People go out to a restaurant or café for a variety of reasons. It might be to celebrate, to catch up with friends or to hold meetings.
Whatever the reason it should be a pleasant, even memorable, experience. It can only be this, however, if staff are welcoming, professional and can provide the right kind of information and advice.
In order to do this in the most effective way you will need to be able to;
discuss the characteristics of each of the major food types offered by your establishment with your customers;
understand and use the correct application of sensory evaluation techniques to evaluate food, thereby helping you to offer accurate advice on food aroma, taste and texture;
provide current, accurate and relevant advice to customers on their selection to meet different taste and price preferences; and
maintain and continuously extend your food and menu knowledge to enhance your workplace activities.
Then, too, in order to be efficient and productive with your time you will need to be aware of, and understand, the activities your establishment undertakes, that will also require knowledge of major food types. For example;
conducting product tastings
providing product advice and selling food to customers
selecting or assisting with selection of products from suppliers
writing or providing input into menus
Research Information on Food
The world has become a place of unlimited boundaries; of international flavours, of trends and of specific dietary needs. In order for you to fulfil your role professionally, and provide customers with accurate advice you will therefore need to identify and research information relevant to your role.
Identify sources of information on food.
Fortunately, in today’s world of information technology, information is available in a variety of ways and you can go about collecting it using methods that include;
talking to chefs, cooks, other food personnel and product suppliers about the items on your menu list. Talking to kitchen personnel before each service period will give you up to the minute information on menu items, their ingredients and what is or isn’t available. It is also recommended that you taste a variety of the dishes, before each service period, so that you can advise on taste, aroma and texture thereby allowing you to better describe and recommend dishes to customers.
attending trade shows – Several times a year there will be trade fairs that you can attend. These will be put on by either product suppliers or by industry bodies like Australian Hotels Association (AHA). They are an excellent way to get information about a lot of different products in a relatively short space of time.
attending food tastings – to sample new menus or to learn about emerging trends in food.
joining associations and industry bodies – such as The Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia, Food Service Suppliers Association Australia among others. See; https://www.gffoodservice.com.au/about/industry-associations/
reading food reference books – such as cook books or texts that deal with a range of food related issues such as nutrition or food health issues.
using the Internet – The internet is an almost limitless source of information about the industry. It is also fairly simple to find information here. Care should be taken when researching information on the internet as not all sites are official. Anyone can post information on the World Wide Web – information which is not necessarily correct. It is recommended, therefore, that only authorised sites such as those of tourist bureaus, airlines, hotels etc. are used.
Trade Magazines – There are a variety of trade magazines such as ‘Hospitality Magazine’ that are full of articles about the hospitality industry. Articles will include such things as company mergers, latest products, new technology and so on. They are an important source of information. Examples of trade magazines include (but are not limited to);
Relevant information that assists in operational duties
How can this knowledge be refined to suit specific sectors and businesses?
Not all industries or sectors of hospitality will work to the same rules. Each sector of the tourism & hospitality industry will have issues, procedures and customs unique to it.
If working in a restaurant you may need to be informed about the various dishes served; the ingredients used, cooking methods, complimentary courses and wines and so on. Knowledge of ingredients is very important as some people have food allergies and can go into anaphylactic shock and die if they eat even a small amount of nut product such as peanut oil for example.
In the hotel or information sectors of the industry you would need to have an in depth knowledge of the local area; where to find good restaurants, local attractions, shopping opportunities and opening hours, access to medical attention and much more.
Working in a kitchen environment you would need specific knowledge on hygiene and safety when working with food or food preparation equipment
For each sector of the industry you would also need to be aware of any licensing or legislative requirements. In many industries these requirements are vital to the organisation’s continued operation. Restaurants, bars and clubs serving alcohol MUST be licensed to do so and are required to comply with a great many rules, and, in any business involved with the production of food products staff must be aware of, and follow, strict hygiene regulations…. continues in learner guide….