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  • BALANCED BEHAVIOR

    Hospitality Quotient's Susan Salgado in Inc. Magazine | November 21, 2014

    WANT TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE? START BY TAKING A BREAK By Susan Reilly Salgado, PHD   Why leaders must embody the positive, balanced behaviors they want to see happening on their teams.   IMAGE: Getty Images   This week I attended a wonderful event at The Energy Project led by founder Tony Schwartz, who has authored a number of books, my favorite of which is "The Way We're Working Isn't Working." Tony focuses on how we maximize the most important energy source--people energy--by improving the way people work.   Tony's work focuses on how to feed four basic human needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, to maximize performance outcomes. In a recent joint study he did with Harvard Business Review, entitled The Human Era @Work, 2014, he demonstrated increases of 50% to 199% in key factors like employee engagement, loyalty, positive energy, and life satisfaction.   His recommendations seem like common sense--like working in 90-minute spurts to maximize attention while taking renewal breaks to re-energize. Renewal breaks could involve anything from talking to colleagues in the kitchen, to taking a walk, to taking a quick nap or meditating for several minutes. But common sense doesn't always translate to behavior, and entrepreneurs may be among the worst when it comes to pushing the gas pedal until their engines burn out.   This type of thinking reminded me of the work we do at Hospitality Quotient. We believe the secret lies in creating a culture of hospitality that is rooted in both excellence and trust. In doing this, leaders have to exhibit the cultural values they espouse, and believe in the best intentions of their teams by trusting that they will not take advantage of any accommodations that are part of the culture.   Why is it so hard for leaders to adopt positive work style changes when they know the impact it can have on people's energy?   I generally find there are two traps that entrepreneurs fall into. The first is that they underestimate the example they set with their own work style. Leaders may choose to burn themselves out without realizing that it sends a message and sets a precedent for the team. I've known leaders who work tirelessly because they want to, even though they don't expect their teams to keep the same hours or pace. The reality, of course, is that if you've hired eager, hard-working, and committed individuals into your organization, they will take their cues from you as the leader and role model. Whether you intend them to work all hours or not, if you're doing it, the eager beavers will follow.   The second issue I see is quite the opposite--it arises from a strong desire to see people working very hard, and a fear of having employees take advantage of generous work arrangements. While at your core you may not want to see people burning themselves out, when you're starting a new venture--and when you're evolving an existing one--you want to know that people are committed to their work, driving the results, and pushing the envelope, just like you. So do you really want your team talking in the kitchen, going to the gym, or taking a nap during the day? Conceptually you may say yes, but in reality you may have some inner-resistance. What if they talk too long? Go to the gym too often? This inner discomfort can cause leaders to send mixed messages.   What does this mean to you as a leader? First, it means that you have to practice what you preach. Don't think your team is not watching you. They are, and they will not take that break if they don't see you do it, too. A topic that came up at Tony's event this week was email culture: how do you get people to stop emailing each other on the weekends? Stop emailing them. If you want to work on the weekend, go for it. But if you want your team to feel free to take the weekend off, put those emails in your drafts folder until Monday morning.   It also means that if you say it's OK to take a break during the day--whether a nap, or a chat with colleagues in the kitchen--you must trust that your team won't abuse it, and trust that if you start to feel like they're abusing it, you can have the conversation to step back from the arrangement and course-correct.   Tony's experience across organizations confirms this: it's not enough to believe in the power of fostering people energy in the workplace. Leaders have to embody positive, healthy behaviors--and commit to supporting their teams in doing the same. Want your employees to feel free to take a nap? Try taking one yourself this afternoon!   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    THANKSGIVING IN NYC

    North End Grill on Grub Street | November 24, 2014

    THE POOR PLANNER'S LAST-MINUTE GUIDE TO THANKSGIVING IN NEW YORK By Vicky Gan   Photo: Everett Collection   Still don't have plans for Thanksgiving? Not to worry. Though it's less than a week away, Grub's got you covered. We've canvassed the city and uncovered the most enticing restaurant options and takeout spreads that are still available, ensuring you can feast as lavishly as you'd like — but you really might want to book these reservations to disappear. The time has come.   North End Grill   Availability: Party of two at 11:30 a.m., 12:00, and 1:30 p.m.; parties of six at 11:30 a.m. Price: $85 per person   On the menu: Start with housemade pâté, chilled seafood, or delicata-squash soup before you head into heavier dishes like roasted turkey with cranberry sauce and rutabaga sauerkraut, trout with bacon, steak fiorentina, or ricotta malfatti. Desserts include pecan pie, milk-chocolate malted cake, and pumpkin cheesecake.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    YOUNG GUNS

    Gramercy Tavern's Juliette Pope on Wine Searcher | November 18, 2014

    NEW YORK'S SOMMELIER YOUNG GUNS By Elin McCoy   © Corkbuzz Wine Studio; Shannon Sturgis/StarChefs.com; Maura McEvoy | Laura Maniec (L) and Juliette Pope started out as chefs before becoming somms, while Thomas Pastuszak studied piano and neurobiology.   In the second part of her feature, Elin McCoy salutes some of the new breed of somms in the Big Apple.   The sommelier boom in New York's restaurant world is less than a decade old.   But vino-centric restaurants and the advent of social media have already made the younger generation of Big Apple somms – many of them women – into influencers of what's worth drinking and what's not. Their wine philosophies are reflected in their lists, which are often studded with bottles from obscure regions.   Some served early apprenticeships under Old Guard somms like Paul Grieco and Daniel Johnnes (whose La Paulée Scholarships have taken many young ones to Burgundy); others studied to obtain Master Sommelier status.   Juliette Pope Juliette Pope presides over a top all-round list of classic and unusual bottles at Gramercy Tavern, where her selections rotate seasonally and include a superb by-the-glass list, excellent dessert wine choices, and an extensive selection of beers and ciders. She spent six years cooking in New York restaurants, including Gramercy, where Paul Grieco mentored her in wine.   In 2004, she became beverage director and has created an especially friendly wine atmosphere for customers. Her list favors bottles with clean, pure, expressive flavors, very much a match for chef Michael Anthony's lighter, more vegetable-based cuisine.   Brooklyn-born Laura Maniec, one of the youngest women to attain Master Sommelier status, founded Corkbuzz Wine Studio in 2011. She, too, was aiming to be a chef, but was sidetracked by Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World wine course.   She ended up as wine director for 20 restaurants in the BR Guest group, but left to found her own wine bar. She emphasizes wine education, with a fine roster of classes, but Corkbuzz is also the place to go after 10 p.m., when bottles of Champagne are discounted 50 percent.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    PROFILE PIECE

    Blue Smoke's Mark Maynard-Parisi and Jean-Paul Bourgeois on The Native Society | November 17, 2014

    MARK MAYNARD-PARISI, SENIOR MANAGING PARTNER & JEAN-PAUL BOURGEOIS, EXECUTIVE CHEF OF BLUE SMOKE, A UNION SQUARE HOSPITALITY RESTAURANT     Blue Smoke celebrates the evolving American South and honors its culinary traditions. Inspired by the many regions of the South, from the Carolina coast to the hills of central Texas, the food is soulful with a selection of smoked meats, fresh produce, and thoughtfully sourced ingredients. Classic and specialty cocktails, an extensive American craft beer list, American wines and whiskey served by a welcoming team complete the experience.   How did you get into the restaurant industry?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: From the age of 16, I worked in restaurants. My mother was a chef, so as a kid, I worked as her dishwasher, prep cook and busboy. She taught me how to carry three plates so that I could serve at dinner parties she and my father would host. I also got really good at chiffonading herbs, dicing carrots and whipping cream. All throughout college (I studied landscape architecture), I worked in some sort of food business. My favorite was working as a counter worker/cashier at Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca, NY. I loved the camaraderie, the pace, and the endless supply of day-old bagels. A few years after college, I moved to NYC to work for an architecture firm in Chelsea, and I got a job as a host at Union Square Cafe to augment my income. I fell in love with the place and, after two years of doing both landscape architecture and working at USC, I decided to pick restaurants. I have been with the company ever since.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: I grew up in the small town of Thibodaux, Louisiana in a family that lived off the land, catching catfish, hunting duck, making fig preserves, and cleaning shrimp. We always cooked with fresh, seasonal ingredients and these formative experiences of enjoying flavorful, seasonal food left a lasting impression on me. My first cooking job was working at a boiled seafood shack and catering business. I boiled 500 lbs. of crawfish, 200 lbs. of shrimp and about 15 dozen blue crabs every day. I left work with my skin on fire from the seasoning but I thought it was fun. After that, I enrolled at John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, and the rest is history. I have never held any job outside of hospitality.   What partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented which have attributed to your restaurant's success?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: Most of our “marketing” is really centered around staff education and training. Yes, we have a great PR and marketing team, but without a well-trained staff who can tell our story, any marketing initiatives will fall flat. In terms of partnerships, we believe in connecting with the community, so we engage in a lot of charity work. We also donate to many local charities who benefit from our success. For example, we donate $1 from every kids meal to local child-centered organizations. In our club Jazz Standard, we donate a portion of ticket sales to the Jazz Foundation of America, so we can help ensure that jazz remains alive and well.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: Two recent partnerships we’ve implemented that I’m particularly excited about are with Edible Schoolyard NYC and Dickson’s Farmstead Meats. Edible Schoolyard NYC is a non-profit that partners with public schools to build gardens and kitchen classrooms where kids can engage in hands-on learning, with the goal of giving them the knowledge to make healthier choices throughout the course of their lives. The Blue Smoke team recently took a field trip to Edible Schoolyard NYC’s Brooklyn Showcase School in Gravesend, where we helped with the harvest and learned more about this enriching program. Right now, each time a kid’s menu is ordered at either of our Manhattan locations, Blue Smoke is donating $1 to ESNYC. I firmly believe that giving back to the NYC community and helping enrich the lives of the next generation is a measure of our success as a company. Along with Edible Schoolyard NYC, another partnership we’ve recently forged is with Dickson’s Farmstead Meats to create specially smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving. At Blue Smoke, sourcing the ingredients we use is incredibly important to us. Partnering with Dickson’s, who has led the move to source natural, humanely-raised, high quality meat from local farms, is a natural fit for what we do. A third partnership that I’d also like to mention is our close affiliation with the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA). Food is the common medium that all people, regardless of race, religion, or social class can come together around. Being involved with the SFA allows Blue Smoke to connect with folks that are committed to keeping the story of the vibrant, evolving Southern food culture alive.   What are the most popular dishes at Blue Smoke and which are your personal favorites?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: The most popular items are our Roasted Oysters, Fried Chicken and Biscuits, our Brisket Platter, Pulled Pork, and our Chocolate Cake. My personal favorite is our Louisiana Shrimp Boil, which also happens to be incredibly popular.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: Pulled Pork and Baby Back ribs are always crowd pleasers. I really like the Louisiana Shrimp Boil, with spicy peel and eat gulf shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, and Cajun comeback sauce, along with the Preservation Plate, which focuses on various preservation methods. Duck Ham, Beef Jerky, and Head Cheese Rillettes are just some of the ways in which we highlight these methods, along with including various fruit preserves, pickle, and mustards.   How do you stay successful within such a volatile and competitive industry?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: By always questioning what we are doing and trying to do it better. It’s not enough to have one good service or one happy guest. If we make someone really happy, we want to know what we did to create that outcome. Likewise, if we disappoint someone, we need to look inward and see what we could have done better.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: We resolve to keep improving every day and always keep our guests in mind when making changes.   What is your life motto?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: Be honest, even when it’s really difficult.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: Life’s a garden. Dig it!   How important does the design / architecture of your restaurant play into its success?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: It has a lot to do with it. It’s important to tell your story in any way possible, and the design is one of the first elements that a guest can start to understand that story.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: I like the music loud and the décor warm…it should feel like home and a party all at the same time.   How important is location in selecting the creation of a new restaurant?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: It’s important to have a restaurant where there is a community that will support it. With Blue Smoke, we tend to seek out underserved areas that lie outside of the fray, but that contain groups of residents, businesspeople, tourists, and local visitors who are looking to eat delicious food in a relaxed setting and who don’t have too many options in their immediate surroundings. Back in 2002, 27th street between Park and Lexington fit the bill, and that is where we established our flagship location. Likewise, in 2012 we opened our second location in Battery Park City, a vibrant community in lower Manhattan that, at the time, didn’t have many local restaurants. Jean-Paul and I are excited to open the first bar from Union Square Hospitality Group, called Porchlight, on 28th street and 11th avenue in the underserved area of west Chelsea in January 2015.   What literature is on your bed stand?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: Not sure if you can call it literature….Bicycling Magazine and Garden & Gun.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: A dinner and lunch menu to jot down ideas when I can’t sleep and the NLT bible. I’m also a big fan of Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and Cabela’s outdoor catalogues.   Who is your role model - business and personal?   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: Personally, my dad is my role model. Professionally, I connect with any chef that cooks with soul.   Describe a great night out and an ideal experience at your restaurant.   Mark Maynard-Parisi: A great night at Blue Smoke starts with one of our fantastic cocktails, accompanied by a snack that can be shared with friends. I’m thinking of our Preservation Plate, which features Jean-Paul’s delicious duck ham, rillettes and beef jerky. Next, I’d have a beer to go with appetizers. If all can agree, I love doing a pitcher so we can share and make the experience more interactive. For appetizers, I love our roasted oysters and sausage & pimento cheese. I’d then move on to wine for the main courses. We’d probably order a bunch of things to share, from Backyard Chicken and Brisket to the Shrimp Boil and then pick some sides, like our roasted pickled beets, cornbread madelines and biscuits. After we’re stuffed, we share a bottle of dessert beer or maybe share some key lime pie and chocolate cake. Throughout the experience, your server is there whenever you want (and not when you don’t), and answers any questions you may have. We offer suggestions about our favorites, and we help you have the night you were hoping for. If you are at our flagship location, you stroll down to Jazz Standard to end the night in an intimate room with soulful, world-class jazz.   What is your go-to travel destination?   Mark Maynard Parisi: The beach, anywhere. And Paris.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: Anywhere with a beach.   What’s next for Blue Smoke and yourself personally?   Mark Maynard-Parisi: I am incredibly fired up about Blue Smoke. It has been really rewarding to have Jean-Paul at the culinary helm, and he has infected the team with his optimistic exuberance. We look forward to working together to further evolve Blue Smoke into a great New York City restaurant with Southern roots.   Jean-Paul Bourgeois: I am really excited to help write Blue Smoke’s next culinary chapter, continuing to bolster its reputation for world-class barbecue, while also making it a destination for incredible, craveable southern-inspired dishes. I’m pouring my Louisiana heritage, and a lifetime of travelling throughout the south and tasting the best food it has to offer, into each of the dishes on the Blue Smoke menu. It’s my aim to take guests on a delicious culinary journey, while at the same time making them feel like they’ve come home.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    HOLIDAY PIES

    Union Square Cafe's Sunny Raymond on Timeout.com | November 17, 2014

    THE BEST PIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS IN NEW YORK CITY By Time Out Contributors   Get one of the best pies Gotham has to offer to complete your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year   We tasted dozens of pies to whittle down a list of the very best pies for the holidays. Whether you’re craving sweet potato pie, pecan pie, or apple varieties—or something altogether different—we’ve got you covered for dessert on Thanksgiving. But order soon: these seasonal pastries from New York's best bakeries will be gone in no time.   Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie at Union Square Café   For the first time ever, the café is offering pies to-go, including a cheesecake-pie hybrid featuring tangy pumpkin in a graham-cracker crust. Order by November 25 for pick-up on November 26. 21 E 16th St between Fifth Ave and Union Sq West (212-243-4020, unionsquarecafe.com). Ten-inch pie for $39.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    UNDERSTANDING WINE

    Union Square Hospitality Group's John Ragan on Forbes.com | November 17, 2014

    THE SURPRISING THINGS A MASTER SOMMELIER CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT WINE By Jenny Nguyen   The number of people who enjoy wine and the number of people who know it is hugely disproportionate. And that’s no surprise since the topic of wine is not only subjective; it’s also incredibly vast and involved. Understanding it properly requires either a deeply embedded cultural and familial experience with wine or the active seeking out of knowledge about this rich topic.   Sommeliers are just one kind of wine expert who have sought out the training required to understand wine deeply enough to make our dining experiences fuller. Those belonging to Danny Meyer’s portfolio of Union Square Hospitality Group (UHSG) restaurants for example, get to enjoy a rigorous 10-week wine education course held by John Ragan, the company’s Wine Director who is one of 3 Master Sommeliers in the world who also hold a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service.   This year, for the first time ever, USHG partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York to provide the wine-lovers from the public with “Understanding Wine” – the same 10 week course that Ragan teaches to USHG staffers. For $1750, students can learn everything from how to taste wine like a professional, new world vs. old world wines, food pairings and even the defining characteristics of Bordeaux vs. Burgundy wine.   Having sat in on the Bordeaux vs. Burgundy class, this writer can tell you first hand that between Ragan’s charismatic teaching style, the Billecart Salmon Champagne which eases you into the classroom atmosphere, food pairings cooked for you onsite by Union Square Café’s Executive Chef Carmen Quagliata and rounding out with a generous pour of Château Doisy-Védrines, Sauternes, 1988 – students are getting the value they should expect from such a program. This is a course that sits somewhere between school and an upscale French restaurant with a spit bucket, where students will be given more than just the wine essentials and plenty more interesting wine facts that’ll surely bring life to any sophisticated dinner party conversation.   For those interested in joining Ragan’s next semester of Understanding Wine courses starting April 28th 2015, registration has just opened. And to get an initial taste of some of the informational nuggets you’ll acquire over the 10 weeks, Forbes has asked Ragan to share with readers 10 surprising wine facts that students will have discovered throughout the course:   1. No-one really has a gifted palate   Think you are not a ‘hyper’ taster? Think you don’t have a ‘gifted’ palate? No one really does. In fact, most everything a wine has to tell you can be seen with the eyes and smelled with the nose. Studies show that nearly 80% of the personality of a wine comes from the aromas. Take a moment to see and smell, you might not even have to taste to understand where the wine comes from.   2. The best wine often comes from the worst soils   Did you know that the most lauded wines generally come from the poorest soils? While fertile soil might be great for melons and grazing, grapes love the poor soils, generally found on the slopes or côtes. The poor soils cause the vines to work harder and dig deeper to get the nutrients they need and as a result, the vines yield less fruit, often smaller berries but with more flavor and intensity. Whoever said ‘No pain no gain’ was probably referring to their vineyard.   3. New World vs. Old World = Fruit vs. Terroir   At a basic level, wines can easily be parsed out into either ‘New World’ or ‘Old World’ styles. This can be a great tool for understanding what glass will make you most happy. Although some winemakers like to try and buck this idea, most old world wines (read Europe) try to capture the terroir (sense of the earth) in the glass, whereas most new world wines will focus on riper, fruit-focused flavors and can often have a toasty oak influence. Both can be excellent – the question is which suits your palate best?   4. Napoleonic Code Creates a Confusing Fragmentation of Today’s Vineyards   In the old world, the Napoleonic code has created headaches for many wine lovers. Nowhere is this more evident than in Burgundy, where vineyards that are passed down are separated between each of the heirs. As a result, the same vineyard can be bottled by many different arms of the same family tree. Best way to approach it – find your favorite family and stick with them. A great farmer will make great wine nearly every vintage. An absent farmer can manage to ruin even a great vineyard.   5. Don’t always believe what the label says   Most all of the famed regions of Europe are named after a place rather than a grape. Champagne, Chablis, Cognac (and that is just the c’s!) are all place names and true Chablis or Cognac can only come from that one place. Although producers in America and beyond still often co-opt these place names for their own use, know that real Chablis does not come from a box!   6. Champagne is often made with red grapes   Champagne is one of the only white wines in the world that is often made from red grapes. The juice of any grape is essentially clear but most red wines macerate the juice with the skins to lend color and flavor. In the case of Champagne, the juice and skins are separated as soon as the grapes are pressed in order to keep the juice clear!   7. Madeira is the perfect wine for the spatially challenged   No wine cellar? No problem – everyone should have a great collection of Madeira. Not only is Madeira a great glass of wine to finish most every dinner (Thomas Jefferson was its most famous advocate) but it has already been impacted by both heat and oxygen. With this in mind, you don’t need to worry about how you store it or how long it is open for – perfect for a New York apartment!   8. Look for the word “Trocken” on a Riesling label to determine if it is sweet or dry.   Riesling is one of the truly great white wines of the world but many have given up on this grape due to so much uncertainty about sweet, dry or somewhere in-between. If you are a fan of dry Rieslings – I am – look for the word trocken on any German label. You don’t need to worry about all of the other fine print; if you see the word trocken, you can rest easy that it will be a dry wine.   9. Wine pairing 101 for take out dinners   Sometimes your delivery guy is not a great Sommelier – not to worry, bring your own pairings for takeout. Provence Rosé for Indian Cuisine, Finger Lakes Riesling for Sushi and Pinot Noir for Chinese will do the trick – but you still have to wash the glasses….   10. New World Winemaking in the US is the Tale of Two Coasts   New World winemaking was a tale of two coasts as it developed within the newfound continent. It was a lifelong dream for Thomas Jefferson to have a successful vineyard at Monticello, but years of planting and replanting never paid off until long after his death. During the same time period, the Spanish missionaries were climbing their way up the California coast planting what came to be known as the Mission grape at each stop along the way. The missionaries knew what they were looking for as many of these sites are still making great wine today – Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, even Sonoma.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    PERFECT SHIFT

    Hospitality Quotient's Susan Salgado in Inc. Magazine | November 17, 2014

    THE SMARTEST WAYS TO PREPARE FOR CHANGE How a perfect shift in the road towards success can make all of the difference for your business.   By Susan Reilly Salgado, PHD   IMAGE: Getty Images   I recently took a familiar trip, driving from New York City to visit my parents at their home in Pennsylvania. My favorite point is near the end of the trip, while descending a long, winding hill. There is one curve in particular that, when you hit it just right, gives you that incredible rush. I love the feeling of the adrenalin on that curve. I hate when someone else is on the road--at my curve -at just the wrong time, forcing me to slow down. It's the inflection point--the point when you have to switch direction quickly--that provides the thrill. Making it happen is a matter of timing, skill, and serendipity. And it's incredible when it all works out.   I see parallels between this experience and what we at Hospitality Quotient help our clients deal with every day. Growing businesses experience inflection points as well--periods of rapid growth and change that require special attention to navigate properly. For those of us who get a thrill from that adrenalin rush, these are the moments we long for. But even the most experienced drivers will tell you that you need to know what you're doing if you want to accelerate through that curve. So how do you know if you're in an inflection point, and what do you need to watch out for?   We see inflection points take many forms: restructuring your team, winning a game-changing piece of business, changing your technology, or consciously deciding to invest in growth. These moments are true milestones that can make or break a business, no matter the size or legacy. The differentiator for entrepreneurs is being the leader at the helm who will accurately sense the timing, prepare the company, align the team, and not be afraid to hit the gas.   So what are some lessons from the road that entrepreneurs can take into account when facing inflection points in business?   Plan for versatility. Driving fast through an inflection point requires a calculated plan involving the right speed, a lack of congestion on the road, great weather conditions, and the right skill sets of the driver. All the same are true in business. To build the right kind of momentum and really prepare for any major shift, entrepreneurs have to carefully and thoughtfully assess the external environment and align their internal capabilities. Teams that build versatility into their thinking and know how to handle "what ifs" will be better prepared to navigate the shift.   Assess your culture. Rapid change can have a huge impact on the culture of your organization. In preparing for such a shift, it's important to assess how well-equipped your team is to handle the change. Moreover, it's critical to understand how to optimize the change you're planning so it can strengthen and evolve your culture. This means ensuring that the decisions you make are aligned with your values as an organization. The changes should further your company's 'purpose'--not distract from it. And it's essential to imagine the shift from the perspective of your passengers to know how the changes will affect them, so you can be prepared to coach them through the shift and bring them along for the ride.   Know your capabilities. Internally, leaders must have the self-awareness to ask themselves, "How good of a driver am I?" If you're not the right person to lead the change, make sure you tap the person who is. You should also know yourself well enough to know how hard you can hit the gas. If you move too fast and haven't executed your plan well, you'll end up slamming on the breaks or, worse, spinning out of control. If you move too slowly, the car next to you will surely get there first.   Buckle your seatbelts! Give your team fair warning when you're embarking on a major turn in the road (just as you would for your passengers in a car). Keep an open line of communication and be transparent. Don't let your team get distracted from their jobs because they're wondering what's going on.   Be focused in your approach. In this process, it's not uncommon for organizations to push the gas pedal too hard by trying to accomplish too much at once. The distraction of having too many initiatives going on at the same time without the proper communication can overwhelm team members and blur priorities. Simply put, distractions make for dangerous driving.   Entrepreneurs typically love this kind of change--it's what feeds their spirit and keeps business exciting. So embrace those inflection points--enjoy them. They are huge milestones in business and great opportunities to further your organization. But remember that inflection is an important moment for reflection. In my experience, the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who truly embrace this point, and not only ride through a shift in their business, but also let it propel their culture forward and faster. Knowing your own capabilities as a leader and your purpose as a culture is key to any surge's being a successful one that the entire team feels connected to. Any decision that is made should be done through the lens of your culture and your vision for the future. Ultimately, there are only so many opportunities to find these specials places on the road, and in your business. Without them, it's nearly impossible to enact impactful change or get ahead. So as scary as they may be, if the stars align, don't be afraid to go forward and make it count.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    RESTAURANT DNA

    Union Square Events in Edible Manhattan | November 17, 2014

    HAUTE CUISINE FOR 4.700? UNION SQUARE EVENTS DELIVERS By Nancy Matsumoto   Launched in 2005, the catering and events operation of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group was conceived to offer a canapé platter at an intimate family holiday dinner, an elegant gala at the Park Avenue Armory and all events between.     At noon on a recent Thursday, a small army of chefs were hard at work in a gleaming, 10,000-square-foot professional kitchen on West 28th Street, prepping dinner for 600. In the pastry corner, cooks rolled out flaky dough and tempered chocolate. Across the way, another sliced parsnips into perfect batons while culinary operations manager John Miller fed ropes of hand-rolled ricotta—mustard seed cavatelli dough into his hand-operated pasta maker. The ricotta is made in-house, using milk from Five Acre Farms. Miller, who mastered pasta making during his years running that department at Maialino, can turn out handmade pasta for a thousand guests at a clip.   But you can’t get a reservation here, and there’s not even a dining room. That’s because this isn’t a restaurant kitchen, it’s the production space of Union Square Events — the catering and events operation of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.   Launched in 2005, Union Square Events was conceived to offer a canapé platter at an intimate family holiday dinner, an elegant gala at the Park Avenue Armory and all events between. Venues include CitiField stadium and the soon-to-be reopened restaurant at the relocated Whitney Museum.   What sets Union Square Events (USE) apart from competing caterers is that it has “injected restaurant DNA” into its operation, says managing partner Ron Parker. Translation: Approach every project like a fine-dining chef, scale up your recipes big-time and then figure out how to make it work. This is how USE became the first company to look beyond the conventional notion that serving a sit-down dinner for 4,200 dressed-up people at the Javits Center was incompatible with a hot entrée.   Instead, for the Robin Hood Foundation’s annual benefit, executive chef John Karangis figured out how to butcher, marinate, then slow cook — sous vide — over 2,000 pounds of braised short ribs for 48 hours, press, cool and cut the meat into portion sizes to be heated with Sterno canisters and proofing cabinets and sauced just before serving. Though Karangis understood the “product procuring, production and logistical challenges” this feat would involve, he challenged his team to make a dinner where the strains of scaling up were invisible.   The result: soigné plates of braised short ribs (served with crushed potatoes and market vegetables), preceded by a beluga lentil and tomato marmalade salad with saffron-fennel vinaigrette and followed with a milk chocolate and caramel ganache with raspberry toffee.   All of this “enlightened hospitality,” as Meyer calls his brand of service, put guests in a good enough mood (although performances by Elton John, Mary J. Blige and Bono may have helped a little, too) to donate over $80 million for the charity.   One reason the USE team can excel in situations like these is the fact that it’s the only catering outfit in the city to have Department of Health–approved sous vide cooking capability, which allowed both the low-and-slow braising of the ribs and executive pastry chef Daniel Keehner’s caramelizing of the chocolate. The method, says Keehner, who formerly plied his trade at Wallse and Café Sabarsky, allows the chocolate to develop a complex, nutty flavor.   USE is so chef- and chef-technique driven, in fact, that if you’re in love with a certain dish at one of Union Square Hospitality Group’s restaurants, their “Epicurated” program will re-create menus (venison with roasted squash and cranberries from Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony, for example, or Maialino chef Nick Anderer’s celebrated roasted suckling pig) for, say, your wedding or New Year’s party.   Karangis, the dapper executive chef, cut his teeth under Meyer: He started his career at 19 doing prep work at Union Square Café, then worked at Square One and Stars in San Francisco before eventually finding his way back to the fold. Many mornings he still hits the Greenmarket before 8 a.m. for both culinary and visual inspiration, incorporating finds into platters that resemble Dutch still-life paintings: Lynnhaven goat cheese, winter-spiced and whipped, fills pillow-shaped crackers and recalls spiced rum, while a sweet-savory dream of a macaron, filled with Calvados-apple jam and rimmed with foie gras, echoes the baby apples that dot the platter.   The plates are an embodiment of the Union Square Hospitality Group approach, says Karangis: “Food that is seasonally inspired, celebrating what is growing in and around where we work, and fostering relationships with producers.”   USE’s relationship with Greene, New York–based Cascun Farms is one example of this philosophy. The company orders over 500 pounds of organic poultry from the farm each week. When farmer Don Cascun delivers the order, Karangis sends him back with pulped fruits and vegetables, by-products of USE’s Creative Juice line of products. Cascun feeds the fiber to his chickens and hogs in a win-win for both parties. Trial and error has taught the Cascuns that pigs adore almond meal, while chickens need to be kept away from kaffir lime and jalapeño pulp, which affect their taste when they show up on the plate.   Culinary Institute of America–educated Parker made the move from restaurant operations at the Modern to running the catering arm of USE during the immediate aftermath of the 2009 market collapse. While others in the industry scrambled to take on more venues, Parker’s approach was the opposite: Focus on only a few venues in Manhattan and more on existing clients by doing fewer catering events.   Parker admits that the umbrella company gives the caterer leeway that others in this highly competitive market don’t have.   “We have a diversified business, so we have the luxury of spending more time to make things special.” His less-is-more approach has led the company to triple in size since 2009, and it’s on track to double again over the next year. Over the long term, USE plans to expand into other cities; already it provides some of the food for Nationals Park baseball stadium in Washington, DC. As at CitiField, the company offers stand-alone outposts of Blue Smoke, Shake Shack and two original concepts, El Verano Taquería and Box Frites, a Belgian fries, hot dog and fried pies stand.   Another large USE client will come online between 2016 and 2019, when the 28-acre mixed-use Hudson Yards mega-redevelopment — the largest to rise in the city since Rockefeller Center, and now under construction just north of USE’s 28th Street kitchen — is complete.   Like Miller, head pastry chef Keehner prefers his current gig to his past restaurant work because the job is different every day and always fast paced. While there are quiet times in restaurants before and after dinner service, Keehner explains that at USE, “there’s never a point when I’m not under the gun and the time clock. My 10- to 12-hour day here is like a 10- to 12-hour service.”   Then it’s time for the pastry chef to get back to work — the difficult, time-consuming work of feeding the masses food of a quality and sensibility that punches way above its weight.   “Whatever we can do for an eight-top at the Modern,” explains Karangis, “we should be able to do at Union Square Events. We want to take ‘It can’t work’ out of the picture.”   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    USHG ALUMNS

    Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group in The Financial Times | November 14, 2014

    HUERTAS AND THE CECIL, NEW YORK By Nicholas Lander     Huertas in New York’s East Village   Just as customers use restaurants for a variety of purposes – to do business, meet friends, even propose marriage – so too do those who work in them. Their most immediate end is, of course, financial, and even before the busy holiday season I hear that waiters in London and New York are earning very good money. But there can also be another desire: to form new alliances that allow general managers, sous-chefs, waiters and sommeliers to move on and set up on their own.   This phenomenon tends to happen most frequently in well-established and respected businesses. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, a New York-based company employing some 3,500 people, has witnessed this “mixed blessing” – of losing good staff but having new restaurants to enjoy, as Meyer puts it – on numerous occasions.   The recent opening of two new restaurants – Huertas in the East Village and The Cecil in Harlem – by alumni of Meyer’s outposts demonstrates how very different restaurants can emerge from the same melting pot.   Huertas (“orchards” or “market gardens” in Spanish) was conceived by 27-year-old Jonah Miller, who spent three years at Meyer’s Maialino restaurant and who studied for some time in Spain. Miller’s enthusiasm for the pintxos bars and restaurants of the Basque country inspired 25-year-old Nate Adler, formerly of Meyer’s Blue Smoke, to join him as general manager.   Their ambition – to have a bar at the front with a more sedate restaurant in the rear – became a reality when they took over a narrow building that had once been a hardware store. An intervening period as a pizza restaurant means that, somewhat incongruously, an oven now stands directly behind the bar, which is presided over by a lanky barman in a bright-red corduroy jacket.   There is no large display of pintxos at the bar but instead the waiters come to the table with trays of these little dishes, from which customers can help themselves in the style of a dim sum restaurant. On Tuesday nights, all pintxos are just a dollar each. One customer, I heard, managed to eat a record 43.   As we arrive, Miller stands by the open kitchen, which is full of young, enthusiastic cooks. The warm aroma of garlic wafts through the air as he orchestrates a series of exciting dishes: steamed percebes (goose barnacles); slices of chorizo sausage wrapped in pickled carrot; Huertas rotos (thin, crisp potato strands coated in chorizo and topped with a poached egg); skewers of anchovy and olives; and a main course of grilled leg of lamb that’s outshone by the accompanying bowl of diced lamb sausage with chickpeas and a creamy salsa verde.   Egg-topped 'Huertas rotos'   Huertas is notable for the energy of the team that Miller and Adler have assembled (including a waitress who doubles as a xylophone player), and it’s fun. It will be exciting to see what this duo go on to accomplish together in the future.   Over at The Cecil, Julia Collins (ex-Maialino) has been joined by Paula Tucker (formerly of Meyer’s Jazz Standard). Together they form the management team in this latest manifestation of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, a company originally founded by businessman Richard Parsons, custodian of the renowned Minton’s Jazz Club next door, where all the jazz greats once played.   The driving force behind The Cecil’s menu is Alexander Smalls, who trained as an opera singer and who has now written a menu with chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson that I found highly original. It seeks inspiration from the “African diaspora” and its influence on American and Asian cuisine. Tucker says with pride that she has never before seen a kitchen where a grill is next to a wok station.   We enjoyed a salad of collard greens with spiced cashews and coconut dressing; oxtail dumplings with green apple curry and crisp taro root; and a dish of fried rice, duck egg and hoisin sauce with slices of well-cooked brisket on the side. Less impressive were the egg foo young and the roti pizza topped with oxtail and aged Cheddar.   This is a minor quibble, though, because what Smalls, Parsons, Collins and Tucker have established is a restaurant with a great sense of place and one where everyone appears to be having fun.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    TRUFFLE SHUFFLE 2014

    Union Square Hospitality Group's Truffle Shuffle 2014

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    BIG BUSINESS

    Union Square Cafe's Sam Lipp on Bloomberg Businessweek | April 16, 2014

    FOR HOT RESTAURANTS, GOING OUT OF BUSINESS CAN BE BIG BUSINESS By Kurt Soller   Alamy (8), Getty Images (1)   Later this month, WD-50, chef Wylie Dufresne’s hub of molecular gastronomy, will serve its last supper on New York’s Lower East Side. Since the restaurant opened in 2003, its tables have been crammed with customers eating delicacies such as scrambled egg ravioli and oysters with edible “shells.” One man, an art dealer named Stewart Waltzer, booked a seat more than 300 times. But as other, hotter joints have arrived in town, business has slowed. There weren’t enough Waltzers to buy out the building; it will soon be torn down to make room for luxury condos.   When the closure was announced in July, diners began coming out en masse. Some revisited $155 tasting menus from previous outings, while others tried knotted foie gras for the first time. All had likely seen the dramatic countdown clock Dufresne had installed on his website. “It seemed reasonable to remind people that we were still here,” he says. “Once we picked the date, why not just have some fun with it?” It was also clever marketing—most remaining reservations evaporated.   So far in 2014, 82 restaurants have shuttered in New York—the highest number since 2010, according to an October Zagat report. Yet, for a certain set of formerly hip eateries, it’s been a year of closing gloriously. Before wine bar ’inoteca shut in February, it invited customers to “help us drink all 1,300 bottles in our cellar” at a 10 percent discount. When Pastis, a French bistro owned by Keith McNally, finished in March, it held a “farewell feed” for its top customers. (Kurt Loder was there.) A petition went around in August to keep the Midtown dive bar Subway Inn open, followed by an announcement on Nov. 10 that it would soon be replicated in a nearby space.   It’s also happening outside New York: When Los Angeles’s Red Medicine was sold in October, breathless eulogies kept the chef busy until his final day; before Homaro Cantu’s iNG went down last May in Chicago, diners benefited from Groupon-style deals offering 10 courses for $99. It was the international chef Ferran Adrià, of Spain’s ElBulli, who may have invented this sort of fanfare. In 2010 he announced that his legendary restaurant would be closing—in about two years. Then, for its last bow, he flew top restaurant critics and famous patrons in via helicopter for a free 47-course meal.   Instead of offering discounts, Dufresne’s charging extra for the chance to enjoy WD-50 one last time. Starting on Nov. 19, he’ll serve an 11-course meal taking “diners on a journey of WD-50’s history” for $225. The Last Call dinner, on Nov. 29, will jump to $275. All these seats sold out almost immediately after being announced on Oct. 30. Nick Kononas, the restaurateur behind Chicago’s Alinea, who lent a ticketing platform to help with booking, tweeted that WD-50 sold “$104,000+ in first nine minutes.” Not bad for a business that’s going out of business.   Dining establishments traditionally approach their ends unceremoniously. Sometimes employees don’t know they’re out of a job until that morning. “How would you like to be one of those staff members who come in and the doors are closed?” asks Sam Lipp, managing partner of New York’s Union Square Cafe, which will close its current location at the end of 2015. “We very intentionally announced this [more than a year ahead of time], as we felt like we owed it to staff.”   It’s easier to go out with a bang when the restaurant’s fatal flaw isn’t disgusting food. Reduced post-recession salaries have caused millennial diners to cut back on eating out by 21 percent over the past seven years, according to research firm NPD Group. Additionally, restaurant analyst Tim Zagat pointed out that most restaurants are being pushed out because of rising real estate costs. Lipp had been negotiating the lease with his landlord for two years and says he’s looking elsewhere—though he wonders how far from Union Square the restaurant can move while maintaining the name.   Dufresne will focus on Alder, his other New York restaurant, and he’ll remain a star on food TV even without WD-50. “I don’t necessarily want to close the door,” he says. “But, as of yet, no hotelier has called to say he absolutely must have a WD-50 in his lobby.”   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    WINE TIME

    Gramercy Tavern's Juliette Pope on Grub Street | November 13, 2014

    SOMMELIER'S CHOICE: 6 LOCAL WINE DIRECTORS SHARE THEIR FAVORITE BOTTLES By Mary Jane Weedman   2013 Castello di Verduno ‘Basadone’ Pelaverga from Roberta’s (left); Gramercy Tavern's Clos Fantine Faugères Cuvée Tradition, 2012 Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine   We asked some city wine directors call out their their favorite bottles from their colleagues' lists.   Paul Grieco, Terroir “I’d drink the 2013 Castello di Verduno ‘Basadone’ Pelaverga ($50) from Roberta’s, because acidity always wins the game with red wine and because [beverage director] Amanda Smeltz has assembled a sweet list of sweet juice at sweet prices.”   Amanda Smeltz, Roberta’s “Here’s the bottle I’d pick off the Gramercy Tavern wine list: Clos Fantine Faugères Cuvée Tradition, 2012 ($50), because it’s one of my favorite ‘natural’ wines currently available. It’s rough-hewn but full of fruit, acid, and life; a forward-thinking, affordable bottle.”   Juliette Pope, Gramercy Tavern “I’d drink Prager’s 2001 Achleiten Smaragd Riesling ($195) from Jordan Salcito’s list at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Prager makes some of the most complex, food-worthy whites on the planet.”   Jordan Salcito, Momofuku “I think that Francesco Grosso’s list at Marea is beautifully curated, unsung, and packed with lesser-known gems, like this rare, complex, and enjoyable 2009 ‘En Barby’ Savagnin bottle from Jean-François Ganevat ($135).”   Francesco Grosso, Marea “I’d pick the 2009 Clos Rougeard, Saumur-Champigny ‘Les Poyeux’ ($195) from Reynard. It’s just ripe enough in this vintage that I don’t feel too bad about opening it so young.”   Lee Campbell, Reynard at the Wythe Hotel “I’d drink Escoda-Sanahuja’s ‘Els Bassotets’ Conca de Barberà 2013 ($50) at Contra; this Spanish producer is making really exciting stuff.”   *This article appears in the November 10, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)