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Features

Hospitality Industry Feels 86’d

April 21, 2020

By Paul Samberg

Photo courtesy of Buffalo & Bergen/Photo by Rey Lopez

As COVID-19 continues to control the country, businesses are on life support, scrambling to pay the bills and employees. The allocation of $2.2 trillion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act neglected most of the hospitality industry, many of which are struggling to keep their doors open while Americans stay home.

In particular, the portion of the CARES Act known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) designed to support small business seems to be failing most independent bar owners and restaurateurs. All too quickly the $349 billion provided for this program dissipated, and the few businesses that received support from the program do not find themselves in a much better position than they previously were in.

Which is exactly what concerns the Food & Wine Best New Chef and James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini as he sees the financial aid programs roll out and restaurant operations severely restricted or closed altogether. This seasoned operator, whose restaurant group includes such NYC favorites as Locanda Verde, The Dutch, Lafayette, Bar Primi, and The Library at The Public, shares, “The PPP doesn’t put us as operators in a better position than we were, and I’m not sure it will put employees in a better position.”

A recent survey conducted by the James Beard Foundation reflects that Carmellini’s colleagues are equally concerned. More than 60% of respondents cannot sustain a closure for one month and 75% do not believe they will be able to reopen after two months of government mandated closure.

For those 75% of respondents who are not confident they will be able to reopen in June— which marks the eight-week usage term set out by the PPP guidelines—this program would not help keep their businesses afloat.

Staying afloat once COVID-19 hit wasn’t even a question for Wake the Dead, a popular breakfast spot in Lawrence, Kansas, which closed its doors on March 20. Fearful about her underlying health conditions, owner Rachel Ulbrick did not want to endanger herself by coming to work, and the PPP did not offer a feasible solution to temporarily closing. “I already have a fair amount of debt. Even though [the loan] was like zero percent, in three years it wouldn’t be. And that would add $20,000 on top of whatever debt I already have; I can’t do that,” Ulbrick said.

The remaining 25% of respondents who believe they could reopen in June face a secondary issue, though: actually receiving the initial loan. The CARES Act provides close to $349 billion in aid to small businesses through the PPP, but was designed to be distributed on a first-come-first-serve application basis.

On the first day applications could be submitted, April 3, $4.3 billion of the $349 billion available in loans was immediately allocated and banks began limiting applications. Wells Fargo was the first; they announced they would not consider loan requests submitted after April 5.

With the early April dates behind us, and PPP filings not a possibility for some, there are other avenues within the CARES Act to pursue, such as new unemployment benefits. In addition to the current standard weekly unemployment payments, supplemental payments of $600 per week are provided as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation measure in the CARES Act. For self-employed and gig workers, they also qualify for extended 39-week benefits, which is 13 weeks more than normal eligibility.

While the supplemental payments are a help to many workers filing for unemployment, the unemployment websites and offices have been overwhelmed and the process can be slow, clunky and confusing. Some checks began going out to unemployed New Yorkers in early April, but Missouri did not plan on doing so until April 12, and Indiana residents may have to wait until as late as April 20.

No matter whether you’re in a state that makes provisions for unemployment payments early or later this month, there are some workers who may not even qualify for unemployment benefits. Even for those a stone’s throw from the Capitol, who count amongst their guests the same legislators who passed the CARES Act, restaurants like Buffalo & Bergen were not immune to being left high and dry by unemployment. Gina Chersevani, who founded and owns both the Buffalo & Bergen at Union Market and the newest on Capitol Hill which opened just weeks before the country shut down, explains, “We just got rejected. Out of 26 people from my one location that applied [for unemployment], only two were accepted, both not tipped employees.”

Chersevani also feels that insurance companies are failing the industry just as unemployment isn’t there for so many of her employees.

She’s discovered that her carrier will not pay disruption of business for COVID-19 and says, “I’m in my ninth year paying them—the same insurance company—and they denied all my claims for disruption of business.”

Chersevani is not the only owner in the hospitality industry who has had this issue, and, as a result, some restaurants are getting together to file class action lawsuits against insurance companies. Wolfgang Puck, Dominique Crenn, and a handful of other famous chefs have created the nonprofit foundation We Are BIG (Business Interruption Group), which is threatening to bring legal action against insurers who do not start paying insurance business claims.

According to founding member and chef Thomas Keller’s statement on the organization’s website, “The restaurant industry is the largest private sector employer in America…We need insurance companies to do the right thing and save millions of jobs.”

Photo by Francine Cohen

Many restaurant owners are in agreement with Keller and the other chefs taking legal action against insurance companies. Longtime New Orleans restaurateur and co-owner of Commander’s Palace Lally Brennan shares, “I very much agree with the efforts by Thomas Keller and others [to take legal action] and have the law changed around, because that’s not what America is about; that’s abusive.”

This fear felt by restaurant and bar owners and staff is not unfounded. An analyst at UBS predicts that one in five restaurants could permanently close due to the outbreak, which would mean nearly 200,000 establishments are in danger. Thus far, about three percent of restaurants have closed their doors, despite the recently passed stimulus package, according to the National Restaurant Association.

In the wake of ongoing hardship and potential lawsuits due to COVID-19 related regulations, and the failure of programs that are not one-size-fits-all, the industry does what it does best — turns within to help one another, especially when lawmakers cannot.

“We currently are ignored by lawmakers, which has been true for as long as we can remember. Case in point, our independently owned businesses have not been given a substantive seat at the table during Congressional relief conversations,” Chefs Andrew Carmellini, Luke Ostrom & Josh Pickard said in an email urging others to sign their Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) petition.

Chef Guy Fieri and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation worked together to create a relief fund for restaurant workers who are struggling due to COVID-19. Their fund is raising money for those in need with one-time $500 grants. And big and small liquor brands like Jameson and actor Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin have committed financial support to the USBG National Charity Foundation Bartender Emergency Relief Program’s Covid-19 Relief Campaign, which is offering needs-based philanthropic grants. Over a quarter million people have applied thus far.

Chef José Andrés is in week five of his #ChefsforAmerica campaign through his World Central Kitchen foundation. He has closed his restaurants, turning them into community feeding centers for people facing food insecurity due to COVID-19 related lost income. To date he has served 2 million meals.

Brennan and her cousin and co-owner, Ti Martin, are concerned about their team, many of whom have been with the iconic restaurant for more than a decade. They have been providing their recently laid off workers with food and other basic needs during the crisis, too. Brennan shares, “We gave away bags of vegetables and all the perishable items and things that we had cooked, and we’re giving away bags of toiletries and paper and paper towels and hand sanitizer. We’re doing all those types of things with the team to still stay in touch.”

Philanthropy for the hospitality industry is not just coming internally. Twitter personality Yashar Ali opened a GoFundMe to support restaurant workers. On his Instagram account he explains, “Restaurants have closed or are offering only takeout and delivery options, hotel business has slowed dramatically, and bars have been shuttered. As a result, people who rely on hourly wages (including those who rely on tips) are suffering, having seen their daily income all but disappear overnight, and for some already losing their jobs.”

Photo by Francine Cohen

Ali has already amassed over $1.1 from more than 8,900 donors, surpassing his goal of raising $1.1 million to be directed to Tipping Point Community and Robin Hood, two established foundations long dedicated to serving those in need.

Independent bars and restaurants need help. The future of COVID-19 is uncertain, and so is the future of many restaurants and bars in the nation. While many owners have had to close their doors forever, others are trying not to follow in their footsteps. The hospitality industry should not have to rely on famous chefs and Twitter personalities to help keep their doors open.

These days, it feels like an insurmountable task as Gina Chersevani concludes, “We are risking our lives serving f**king sandwiches.”

Photo courtesy of Wake the Dead

Features

Farmers Plant A New Business Model During Coronavirus Pandemic

April 7, 2020

Farmer Lee Jones only wears one thing: denim overalls, a pressed white shirt, and a red bowtie. Inspired by a farming family in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, it’s meant to serve as a symbol of resilience and determination among small family farms. Photo by: Michelle Demuth-Bibb/The Chef’s Garden

“Farms don’t go on furlough” — Amid restaurant closures, small-scale farmers must pivot to stay afloat

By Katy Severson

As COVID-19 shuttered bars and restaurants across the country last month, there were compounding effects on all who exist within the supply chain. Among the most affected? Small-scale farmers, many of whom rely on restaurant business to stay afloat. For farmer Lee Jones of The Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio—who grows exclusively for chefs—it felt like he’d “fallen off a cliff.”

“Overnight our entire customer base was gone,” Jones said. “For 37 years we’ve worked directly with chefs,” many of them fine dining chefs like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud whose restaurants are closed for the foreseeable future. Disney, whose parks are closed indefinitely for now, is a customer too.
For decades, his 350-acre family farm has grown exclusively for chefs. In order to maintain the farm’s livelihood—and the livelihood of the 150 employees with families who help tend his fields—Lee knew he needed to adapt.

Within twenty-four hours, he switched his business from chefs to home cooks: offering produce boxes on his website that ship directly from the farm to private homes. “We thought it would be a natural way to keep our team going, to have a place for the product to go, and to provide for families out there that are looking for something healthy and fresh,” Jones said. Offerings include a number of curated boxes, including the “Immunity Booster” — a variety of immune-boosting vegetables whose nutrition content is measured in their on-farm laboratory. Shipping, offered nationwide, is included in the price. “We’re not necessarily making the money on the box, but we felt some obligation to do it.”

Plus, they simply had product to sell. “Farms don’t go on furlough. You can’t flip the switch and say we’ll come back in 2 months when things are better. Every single day it needs to be nurtured and loved and cared for and coddled and as a farmer you have a very intimate relationship with your farm. It makes a farmer sick to see products coming up ready and have no place to go with them.”

The Chef’s Garden isn’t the only one. While supermarkets struggle to keep up with demand, farmers have plenty of food in their fields—and many are anxious to sell it. But with market closures and delays in many places, their farms are increasingly difficult to access.

“There are a lot of small farms suffering right now,” says Jones. “I feel a bit selfish saying that because I know that the entire world is suffering. But many of these farmers don’t have a mechanism to get the word out. We’re all trying to use our Instagrams [to connect to customers] but there’s just not much of a voice for us.”

If anything, he feels lucky. A network of big-name chefs gives him even a little bit of leverage. Most family farms across America have very little voice, he says. Often little capital. And little time to invest in changing their model. Boxing, shipping, and online ordering is an undertaking for those who spend their days in the fields. Nonetheless, these farmers are being forced pivot. On top of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, where customers pay up front and receive weekly or monthly “shares” throughout the season, many farms are offering contactless pickup and home delivery as best they can during the pandemic.

Other farmers are partnering with restaurants to sell their goods—in a symbiotic relationship that helps to keep the restaurant’s doors open and supports suppliers in the process.

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo—the restaurateurs behind Jon & Vinny’s, Kismet, and animal in Los Angeles—have started selling “Farm to You” boxes featuring fresh meat and produce from a slew of local farms on top of takeout and delivery. Other spots, like Lady & Larder in LA, have become pickup hubs for farms: a place where customers can safely pick up orders directly through the farms themselves.

Michelle Demuth-Bibb/The Chef’s Garden

The pivot has been challenging for many, but ultimately worthwhile. Customer interest in these models show promise. Jon & Vinny’s has consistently sold out their boxes— and some farmers are even seeing increases in business.

Farmer Lee Jones says he hopes the enthusiasm could be a silver lining in it all. Will there be a resurgence of localized food and farming economies? A renewed appreciation for quality? More trusting relationships with those that grow our food? We can only hope.

The Chef’s Garden doesn’t pick produce until an order is placed. It’s impeccably fresh. And it’s touched by few hands before it reaches the consumer; far fewer than say, the grocery store, where produce sits in trucks and shelves and warehouses for weeks before we buy it.

The pandemic, says Jones, has changed his business for good. “This has forever created a fork in the road and we will have two lanes: one for people at home direct from the farm and one for chefs. This has always been about producing something that people appreciate and people need. I couldn’t dream of walking away.”

For an open-source database of small-scale farms and producers offering pickup, delivery, and/or nationwide shipment during COVID-19, click here.

 

 

Photo by Katy Severson

Features

SIMON SAYS…

March 25, 2014

Kerry Simon Says Fight MSA Event
By E.C. Gladstone

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 rock and rolling active with Bill Murray

A few days ago, Bill Murray made headlines for taking ten seconds out of his Academy Awards appearance to pay tribute to his deceased collaborator Harold Ramis. But just three nights prior, the actor spent an entire, lengthy evening February 27 clowning onstage and off as co-host of a Las Vegas fundraiser for another former collaborator, Chef Kerry Simon.

What got the relatively publicity-shy Murray involved in Simon Says Fight MSA? This was more than just a random good cause: He and Simon started their respective careers making pizzas as teenagers at a Little Caesars in Evanston, Illinois. “He was a blues guitarist, I was trying to be an actor, and we were both starving,” Murray recalled, ruminating on the joys of eating raw pizza dough. The comedian spent much of the night cracking up the audience (most of whom paid $500-1000 to attend) and gently roasting Simon, including leading everyone in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to the chef–about four months early–and referring to him as Jerry and Barry at times.

Murray was far from the only luminary to appear at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center that evening. Chefs attending and cooking included some of the biggest in the industry: Simon’s mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten , Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as several of the Vegas Strip’s most prominent names. On the liquid side, Francesco Lafranconi assembled a who’s-who of Vegas mixology to helm the bar, including Tony Abou-Ganim, Max Solano (Emeril’s Restaurants), David Cooper (Carnevino) and Chris Hopkins (Wynn/Encore resorts) , each of whom served original cocktails with spirits donated by SWS.”The room was full of people that have a personal, vested interest and a true love for him,” Palmer told Inside F&B afterward. “It says a lot for the kind of person Kerry is and how many lives he has affected.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 chef group image 2

If you’re getting the picture that this event was a bit different than the average culinary charity gala, here’s why: Simon, who owns and operates restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Dominican Republic, is not only raising awareness for Multiple Systems Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to, but more severe than, Parkinson’s Disease. He was also recently diagnosed with the condition, for which there is no established treatment or cure. His diagnosis was announced in a column by Robin Leach only about ten weeks ago. “Once that happened, there was this, crazy outpouring and overwhelming show of support,” Simon business partner Elizabeth Blau tells Inside F&B. “So many people saying they wanted to do something.”

Simon, once dubbed “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone for his many connections to the music world, managed to assemble a list of performers that would rival a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event, including Vince Neil, Alice Cooper, Slash, Sammy Hagar, Todd Rundgren, and Lisa Loeb, who performed separately and together, including a closing ensemble cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Considering that they donated their own food (according to Blau), the chefs certainly weren’t skimpy with what they served. The menu included thick-cut black-jack spiced lamb chops from MacPherson, Kona kampachi tacos in taro root shells from Rick Moonen (RM Seafood), and an incredible leek vinaigrette with carrot confit and soft poached quail egg from Boulud, among many other refined bites. Balanced, of course, by a healthy offering of Simon’s own “junk food platter” recreations, one of the many ways in which the chef helped kick off the creative comfort food trend.

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 cotton candy junk food

“This wasn’t some promotional event,” Blau emphasizes, noting the event came together in less than two months’ time. “Daniel Boulud flew in that morning and out the next [just so he could participate].”

Although Simon once defeated Cat Cora in an episode of Iron Chef America, in the era of celebrity chefs he has been a relatively low-key presence considering his pedigree, including running the Plaza Hotel’s Edwardian Room, earning four New York Times stars at the Drake Hotel, and having his first Vegas restaurant, Simon Kitchen & Bar, named one of “America’s Best New Restaurants” by Esquire in 2003.

“He’s always very generous, with his time and his knowledge,” Dufresne told Inside F&B of Simon, under whom the WD-50 chef worked at Vongerichten’s Prime. “He’s like my guardian angel.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 Kerry in wheelchair

Nearly $525,000 was raised during the evening, co-organized by Simon business partners Elizabeth Blau and George Maloof, including funds from silent and live auctions. An after-party at Simon Restaurant & Lounge, with Murray and many of the chefs and rockers in attendance, went into the wee hours.

Donations to Simon Says Fight MSA can be made through Keep Memory Alive at www.keepmemoryalive.org.

PPX

PPX – CHEF ALEX STRATTA

February 21, 2012

By Vincenza Di Maggio

Photo courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

“We have an opportunity to do something really special here, and things that are special take time,” says Chef Alex Stratta as he casually raises his hot cup of coffee and motions towards his surroundings.

He’s sitting at a table inside of his latest culinary endeavor, his newly opened New York City restaurant, Bigoli — http://bigolirestaurant.com/. It’s only 2pm and the restaurant has not yet opened for dinner. It’s quiet… peaceful – well, except for the occasional sounds of clinking plates and running water emanating from the kitchen as the staff prepares for the dinner crowd. The chairs still sit on top of the wooden tables. Light floods into the dining room through the enormous skylight above, and the brick oven has just been turned on, the fire slowly warming up the room. The relaxing atmosphere suits him.

He’s right, things that are special do take time. And who would know it better than him? For over 30 years the renowned chef has worked and succeeded in developing an exciting career; the majority of which was spent working in the kitchens of Michelin two-star restaurants. Stratta’s name has become synonymous with “fine dining” and often evokes images of white tablecloths, elegantly folded napkins, mahogany coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and tiny food portions. But with the opening of Bigoli, a casual neighborhood Italian restaurant located in Greenwich Village, he has decided to leave the luxurious dining experience behind. In fact, he’s stepping away from heat of the stove entirely and exploring a different aspect of the culinary industry – restaurant consulting. He says, “After 30 years of experience I’m doing something completely new which is what’s exciting about the restaurant business.”

It’s a business that’s in his blood. Stratta’s roots in the hospitality industry reach back to his great great grandfather who once owned a hotel in Piemonte, a Northern region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland. Generations later, across the Atlantic Ocean, Stratta’s father continued the family tradition by running a hotel company that required Stratta to make frequent trips from New York to Connecticut. As a fifth generation hotelier Stratta says, “I grew up surrounded by good food and good service. It became a part of who I was. I naturally gravitated towards the kitchen.”

Stratta started working his first kitchen job at the age of 15 at Manero’s Steakhouse in Greenwich, Connecticut. He slowly worked his way from dishwasher, to line cook, and 20 years later to executive chef at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Years later he was invited by Steve Wynn to the Wynn Las Vegas Resort where he worked as executive chef of his two namesake restaurants, Alex and Stratta. It was in the kitchen of these fine dining restaurants that he really established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most notable chefs.

Stratta, who has become somewhat of a celebrity, thinks back to the beginning of his career and recalls, “When I was a cook and becoming a chef it wasn’t such an admirable position as it is now. The biggest challenge for me is finding the balance between Continue Reading…

Features

BOCUSE BATTLE IS ON

January 26, 2012

Culinary all-stars are at it this Sunday and you can be there.  VIP style.

By Francine Cohen

The battle for USA’s world domination in the 2013 Bocuse d’Or competition begins at home this Sunday as four highly qualified contestants pit their skills against one another in the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation’s USA Finals Competition.  The winner will be attending the big dance in Lyon, France next January and representing the USA.

“This weekend is about selecting the very best American chef to represent the USA on the international stage. It should be a matter of great pride to our entire American culinary community,” said Chef Daniel Boulud.

The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring culinary excellence, led by Chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller,Jerome Bocuse,opens the finals to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

But, as always, INSIDE F&B has a special inside track for you. Courtesy of Nespresso, a 2012 Member Sponsor of the Bocuse d’Or USA, two tickets in the comfortable VIP section are available for the first person to correctly tell us the number of grand crus offered by Nespresso to their fine dining and hotel customers.(For a clue take a look at www.nespresso.com/pro).

As business tool for the culinary world Nespresso is thrilled to get behind this competition that demands the same exacting standards as their regular customers.  Jim Frisby of Nespresso Business Solutions notes, “Nespresso offers Continue Reading…

Events

ALL RISE FOR JACQUES PEPIN

December 12, 2011

The man, the myth,the legend (and the truth about being humble, beloved, and having a sweet tooth)
By Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of the International Culinary Center

When tickets for the NY Wine & Food Festival went on sale a few months back almost instantaneously some of the most popular events featuring Food Network Stars and industry luminaries were sold out. With prices for most events hovering around just $100 per person or so it’s no wonder; in this age of foodie madness, and the spotlight on celebrity chefsevents like these are a big draw and easily accessible.

Draw as they may, and with no disrespect intended for folks like Giada DeLaurentis, and Bobby Flay and his sold out event popular Tacos & Tequila hosted by Bobby Flay, the real celebrity event for the whole festival was a coveted ticket to the Jacques Pepin tribute dinner on Saturday night.

How could it not be? Pepin has been cooking on television almost as long as DeLaurentis and Flay have been alive, the chefs preparing dinner were a culinary pantheon of who’s who (Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Laurent Gras, Alain Sailhac, and Jacques Torres), the wines which were provided by Prince Robert of Luxembourg (Pepin’s co-honoree) and his house of Domaine Clarence Dillon, were described by dinner co-chair Roberta Morrell (Morrell & Company) as “absolutely stunning” and Martha Stewart appeared to MC the whole shebang.

Over a leisurely lunch with Chef Pepin over at L’Ecole, the student run restaurant at The French Culinary Institute (www.frenchculinary.com) where he is Dean of Special Programs, he opened up and about the dinner, his career, and his new book (more on that later in our Brain Food column)- Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food.

While Pepin graciously pooh-poohed all the hoopla as he says, “They’re just using my birthday as an excuse for this party,” everyone else in attendance (all 450 of them) was thrilled to fete this charming mentor.

Dinner co-chair, and current President of Les Dames d’Escoffier (www.ldny.org) Melanie Young of The Connected Table (www.theconnectedtable.com) shares the sentiment of those who attended and raised $83,00 for Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Make A Difference Scholarship Fund in Pepin’s honor. She remarks, “Jacques is a teacher, mentor and chef who has touched many lives in this industry. He was a dear friend and television collaborator with Julia Child, one of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s “Grand Dames.” His body of work is incredibly impactful and impressive: author of 26 books, host of 11 acclaimed public television series and the highest accolades both here in the U.S.A. and in France.”

She continues, “This October Jacques is releasing one of his most comprehensive books ever, Essential Pepin, which features the best recipes he has created over his 60 -year career. The book is being released in tandem with a 26-episode KQED PBS series of the same name.”

While Pepin was the reason they were all there, he wasn’t the only big name in the house happy to be there. Alain Sailhac had stopped by the table at L’Ecole and to share his excitement for the evening as well as waxing poetic and reveal details about his planned menu (along with a fair bit of ribbing directed Pepin’s way after which Pepin declared themselves just like two of the three Stooges). Sailhac’s excitement was matched by the other chefs who joined him in thethe kitchen that night as Young notes, “All of the chefs were very enthusiastic from the start. After all, what a privilege it is to cook a dinner to honor an industry legend like Jacques Pepin who was chef to three French presidents, has taught and mentored countless chefs and whose cookbooks are considered classics!

Continue Reading…

Features

MEAL MUSIC

August 23, 2010

Hitting the right note with a restaurant playlist
By Patrick O’Neill

Photo Courtesy of The Breakers

It’s often the first thing people notice when they walk into a restaurant or bar, sometimes before they walk in. Yet for many eating establishments, it’s the last thing on their impress-the-customer list, if it makes the list at all. It’s the music.

One of the worst things a new restaurant can do, says Lori Hon, President and Co-Founder of Gray V (www.grayv.com), which curates music for restaurants, hotels and retailers, is waiting until the last minute to focus on the music. “Many people think they’ll do it themselves. Then they get very busy and realize it’s not a good idea.”

Allowing only a couple weeks for the task not only makes it harder to put together an appropriate playlist, it leaves little time for logistics, like deciding what type of sound system to use and where to discreetly place the speakers for maximum effect.

For most successful restaurateurs, music is part of the planning process from day one and considered a crucial element in defining the restaurant. “The audio helps set the stage,” says Patric Yumul, Vice President of Operations for the Michael Mina Group (www.michaelmina.net),

Photo Courtesy of The Mina Group

Continue Reading…

Events

MARCUS SAMUELSSON HONORED FOR DEDICATION TO C-CAP

February 11, 2010

Chefs Michael Lomonaco and Alfred Portale take a moment at C-CAP Benefit 2009

C-CAP’s 20th Anniversary Benefit features NYC Celebrity Chefs and High School Student Volunteers at Gala Tasting Event

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at PIER SIXTY at Chelsea Piers, The Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), the non-profit organization that since 1990 has awarded high school students $28 million in scholarships, and donated $2.3 million worth of supplies and equipment to classrooms, will host its 20th Anniversary Celebration.

This year, C-CAP is honoring chef, author and TV personality Marcus Samuelsson for his extraordinary achievements and contributions to the culinary industry, his long time dedication to C-CAP and his commitment to nurturing the next generation of chefs. As this year’s honoree, Marcus Samuelsson will receive the C-CAP Honors Award for his ongoing work with C-CAP providing internships, job shadows and jobs for students, and serving as a judge at the annual C-CAP NY Cooking Competition for Scholarships.

Past recipients of the C-CAP Honors Award include Drew Nieporent, Alfred Portale, Continue Reading…