Co-hosts Stephenie Medina and Chef Adam discuss corporate dining, culinary services and food related topics. Episode 3 dives deeper into why hospitality is at the core of everything we do.
Episode 3 Podcast Transcript
Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 3 of Stirring the Pot. My name is Stephenie Medina and I’m Adam Weiner and we are here to kick things off for the third time. In between Episode 2 and now we did receive some feedback which we greatly appreciate from our small fan of listeners. But a few things we’re going to be sure to be cautious of this time is number one we’ve been starting far too many sentences with “and”. So we’re not going to do that this time or at least not so frequently. And out of oh well wait. And I need to. And see there we go doing it again. I need to be miked up which really surprised me when people said that because I spent a lot of years as a chef in the kitchen and I’m normally told that you don’t need your kitchen voice anymore. In fact I did I start that last sentence with and I’m normally told. I did, I am normally told. You know what we are a work in progress guys.
The Details of Hospitality
Alright we’re working on this but the last point that we received feedback was that I think is probably most important. Is that we didn’t really go into enough detail on the hospitality topics we covered in episode one and two. So for this podcast we want to really dive into why hospitality is important and really what it means for it to be at the base of what we do every day.
All right Stephenie I don’t want to talk about hospitality and why. I want to talk about Billy Joel. Adam you did this to me last time. Ok, what, where are we going with this. Billy Joel had a song it’s called it’s just a fantasy and the line opening line was it’s just a fantasy it’s not the real thing. And people in the hospitality business have to realize it what we’re doing is we’re providing a fantasy to our guests. Our guests know that they are not the most important person in the world but when they walk into our restaurant or our cafe or our hotel or our amusement park or whatever we have in the hospitality business. They want to be treated like the most important person in the world. They want to be experiencing something that they think oh my gosh this is incredible and that’s our job. We’re supposed to provide that.
I went to buy myself a burrito last week and I was the only person in the taqueria. I got there right when it open and they gave me they said you’re number 47. I’m trying to figure out how I’m number 47 if they just opened and the person makes my burrito. Literally slams it on the counter and screams out again I’m the only person in the place number 47 number 47. My fantasy is shattered I’m not the most important person in the world I’m number 47. Who just had his lunch slammed onto the counter. That’s not what we do in the hospitality business. That’s a not what we should be providing.
Correct, okay I’m nodding my head people can’t see that but I’m with you. So essentially you’re right what we we strive to do is we we want to make everyone feel special. I think that’s wrong. I don’t think we want to make everyone feel special. I think we need to take the mindset that everyone is special and I’ve got a fun little story on that.
Everybody I Cook For is Special
I taught part-time for the United States Navy for 10 years and I was sent out to a base on the East Coast and I’m checking in and I’m getting my ID badge and the person working with me says are you here to cook for someone special and without even thinking I just snap back. Everybody I cook for is special because that’s the mindset that you need to take everybody who walks in our front door is special every guest is special. That’s what life is about and think about what makes things special for you when you go out. It’s the waiter in the restaurant saying does anybody have any food allergies that I should be careful of while taking your order. It’s the hostess being stopped and saying saying gee I noticed you don’t have a salt shaker on your table let me get one because I know your server is busy. It’s some everybody saying thank you on the way out thank you very much for coming in. Those are the sort of things that make people feel special and that’s what we need to do in the hospitality business.
I had a fun example the other day and basically every day for the last week is I ride the shuttle bus back and forth to work and one of the people ride the bus with me knows I’m in food service and he runs up and tells me you’ve opened up three new kitchens at my location. It’s incredible it’s wonderful we can’t believe the variety going on my friends and I get together every day at 11:30 and we plan on who’s going to go to who. We look who’s going to go with who because we’re looking at the menus who’s going to go with who who’s going to go to what place who’s going to eat what who’s going to share how we’re going to taste these things. The whole bus ride he tells he’s so excited about the food and this is not even you know 7:30 in the morning and he’s already talking about lunch. That’s what the hospitality business is about making people feel special making them feel excited making them have that fantasy that this is the best part of their day.
Yeah I hear what you’re saying actually that as you were talking that kind of reminded me there’s a certain cafe here on campus that I purposely go to. Of course the food is good, service is great but my favorite part actually of why I go there is the dishwashers that I see when I’m putting my empty plate and dishware and in the bin. They have such a great energy and they say hello, they say thank you, they ask questions, they remember who I am, and it’s just a great way to end my lunch and return back to work kind of feeling uplifted. And yeah I go because of them really and they make me feel special.
The Change in Restaurant Reviews
All right so we’ve talked about the good let’s talk about the bad. When I was teaching culinary arts and teaching hospitality. I would tell my students that before Yelp if you really like the dining experience you would tell four or five of your friends. If you had a bad dining experience you would tell hundreds of people. Well that’s changed the numbers have changed if you have a good dining experience you now tell a few million people and if you have a bad dining experience guess what a lot more than a few million people are reading that.
Yeah you know I have to admit I am a Yelper. I use it more to find places to eat and read other people’s reviews but there has been two occasions where I have actually posted feedback of my own and then because I have had a awful experience that just blew my mind and I couldn’t stand it and I had to say something and so I think I’m just one example of many who I made sure to talk about the bad but I don’t really ever take the time to talk about the good. What was the bad experiences. Terrible service primarily just actually it’s funny as we’re talking about this that the making of the people feel special they made us feel like a piece of crud in their establishment and couldn’t have cared less about us being there or not and we were out for a special occasion celebrating and it just really damper the mood. Not to mention the quality of the food just wasn’t even worth the price that they were charging. So, it kind of all went south hand-in-hand.
You know I used to teach my students that you know since they’ll say well is the customer always right and I’d say no. Customer isn’t always right, but the money is always right. This, we’re at a business and we have to keep people happy and that’s what we need to do we need to focus on that. Is what I’m doing going to make someone happy.
We are Unique Social Animals
People are social animals we’ve all seen dogs eat and they run up to a food bowl and they stick their their snoot into the food bowl and they inhale the food as much fast as they can. We’ve all seen lions at the zoo and they growl and they star or there are you know and they roar and then something is thrown in their cage they start chewing on it. They lay down they start chewing on it. The lion doesn’t turn to the lion next to him or her and say so how was work today that dog at the food bowl doesn’t say look up at the other dogs say oh please go ahead you need to try this kibble it’s really particularly good. They must have put a little saffron into the broth because it has a wonderful fragrance and aroma and by the way you know I want to talk to you about something that happened at work today.
Humans are unique. We are the only species that socialize and live our lives over food. When we get married what happens we have food afterwards. The wedding ceremony is only about every part of me only about 15 or 20 minutes long the reception goes on for hours. When a new child is brought into the family people bring food to the bread bring food and then you know when the first dates what our first dates almost all first dates are ice cream or popcorn or pizza or tacos. There’s food going on in the first day the first dates are wine first dates are wine I’m not going to even go there how old you are in your first date.
The Complete Experience
All right so and then what happens is people get engaged and they get engaged over the food and the circle goes on except theirs might be a break somebody unfortunately might die and what happens after the funeral. People get together over food. Food is what people live their lives over. That’s what it’s about and that’s why we do what we do. That’s the importance of hospitality.
It’s a complete experience really when you think about it from a smile of welcome when you first walk in to an amazing meal with you know talented chefs making great food to the dishwasher who tells you to have a great day when you leave. Not to mention you know the opportunity to sit at a long table with co-workers or family friends would have you and ketchup. It all goes together. Yeah. And that’s what we need to remember with everything we do.
The Importance of Passion and Pride
Is there, hold on going through my notes quickly. Yes, Adam you shared with me a game that you like to play but I think is a really cool thing to leave our listeners with today. So when I work with young cooks or I should say new cooks and when I first meet them. I explain the importance of passion and pride. That you’ve got to have passion in what you do and you’ve got to have pride in what you do and I explain that you might not enjoy every minute and when you work. But overall that passion and pride has to go into all the food and the passion is just the love of what you do. That you’re pouring your heart and your soul into what you make and that pride is what I talked about in a previous podcast is your grandmother. Grandmother I made this for you and I’m proud of it.
How I get them to start thinking about that is I tell them that they have been chosen by NASA to be the first chef on the moon and they’re going to be going to the moon and they’re never going to be coming back to earth. They’re gonna be helping set up the moon colony and they’re never going to be coming back and NASA is going to send them to one last meal anywhere in the world and the question I always ask these students is you have one last meal to eat. What would you eat? Where would you eat it? With who? And why?
I love it. well let’s leave everyone with that to think about and I think next episode maybe we can dive in a little bit more on the pride and passion piece. What do you think? I think that would be great and you’re going to hear my answers to that question on where I’d like to eat. Alright everyone well thanks for listening we will catch you next time. See ya!