Dining with the competition, never!?
How often do you dine or drink with your competition; and the right answer isn't never
Sure you are busy; you have to open and close six if not seven nights a week. But let’s face it; how can you know how well you are doing if you don’t know how the competition is doing. Not just how busy, but quality of service, quality or food and drinks, and ambience. How can you know how good you are until you know how good the completion is. This is the first reason you should, make time to eat and drink with the competition, but there are more.
Your role in managing the business is to continually add new items to your menu whether you are a bar or a restaurant some innovation is a necessary part of your business. So how do you decide what to do next? Where do you find your inspiration?
I would hope that some inspiration can come from these pages; but seriously you need to be able to identify where your inspiration from innovation comes from.
Sometimes, when you eat out, you see a restaurant with a good quality ingredient you had completely forgotten about. You may ask them where they get it. And even though our industry is competitive I can say that we are unfailingly supportive. Chefs are excited to talk about and share their sources, inspiration and new ideas- and I think its because they all know that no one could create their dishes like they can.
Experiencing a dish is a lot like experiencing a piece of art. Everyone has their own personal experience. All you have to do is to watch one episode of Iron Chef and see two notable critics completely disagree, and you’ll understand this concept. It doesn’t mean a dish is bad, it just reinforces the idea that everyone has their own views. And so even if you share ingredients with another chef, or even the same recipe; you interpretation will be different, unique because its is created through your eyes, your tastes, your experiences.
Positively, when you get out people will be reminded to come and eat and drink at your place too. The same thing happens when a chef or bar owner visits you. It isn’t about poaching customers, but about supporting the industry, staying up to date gaining and giving feedback and inspiration.
The reason to visit is also about being a great host- you can’t expect your customers to spend 100% of their time with you and if a guest asks for a recommendation, you can’t say, ‘Oh I don’t know, I’ve been too busy working.’
When you are out, meet other chefs and managers and owners and you’ll almost always discuss the F&B industry- who’s respected, who’s doing well and then have a debate on why.
After going out most find that their energy, productivity, and creativity are revitalized. Through interacting with others who share your passions you will learn, will become re-energized, become more informed as well as more knowledgeable about your own business.