Ten Lessons the Restaurant Industry Can Learn from Steve Jobs

•2011/10/30 • 1 Comment

 

1. The customer-user experience trumps everything else. Jobs was famous for focusing on the details that made Apple products easy – and for many, necessary – to use. If there were any product-experience barriers, he had a full army of employees in place to help. Apple’s Genius Bar, where licensed and trained employees troubleshoot devices and answer questions, is a perfect example of putting the customer first. While some restaurant chains have made significant investments in their customer experience, others have much to learn. Restaurants should treat front-of-house and back-of-house efforts equally, and should subscribe to the mantra that made Jobs famous.

2. Keep the brand simple and contemporary. What often gets lost in the long list of Apple innovations is the company’s basic branding. When customers walk into a store, they aren’t overwhelmed by design clutter, which allows them to better focus on the products. This is purposeful. Apple hired experts from outside the tech industry to conceptualize an outside-of-the-box approach that portrayed simplicity. As numerous restaurant concepts undergo brand and store makeovers, perhaps they should pull-in the fresh perspectives of industry outsiders.

3. Get inspired by the small things. Speaking of outside-the-box approaches, before Jobs dropped out of college, he took a calligraphy course. He credits the class as part of the inspiration behind the creation of the Macintosh. “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts,” he said. Don’t overlook the small things. For restaurants, afterthought details – the seating, lighting, background music, etc. – can all affect a customer’s intent to return.

4. Embrace technology. The restaurant industry is notorious for balking at technological investments and adoptions. Often the ROI doesn’t come quick enough, or the bandwidth to train staff and customers doesn’t exist. But Apple is the largest publicly traded company in the world for a reason. It’s what consumers want and know, and it’s time for restaurants to embrace it.

5. Innovate past failure. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in 1984 after the Mac fell short of expectations. Fortunately, that didn’t flatten his drive to keep innovating. From a restaurant comparison, even McDonald’s has rolled out abject failures. Remember the McLobster?

6. Anticipate trends. One of Jobs’ favorite quotes underscores his successful philosophy. “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ We’ve always tried to do that at Apple.” Nearly every iDevice was created by anticipating future trends, sometimes at the risk of another signature product. The iPhone was invented with a potential trump of the iPod because market demand was barreling toward mobile, for example. Would restaurants be willing to drop a signature item in anticipation of something new?

7. Business is more than the bottom line. Revenue, profits, same-store sales and happy investors are important, but there are more pieces to the puzzle and Jobs solved it. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me,” he said. Everywhere you look, restaurant brands are putting forth time and effort to causes from breast cancer research to fire safety awareness. And customers are responding with their loyalty.

8. No man or woman is an island. Steve Jobs didn’t conceive or grow Apple on his own; he surrounded himself with the right people. He had people like Steve Wozniak, Tim Cook and John Lasseter to help him. Just like Fred DeLuca got a boost from Dr. Peter Buck to come up with the Subway concept. David Edgerton and James McLamore worked together to turn a struggling unknown restaurant into Burger King. Ray Kroc didn’t think of the McDonald’s concept, he purchased the rights from brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. Never underestimate the power of teamwork.

9. Employees reflect the brand. According to Darrel Suderman, Ph.D., founder of the Food Innovation Institute, Apple’s sales philosophy is not to “sell,” but rather to help customers with their problems and understand their needs. Employees aren’t rewarded with commission, but are expected to sell service packages along with their devices. Those who fall short of sales targets are re-trained. “It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it,” Jobs said. Is your employee training sufficient? Are your incentives?

10. Keep it in perspective. Jobs relentlessly demanded perfection and occasionally displayed a temper, while also walking around the office barefoot and subscribing to Buddhism. He was the poster child for striking a balance between detailed focus and big picture perspective. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” Jobs said during his iconic commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

by Alicia Kelso

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Paul Bocuse, At Age 85, Continues to Inspire (And the Time I Had the Honor to Cook & Meet Him)

•2011/10/30 • Leave a Comment

Saw this story tonight and thought back to a time very early in my career that I came in to work  one day to learn that we had some big VIPs (Chef VIPs def ranked higher than most of the celebrities I cooked for while @ Buckhead Life (including a $100 tip one night from Bobby Brown & Whitney Houston for ‘the best lobster they had ever had’) …Paul Bocuse, Jean-Louis Palladin, & Guenter Seeger were coming in for lunch as Bocuse was in the states to attend his son’s graduation from CIA!

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204138204576602493173193076.html?mod=dist_smartbrief

The Unknown History of Red Velvet Cake

•2011/10/30 • Leave a Comment

 

I haven’t always felt safe saying this, but to me, as a Southerner and a pastry chef, Red Velvet cake has become the archetypal Mediocre Dessert: style over substance. Oh, I get it. It’s pretty and red. But, holy crap, it’s not magic. You poured a freaking petrochemical straight into the batter, of course it turned red.  And what exactly does “red” taste like, anyway? Ask around, and you’ll get answers that range from, “um, kinda chocolate” to “like, vanilla?”

I’ll tell you what it usually tastes like, having grown up in the post-Betty Crocker culinary badland of 1980s Kentucky: Crusty frosting with powdered sugar grit. Cotton-mouth dryness. Unmitigated sweetness, and secrets. Oh, the secrets; batter-stained recipes shared only after vows to never reveal Aunt So-and-so’s “secrets,” which, let’s face it, came printed on every box of Swans’ Down flour and in a hundred Junior League cookbooks. But where did those recipes come from?

It turns out, Red Velvet has a more twisting, fascinating history than the oft-told legend about its invention at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel

It turns out, Red Velvet has a more twisting, fascinating history than the oft-told legend about its invention at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a precursor to the famous “Neiman Marcus cookie scam” story (with the same level of credibility). But thanks to a stash of ancient Southern cookbooks, I’ve pieced together a theory and, I believe, found this cakey orphan’s parents.

Velvet cakes date back to at least 1873, when they were mentioned in Dr. Chase’s family physician, farrier, bee-keeper, and second receipt book. Alvin Wood Chase writes, “There is quite a tendency, of late, to have nice and smooth names applied to things, as well as to have nice things; hence we have Velvet Cake, Velvet Cream, etc.” Chase goes on to provide receipts for both.

And indeed, cookbooks of that era do reveal a penchant for finely named things. My dog-eared copy of The Oxford-University Methodist Church Community Cookbook of 1910 (published under my great-grandmother’s guiding hand) boasts cakes with names like Silver, Lightning, Mahogany, Velvet and Red. By the time of this book, Velvet had simply come to denote any cake with an especially fine crumb, while Red referred to “red sugar” or, in modern parlance, “brown sugar.” These books also contained classics like Chocolate and Red Devil’s Food. The former generally indicated a dense affair of pure chocolate while the latter contained brown sugar and stood in dark cocoa contrast to Angel’s Food.

Knowing the era’s cake lexicon then, it seems clear that Americans would have understood Red Velvet as a hybrid—a Red Devil’s Food crossed with a chocolate Velvet. It was significant not for its redness, such as it was, but for its velvety crumb.

Sure, with a name like Red Velvet, you do expect a certain hue. And cocoa’s natural pigment, anthocyanin, does tend toward red in the presence of acids like buttermilk or vinegar, which are almost always in traditional Red Velvet recipes. But using just these ingredients, the color is faint; the red of Red Velvet had more to do with naming flourishes and symbolism than coordinates on a color wheel.

At least, until John A. Adams came along. His family-owned food colorings and extracts business had fared well since its inception in 1888. But housewives of the Great Depression had little use for his brand of frivolity and sales slumped. So he began setting up displays in groceries throughout the Midwest and parts of the South. These featured Adams Extract Company products under a huge color photo of the reddest Red Velvet cake ever seen. A free copy of the recipe (modified to include Adams Best Vanilla, Adams Butter Flavor, and two bottles of Adams Red Color) came with every purchase. In the austere climate of the day, Red Velvet became a sensation.

Over the years, Adams’ entrepreneurial gambit took on a life of its own. That Red Velvet recipe circulated widely throughout the Midwest and South, reprinted in regional newspapers and evolving as each editor embellished it in tiny ways. By 1972, James Beard discussed three recipes for Red Velvet in American Cookery. All three featured shortening and dye. Given that Adams swapped butter for shortening in his recipe as an excuse to bolster sales of Butter Flavor, the family resemblance seems clear.  

What started as an innocent ploy to sell some food coloring has turned into a gross game of one-upmanship as bakers vie to achieve the reddest of reds.

What started as an innocent ploy to sell some food coloring has turned into a gross game of one-upmanship as bakers vie to achieve the reddest of reds; as if redness alone defined the cake and not a fine crumb and the rich taste of cocoa and brown sugar. On the other hand, dye deniers, oblivious to Adams’ influence, have retconned elaborate backstories involving World War Two, thrifty bakers deprived of sugar, and beet juice. I can count my responses to these stories on one hand. With one finger, in fact. Care to guess which one?

Considering all that Red Velvet has gone through, I started to feel a little sorry for it. My hatred began to melt away for this “nice thing” that had suffered such abuse over the years. It deserved more than its fate as the punch line of an urban legend, and it certainly deserved to be more than the crimson chalk-fest I remembered. I went into the kitchen, ancient recipes in hand, feet planted in present.

Click here for Stella’s amazing Red (Wine) Velvet cake recipe, equal parts old-timey and utterly modern.
-from www.gilttaste.com

Next Night Market 10/28!!

•2011/10/17 • Leave a Comment

 

 

New Fall lunch next week @ the Club!!

•2011/10/08 • Leave a Comment

˜Soups  and Salads˜

Smoked chicken and white bean chili 5./7.

Today’s soup inspiration 4.

Soup and half sandwich 8.

Romaine˜ avocado, frozen blue cheese, toasted pumpkin seed, 500˚ roasted tomatoes 9.

Spinach˜ roasted butternut squash, pistachio brittle, midnight moon cheese, apricot, tobacco vinaigrette 11.

Faucon˜ iceberg disc, blue cheese, benton’s bacon, pickled red onion, egg, blue cheese vinaigrette 12.

City club cobb ˜ mixed greens, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, avocado, point reyes blue cheese, ham, chicken, shredded cheese, crouton 15.

Cured tuna nicoise ˜arugula, nicoise olives, poached tomato, faccacia, lavash cracker, lemon aioli 18.

Toby’s Cripsy chicken˜ butter lettuce, mixed greens, bacon, candied pecans, crisp onion, cherry tamato, roasted peach dressing 12.

Roasted scallops˜ baby spinach, red onion, point reyes, dried cherry, warm bacon Vinaigrette 18.

~Add 4oz. beef tenderloin +9

~Add chicken  +5

~Add  salmon +8

~Add shrimp +10

˜Sandwiches and Entrées ˜

City club Burger & Fries˜ lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, hand-cut fries 12.

~Add cheese, grilled onions 1.

~Add grilled Portobello, Benton’s bacon 1.5

Ahi tuna burger˜ pickled ginger slaw, wasabi mayo, shredded lettuce, sriacha  fries 16.

City “Club” sandwich˜ bacon, raosted turkey, smoked ham, cheddar, wheat bread, house made chips 11.

Honey pepper bacon blt˜ “FGT”, arugula, smoked paprika aioli, house fries 10.

Chicken salad melt˜ house recipe chicken salad, butter lettuce, faccacia, house chips 11.

Grilled pepper jack pimento cheese˜ B&B pickles, buffalo chips 10.

Roasted black bean burger˜chipotle napa cabbage slaw,  thick cut tomato, Russian dressing, brioche bun, Chips 12.

 Grilled steak and biscuits˜ loveless café biscuits, horseradish cream, red pepper marmalade, hand-cut fries 16.

Fish taco’s˜ chimayo spiced tilapia, shredded cabbage, black beans, Spanish rice, pico de gallo 14.

Honey fried chicken˜ whipped potatoes, braised collards, local honey, TN chow chow 14.

Fish and chips˜ beer battered tilapia, hand-cut fries, curry mayo 13.

Seared Shrimp papparedelle˜ roasted mushrooms, English peas, torn basil, tomato, champagne mascarpone cream, midnight moon goat cheese 14.

Executive Chef Toby Willis

Chef de Cuisine John Williams

 

New Fall dinner menu starts @ the Club!!

•2011/10/08 • Leave a Comment

Dinner @ the Club…Week of October 11

“First you eat all you can from your garden, then you

Can what you can’t eat.” -Appalachian saying

Starters

~Mom’s Deviled Eggs; Benton’s Bacon 9.

~Three Cheeses from South of the Mason-Dixon; Flatbread Crackers, Seasonal Fruit 14.

~Prosciutto-Wrapped Jumbo Scallops, Honey-Roasted Turnips & Rutabaga, Lemon Date Jus 16.

~Oysters on the Half Shell, Cocktail & Red Wine Mignonette, Saltines 3. Each/30. Dozen

~Duck Confit Spring Rolls, Fried Collards, Soy Caramel; Brandied Peach Preserves 14.

Soups & Salads

~Roasted Baby Beets, Fall Baby Lettuces, Buttermilk Blue, Toasted Pecans; Ice Wine Gastrique, Red Beet Dust 11.

~Smoked Chicken & White Bean Chili 5./7.

~Baby Arugula, Honey Crisp Apple, Spiced Pecans, Manchego; Creamy Cider Vinaigrette 10.

Entrées

 -Simply Grilled Fish MP

~Espresso-Crusted Filet of Beef Tenderloin, Red Wine-Bearnaise Butter, Sweet Potato Fries, Oven-Roasted Kale 36.

~ Pan-Seared  Atlantic Salmon, Sweet Potato Gnocci, Swiss Chard, Maple-Ancho Glaze 24.

~Bourbon Braised-Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks, Soy Caramel; Butternut Squash Risotto, Sweet & Sour Collards, Pumpkin Seed Brittle 22.

~Cast Iron Skillet-Seared Jumbo Scallops; Diced Lobster, Garlic-Chive Potato Cakes, Green Tomato Croutons; Citrus-Lobster Broth 26.

 

Home Sweet Home…Terrazzo named as top pet-friendly condo in Nashville!!

•2011/10/08 • Leave a Comment

Nashville Paw Magazine readers have chosen Terrazzo as the city’s top choice for Pet-Friendly Condo Living. We’re not surprised! Terrazzo was designed to be pet-friendly, with a private, enclosed dog run just outside of the building and a conveniently located freight elevator to give homeowners and their pets quick access to the exit. The Readers Choice Awards will be published in the October/November issue of Nashville Paw Magazine.