CASE STUDY

A 36 cover family-run restaurant in South West London. 

The owner of this restaurant was increasingly concerned at the variable quality of the food they were serving. She had tried her best to help the kitchen team, including buying expensive (and unnecessary) new equipment for them. 

Her head chef was young and under-skilled for his role within the business, but he had a good attitude, and the owner was keen to work with him. 

After an initial meeting with the owner and kitchen team, I proposed the following steps: 

1) Working with the head chef to redesign the menu, which had become outdated and a little boring. 

For the chefs here, cooking was really just a job. They had minimal training and didn’t eat out much or follow food trends at all, so they lacked the inspiration to come up with new and exciting dishes. 

Based on my own experience and some local research, I came up with a framework for a menu that the owner agreed would work well. 

By feeding the chefs plenty of new ideas and allowing them to build on these and add their own touches, we were able to create a menu that the whole team felt happy with and invested in, but would never have been able to create without outside help. 

2) Training the head chef and owner to carry out accurate costings. 

A great many chefs and owners find the process of costing dishes a little troublesome. Accounting for VAT being a particular recurring issue! 

By helping them to build a simple costing spreadsheet that they fully understood, I was able to give the team the tools they needed to cost not only this menu, but all future dishes, including their weekly specials. 

3) Privately training the head chef on the new menu, before working with him to deliver training to the rest of the team. 

It was important to respect the head chef’s role within the kitchen but also allow him to learn new skills and gain an in depth understanding of what we were trying to achieve with the new dishes. 

He and I worked together privately so that he would be able to deliver the training to the rest of the chefs alongside me, rather than receive the training at the same time as them. 

This kept the head chef motivated and helped protect his standing with the rest of the team. 

4) Delivering the new menu. 

All prep for the new menu was done with my oversight to ensure that standards were kept high and there would be no problems (such as shortages or bad prep work) during the launch. 

I worked with the team for the first 2 nights after the launch of the new menu to ensure that service went as smoothly as possible and the restaurant was able to show itself at its best. 

5) Mystery dine. 

The owner was keen for me to help keep standards high after the launch, so as well as checking up on the team regularly, I also organized monthly mystery dines. 

The mystery diners are trained colleagues who visit the restaurant anonymously and then send a comprehensive report of their experience back to the owner. 

I’ve found that these are an absolutely invaluable method of allowing the owner to see the restaurant as their customers see it, and to catch any problems early, before they become a serious issue.