Food and foodservice? A perfect relationship – a foodservice consultant must take into account many things. What customers eat, the correct support provided by the right chair, the colour and presentation of the food, how to be enhance and not alter the ambience and lighting and how to provide a pleasant and empathetic welcome from the staff. We also have to carefully design balanced spaces, use appropriate furnishing to create the perfect atmosphere, giving substance to the initial idea, or better, to the finished concept.
I have always wondered whether it is really possible to split the relationship between food and the tools used in its processing, its creation, its packaging, its availability and what gives it a meaning and a key to its interpretation.
I have been working in the design concept field since 1997, and to me the word “food” has a very extensive and multi-faceted meaning, touching the highest peaks of the “philosophy of life” and the “pleasure of taste and sharing” to be transferred in design and in projects and finally, in emotions. The challenge is to be able to mix the tools and know- how to improve the work of what I call the “food master” (bartender, chef, sommelier, consultant, etc.) thus amplifying the pleasure of the guest, the foodies.
This must be why I loved the three days I was invited to spend in London together with Jonathan Doughty, Coverpoint Managing Director and FCSI EAME President.
Coverpoint offers highly professional advice in the foodservice sector, supporting its customers with a wide range of services, from consumer behavior trend analysis to location services. Coverpoint services are complementary to what I am actually offering with my company DESITA.
But how I ended up in London? At the end of March 2012 I was visiting Hostech 2102 in Istanbul, representing Italy at the FCSI EAME booth. During that event, I had the chance to meet Jonathan Doughty again, and it reminded me of the idea I had during our previous meeting at the Gulfood Dubai expo, I asked him whether it was possible to organize a visit to his company’s headquarter to watch him and his team at work. To me it was like going back to school and act as an “intern”, but to Jonathan my request had an all together different meaning: “You’ll come to work”.
JD agreed and this made me wonder a lot about the differences between the Italian entrepreneurial approach, sometimes so self-flattering, and the one of other countries, very often less formal and more professional.
On Monday, May 21st I was at Heathrow, where James, one of JD’s consultants, was waiting for me to drive me to Coverpoint’s headquarter. I did not know what to expect, but I was sure I was going to spend three days at their office. (Office? Coverpoint’s heart beats in a charming renovated 200 years old barn in the middle of the country!
Once I arrived at the headquarters, I was warmly welcomed by the Coverpoint team. I immediately felt at home, settling into such a professional “vision” and environment. It was there that my learning process began: I was invited to study some of their more interesting projects. Data is of primary importance to Coverpoint’s work: data collection, analysis, interviews with customers, best practices implementation. I could not believe I was allowed to see all that information, and time passed very quickly.
Between a chat and a coffee, I was handed a four-page detailed visit schedule. I was speechless: I was invited to follow Jonathan during his meetings. I became very excited by reading the name of the clients I was suppose to meet: The British Library, Cabot Circus, Harrods to name a few.
At the end of that exciting day, I had a delicious dinner together with Adam and Ian, JDs Senior Consutlants at The Royal Oak, where I had the chance to enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional British pub, which has a Michelin star!
When is a restaurant’s atmosphere good? It is when you do not feel out of place, when the environment seems familiar, but at the same time you are getting curious to discover each and every single location detail. You never get bored in a great restaurant.
At The Royal Oak we were immediately greeted by a beautiful girl in traditional uniform. We settled in the lounge for a cocktail – a beer of course, then went to have dinner in the main hall. The food was very good; Diver Caught Scottish Scallops with celeriac puree and Hazelnut Vinaigrette – 8oz Black Angus Sirloin Steak, “on the bone” Chips, Bone Marrow and Madeira Sauce and as a dessert Chocolate Fondant, Toffee Sauce, Almond Biscuit, Coffee Ice Cream. All beautifully prepared but in a relaxed and informal environment.
There was only one negative point for me. That was the cheese trolley behind us. Quite often, the air became unbreathable with the smell of cheese! I would highly recommend that the restaurant owners never leave cheese on a trolley for too long without some form of cover. It is not that beautiful to see and even less to feel and smell, but most of all it is not particularly hygienic. What would the HACCP manager say?
It was a very cheerful evening. And that was only my first day and the fun was yet to come … (to be continued)