Secret Sauce

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Author: Food Guy

Restaurant Training – This Is Show Business

In today’s increasingly competitive hospitality industry, owners and managers are constantly seeking the answer to an important question- How do you recruit, retain, and motivate staff who are responsible for creating a “magical” experience which exceeds your guest’s expectations?
Some answers may be found by looking to successful companies that are consistently achieving these goals.

William Shakespeare wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’. One company that has exemplified that quote is the Walt Disney World Co. based in Orlando, Florida.

Disney is recognised as one company which creates such “magical”experiences. The Disney challenge is to ensure that all of the 36,000 staff are playing a role in a show which exceeds all expectations.

The Disney approach to people management has helped gain them the reputation of providing a leading benchmark for quality and service in America.

Disney does not just “hire” people for jobs, they “cast” performers for a “role” in the show. The emphasis is in finding ‘people oriented’ cast members who are willing to adapt to the high standards established, and not necessarily on the skills an applicant may have.

Their ‘casting process’ introduces each applicant to the culture of the company, and the important role which they will play in the future success. This way there are no surprises, and it is this approach which helps to maintain turnover at approximately 20%.

Success on the “Restaurant Stage” requires the development and choreography of many different aspects, such as a great cast, script, support and direction.

Quality ‘Casting’ or recruitment, is critical to everything else in the production.

As an owner or manager, you are more director and choreographer of a performance. Your front of house staff, are the actors, and your customers are the audience for whom they must perform.

The supporting crew is responsible for ensuring the script and show is executed as planned. As director, you have to prepare your cast to recognize guest cues, deliver their lines and improvise when it will add to the enjoyment of the performance.

Think of a typical theatre performance- the audience files in, the curtain goes up, the actors make their entrances and speak their lines. If each and every cast member, not to mention the writer, director, stagehands, customers, makeup artists, and lighting technicians, have prepared themselves and the theatre well, the audience enjoys the show and tells others about it.

However, despite the proven talents of individual members of the cast or the presence of an award-winning director or the skills of the backstage crew, the whole thing can be a magnificent flop if just one person fails to do a job on which everyone else depends.

Filling out your service cast with people who can star in their roles is the key to success. But casting for a restaurant show is far more involved and difficult than hiring just anybody to answer a phone, or take orders and deliver food.

The next article, ‘The casting call’ is about how to attract the right cast members. For previous articles please visit the Archives section on our website.

Restaurant Business: How To Write Your Menu

While the recipes seem not to concern the menu, it is very much connected as the operations in the kitchen are triggered by the customerís orders, which are based on the menu. The recipes will serve as important definitions of what is written on the menu. The recipes are crucial to deliver the items in the menu as consistently as possible. If the chef can’t translate the recipe of a particular item simply enough for the cooks to replicate, then it is best to discard the item from the menu no matter how good it may be. Only after the recipes have been written down can the menu be drafted.

After writing the recipe and making the menu draft, the next step is to contact suppliers that provide the ingredients. The chef may be able to produce recipes and a menu of delectable pieces, but they can’t be made and served if there are no ingredients. The chef and the owner should be able to source out the items carefully and thoroughly. It is best to contact several suppliers to find one that can give the best quality, most consistent quantity, and most reasonable prices.

This stage in menu writing also determines the prices of the food to be served. The costs of ingredients directly affect the price of the finished dishes. At this point it may be necessary for the chef to substitute certain ingredients that might be too expensive to sell at a reasonable price, or in worse cases, discard a dish totally because the cost might make it impossible to be served.

When a good deal with suppliers has been made, the next crucial step is to test the menu. The chef has to assemble the menu, and then present it to the whole restaurant ñ the busboys, the waiters, the maitre dí, the managers, the owners, and everybody else involved in the service. This will acquaint the whole restaurant to the food and at the same time will help evaluate if the food will be good to serve. At this point it is wise to take pictures of the dishes to serve as a guide for the staff so that they will know how the finished dishes should appear.

At the end of the tasting the chef will know if there are necessary changes to be made in the menu. After which, the menu can be finalized. Restaurant startup costs cannot be overlooked! Get $200,000 US Government Grants for new businesses. Claim your FREE $79 Gov Grant book!

The last step will be the actual printing of the menus. There are several menu suppliers that will be able to present several types of menus and materials for the restaurant managers to choose from. You may choose a booklet type of menu, or a single paged one. The options are endless. Restaurateurs may choose to outsource the printing of menus or they may opt to invest in a menu printer themselves should they deem it necessary to change the menu more often the usual.

The menu may be just a sheet or some sheets of paper; however it is a very important backbone of a successful restaurant. The steps to write a menu may be tedious, but the efforts to make one are definitely worth it. Guaranteed US Government Grant for USA Citizens at

Mexican Living Survival Tip # 11 Restaurants

Eating out is a source of pleasure and cheap entertainment in Mexico in general and in Guanajuato in particular. We are always being asked where we recommend visitors eat. The difficulty in answering this question is that for $12.00 USD, you would be able to feed four adults. Americans think that is a cheap to feed one adult. Visiting gringos find it incredible that you can get a good meal in this city for under $4.00.

Most local restaurants in Guanajuato will have something called, El Menu del DÌa, or The Meal of the Day. This will consist, usually, of something from the regular menu that is served for a really cheap price. You get a choice of two soups, vegetable, starch, and meat. Sometimes the drink and dessert is included.

The portions are not anywhere the size of potions in the U.S. but the meal is filling and will satisfy you. One or two restaurants will serve something out-of-the-ordinary for their regular customers. We frequent one place that will give us the ìheads upî when they plan to serve liver (yes, we love liver!). It is not on their regular menu.

In some of the upper-range restaurants in the El Jardin area, their Meal of the Day can be very elegant with American-sized portions. These will be more expensive, around $6.50 per person, but is worth it every now and then. Some of these restaurants have bilingual waiters who can speak a bit of English.

We rarely eat out for any meal other than La Cena (the mid-day meal). We usually take advantage of the meal of the day. Sometimes we order from the menu. So, here are our suggestions of where you can eat, whether you are a visitor or expat in Guanajuato:

Truco 7 ñ When we get a hankering for a good steak, we eat here. We have expat pals who refuse to believe that you can get a good steak anywhere in Mexico. We take exception to that gross misstatement. Truco 7 is a trendily-decorated place that is well worth the time and effort to visit. It is off the beaten path and until you get to know Guanajuato you can ask anyone, ìøDÛnde est· Truco Siete?î and they will more than likely escort you there personally. We normally choose bistec y papas or steak and fries which is accompanied by a small salad, a little guacamole, and bolillos (a French-bread type roll). It is absolutely delicious.

Tapatio ñ This is located across the street from the enormous staircase that leads up to the main building of the University of Guanajuato. This is the place of choice to go for The Meal of the Day. The service is decent but not exceptional. However, it is immensely popular with Mexicans because of the food. You might be able to strike up a conversation or two with your fellow diners if you want. They have an excellent dish called Milanesa de pollo o res. This a piece of chicken breast (or beef) that is pounded into oblivion, resulting in an almost wafer-thin piece of meat. It is then lightly breaded and fried. It is usually served with fries, guacamole, and a small collection of freshly cut vegetables. It is the breading and seasoning of Milanesa that makes it very good.

Casa Valadez ñ This is owned by a very old family here in Guanajuato. My wife used to teach English to one of the members of this family. Casa Valadez is probably the closest thing in this town resembling an international restaurant. It has a bilingual menu and serves some American dishes along with some of the traditional Mexican dishes. If you get it into your head that you want an exceptional hamburger, then you have to eat here. In addition, the service is outstanding! They treat you like they simply adore you and that you made their day for stopping by. They also serve what I think is the best food in town. I have yet to find an exception. The presentation makes you wonder if they have Wolfgang Puck in the back. It is a nice place all around and even has someone who plays the piano during the afternoon meal. Our favorite ìoff-the-menuî dish is a regional dish called Enchilada Mineras.

No place else serves such an exceptional plate of Enchiladas Mineras. If you are in the mood to be pampered and fussed over, go hereóeven for a hamburger.

Know Your Restaurant’s Start Up Cost

The cost of opening your own restaurant business is one very important matter to be dealt with and often the hardest to determine because, to a great extent, it depends on the type of restaurant that you desire to open.

Your restaurant ìstart-up costsî are outlined as expenses incurred for the acquisition or creation of your restaurant business. ìStart-up costsî are comprised as any incurred amounts or out-going capital in relation with your restaurantís activity directed for income generation before your restaurant business starts.

ìStart-up costsî generally include the following expenses:

ï Potential markets surveys.
ï Evaluation of available supplies, labor, facilities, etc.
ï Advertisements.
ï Business equipment and fixtures
ï Equipment and fixture installation
ï Decorating and remodeling
ï Employee uniforms
ï Salaries for employees undergoing training and their trainers.
ï Costs of travel for acquiring prospective suppliers, distributors or customers.
ï Fees and salaries for consultants and executives and other similar services.

Estimating your restaurant businessí ìstart up costsî:

It is a wise decision to study your ìstart-up costsî estimate with a qualified accountant. 1.Begin by recording then add up your entire restaurantís equipment which you consider is necessary to begin and manage your restaurant. See the chapter on selecting equipment and furnishings for more help on this. 2.On your list, mark off certain items or equipment that aren’t really necessary and can wait. Restaurant startup costs cannot be overlooked! Get $200,000 US Government Grants for new businesses. Claim your FREE $79 Gov Grant book! Determine what kind of equipment needs to be bought brand new, and what type can be purchased used.

Determine what things may be leased, for the moment.

2. When adding up the physical cost (building or office) of your restaurant, remember to also add in the remodeling costs, decorating costs, fixtures, installation and delivery fees for equipment and fixtures.

3. Include professional fees, utility deposits, permits and licenses.

4. When computing your advertising costs, make sure to add trademarks, logo expenses as well as other graphics to be used.

5. Come up with ways where you may be able to lower some expenses. Call vendors and suppliers and work out certain deals.

6. Estimate that all expenses will be much higher than expected. It is sensible to add about 1-5 percent to your estimate.Guaranteed US Government Grant for USA Citizens at

7. Write your business plan before you come to your final estimate for ìstart up costsî. Generally, a business plan functions to reveal more ìstart-up costsî that weren’t really thought of. Again, see the chapter on preparing your business plan.

8. Include your restaurantís first 3-6 months operating investment in your ìstart-up costsî. These expenses will usually include employee salaries, advertising, rent, supplies, delivery expenses, utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance, professional services, loan payments, inventory, etc.

Hello From Montreal: A Gourmet Dinner At Nuances Restaurant, Followed By Amazing Fireworks

My personalized tour of the Casino de Montreal was very interesting and taught me many different things that I had never known about casino operations. My learning experience was followed by an opportunity to sample the Casinoís hospitality first hand. Alexandre took me up to the top floor of the Casino and handed me over to BenoÓt, the restaurant manager at Nuances, the Casinoís gourmet restaurant.

I had a perfect table by the window with a beautiful view overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the downtown Montreal skyline. The sun was just starting to set and the entire scene was bathed in golden hues. BenoÓt even took me out on to a terrace on the top level of the Casino that offered a completely unobstructed 180 degree view of downtown Montreal and the entire island. The vista was absolutely stunning. The Casino de Montreal is definitely one of the best places to view Montrealís skyline.

Nuances is a highly acclaimed fine dining restaurant that has been awarded the coveted CAA-AAA Five Diamond Rating. This 72-seat restaurant has a sophisticated atmosphere and a highly dedicated staff. Once I got comfortable, GÈrard, the waiter for my table, brought an ìamuse-boucheî, a starter plate that featured frozen goat cheese on ice in a reduction of apple cider. The mixture of sweet and tart flavours definitely perked up my taste buds and got them ready for the culinary surprises yet to come.

As an appetizer I enjoyed mixed a vegetable salad and mesclun lettuce with vegetable chips and a sherry vinaigrette. This entrÈe was accompanied by three different types of bread with home-made butter, made from heavy cream. GÈrard explained that the breads were a French baguette, a hazelnut/ honey / raisin bread and a so-called Lodeve bread from the South of France.

I also got a quick peak at Nuances’ three different wine cellars: the wine cellar behind the bar features wines that are organized carefully by region and type of wine. One of the cellars holds extremely rare and expensive wines. I asked for BenoÓtís suggestion to select a main course as well as a wine to match. He recommended that I try the Chilean sea bass. The black rice accompanying the fish is also referred to as ëforbidden riceî since only the Chinese emperor was allowed to consume it. BenoÓt suggested a glass of German Gew¸rztraminer to go with this dish.

Shortly after I received my meal and enjoyed the delicate taste of the sea bass, accompanied by mixed vegetables such as wild asparagus, bok choy and parsnips. The fish was drizzled in a yellow wine sauce, made with wine from Jura in the French Savoie region. Some drops of parsley oil rounded out the medley of complementary flavours.

As I would have to rush off shortly to go to the fireworks which would start at the La Ronde amusement park, BenoÓt ensured the speedy arrival of my dessert: a Muscat wine jello with strawberries combined with a vanilla and Szechuan pepper mousse on a chocolate base with a pistachio sauce, a delicate treat. We even had a chance to visit the kitchen to meet the chefs who had prepared my gourmet meal. As I got back to my table and got myself organized, BenoÓt dropped by with a ìpetit fourî, a ìlittle ovenî of baked goods that included miniature biscotti, fruit jelly, pistachio jelly and American chocolate. I just loved the creative French terms used, “amuse-bouche” and “petit four” are perfect descriptions for these culinary delights.

This multi-course meal combined with the personalized and highly attentive service and the stunning views of Montreal made my evening at Nuances a very special experience and a definite highlight of my trip. When I had to leave BenoÓt took me personally down to the main entrance of the Casino where he flagged down a taxi for me to ensure I would make it on time to the fireworks at La Ronde. The staff at the Casino de Montreal went out of their way to make this evening a memorable experience.

My five-minute taxi ride took me back across the bridge to Ile Sainte-HÈlËne where my driver dropped me off in front of the main entrance at La Ronde. La Ronde is Montreal’s amusement park and first opened in 1967 as part of Expo 67, a world fair that really put Montreal on the map. Today La Ronde is a member of the famous Six Flag family of amusement parks.

My seat provided a perfect view of the soon-to-come spectacle and the huge crowd was filled with anticipation. What seemed like many thousands of people were located inside the La Ronde amusement park in different seating sections and many thousands more were planning to watch the fireworks from the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The fireworks today were part of a competition series called ìLíInternational des Feux Loto-QuÈbecî which features a schedule of 10 pyro-musical events between June 17 and July 29, 2006. Countries participating in this competition include Switzerland, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, the United States, France and Australia with a special finale on July 29.

Our presentation tonight was put on by the Cienfuegos Fireworks company from Argentina, which is a key player in the field of pyrotechnics due to its unique know-how. Tonightís program was anchored around the personalities of Evita Peron and Che Guevara and enchanted with classic Argentian melodies and music from Central America. The stunning fireworks displays were choreographed in perfect harmony with the music and lit up the sky with stunning multi-coloured displays of light and sound.

This fireworks presentation provided a dramatic artistic ending to three and a half wonderful days of Canada Day festivities in Montreal. As I sat in the subway on the way back from Jean Drapeau Park I realized that I would only have a few more hours in this beautiful city before my train was going to leave tomorrow just before noon. But I was determined to take advantage of every minute here to discover yet another facet of this fascinating city and sneak in one final walking tour of the city before my departure.