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The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region

Vietnam tourism has significantly gained in popularity over the last few years. And why not? Haunting landscapes, jewel-studded waters, the romance of a pastoral life and impressive architecture – for those struck with wanderlust, Vietnam is paradise. But if you were to consider Vietnam visits worthy merely for its natural beauty, or cultural heritage, you’d be doing the country a disservice. Because, Vietnam tourism is incomplete without trying the food of Vietnam!

Vietnam Tourism: What you need to know about the food

Vietnamese cuisine, one the healthiest in the world, is all about freshness, and many chefs shop twice a day for ingredients. The real appeal lies in the balance of flavors and according to ForbesHo Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, is one the 10 best places in the world for street food.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
A vegetable market in Hanoi

Each region has a dish they make especially well.

Despite heavy historical and geographical influences, the cuisine is unique to Vietnam. It’d be a shame to miss out on local delicacies, which add that little bit extra to your Vietnam experience.

Vietnam Tourism: What you should eat in the North 

China has certainly left its mark in the north – the love for noodle soups and stir fries all comes from the Chinese. If you’re not very fond of spicy food you’re going to love the food in Hanoi! Pepper is about the only spice northerners indulge in.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
There is no way that you can be in Vietnam and avoid Pho, often called the ‘national dish of Vietnam’.

The aroma of freshly cooked Pho (noodle soup) wafts in from almost every busy street in Hanoi. You’ll find hundreds of people seated on plastic chairs in front of street-side restaurants every morning, sipping from their soup bowls.

Try Pho – a simple salty broth, with rice noodles, beef (popular in the north) or chicken, and fresh herbs.

Sample delicious grilled pork for lunch, served with vermicelli rice and called Bún chả. Just follow the heady aroma to the smoky grill of any street-side shop and you’ll find patrons in front of restaurants, hungrily wolfing down mouthfuls of this dish. It’s quite a favorite in Hanoi!

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
A street-side restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tip: You’ll probably want to avoid dog meat, or even cat, both of which are rather popular in the north.

Vietnam Tourism: The best of the central districts

The people of Central Vietnam love spicier cuisine. In Hue, food is cooked elaborately and the dishes are very colorful. The main course is served with many sides, like in an Imperial banquet – a hangover from the Imperial days of yore.

Try the Bánh khoai, a stuffed crepe made of rice flour, cooked with turmeric and pan fried to perfection.

You can find delicious Banh khoai everywhere in Hue, but we recommend the ubiquitous street carts for some authentic flavors.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
If the lantern-lit beauty of Hoi An’s streets doesn’t take your breath away, the Cao lầu that’s a specialty here, certainly will!

Cao lầu ismade only with water drawn from the thousand year old Ba Le well. This dish is an incredible mixture of many different cuisines – the thick noodles remind you of Japanese Udon and the wonton crackers are typical of the Chinese; but it’s the herbs and the broth that make this dish unique to Vietnam!

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
Cao Lau in Hoi An, Vietnam

Tip: Try your hand at cooking a local delicacy in one of the many cooking schools of Hoi AnClick here to read more and book yourself a cooking class.

Vietnam Tourism: What to eat in the South

Ho Chi Minh City in the south boasts of delicious cuisine, distinctly different from all other regions. French colonization has left its mark on Ho Chi Minh City and you will find lovely boulevards and coffee shops around every corner. The Bánh mì – much like a stuffed baguette, is an obvious leftover from the colonial era.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
The Pork Bánh mì Sandwich is very popular in Saigon.

The Bánh xèo is a great way to keep hunger at bay while you drift through the floating markets of Saigon. These are pancakes fried with a heap of things, and wrapped in lettuce and herbs.

In the warm, tropical south, people prefer their food sweeter.

The Mekong Delta is the world’s second largest producer of rice, often called the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, and it’s no surprise that the southerners prefer rice to noodles. Seafood is very popular here thanks to the extensive coastline, as are tropical fruits.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
Fishermen at work in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

In the Mekong Delta, the Canh chua, which literally means ‘sour soup’, is very popular. Made from fresh fish from the delta in a tamarind flavored broth, it’s like an explosion of flavors in your mouth, in a good way of course!


Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry

By Carlos Martin-Rios, Associate Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

An insight into what food waste really means and the processes that create it. Reducing food loss is a global, multidimensional challenge, so what can the foodservice industry specifically do to be more mindful of its role in the food value chain?

The current state of food wastage

On September 29, the world celebrated the 1st International Day of the Food Loss and Waste. This was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of reducing food waste (FW) as a key sustainability challenge for the hospitality and foodservice industry. FW epitomizes an unsustainable system of food production and consumption. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calculates that the amount of food wasted each year will rise by a third by 2030, “when 2.1 billion tons will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tons per second”.

Food wastage appears to be higher in developed countries, while on the other hand, there are an estimated 842 million people in poor countries experiencing chronic hunger. According to Oxfam, the current pandemic has deepened the hunger crisis and “by the end of the year, 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself”. Ten countries top the list of hunger spots (Figure) accounting for 65% people living in crisis level hunger.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 1: Countries and regions where the food crisis is most severe (Oxfam, 2020) — Photo: EHL

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), FW is defined as food which is fit for consumption but discarded by choice or because has been left to spoil or expire, with ‘food’ referring to “whether processed, semi-processed or raw edible products going to human consumption.”

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Food loss/waste — Photo: EHL

The fact that FW is perceived as amounting, yet avoidable, the challenge has driven the United Nations to adopt target 12.3 as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to:

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
The sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 —

The how and where of food wastage

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the global food value chain, from agricultural production to final consumption. Food production is linked to land conversion and biodiversity loss, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, water and pesticide use. At the post-harvest and processing stages, there is also waste in each step of the transport, storage, processing and distribution stages. At the end of the food value chain, final consumption (including commercial and household) accounts for as much as 40% of total food losses. Evidence shows that in developed countries, food is mainly wasted at the final consumer stage of the supply chain.

FW management has thus become a key priority, referring to all the activities related to avoiding, reducing or recycling waste throughout the production and consumption chain. This raises the question as to whether food wastage could also be reduced along the food supply chains.

The FW challenge in tourism and foodservice

Tourism, as a global foodservice industry, is implicated in food consumption and waste generation. Consumer foodservices include restaurants, fast food chains, cafés, cafeterias, canteens and dining halls, as well as event catering. This sector employs more people than any single other retail business, including 14 million in the USA and 8 million in Europe (Euromonitor International) and serves billions of meals every year. The Figure shows the average annual food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households from 2010 to 2019. In 2019, average food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households amounted to about 3,526 U.S. dollars, compared to 2,505 dollars in 2010. Therefore, the activity has a critical role in the global FW challenge.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 2: Average annual food away-from-home expenditures of United States households from 2010 to 2019 (in U.S. dollars) (Source: Statista, 2020) — Photo: EHL
  • Producers: Collaborating with local farmers, e.g. sourcing locally can boost FW source reduction and turn FW into animal feed.
  • Suppliers: Partnering with suppliers that are ready to participate in sustainable initiatives (e.g. oil suppliers that collect used oil).
  • Retailers: Bargaining an off-spec protocol that consider FW reduction, e.g. acquiring imperfect or off-grade produce before is thrown away.
  • Employees: Providing with training for purchasing inventory management, production planning and menu planning & service.
  • Consumers: Increasing awareness and engagement of customers (dining out) and households (dining in).
  • Collaborative platforms: Partnering with food donation recovery partners, e.g. Too good to go.
  • Technology providers: Data feeding restaurants with FW information, e.g. Kitro technology (article).

Study findings

Despite the significance of this issue to the global foodservice industry, the link between innovation practices and FW management has received limited attention. An exception is Martin-Rios et al. (article) recent research on the interrelationships of foodservice provisions and innovations in FW management through the lenses of innovation theory.

The study presents a range of waste management initiatives using the distinction between incremental innovations (those revolving around work processes and technologies) and radical innovations (innovations exploring opportunities to significantly change waste management approaches). The study also points out different approaches to FW based on FW characterization, management practices and management’s beliefs, knowledge and awareness to identify practices that suggest some type of innovation.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Table: Summary of FW innovations for the hospitality and commercial foodservice — Photo: EHL

The main objectives

The concepts discussed in this research could help practitioners to become more aware of the factors that drive the adoption of FW innovations. Any initiative towards FW minimization and management must necessarily address the following two objectives:

  1. Customization: Identity which innovative food management practices contribute to the avoidance (reducing and rethinking), re-use or recycling of food waste in each particular foodservice establishment.
  2. Awareness: Evaluate foodservice managers’ perspectives regarding the opportunities, challenges, costs and benefits of various FW innovations.

A traditional waste management program that ignores the social aspects of management and professional skills can be a barrier to the effective implementation of FW innovations. Results also show that interest in innovation as a systematic process to minimize waste and facilitate waste management is limited.

Foodservice providers implement innovations based on a cost-saving analysis. Interviews highlighted a general lack of concern and knowledge about FW management. Food industry professionals face an array of daily organizational and financial challenges linked to waste sorting, storage and disposal, and they mostly count on the standard recycling/waste procedures their local councils make available to cope with them. Professionals tend to approach waste reduction from a practical, experience-based approach, but there is no systematic implementation of waste reduction strategies based on forms of institutional knowledge. What they really need is proper training and achievable goals to be set by governments.

A key finding is that many companies are not actively innovating in the waste domain. They are however increasingly aware of the economic and social importance of waste management. The foodservice industry is not leading the way when it comes to innovation. There are only a few low- or zero-waste restaurants, and just a few chefs who are creating meals out of food scraps.


One important finding academic research highlights are the importance of developing partnerships between foodservice providers and other businesses, non-for-profits, and institutional players. Closer collaboration underlines the importance of bringing together different (and sometimes competing) stakeholders and combining between them innovation types and innovation generation and adoption with greater efficiency. This calls for more research, tools and concepts to design the innovative practices supporting the next generation of FW management systems if the situation is to ever improve.

Foodservice, as a labor-intensive activity where innovation has tended to be slow, can benefit from other firms and institutions sharing knowledge, insights and experiences, helping the industry get on track to hit the goal of halving food waste by 2030.


Time to Open Up the Buffets

The buffet has been an integral part of many restaurant and other hotel food operations. For now, the buffet is just taking up space – an ugly reminder of better times. Buffets have a unique appeal to many customers if for no other reason than the visual of the food display – so many options for one set price.

Can we find innovative ways to re-introduce the buffet and create a unique customer experience?

Can we create the perception of high touch in a low touch environment?

“The buffet is a proven restaurant concept that has always had a strong customer base because of its value perception and visual appeal. By adapting the traditional buffet model to a safer and more controlled operation without giving up the essence of the idea will allow the concept to continue to thrive.” ~ Alan Someck, Keystone Hospitality Solutions.

The New Buffet Concept

The thought is to create a buffet customer experience that eliminates the customer touchpoints and engages the customer.

Try some of these conceptual work arounds for a restaurant or food and beverage operation are:

  • Create buffet stations such as soup/appetizers, salad, main course, side dishes, action station (carving, pasta, eggs to order, sandwiches, etc…), desserts and so forth.
  • Add in a Chef at the action station who also manages the buffet team and the experience.
  • Provide hospitality trained servers to portion the food.
  • Buffet staff should receive both culinary and hospitality training – informed service with a smile. We want the servers to engage with the customer.
  • The buffet staff should be tip eligible and receive a share of pooled tips – give them the incentive to produce the buffet experience that will generate return business and word of mouth advertising.

The questions to ask yourself as a food and beverage operator are:

  1. Can we reopen the buffet safely in this low touch environment?
  2. Can we operate the buffet without adding significant cost?
  3. Can we generate more revenue with the buffet open?

Safety Concerns Regarding Buffets

“There is no better time to have a plan for your business than the present day, and this does not mean one plan. Considering alternatives is imperative to survival and while buffet service has been a discouraging consideration, I see this differently. Paramount to our current operating considerations and the success of your business is the safety of your guests and employees.”

“A buffet setup, if designed and planned appropriately, may offer guests the safety they seek over a la carte service interaction.”

“This includes, but is not limited to: Managing capacity restrictions, wearing masks unless seated, social distancing controls (table by table) while guests are accessing the food line, six-foot protocols of buffet foods set up, the masked and gloved staff serving the customers, and protective shields for the foods and people.”

“There is also a need to minimize the potential for crossover contamination between the kitchen and the delivery of foods to the buffet with assembly-line tactics and other similar procedures that provide the look and feel that safety is a priority. Guests may partake in a properly designed buffet with minimal close contact with front of house staff, unlike a la carte. Ideally, you will also have a touchless payment system in place.” ~ Jim Lopolito, President Lopolito Hospitality Consultants.

Analyze Buffet Costs

Cost neutral or better vs. pure a la carte service may be achieved in several ways:

  • Servers behind the buffet will control portion size to some extent resulting in food cost reductions.
  • The Chef and servers will also help control, limit over production and resulting waste – just in time replenishment.
  • With the buffet open you will be able to reduce floor staff by increasing station size. A server working a buffet is responsible for taking the drink order, clearing the table, and handling the check – no food service and no kitchen trips. A buffet server is capable of handling more tables/covers than an a la carte server – an offset to the additional buffet server labor.
  • Less a la carte service will reduce stress on kitchen, create efficiencies and cost reductions.

Revenue increases from higher average checks for the buffet, faster turn times and more total customers per meal service – more revenue per seat (RPS). Increases in the top line will naturally result in improved revenue flow to the profit line.

There will be a one-time expense to retrofit the buffet and there are occupancy and capacity thresholds that need to be considered. However, if done correctly creating a buffet experience in today’s world may differentiate your restaurant and pay off in financial dividends.

Clearly this is a rough base line concept that will need to be tailored to the needs of your restaurant and food service operation and certainly there is room for some additional creative enhancements. Run the numbers based on your restaurant operation and see what they tell you. If positive, it will be worth the time and effort to give the buffet experience a new life.

If the time is not right now due to capacity thresholds, do your planning/homework now and be ready to re-launch the buffet when the time is right. All indications are that concerns about social distancing and touchpoints will linger for the foreseeable future. Therefore, if the buffet is an integral part of your restaurant and foodservice operation you will want to revise your approach.


Awareness of water risks is rising in food and beverage, but more progress is needed

Unilever does the best at recognizing and managing risk factors associated with water out of large food, beverage and ingredients companies, according to a new report from nonprofit sustainability group Ceres. Right behind Unilever — which scored 87 points out of 100 — was Nestlé with 85 points. General Mills, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo round out the top five. Sanderson Farms, with zero points, scored the lowest. Monster Beverage, Pilgrim’s Pride and Chiquita Brands all had fewer than 10 points.

Ceres ranked 40 major food companies on how well they manage water risk and compared how performance has changed in its latest “Feeding Ourselves Thirsty” report. Awareness is growing — 77% of 35 publicly traded food and beverage companies now consider water a risk factor in financial filings, an increase from 59% that did so when Ceres did its last report in 2017.

Although the food industry is becoming more aware of water risks, the 2019 analysis shows CPG, beverage, agricultural products and meat companies are still not effectively managing this risk in their operations or global supply chains. Food companies need to move faster and more boldly — investing in smart and water-conscious agriculture — to meet the challenges posed by the global water crisis, protect their bottom lines and return value to investors, the organization said.

​​Climate ​change’s effects are putting unprecedented strain on global water supply and quality, which Ceres said threatens profitability of the $5 trillion global food sector. The outlook and implications for food companies are grim, the organization added.

The Ceres report noted the food sector has improved management of water risk in the past few years. This is imperative considering that about 70% of global water use fuels the larger food and beverage industry, and it’s one of the first major industries to be exposed to problems caused by a strained supply, report co-author and Ceres Vice President of Innovation and Evaluation Brooke Barton said on a media call. 

The average company score rose 22% since 2017 and 52% since 2015. Reasons for this include corporate board members becoming more aware of water issues, more companies setting water use efficiency goals, and food companies more often analyzing the water-related risks — physical, regulatory and reputational — in today’s world.

The report singled out Unilever for adding 14 points to its latest score and regaining the No. 1 spot by strengthening its board oversight of water risks, tying executive compensation to meeting water performance targets and bolstering efforts to protect watersheds critical to its agricultural supply chain. Ceres said Mars improved its score by 27 points because it set new water reduction targets based on challenges within different watersheds.

Some companies have made more progress than others. Kentucky-based spirits maker Brown-Forman fell 10 points in the rankings, even though its numerical score stayed the same. Reasons behind the drop include lack of sustainability oversight on the board level, consideration of water in company strategy and operations, and a watershed protection plan. Hershey’s score improved by two points, but the confectioner’s ranking went down nine slots for failure to analyze watershed conditions, support suppliers to improve water and wastewater management and translate water risk into financial terms, Ceres said.

While the packaged food, beverage, agricultural products and meat sectors improved average scores from the two previous Ceres reports, the meat industry continues to be the lowest-performing of the four because “meat processors continue to do relatively little to ensure resilient supply chains,” the report said. Every meat company analyzed except Smithfield Foods was in the bottom half of all the companies assessed, Ceres noted.

Specific actions some food companies are taking to enhance sustainable sourcing were called out in the report. Kellogg has set out to responsibly source 10 priority ingredients by 2020. It defines that goal for each ingredient and reports on progress. So far, Kellogg has responsibly sourced at least 80% of most of its priority commodities, Ceres said.

PepsiCo is doing something similar with its commodity purchases, and the company is aiming to enhance water use efficiency by 15% by 2025. These goals cover most of its key commodities, the report said.


Foodservice leaders on the impact of Brexit on the restaurant industry

With the uncertainty of a potential no-deal Brexit drawing closer, leaders in the restaurant industry are becoming less confident about their sector, with only 30% optimistic about the future of the general market, according to insight consultancy CGA’s latest quarterly Business Confidence Survey.

Verdict Foodservice spoke with industry professionals about the impact Brexit is and will have on the restaurant industry.

John Trueman, CEO of leading guest management system Quadranet Systems, has been in the restaurant industry for decades

“Aside from the obvious concerns restaurant and hotel owners have about the European migrants currently working for them, whose future remains uncertain, the impact on staffing has already been negative. Europeans are returning to their native countries rather than face uncertainty, making the pool of staff available to the industry ever smaller.

“Brexit is already having a seismic impact on our sector in other ways, too: the devalued pound is naturally resulting in fewer people eating out, choosing instead to pinch their pennies until after 31 October or whenever Brexit may be, when they will be able to assess what their disposable income looks like.

“Many of us feel left in the dark and planning for the future has become nigh on impossible. Brexit would be bad for hospitality, but uncertainty is worse. The sooner we have some clarity on what lies ahead, the better.”

Peter Hale, spokesperson for Business Electricity Prices (BEP), which specialises in helping businesses reduce their energy bills 

“With businesses seeing an average of a 43% increase in their electricity bills over the past ten years, and Brexit’s uncertainty lurking around the corner, it’s no wonder business owners are looking for smart ways to cut costs.

“The hospitality industry, especially restaurants, could potentially see a big change in their number of covers, as dining out is a luxury that people to tend to cut out when tightening their belts. In order for the restaurant industry to have the best chance of survival, it is important to look at cuts that will not affect quality of service.”

Chris Miller, founder of White Rabbit Fund, a creative development platform that backs and invests in food entrepreneurs 

“Without question, Brexit is a disaster for the hospitality industry in the UK.

“We have already seen increases in the cost of ingredients. Be that driven by the declining value of the pound, or simply giving suppliers a good reason to trigger raises. Under a no-deal scenario, with the implementation of tariffs, this will only get worse.

“As for the staff, a lot of our best staff are from Europe. Where they would often come to the UK to work and send some money home, with a weaker pound this is a less attractive proposition. In addition, I do believe there is a factor of feeling unwelcome. So, where many workers went back home over the summer, they simply are not coming back in the same quantity. This is creating a real shortage of staff.

“In the UK, hospitality has not been seen as a career and there simply isn’t the local talent pool to fill vacancies. The result comes from economics 101 – shortage of supply means increased price – so we will continue to see inflation in staff cost.

“The picture does not look good and I think it is pretty clear we are heading into a recession. We are ten years into a bull run when historic averages show recessions happen every seven years.

All that said, people still need to eat and drink. The restaurant market will not disappear, but there will be a massive shakeout. Operators really have to be at the top of their game to survive and prosper in these challenging times.”

Gareth Ogden, partner at haysmacintyre, who has 12 years’ experience in hospitality and advises his restaurant clients on topics such as financial planning for Brexit

“The restaurant industry is currently facing complex challenges. When we speak to operators the most common buzzword is ‘uncertainty’ which is partly, but not entirely, attributable to ongoing Brexit deliberations.

“Economic uncertainty is a serious concern in respect of its impact on consumer demand. The impact of Brexit on food costs is also causing anxiety, dependent as it is on the nature of the final Brexit outcome: deal, no-deal or no Brexit. Both of these factors are holding back many operators from further investment as they wait to see how the political situation plays out.

“However, it is the uncertainty over staff recruitment which is perhaps most obviously being felt currently. The uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the availability of labour is compounding an already prevalent problem: recruiting good quality staff, including chefs.

“In the 2018 haysmacintyre UK hospitality Index, 77% of respondents stated that they felt Brexit would negatively impact their ability to recruit staff. Initial results for the 2019 Index suggest this figure has increased to over 80%. Operators are seeking clarity over the Government’s immigration policy and whether freedom or restriction of movement of labour from the EU will ultimately prevail.”

Jamie Shail, managing director at Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining 

“Since the referendum one of the biggest impacts on the hotel and restaurant industry has been the shortage of staff. We rely on a pool of talent from European countries, and not only have they felt unwelcome, the euro-sterling exchange rate has meant a 20% decline in their salaries, and many have made the decision to return to their home or other European countries.

“The UK doesn’t have the experienced workforce to replace them. It is also this decline of sterling against the euro which is currently leading to higher costs of imported food goods. We have seen a significant price rise on many food products from dairy to fish.

“If the UK leaves the European Union with a ‘no deal’ along with the continued staffing issue, which may, in fact, get worse, we will also suffer a serious supply and demand problem. With the UK falling into WTO regulations this would immediately increase the price of imported foods by 20% and many imported products could be left at ports while lengthy checks are carried out.

“We are also likely to see further price rises from the continued decline in sterling and the increased demand for the limited production in the UK, with in excess of 30% of food products being imported.”


Who’s on the Move in F&B?

NATIONAL REPORT—Hotels across the country are revamping F&B operations. Here’s a look at the new additions to hotel culinary teams:

HGU New York Partners with Chef and Restauranteur John DeLucie

HGU New York Hotel has partnered with star chef and restauranteur John DeLucie to launch new food and beverage concepts across the luxury boutique hotel. The partnership includes a phased overhaul of the hotel’s bars and restaurants including the 1905 Lounge, rooftop, lobby bar and the creation of a signature restaurant set to open this fall.

Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead Welcomes Executive Chef

Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead has welcomed Executive Chef Christophe Truchet as the leader of the hotel’s culinary team. Truchet is responsible for the property’s culinary and banquet operations, menu development, concept and programming for the hotel’s signature restaurant, café & bar and oversees in­-room dining. He joins the hotel with nearly 20 years of experience. Most recently, Truchet served as executive sous chef at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.

The Peninsula Chicago Appoints Executive Chef 

The Peninsula Chicago has appointed Executive Chef Baasim Zafar, a native of England with more than 25 years of experience in restaurants and luxury hotels in the United States, London and Saudi Arabia. Chef Zafar will oversee all Peninsula restaurant kitchens for The Lobby, Shanghai Terrace, Pierrot Gourmet and Z Bar, as well as banquets, in-room dining and pastry kitchen operations. Most recently, he led culinary operations at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago that included the launch of Italian steakhouse Torali and accompanying bar, rooftop lounge and café.

Innisbrook Resort Appoints New Director of Restaurants

Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, FL has appointed Dan Brown to director of restaurants. In his new role, Brown will oversee restaurant operations at each of Innisbrook’s four restaurants, to include the implementation of creative concepts, showcasing the talents of the resort’s culinary team as well as the inviting indoor and outdoor spaces for dining and entertainment. Brown brings more than 26 years of management experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He has maintained positions ranging from manager to assistant director for multiple restaurant outlets, and has been employed by properties including the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel & Marina in San Diego, the Fairmont Plaza Hotel in NY, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, FL.

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Charleston Historic District Appoint Executive Chef

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Charleston Historic District has appointed of executive chef Albert Kunco. Kunco has more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry focused on honing his culinary skills. Most recently, Kunco served as the executive chef at Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners. Kunco will lead the development of a new catering program for group, corporate and social events and launch seasonal menus for the hotel restaurant, bar and happy hour.

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows Revamps Culinary Team

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows has introduced a new culinary team led by Executive Chef Nate Larsen and Sous Chef Chelsea Cummings. The new team under the direction of Chefs Larsen and Cummings will drive the culinary program at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen, Turquoise Pool Bar and Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary as well as in-room dining and banquet operations. Larsen most recently served as executive chef at Hyatt Centric Park City. Cummings most recently moved to Arizona as a corporate management trainee with Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch.


8 chefs share the red flags that a restaurant isn’t worth eating in

Going out to eat should be an enjoyable experience full of brilliant food and lovely wine, that you can’t stop thinking about for days after. Sadly, though, that’s not always the case, and the chances are you’ve been victim to a bad meal at one time or another.

Thankfully, chefs of Reddit have been sharing the red flags they look out for in restaurants, that might indicate that you don’t want to eat there. And from oversized menus to dirty bathrooms, these are definitely things to consider next time you step out for dinner.

‘If they have a really big menu’

“If a restaurant has a giant, multi-page menu that’s a gigantic red flag. The longer the menu, the better the odds that you’re paying to eat a boiled bag frozen meal. Conversely, if a restaurant has a one-page menu that’s usually a pretty good sign, it means their line cooks have become specialists and can usually nail all the dishes listed.”

‘If the staff don’t seem to like each other’

“I always [base a good restaurant on] how the staff interact with each other. If they all seem to enjoy being there, and coordinate well, more often than not it’s because everything is running smoothly and they have a good system, which usually means they know what they’re doing and you can expect good food. That’s how it always is for the smaller, family run restaurants I frequent anyway, which I believe always have the best food.”

‘If your food arrives too quickly’

“If you order a meal that should take a long time to cook and it comes out very quickly. It’s been pre-cooked. This applies mostly to quiet nights. If it’s quiet and it comes out immediately it’s just been sitting there. But if it’s busy than there’s enough turnover that it’s likely alright and chefs are just being prepared.”

‘If the presentation isn’t nice’

“Presentation is a big thing. Even the cheapest greasy spoon should be taking a couple seconds to make it look nice. If you see your meal look like utter dog crap, the kitchen crew doesn’t care about the little things, which means they likely don’t care about the bigger things like food safety.”

‘If the bathroom isn’t clean’

“Not a chef but a friend of mine is a health inspector and he says if the bathroom isn’t clean, the kitchen is invariably not clean as well. The first place he checks is the bathroom in every restaurant he eats in, and if it’s dirty he walks right back out. I guess it’s just something that is easily overlooked by restaurant staff and indicative of lenient management in regards to cleaning.”

‘If there aren’t enough staff’

“Pay attention to the size of the seating area versus how many servers are on the floor. If it’s a large busy restaurant with lots of tables and only a couple of people serving, don’t bother eating there. That’s your first clue that the owners are cheap, and will happily sacrifice quality for a couple extra bucks.”

‘If it’s open 24/7’

“If the restaurant is open seven days a week, chances are your food is being negligently prepared by a burnt out chef, your vegetables are not being washed properly and more than likely everything is old because it was prepared in huge batches that are then frozen.”

‘If all the food looks uniform and identical’

“Food items that look uniform in size, shape and consistency are not made on site, but ordered in, frozen, and then thawed and heated. It’s somewhat usual in places that serve large quantities of food in a short period of time, like lunch buffet places, but shouldn’t be in a la carte places. A decent restaurant takes pride in actually cooking everything they serve and try to avoid processed crap as much as possible.”


Kirkintilloch pub and restaurant in final of top hospitality awards – by public demand

A well known pub and restaurant at Kirkintilloch is in the running for a top hospitality award – thanks to public votes.

The Stables is a finalist in the Scottish Hospital Awards 2019 which recognises the champions of the industry.

The event is hosted by marketing consultants Creative Oceanic but the results are in the hands of the Scottish public.

A spokesperson for the awards said: “After a tremendous number of nominations received, the list of the top contenders has been compiled.”

The Stables is a finalist in the Best Pub/Inn category.

The local establishment will find out if it has won at the presentations ceremony at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday May 21.

The spokesperson added: ”Working for the hospitality industry can be challenging at times and these awards aim to recognise those who have succeeded in this sector, despite the difficulties.

“There are people who have dedicated their whole career in making the country a special destination for visitors. It is time to give those professionals the recognition they deserve.
“The awards will provide a platform to thank and honour those who have contributed to making Scotland a friendly and welcoming place, enhancing the country’s reputation nationally and internationally. We would like to congratulate all the finalists for their nomination and wish them the best of luck.”


The Happiness of Hospitality Through Service

A restaurant’s front-of-house team represents the brand as arguably its most valuable asset. They embody hospitality and serve to rectify, assuage, or adapt to the customer’s needs. FOH is the face of the brand.

With thousands of potential failure points in any guest experience, the server is the primary key to the identification and resolution of any issues. Well-trained and valuable employees provide service to keep guests happy and returning so that their frequency drives same store sales, which means we need to know how well each server delivers happiness.

Any restaurant operator will tell you talented staff with adaptive training is the cornerstone for running a good business. Consider insight from chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands David Novak:  “The most important thing you can do as a leader is create an environment where everyone knows that what they do makes a difference.”

How can a restaurant ensure their servers are evolving, growing and continuing to be a positive representation of the brand?

On-boarding is often the extent of training, but it’s actually only the start of building hospitality-focused talent with an understanding of their impact. Most brands expect those first few weeks to convey everything necessary about hospitality and therefore dedicate ongoing training to perfunctory menu change knowledge or regulatory safety. Training programs also typically treat all employees the same rather than identifying each team member’s unique needs, largely because we’ve never been able to identify individualized need

How can a restaurant ensure their servers are evolving, growing and continuing to be a positive representation of the brand? More importantly, how do you have a happy and productive workforce who knows how to truly deliver hospitality? The answer is data at scale to understand how each server is performing every day and what their unique opportunities are.

Data on the facilitation of service has transformed other industries as best illustrated by the Amazon retail effect, yet hospitality largely relies on what can be observed by the human eye when it comes to anything other than sales. That’s arguably supplemented by a mystery dining shop to manage their front line staff with the extremes of online reviews being their best effort of understanding the day-to-day perceptions of the brand. Data on service should provide insight into what elements are working overall with more detailed insights available by individual server. With access to such information, an operator can better celebrate the wins, coach and counsel on the negative, and create training plans based on information that historically hasn’t been available.

How would a restaurant get such quantities of data to inform service with the same granularity as it manages costs? The answer: ask the guest.

How do you have a happy and productive workforce who knows how to truly deliver hospitality?

Technology can enable a direct and at-scale solution as to how your staff is performing overall and in detail against metrics that you define, typically known as steps-of-service. Comment cards included in the check presenter and post-dining emails have been used, but rarely deliver data at scale. Likewise, post-dining emails engage a select number of guests with incentives. Feedback must be at scale to create a happiness score by server and to inform staff training, 

Engaging the guest at the point of payment delivers the right time and reason to start a conversation. A device like Yumpingo’s digital bill, is given to guests with the check presenter post-meal with a few questions related to product and service.  Its brevity, timeliness, and appropriateness allows for the digital collection, organization, and digestion of guest data on sentiment at scale.

If an operator has hundreds of data points by server per week, they can have conversations based on fact rather than feeling or observation. 

If an operator has hundreds of data points by server per week, they can have conversations based on fact rather than feeling or observation. This makes managing a team easier because operators work best to manage what is measured. From there, they can create merit-based scheduling, and peer-to-peer programs by linking strengths/weaknesses. For example, if an employee’s recent reviews showed they lack wine knowledge, a manager can require that the server completes a wine module of training prior to the next shift.  Similarly, a server with a perfect ‘happiness score’ can be recognized.

If an operator has hundreds of data points by server per week, they can have conversations based on fact rather than feeling or observation. 

A digitally driven approach to the collection of guest feedback and the implementation of that data to inform staff training will create an environment where your team can thrive because you then help each employee succeed by knowing exactly where they may be struggling. Time is money, as they say. Make your staff training effective by first informing management on where your staff performance stands.


We have to stop marketing junk food to children

Imagine being able to walk into a grocery store with your children and not have to fend off endless demands to buy kid-branded food products because there are none in sight. This peaceful scenario could become a reality if Bill S-228 passes in the Canadian senate.

The bill, introduced in 2016 by former senator and Olympic ski champion Nancy Raine Greene, would prevent food and beverage companies from marketing to children under age 13 across all forms of media – TV, Internet, billboards, magazines, radio, bus stop posters, and even food packaging itself. Marketing of foods and beverages that contain more than 5 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for sodium, sugar, or saturated fat would be restricted. Currently, this includes the vast majority of foods that are typically marketed to kids. Mary L’Abbé, researcher at the University of Toronto, wrote in the Star that her lab has examined more than 15,000 foods (roughly three-quarters of the Canadian processed food market):

“We found that with the proposed DV threshold, only 16 percent of all products could be marketed to kids, and just 2 percent of products which currently have child-directed packaging meet the threshold.”

So, it’s clear that such legislation would have a serious effect on manufacturers, which is why they’re fighting it fiercely and the bill has stalled after its third reading in the Senate last fall. The CBC recently published a confidential letter from the heads of advertising, food processing, and retail companies, asking senators to withhold their support.

This is unacceptable, considering the good such a bill could do. Children are vulnerable citizens, lacking media savviness and susceptible to popular opinion. They are developing their own taste preferences and establishing eating habits that will stick with them for life (or be very hard to shake, especially if they’ve gained weight at a young age). They are also in great need of healthy nutrients to support rapid physical and mental growth. Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom makes the argument in Today’s Parent:

“There’s a known correlation between current food marketing and the rising rates of childhood obesity and chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Currently, 90 percent of the foods marketed on TV are high in salt, sugar, calories and fat, and that’s what our children are being encouraged to eat.”

Bill S-228 would work in two ways, as described by Prof. L’Abbé in University of Toronto magazine (Spring 2019):

“It reduces the amount of marketing that children and parents are exposed to, and it also works as an incentive to the food industry to reformulate foods. We saw that happen with trans fats: virtually every company has reformulated their foods to get below the regulations.”

Both points are important, but I think the latter is particularly profound. Of course people need to take responsibility for themselves, but for too long we’ve shouldered all that responsibility without expecting much from the companies that produce and sell us our food. It’s the same argument we’ve used many times on this website for plastic packaging; it shouldn’t be our job to clean up the detritus of a broken system.

This has to change. To quote L’Abbé again, “We want more of the onus to be put on the system rather than the individual to find the healthiest food… We want to help minimize the [parent’s] struggle.”