Time to Talk FOH


I just finished reading coverage of the recent inaugural Welcome Conference in NYC courtesy of Grub Street. The conference, focused on the service end of the hospitality industry, covered such topics as “the humility of service, creating heart and soul inside a neighborhood restaurant, and using technology without losing sight of human interaction.”

It’s enticing to think that this kind of dedication and careful consideration might trickle west into the dining rooms of other great restaurant communities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the service industry became just as important (and, perhaps sought after) as the culinary end?

Enjoy the coverage here.


Good People Doing Good Things



When I come across something interesting in the culinary world that also happens to be innovative, beautiful and altruistic I immediately want to be involved.

I’ve known Bob Hodson for several years now — our relationship snaking back through my work in the restaurant industry and his day job as a commercial food photographer.

Bob is incurably curious, gregarious, and in love with the world of delicious food and passionate, inspired chefs. So much so that he began to carve out time from his work schedule to cultivate a passion project called Chef’s Insight. The site is essentially a photographic journey into the process and inspiration of a chef. He’ll go as deep as the chef will allow, capturing raw, fly-on-the-wall images that help to tell the story of the personality and the food born from it. For Bob I believe the work fills a need to connect with that beauty and craftsmanship he so admires. For others (like me), it is a sumptuous, voyeuristic culinary experience.

How could I not want to be involved?

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at last week’s shoot with Chef Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill. Stay tuned for Jimmy’s feature and, in the meantime, devour what’s already there.

Chef's Insight / Jimmy Shaw

Chef’s Insight / Jimmy Shaw

Copilot Navigates the Daily Deals Sector



Copilot, an innovative entity offering free (for now) analytics for restaurants which measure the ROI on social media and marketing promotions through their POS, has some great teaser information in their blog. This post in particular outlines how to negotiate, design and time a “daily deal” that will actually do your business some good.  And..the best part: it’s based on actual data from actual restaurant promotions. Excited to help spread the word about these guys. 




I’ve taken my fair share of photos while dining out. I am in the business after all. While there are times when I find myself wanting to document where I’ve been, something special I’ve eaten, or a chef that I’ve chatted with, I’m usually trying to be as understated as possible about it, not wanting to be seen as an LA food paparazzi.

But there are plenty of people—those who trample a far more aggressive trail through the food community than I—who painstakingly stage photo after photo as their Moscow mule grows tepid, their ramen cools and their dining companions wonder whether it’s bad form to start eating before the images have uploaded to the web.

Some chefs make their opinions about this kind of behavior very public.  Whether it’s a question of food quality (eat it while it’s hot), decorum, or simple courtesy to fellow diners, there are those chefs who thumb viral media in the eye and prefer to simply have people eat their food.  They post cryptic signs at the host stand warning diners that photos are not allowed, or their post-opening rant gets quoted in the blogs and their vitriol zips its way around the net.  But do people listen? Do they care?

The makers of Evernote Food think not.

Designed as a virtual food diary of sorts, this iPhone app (one of many in an ever growing market by the way) lets people “preserve and relive their food memories.” While it does allow users to interface with their social media channels, it is primarily marketed as a tool for tripping down a gustatory memory lane. Sure, food writers may like this so they can be tech savvy about their note taking (“great lager for sushi”), but for the rest of us, they’re encouraging a kind of culinary experience that…well…loses much of the experience.

You may argue and say that you enjoy a meal well photographed as much as a meal that’s simply eaten and enjoyed.  But I have to hearken back to a day when the people around a table spent as much if not more time actually chewing, tasting and savoring than they did dissecting, contemplating and debating. Today’s diners are certainly more food adventurers, so perhaps it’s only natural that they’d want to document every bite and sip just as they would capture a backpacking trip to Ecuador. Perhaps I’m showing my age. Perhaps I’m just tech-ed out. But a blissfully device-free meal at L’Orangerie or Citrus would be just my speed right about now.  And I wouldn’t even blog about it.