“Happiness belongs to the self- sufficient”- Aristotle


“Do something really, really well!”

Good to be back.

Since I’ve last posted, my hospitality journey has been an eye- opening experience.

I have changed companies twice and have had 5 jobs in the last 6 months!

All this change has given me amazing perspective on what our industry is experiencing from an operating and managerial point of view, as well, and most importantly, allowed me

to take different seats in what has been my vehicle to being a better person. Not by my job defining me (although it helped), but by me defining my relationships.

– I’ve given my notice at a job that I had for 3 years for another opportunity. Enabled me to step away from the ‘comfort zone’

– Gave my notice at the new job. An old reminder that we should never judge a book by its cover.

Decided to ease the workload.

– I’ve bar tended. A great insight of what we as managers expect from our employees. Is it realistic and achievable or are we just setting people up for failure and disappointment? Do we blanket manage or do we consciously manage people by capturing their individual skills?

– Took on a temporary contract. Did my standards stay consistent, or did I budge, seeing that the semi lack of accountability allowed for a less caring approach?

– With a few offers during these changing times, did I burn bridges or did I deal with each situation to the best of my capabilities?

These questions gave me the consciousness of operating my life as a business. My business. Is the client always right? We all know the answer. Was I as accommodating and hospitable as I would expect to be? I think so. But then again… it’s my opinion about myself!

I have met some great people, which in turn allowed me to make some amazing connections. Reconnected with some old friends and allowed myself some time to spend with my loved ones, including myself.

Am I asking for answers? Don’t answer that!

When the time comes where you have more questions than answers, just open yourself to anything and everything tends to come your way. Logical, but how many of us actually let it happen? How many allow themselves to be run, instead of running?

Where do you fit and how does the circle close itself to return to its point of origin?

I once read: “Do something really, really well!”. No matter what it is, it’s seldom easy, but if you love it, it lightens the work load!


Did you know that……?

The term “proof spirits” was first used as a yardstick in collecting taxes on alcoholic beverages. Originally, the British tested spirits by pouring them on a small amount of gunpowder. If the gunpowder burned, the spirit was called “over proof”. If it didn’t burn, the spirit was “under proof”. Then scientists found new methods of analysis. They learned that “proof spirit” was 57% alcohol and 43% water by volume.

The Americans now use a different system. Their “proof spirit” is 50% alcohol and 50% water. To find the strength of American-bottled alcohol, just divide the proof strength by two. For example: 80% U.S. Proof means 40% alcohol.

In Canada, as in England, liquors were labelled “30 under proof”. This meant 30% less than the British proof strength (57% alcohol). Thus, Canadian “30 under proof” was 70% of 57%, or approximately 40.46% alcohol, which is the same as the American “60 proof”. Don’t wreck your brain over it. At the end of the day, it was just meant to be an interesting fact!


As with food, so with wine

For those of us who enjoy food, we know that temperature is key. Although tastes do vary, for the majority, we enjoy cold foods to be served cold and cooked foods to be served at least warm. Certain characteristics in the food are enhanced by their varying temperatures, in turn creating a much more memorable and enjoyable experience. This is no news.

It is no different with wines. As you can see on the adjacent chart, certain varietals (types of grapes) do require and are enhanced by different temperatures. Whites are served cold and reds at room temperature or in that vicinity. However, these two very basics rules do breakdown even further, depending on a few variables (i.e. varietal, terroir).

Take a look at the chart provided and familiarize yourself with some of these temps.

Something to remember and a small rule of mine is that white wine that is refrigerated should be taken out of the fridge 10 minutes prior to serving and reds should be put into the fridge 10 minutes before being served. This is a preference not ‘the rule’!


Some helpful charts

As much as it seems like a lot of information, it is useful to know what is hitting your tongue and where. This should give you a better understanding in knowing what you’re looking for when you’re tasting your vino. In conjunction with the ‘Aroma Wheel’, you should be set on your way to activating your olfactory database and enjoy those bottles.

Below you will find an article on the olfactory system and how it works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_system


TMI!!!

People have and will continue to write about wine, and there is nothing we can do about it. There is so much information out there, that, as with anything else, it can actually be scary and overwhelming, taking the enthusiasm and fun out of something that is supposed to be exactly that.

In my experience and years around this fine product, I have to say that 3 essentials are the following:

  1. “WINE: An Introduction” by Joanna Simon 
  2. “The Oxford Companion to Wine” by Jancis Robinson
  3. The World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

They are all in the $40 price range and give you tons of information. As the titles suggest, you will get any level of information you want. These are just 3 out of 1000s of books, and I’m sure they are all as informative. Up to you!

There are also a lot of other resources for you to expand your wine knowledge, but sometimes less is more.

Now that we have some tools and some reference guides, we can start exploring some basics of how this all came to be.


Where does one start?

After yesterday’s post, I went home and was reading up a bit on what I wanted this one to be about.

It started making more sense to give you a bit of background knowledge on some aromas you may be looking for when you’re nosing (smelling) a wine. Those of you that have some basic or extensive wine knowledge, I’m sure you have come across the ‘Aroma Wheel’. With wine having such a variety of levels of complexity, it may get sometimes confusing on exactly it is that you are nosing. This wheel should make your life much easier. Familiarize yourself with some of these ‘smells’ and if you’re having a bottle this evening, try and see what you can identify with the help of this illustration.

You can also print it from this link:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wu6PNxBNPi8/TZGxgXj8m6I/AAAAAAAAA9g/6gL_4y8Y6tM/s1600/aroma_wheel.jpg


Wine for everyone!

To whom it may concern,

My last few blogs have been more directed towards industry operators and not so much for everyone to enjoy or understand.

I think that in fairness to all and to honour the reason and readership of this blog, I will start some posts that can be read, understood and related to by all.

Wine has and will always be a part of our lives. Why not talk about it a bit, and see what comes from it? From varietals to wine selling techniques, this should help everyone understand the ever- changing world of fermented grape juice. We shall keep it simple, to the point and in point form.

So stay put as we embark on this world tour. Tomorrow’s lesson: the most common varietals.

Thank you for flying fnhospitalitygroup.com


dos and don’ts for restaurant websites

As I’m sure most of you agree, one of the qualities of a great operator is to continuously improve on existing areas of their operations. One of my most recent areas of interest has been the area of social media and web exposure to our guests.

With this in mind, I have attended a couple of presentations on what a good restaurant website should look like, and what ‘bells and whistles’ should or shouldn’t be included when you are building its architecture and content. Sometimes the simpler the better!

Here are some very basic dos and don’ts.

Do:

  1. make it appealing to the eye
  2. make it easy to navigate
  3. include basic information on your operation (i.e. hours of operation)
  4. frequent updates (i. e. weekly specials, wine tastings)

Don’t:

  1. try and avoid any animation content, such as Adobe Flash (I’ll explain in a minute)
  2. have to many links, it creates a ‘one way ticket’, and hard for visitors to return to your homepage
  3. have your tabs on Flash either (I will explain in a minute)
  4. have your menus as a PDF format (explained below)

Okay so here we go.

There are numerous mobile applications that allow us to search, review, navigate and in one way or another, participate in the hospitality and entertainment world. We do this via our smartphones. Smartphones are not Flash compatible. For this reason, Flash is not a good thing. Same goes for the tabs on your site, if they are in Flash, they won`t be clickable!

As for the PDF formated menus. PDF documents usually have extra long file names or names with symbols such as brackets. Most printers do not recognize these symbols or get `lost` trying to figure out the long file name and therefore will not be able to print it. There are solutions online to fix this. Ask yourself if your guests should have to search for solutions on the world wide web in order to get your menu.

So there you go. Some minor suggestions to make your presence more accessible to millions of surfers!

Check this website for some great sarcasm!

http://neversaidaboutrestaurantwebsites.tumblr.com/


f.o.h. staffing levels. what’s the magic number?

On the subject of front of house staffing levels, there is not one right answer. Style of service, dining room layout, the staff’s level of expertise, reservations, day of the week, local events (theatre, shows, conventions), previous year’s history and weather are the main, but not only variables.

Here are some front of house numbers that should be close, regardless of the operation.

For a restaurant/ bar operation:

1 host + 1 bartender/ 50 guests

1 server/ 20 guests

1 runner/ busser/ 30 guests

For a catering operation the numbers are similar, but you have to take into account, the type of event that you are staffing. Sit- down dinners will require more staff- similar numbers as above – where a cocktail reception will need fewer hands on deck.

Only you can best determine your levels for each style of event, based on your operation’s specific variables.

If you’re sourcing out your staff, be mindfull that staffing agencies do make their money on the hourly wage of each server. They may often suggest that you need more staff then required. As with anything else, be inquisitive, sit down with their representative, review the details of the event and make your own best judgement. Ultimately, if you have no previous experience, you should, in good faith, go with the experts advice, in order to ensure your event goes without a glitch.