Profitable Hospitality Podcast

In this second interview, Maz Valcorsa, the owner of Sadhana Kitchen, tells us how she started a raw food cafe and built it into a main street success. She came from a corporate background, and worked hard on researching the concept and learning about the business side of cafes and catering. I first met Maz at the Starting a Cafe or Restaurant Workshop and was impressed that even before she opened, she had more than 1,000 Facebook fans panting for her to start! 

We discussed issues familiar to every startup – landlords, leases, food costs, staff management, bookkeeping and administration. And how to have a balanced, healthy life when your business is growing fast. She’s also utilising online and cloud-based management systems, and has an excellent website designed to make everyone hungry. Plus great social media activity, especially on Facebook and Instagram.

In the first interview, Maz told us about raw food, the menu at Sadhana Kitchen and some of her clever marketing moves.


Direct download: Podcast_48_Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:43pm AEST

So what is raw food – vegan, vegetarian, organic? Or just salad and juice? Actually, it’s a lot more sophisticated and interesting. Smart restaurant and cafe owners know there’s a huge number of people wanting fresh, healthier choices, and if they’re in Sydney, many flock to Sadhana Kitchen for the raw food and drinks.

In the first of two interviews, owner Maz Valcorsa tells us about the concept of raw food, menu development, how she’s developed a range of extremely popular desserts, and what’s involved in the ‘cooking’ and preparation. Technically, raw food has not been heated above 46 deg. Celsius (115 deg. F). Even if you don’t plan to go ‘all the way’, there are profitable opportunities for every foodservice business to add more raw, unprocessed meals and beverages. Maz will give you lots of inspiration.

In the second interview, she tells us about how the concept was developed, managing leases, landlords, staff, equipment and marketing. 


Direct download: Podcast_47_Edited_for_PH.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:34pm AEST

I love talking to chefs who take their skill with food and menus, and created an online presence and following. Sometimes this is B2B with their restaurant colleagues, or in many cases they reach out directly to the far-more-numerous consumers. 

Chef Dennis Littley has grown his blog and website into a very popular destination for food lovers, and he also supports bloggers to improve their skills. He does this  through regular blog updates and recipes, and through the huge following he’s developed on Google+. This includes regular Google+ Hangouts on Air (an example is on the shownotes). How he’s developed this is great inspiration for chefs who want to develop a life beyond long shifts and busy kitchens.


Direct download: Podcast46Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 7:42am AEST

In the second of two podcasts on efficient cleaning, Brent Williams of The Cleanest Image tells us about better cleaning of kitchen exhaust hoods, stoves, floors, walls, dishwashers, detergent use and getting rid of all that grease! Slippery kitchen floors are a major safety hazard, and food safety standards are demanding.

Moving into the bathroom, Brent explains why the toilet area is often not smelling clean and sweet (did you know bacteria actually fart?) and the cleaning mistakes often made in an area most staff want to wipe down and leave as quickly as possible!  Employee training is essential, and the right equipment. In the first podcast with Brent, he told us about efficient cleaning for the restaurant front of house and the bar.


Direct download: Podcast45BrentWilliamsEdited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:02am AEST

It’s more than just scrubbing harder and using more chemicals! In the first of two podcasts on efficient cleaning, Brent Williams of The Cleanest Image tells us about better ways to clean chairs, tables, counters, floors, carpets, walls and glass. We want to make a great impression, but do it without breaking the bank – a lot of cleaning products are wasted.

By understanding the chemistry involved (eg acid or alkaline levels), a better job can be done with fewer chemicals. Staff training is essential, plus the right equipment. In the second podcast with Brent, he will tell us about efficient cleaning for the kitchen and the toilets – both areas requiring thorough and careful maintenance.


Direct download: Podcast_44_was_43_Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 8:56am AEST

Young chef Zane Heemi caused a social media storm when his blog article Never ever become a chef: advice from a chef went viral several weeks ago. Within ten days it had been read more than one million times and attracted almost 200 comments. It’s a no-holds barred look at the long hours and harsh conditions experienced by some restaurant chefs in Australia. Zane started with part-time kitchen work when he was at school, and ten years later still loves the industry and he’s a lot wiser.


In his article he lays it on the line: you will miss important life occasions, there’s no such thing as calling in sick, you’ll learn all about drugs and alcohol, relationships will be difficult, the hours are terrible and management often treat you like dirt (language modified for a family-friendly blog).


I caught up with Zane and asked him why he was so hard on the cooking profession, and is this really what we need when the industry is trying attract more workers? His answers were articulate, positive and amusing - he wants people to be very clear about kitchen work before they feel the heat.


One question I didn’t ask that you may have an answer for: why do these strong, opinionated chefs take put up with these bad conditions year in and year out? We’d love to have your comments on this important subject. NOTE: kitchen language NSFW.

Direct download: Podcast43Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 3:37pm AEST

One thing we know for sure: Facebook never stops changing. And the days of relying on it for ‘free marketing’ are almost over – very few of the posts on your business page are actually seen by fans – as few as one in twenty! The message is clear – ‘don’t build your house (the marketing campaign) on rented ground (you don’t own Facebook)’. A different strategy is needed.

In this interview, CJ Hudson of Stencil, a social research and strategy agency, looks at a number of hospitality businesses on Facebook – their strengths and options for better results. The key issue for him and his clients (and for you) is how to move people from a casual connection on Facebook (click Like) to engagement (like, share or comment on updates) to making a sale – book a table, attend an event or visit and pay. CJ has an enormous range of experience with Facebook promotions and advertising – you will find this podcast packed with useful information.

You can also view this as a video, where the audio matches up with all the Facebook pages we are discussing – it’s on the Profitable Hospitality page for members.

Pages discussed include Mona Vale Hotel, Nathania Springs Weddings, Cornersmith Cafe and Appliances Online – all examples of well-managed Facebook content.


Direct download: Podcast42EditedAudio.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:21am AEST

What do you know about stainlesss steel? It’s expensive to buy and install, and gives a professional, hygienic finish to your kitchen and bar. But there are different types of stainless, and different thicknesses - some are more suitable than others. In this interview, stainless steel specialist Laurence Burgin of Franklin Marine offers an expert tradesman’s advice on what covers so many surfaces in a modern restaurant. And you get to meet another one of my brothers!


There’s also a very useful Tech Tip in the second part of the podcast, about a smart piece of equipment that can eliminate the bulky documents that fill up your shelves and filing cabinet.

Direct download: Podcast41Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:37pm AEST

Many chefs and foodservice owners like the thought of selling online – no more customer or staff hassles, and a steady stream of income. But it takes more than just a good idea – production, hygiene standards, delivery and constant promotion have to be organised. You also need to stand out from a wide range of other packaged food, so the chef’s personality and presence can be an important part of the marketing.

JackieM of JackieM Truly Malaysian now sells food online, through markets and special events – she happily said goodbye to restaurant life. She’s built up a strong personal brand and an efficient distribution system that’s going from strength to strength. Her website is backed up by great use of social media – twitter, instagram and regular Google+ Hangouts where she demonstrates Malaysian cooking, food and flavour. It’s a great story that many chefs and restaurateurs can learn from.

Direct download: Podcast40Edited.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:44pm AEST