Why 'Local-Only' Isn't Going To Work

In the midst of the farm-to-table movement, a lot of what we are hearing in the restaurant industry is talk about locally-sourced menus and cooking in accordance with the seasons.

The concept, in theory, is great and all and it’s exciting for chefs when they are able to work with the freshest of ingredients grown in the farm down the street, but is this concept sustainable in every part of the country?

In this first episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Hari Cameron, a semi-finalist for the James Beard “Rising Star Chef Of The Year” award in 2013 for his restaurant a(MUSE), to discuss why local-only isn’t going to work. They will chat about the reality of cooking with the seasons in certain parts of the country, best practices, and, even, how to strike a balance to keep businesses afloat.

“If we only ate locally, we would only be eating hydroponically or really hearty meals...,” says Chef Cameron.

Chef Cameron opened his Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) restaurants, a(MUSE) and Grandpa (MAC), in 2012 and 2015 respectively and found success with both concepts early on from their inception.

“We were cooking food that was exciting to us. We didn’t know anybody was paying attention or even listening,” says Chef Hari Cameron.

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation about not only supporting the local community but the goal of cooking delicious food!


Show Notes:

  • 1:33 - Introducing Chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE) & Grandpa (MAC)

  • 4:17 - So, why local-only as a concept isn’t going to work?

  • 6:40 - How does Winter shape-shift your menu?

  • 11:06 - What do you say to people who look to do local-only?

  • 13:43 - How do you strike a financial balance to make your business work?

  • 26:49 - What does hospitality mean to Chef Hari Cameron?

Hosted by:

Rachel Brill

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Milk Bar: How Building a Dessert Empire Comes With Challenges

Milk Bar, a dessert concept by renowned chef Christina Tosi, is expanding rapidly across the country.

The dessert-focused restaurant recently held a new-employee orientation in Brooklyn, NY and instead of having other leaders on her team lead the meeting, Tosi surprised the new staff members by running the orientation.

Tosi, who started the chain 10 years ago, doesn't want employees to ever lose sight of what the brand stands for.

Dessert! Baked goods! Me! You! We are the conduit for it all. Milk Bar is Magic. Milk Bar is a movement," reads the last few lines of the brand's mission statement that Tosi read at the orientation.

Tosi has built a brand that is still up-and-coming and has quickly garnered a loyal following. The 16th store opened in the Boston suburb Cambridge in the beginning of the month. The number of employees has spiked by 70 percent in the last year and most of the management team is made up of women.

But with expansion, comes a unique set of challenges. While Tosi doesn't want the brand to lose its small-shop charm, she wants to bring Milk Bar's treats to the masses.

“Growing fast feels like selling out, but I realized if we controlled the growth it could be really cool, too,” said Tosi to "The New York Times” (NYT.)

Tosi takes a hands-on approach when it comes to the stores.

"She samples every type of cookie and batch of soft-serve when she walks into any of her stores, noting in an instant if the batter was overmixed or if the soft-serve temperature is off," writes the "NYT."

But she can't be everywhere and that's where she is going to have to rely on Milk Bar teams across the country that she can trust.

Even though she has big plans for the growth of the brand, she still doesn't want Milk Bar to be like Starbucks on every corner.

“I sat with it and lost a lot of sleep over it and finally I was just like, ‘That’s just not what we are,’” said Tosi to the "NYT."

The Milk Bar team plans to focus on cities where the concept already has a following but also has its sights set on retail. Will Milk Bar desserts be on the shelves of grocery stores in the not so distant future? Tosi hopes so.

Milk Bar is also making a push to sell more products on its soon to be enhanced e-commerce platform.

Read more about how Tosi has built a dessert empire at the "NYT" now.

Speaking of dessert, check out the video below featuring some of the wildly popular desserts at Miami's Michael's Genuine. The executive pastry chef explains why some of the desserts have become fan-favorites and also gives some tips for aspiring pastry chefs.

Yelp Shares Spike After Most Recent Quarterly Earnings Report

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The popular local-search service and review site Yelp saw a 10 percent jump in its shares after the company reported its latest quarterly earnings and revenue.

The earnings report exceeded Wall Street's expectations.

"The company reported earnings of $0.37 per share on revenue of $243.7 million. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected adjusted earnings per share of $0.36 on revenue of $241.2 million for the final three months of 2018," writes "Markets Insider."

This is quite the improvement from last quarter where the company reported earnings results that fell short of expectations, causing Yelp's share to plummet.

Although the company's shares have increased by 12 percent this year, Yelp has struggled to return to its 52-week high in 2018.

The shares are still 26 percent below the 2018 high.

But Yelp is aiming to "exit 2019 with strong revenue growth."

However, the review service is navigating through somewhat of a PR nightmare after SQN Investors LP, one of the largest investors of Yelp, issued a public letter expressing frustration with the company.

The letter says the board of director' "patience has now worn out" after "a history of repeated strategic and operational missteps, missed expectations, sharp guidance revisions, and poor corporate governance that has led to significant stock underperformance."

Yelp was quick to respond saying it welcomes "any ideas and investor input" and that the company is looking for additional Board candidates to "drive" strategy.

Will Yelp be able to overcome this PR challenge? As the market becomes more saturated with crowd-sourced review platforms like Facebook and Google, will Yelp be able to remain the leader in the review and recommendation category?

Read more about Yelp's latest shares spike at "Markets Insider."

From an operator standpoint, managing yelp and other reviews sites can be a pain. Luckily, there are tools out there to help manage online customer interaction. Check out some tech apps that can make an operator's life easier in the On Foodable episode below.

How Chipotle's Investment in Digital is Paying Off

Chipotle's online ordering |   Chipotle

Chipotle's online ordering | Chipotle

One of the latest strategies by Chipotle to reclaim its top spot in the fast casual sector is to implement more digital technologies. The restaurant's goal is to make the ordering process even more convenient for guests.

One of the ways the chain is focusing on digital is it has added another line dedicated to only online orders. Starbucks, the king of mobile orders, also has a group of team members dedicated to solely mobile orders at each store.

Chipotle is also testing having online only pick-up drive-thru lanes to make the pick-up for online orderers even quicker.

"We are definitely under a digital transformation at Chipotle," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO to "CNN Business."

Evidently, the investment in digital tech has paid off. Digital sales grew by 66 percent in the last three months of 2018. The company's stock has spiked by 35 percent over the last year and in the last quarter of 2018, restaurant sales grew by 6 percent.

"We're definitely just getting started," said Niccol to "CNN." "There's still so much opportunity in front of us, and there's still a lot of work to be done."

Read more about Chipotle’s push to promote digital ordering at “CNN Business” now.

It's been a long road of recovery for the fresh Mex fast casual after its food safety crisis back in 2015, but then the chain hired the former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol and continues to make power moves as part of its comeback play.

In 2019, the chain started the year out with a bang by rolling out lifestyle bowls. These new menu items are keto, Whole30, and paleo-friendly. Even though more restaurants are offering meals that are diet friendly, it's still difficult for those eating keto, paleo or Whole30 to find quick food options on the go. Chipotle is one of the first chain's to cater to these popular diets, making the restaurant one of the only options for those who are tired of the constant meal prep.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron explains why he thinks the chain's recent introduction of its Lifestyle Bowls was a slamdunk. Watch the video below to learn more about Chipotle's latest campaign to appeal to health-conscious eaters.

Foodable Network Launches Chef AF a New Podcast

Today, Foodable is launching a new podcast — Chef AF, It’s All Food!— with Chef Jim Berman.

You may have already found out about the newest podcast addition to our show library, through The Barron Report’s latest piece where listeners had the chance to learn more about the chef and host.

Chef Berman has not only been a longtime Foodable expert contributor, but he’s also been a food writer for multiple publications while simultaneously working in and out of kitchens across the U.S.

Now, as the host of Chef AF, Chef Berman will have the chance to get his peers to “talk shop,” as he likes to say, in order to help other chefs and restaurant industry professionals navigate the wonderful yet complex kitchen life.

Chef AF, It’s All Food! is officially launching on Foodable Network today and it will soon be available in iTunes, Google Play and Spotify and other podcast listening platforms.

Listen to the first episode above to meet Berman and learn what you can expect to get from this new podcast!