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Everything posted by stovetop

  1. stovetop

    Inside Out

    Thanks Fud, Luciano Loi, M. Schmidt, jackal10 for your input; I want to make this posting a place for restaurateurs to express their opinions and experiences, for me I am going to get into stories about my experiences about being in this unique and challenging industry. steve
  2. stovetop

    Inside Out

    CONCEPT: One of the big mistakes of many restaurateurs is not creating a very solid concept and knowing who your customer is: after that, it is creating a very good marketing plan and really targeting your audience; having a clear concept will bring back the customer you want. Also having a clear concept will enable you to communicate properly to your staff, it will serve for better trained staff because if you are training yourself while you are teaching your staff your ideas it is just a matter of time to burnout. THE WALL: Like running a marathon, the restaurant will push you and your cash flow to the limit. Your nerves and that usual easygoing persona start to turn. You are no longer that happy person and will take it out on your staff. That high level of patience you normally have starts to dwindle to a trickle almost as bad as your cash flow, then you start on your customers. I have found that the wall starts about seven months in. This is when the bills start coming in- GST-PST-Source Deduction: and all the wholesalers are now giving you COD, you have squandered away that wonderful credit you had. It is also about seven months since you had a day off; you are hitting the WALL. FRONT AND BACK: This is also a tough spot for an owner, he or she has two very different departments to look after, both have very different skill levels and hopeful the owner has skill sets in both areas, if not it will be a priority that that would have hired someone to cover the area they are not versed in. You either had to hire a cook or someone for the front of house. To manage both is quit a task. If it is a open kitchen the job will be a little bit easier task of managing, but if it is a closed kitchen you will have a task at of being in both places at once. When you are putting out fires (solving problems) in the kitchen it is hard to be out front dealing with customer needs. The line is very thin between front and back but it needs to be established right from the start for a restaurant to succeed. The politics between front and back has each its own agenda and to manage both with objectivity becomes very grew when lines are not established. The politics becomes very tiresome: adding to the madness. You become more of a baby sitter then an owner. You expect you staff to be as big as a multitasker as you are and if you have not created very specific job descriptions that gray area will get even wider causing you more headaches you will walk the line between madness and sanity. Establish roles very early on and stick to you original plans it will be your saving grace when the wall come a calling and remember never change your concept in mid stream; this change really succeeds it is the biggest monster killer in the business. Next THE CUSTOMER steve
  3. INSIDE OUT-THE MADNESS OF A SMALL RESTAURANT After twenty-five years you would think I would developed a very tough skin- but the pressure and anxiousness of operating a small restaurant can penetrate even the toughest of Armour. This past year I have had a few adventures and it has reminded me of the projects when I was captain of the ship I call Madness. CONTROL: It is always about control, small business owners sometimes have a concept in the depths of their mind, these ideas try to come out and introduce themselves to those who are as mad as the owner. CASHFLOW: It is also about cash flow and even the best-built plans eventually lack cash flow; there is no other small business, which can absorb money like the restaurant business. Once the doors are open it sucks up money like a sponge. I call it the pipeline, cash flowing like water out of a spring, that constant flow never weaning or slowing just continuing absorbing your cash flow. It takes quit a helmsman to navigate the waters of the restaurant business THE MENTAL GYMNASUIM: operating a restaurant is like running a marathon; you have to pace yourself, not only your cash flow but also your time and your mental health. The minute you grab hold of the helm it rips at your whole consciousness, gravity pulls at every brain cell; the madness begins and the inside out arises. MANAGEMENT: This is the make or brake part of the run, the best intentions and ideas do not always come out the way you think. The problem is you’re not in a vacuum and you eventual will need to rely on someone else. You are one mortal who is attempting fate in an industry that has many shipwrecks on the beach of history. You are constantly adjusting the sails of time and mental states of mind. The marathon begins to make you tired and with this comes errors and with errors comes more usage of cash flow and you begin to enter no where land. Every staff member you hire is more money off the bottom line. You think that it is helping you and you need a break, the small business cannot afford that extra person so you as an owner have to suck it up and work. STAFF: The management of your staff is the backbone of your business. Those of you on the helm know that it is hard to be a leader when you are in the trenches fighting out in the everyday in the business; so this is when the letting go happens. Delegate out things you do not need to do. Control!!! Ah you cannot control when you delegate out. Like a parent to a child you have to allow for error. Be brave and let go, this is where mental state of mind comes in. You have to let go because if you do not you will go crazy!!!! More to come
  4. Ling said Yes; I am impressed with the whole process myself and see what egullet can do in the PR side of our business; as a person in the bus a long time I like the whole real time communication thing. steve
  5. That is the best bad discription of a soup I have ever read steve they maybe used a Zamboni to make it maybe sisco made it
  6. Wow!! Are we coming to a cross roads, it seems now we each have really communicated our point of views and ironed out each others points that where not clear; R washburn are you so convinced that the need for an outside variable really needs to be added. Is it really just a defense on science or is it because you felt that we where being emotional about the science part and not logical, of outside or new introductions of chemicals( proteins, hormones, bla-bla) into the mix?? John I still think that their practices are sustainable and they (the farmers you are talking about) are very aware of all inputs into the farm. I question the Organic industry, it does not include all inputs, such as gas (transportation); In BC in the middle of the summer when the organic people are importing product from California (we have so much local food around) does not the input of fossils fuels into the environment be included in their measurement of the introduction of overall fossil fuels? This is as opposed to lower mainland people buying local produce that is not certified organic. I wonder what the difference is?? This for me is as big as a conundrum as the whole process of introducing a protein or hormone into a closed farm system to increase milk production when there is really not a shortage of milk, where is the gain?? A question about the cost?? Is the cost is high; are you including all the cost of research into the mix; how many years id all thoses scientist work on that project before the US gov let the research go into the production
  7. Long-Term Field Experiment in Sweden: Effects of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on Soil Fertility and Crop Quality Organic Dairy Profile University of California Sustainable Agriculture PCC Sound Consumer Farming the future at WSU Organic Production vs. Conventional Cropping OK; here is some info from the sustainable agri. point of view based on SCIENCE, there is so much out there The one thing everyone misses out and does not have to do with science but economics, the question is do we really need-rBGH milk. The last time I looked in Canada I saw the results for the liquid milk industry, there is an oversupply of milk, and also from what I can gather in the US there does not seem to be a shortage of milk. You do need to be a rocket scientist to know that if there is and will not be a shortage, to what advantage is it to introduce a hormone to increase milk production on a farm. The whole side of the discussion in regards to the side effects on cows and humans becomes a very mute point. As for the green revolution; what green revolution?? Sustainable agriculture has been around as long as human kind has been around; the Organic industry (is that green) did not invent re-generative farming it was around a long time ago. It was the introduction of chemical farming after world war two (DDT), the practice of intense farming and the introduction of man made fertilizers (corporate). This is where farming changed not the other way around. Science can and will show us how much more effective sustainable, re-generative, traditional farming is. The study of soil degredation; the over introduction of fossil fuels into the mix and the long term affects. There are tones of term papers out there; look around do a google search or a AJ search. it is out there. As for organic milk, is there a difference, the research is out there??? and ongoing but for me Organic is just a marketing board not a way of farming, sustainability for me is the practice.
  8. I would like to put this all into context and go back in time; post world war two, DDT, the new panacea for Dow, it was going to work wonders for the farmers. Years back I was at a third world film festival in Edmonton, Alberta; I saw this film about the Corporation subsidizing south American and third world countries to use DDT in farming. They gave the Gov de jour money, which in turn they (GOV) forced the peasant farmers at gun point to use DDT. It is safe they said, but the farmers saw the side effects and refused to use it, but when you have a gun against your head, what do you think they did. Also the funniest usage I saw in that film was fisherman using DDT to fish, they would pour into the water and the fish would float to the top and presto you got fish Farmers since the 50's have been directed to become Addicts, not much different then the crack heads on Hastings in Vancouver, the difference is the land is addictive to the chemicals. The soil has become so depleted that the soil needs fertilizer, then they (farmer) need seeds cause they do not have them any more or the Company will not allow them to use their own seeds, also because they went out and bought lots (take out a loan) of equipment to do that intense farming, all one crop year after year. Now they have to keep this high intensive farming going and the commodity prices are so low, that it is better and they would make more money not planting. Yes that is what you are doing down south is it not?? In Canada the farmers are going bankrupt, without them, science will have no one to grow the food. Who will do it?? Lastly; since chemical farming was introduced in post war times there are statistics to show it did not increase yield, it did not help with pests and the overall performance of the agricultural sector is in the hands now of about four companies in the world. I want to know who’s science is going to argue for humanity how is this better for the human race. No GMO'S are going to get us out of this hole that DOW, Monsanto, cargill, and the rest of the human corporations got us into this mess. We have to go back to less intensive farming one that is fewer dependants on oil and bring back genetic diversity and use science in a way that will benefit all of humanity rather than a few shareholders. I think we have to make farming sustainable and more regional; organic is lost in space, also most organic is now owned by the Corporations, so much for the hippies. Scratch the surface and there are big Corporations. The main thing for me in this discussion is that rBGH production in Canada is really not needed and the same goes for the US, we have a over supply of milk in the world and also less companies who control the liquid milk supply so in a economic sense and a micro and macro economic sense how does this benefit the world??? Steve
  9. Yes, that is how I feel; If the producer or Corporation is so confident about their product, how would it hurt to say what is in it. In Canada food companies must list the ingredients in a product. Monsanto wants to use GMO's but they also do not want to tell the public that they are there. What are they afraid of?? I cannot understand what is so bad about labeling. In Canada; specifically BC, the usage of the word Organic in dairy and chicken took forever for that industry to be allowed to use the word organic to describe their product. Quebec was allowed to export cheese with the labeling before they even allowed a BC company to use the word organic. They used the word specialty chicken or free range. It was like three years before they allowed the usage of the word organic; that is a totally different topic, but it is related in semantics and labeling. Labeling is a complex thing here in Canada and the marketing boards have a huge interest on what is said and what the industry does. steve
  10. There is another method of using ice to cool down the chicken but I belive it is used only in smaller processing plants. Northern Alberta has a processor called lakeland poultry and I belive they use ice. steve
  11. I think something was taken out of context, I did say that for every theory there is another science with its theories to revoke what the other theory is. My point is there is more then one side to the scientific process. It is unfortunate that ADM-Cargill-Monsanto-Dow-Shell all have millions of dollars so they can close down debate rather quickly and they have a huge budget for press release after press release about how great their products are. That is where I get my underwear in a bunch. I do not have personnel beefs and everyone is allowed to have an opinion and for evry theory there is also an opposing theory. Science can prove science wrong. Steve
  12. You are right; I did not mean to imply this, we can have a great open discusion. steve
  13. Here we go again; I have watched or have been in discusions on GMO's or other science/tech influenced food or agricultural products. I am begining to see a pattern; there are those on the side of science and they never let their jab down and say that there is nothing wrong and are so insulted by those who could be so insulting to science, it (science) could never be wrong. I have found that with little effort I have found in each discusion it is easy to find other research (science) that is based in sustainable agriculture like I belive university of southern calafornia. http://www.usc.edu:8766/uscweb/query.html This is one of many research dept that has science to discuse the pros and cons of the various topics dealing with political foods issues. Monsanto has more money to sue your ass if you cross their path. One issue for Canada in the rBGH issue is that we do not realy need to increase milk production, they are already dumping tons of milk a year down the drain. It seems to be pointless in this country ( Canada) to inpute something that will increase milk productivity when it realy is not needed. How many times are we going to invent the same wheel? steve PS I am not anti science I belive in democracy and labeling that has always been my position, let the market dictate what monsanto can or can not do. The public should always have the right to know and choose. http://articles.animalconcerns.org/ar-voic...lk_musings.html
  14. Eric Rogers Fine Foods and The Berkley Café what is up with the place now?? steve
  15. We live in the simulated world; hot dogs made from tofu; burgers made from non-meat ingredients to resemble meat burgers. The tendency is to mimic meat dishes rather then just being it self. Ingredients are what make up cooking; in this discussion we all have brought up some of the same ideas, this whole simulation thing is stringing itself through many people postings. Simulating meat foods as a cook has driven me crazy over the years; making food political; people want the food they grew up on but do not want the guilt. They also do not know how to cook so a veggie burger is the way out and marketers have made millions on it. Yves right here on the Canadian West coast has made a lot of money making simulated tofu- meat products. The veg heads love em and it has turned into a big industry; a lot of 14 year olds love veggie burgers but for what reason? I was a chef who developed many vegetarian menus and I just looked at was what was in front of me and used the teachings of classic cuisine and created many things out of all the vegetables. September it is really easy and cheap to create many wonderful things out of all that fresh local veggies and there was nothing simulating a meat dish. Each veggie had center stage and the politics stayed in the kitchen and the foods spoke for it self and like others have said up thread no meat eater’s seemed to notice or cared. "Where's the beef!!" steve
  16. Ah!! -- Perception; that is it in one sense, I find for me that sometimes the food is to political, or that like you said many different cultures of the world have vegetarian aspects to them, but I find they don not make such a big deal out of it, there might not be the anti meat thing but just some people around the world can not afford meat every day and mind you there are some health aspects to it as well, you do not have to eat meat all the time! The environment and yes the hippie side to theses places, service lacks!! In Vancouver the Naam has been around for ever, the longest time it was the only veggie place in van, then more ethnic places came about, but many non ethnic veg places kept falling. 24 carrot was one place, it was great, vegan and veg and great desserts, it had a beautiful interior design and was a beautiful and friendly restaurant but I think for Vancouver there just is not a big enough market to keep to many vegie places going?? just a thought steve
  17. James; please do give us a report. I would love to hear whats up with them theses days. thanks steve
  18. http://www.missionhillwinery.com/default.asp http://www.knight-tv.com/clac/chefs/allemeier.htm mission hill rocks steve
  19. Catering a la carte http://www.alacartekitchen.com/about.htm steve
  20. I did not find it made much differnce in the rate of pay. It realy is the skill set that you have and sticking to one place or just being at the right place at the right time. steve
  21. Jamie said: "But it is also, depressingly, proof of your point. There are few American chains that have been able to get a toehold in western Canadian markets because the standards of sourcing and distribution of quality ingredients, service training (a story in itself), decor and the cooking itself are simply too high" This is the main problem in the restaurant business, sourcing is where it starts, the chef does his or her menu design, then they go out and look for the raw product. Like the oyster, ah! But it is not that simple, first you must find that oyster, then you have to bring it in, then you have to store properly then you have to have someone who knows what the hell a Oyster is I am not joking; there are a lot of rookies out there, staffing is the next biggest problem. Getting good food is hard to find; sysco and Gordon foods have all generic crap which makes all the food taste the same, such as pre formed chicken soy pumped chicken breast, all fast food places use that crappie product, I hate it!! steve
  22. Hi all: I went to Northern Alberta Institute Of Technology, George Brown (management Courses), and did my practicum at The Windsor Arms Hotel In TO. I went the route of the Apprenticeship program and wrote my red seal and become a journeyman cook. I worked about 5 years before I wrote my exam. steve ------------------- -- Matt. (said): “There are precious few skilled butchers around these days. Stepping into a new job about a year ago, where minor-league butchery skills were important, I took it upon myself to get a bit of education.” “Butchery, as a trade, seems to be becoming a niche market. What do you think the grocery chains are doing about this? Do they still employ ticketed butchers?” -------------------- Nait had a great meat-cutting program in the school and also in the cooking program; it was my fav. Class and the skills I learned there, I am still utilizing today, skills that I would not have learned out in the industry. At the Windsor Arms I had a chance to do some time in their butchery and I am glad that I had that chance because these days you do not get many opportunities to do that level of butchery in a restaurant. I also learned all seafood, poultry and Wild meats and can do some retail cuts (over all the years) the basics was learned at school which lead me to have the opportunity to always continue learning; Chefs give you one chance!!!! I did not kill my first opportunity, so I usually found myself cleaning some form of meat, if the chef did not do it. steve --------------------------- --appreciator (said) “As I'm feeling particularly nosy tonight....... I would like to know how many people who have completed (or even started, for that matter) culinary training in Vancouver, are actually working in the field right now.” -------------------------- 25 years, I am Canadian and have never gone to Europe! Note* I have heard that more then 50% of cooking grads after five years are not coking anymore. steve ---------------------------------- “Any of you professional cooks out there find that getting your Red Seal made much of a difference to your career? Was it worth the work? For a time, I thought that was the end goal, now I realize it's basically a starting point. -- Matt.” ------------------------------------- It was more a personal thing; I have found that very few employers cared if you had it, I found it mostly Gov or a union environment even ask for it. steve
  23. All good points brought up; I do not want to be anti Corporation, but I feel the big huge Corporations are a little slow in reacting to market forces, the top is heavy and the middle is empty, corporations are now lining up and buying everything in the Organic industry; so when you think that Organic is safe well look behind the curtain and there is a big corporation. (Ben jerry ice cream) We as the consumer have to look even harder at our choices; food is becoming very political and choices are hard to find. The bottom is growing and so is the middle but every time someone gets a market share the top absorbs them. The farmer and the consumer seem to be somewhat at the same level but the two have a hard time meeting each other, when the market forces really listen to both parties the whole process will hopefully correct itself. The problem with big is you need big to supply big, so the whole lower end of the food supply and logistics becomes obsolete. Steve Support your local farmer http://www.cargill.com/ http://www.admworld.com/ http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/layout/default.asp http://www.kraft.com/profile/cares.html http://www.altria.com/ http://www.nestle.com/ http://www.perdue.com/ http://www.swiftbrands.com/index.php http://www.gfs.com/ http://www.sysco.com/ http://www.kroger.com/ http://www.benjerry.com/
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