility shirts still had the Dickies tags on them. Kitchen staff work hard, under extreme conditions and pressure, and keep production rolling. Not to mention, they are leaving this industry in waves as burnt-out shells of their former selves.

We want them to run specials, for instance, but operators aren’t engaging the process to give them breathing room. Creativity suffers, tempers wear phyllo-thin, and then there is the inevitable exit, at a rate around ¾ of your staff per year.

How can the holes in your foodservice business be plugged to ensure that it doesn’t keep happening?

The Trifecta of Failure

Overworked, underpaid, and undervalued are repetitive themes when talking with staff members, across segments, and across the country.

Over 60-hour work weeks are not infrequent, as much as they are the norm. Pay is supposed to be on a merit, right? Isn’t that how a craft trade works? And the people working hands-on in a hot kitchen are dealt body blows when it comes to being praiseworthy.

The trifecta of failure has been woven into the fabric of chefs’ aprons at an incredible cost and as an anchor that drags down loyalty.

Read More

10 Seconds to Fresh Scrambled Eggs with the Antunes Jet Steamer and Flatbread Toaster

10 Seconds to Fresh Scrambled Eggs with the Antunes Jet Steamer and Flatbread Toaster

Today, if you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind. That’s why Antunes, a 2018 Kitchen Innovation winner, has introduced not one but TWO innovations this year. Corporate Chef Joe Arvin, previously featured on shows like Chopped and The Taste, introduces us first to Antunes' Flatbread Toaster.

In an age where pitas and tacos are booming, operators are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. The Antunes Flatbread Toaster strives to solve that issue, heating tortillas, flatbreads, pitas, and more to over than 160 degrees in just seconds, allowing increased output in your business.

Working off of this inventive foundation, Arvin shows us a prototype from the Antunes team.  Taking the incredible heat and speed from the toaster and combining that with a Teflon pouch, Antunes has created a way to churn out perfectly toasted, melty quesadillas with no blowout, consistently.

A second innovation from Antunes also takes speed to a new level.

Consumers today are looking for fresh dishes with simple ingredients. But they don’t want to wait 20 minutes to get it. With Antunes, you can give them everything they want. Antunes’ new Jet Steamer allows your operation to crack an egg into a cup, add a couple ingredients and seasonings like salt, pepper, and cheese and place the cup into the Jet Steamer. In no more than 12 seconds, that fresh egg is fully cooked, scrambled, and ready to be served. And the Jet Steamer can be used in an array of applications like soups, oatmeal, and even rice!

Learn more about this innovative brand in the video above, and stay tuned for more Restaurant Product Innovators coming soon!

Read More

Trump's New Tip Pooling Rule Means Harsh Fines for Rule-Breakers

Trump's New Tip Pooling Rule Means Harsh Fines for Rule-Breakers

First, the back story:  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the rules for paying minimum wage and overtime.  It allows employers to take a tip credit against its minimum wage obligations if certain conditions are met.  One of those conditions is that tipped employees must be allowed to retain all of their tips. There is one exception to this – that employers can require employees to participate in a valid tip pooling arrangement.  

There are various requirements for a tip pool to be valid but most importantly, the tips can only be shared with people who customarily and regularly receive tips. Typically, these jobs are in the front of the house.

The FLSA is silent as to whether these same restrictions apply to employers who don’t take a tip credit and instead just pay a full minimum wage.  In 2010, the Ninth Circuit ruled that they don’t apply if you don’t take the tip credit. In 2011, the DOL issued regulations saying that they apply whether you take the tip credit or not.

The Tip Pooling Loophole

In 2017, the Trump Administration proposed a rule that would clarify this issue.  

The rule sought to allow employers who pay a full minimum wage to include back of house workers in a tip pool.  But the rule as proposed left open a potential loophole – that in giving employers control over the tips (under the expectation that they would use them to pay back of house workers) that the rule would have also allowed employers to pocket the tips if they wanted to.  

This prompted an enormous uproar and ultimately the administration scaled back; the law would be revised to make clear that employers cannot under any circumstances keep any portion of their employees’ tips.

Read More