Better Hospitality Conference: the best bits

The recent Better Hospitality Conference curated by supplier member Tried & Supplied brought together some of the most engaging, experienced and inspiring minds of the industry. Two packed days of webinars, workshops and panel sessions offered a ton of opportunities to harvest ideas and wisdom from the best in the business. Our team listened in or participated in a number and here we share our main takeaways.

Understanding sustainable fish

Speakers:

Ruth Westcott, Sustain, Vic Cook & Sarah Phillips, M&J Seafood and Caroline Bennett, Sole of Discretion provided a practical and action-based response to the recent documentary Seaspiracy.

Three top tips from this session for sourcing fish sustainably:

  1. Use the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide traffic light system (1-5) and AVOID THE WORST (fish rated 5) e.g. eel, wild seabass, dredged scallops, cod and skate. PROMOTE THE BEST (1-2) and IMPROVE THE REST (3-4)
  2. Buy species that are low in food chain e.g. sardines, herring, mackerel, mussels and oysters. Avoid buying large predatory fish that need more time to grow and are susceptible to overfishing
  3. Have a small, simple, flexible menu and promote seasonal specials e.g. ‘catch of the day’.  It doesn’t need to be one species for one dish. Encourage customers to try something new

Speaking regularly with your fish supplier or updating your sourcing policy is an easy way to help you achieve the above.

Designing multi-purpose restaurant spaces for additional revenue streams

Speakers:

David Chenery, Object Space Place, Andrei Lussmann, Lussmann’s Sustainable Fish & Grill. The twin skills of an experienced restaurateur who pivoted to delivery and takeaway for the first time and a seasoned restaurant designer, provided some seriously good pointers for operators trying to work out which direction to steer their business now.

Three key takeaways:

  1. While it was a necessity to diversify when it wasn’t possible to proceed with our core foodservice business, now that this is resuming operators need to consider carefully whether or not to proceed with a hybrid business model moving forward
  2. To identify which hybrid models work best for your unique business, ask yourself these questions; 

What you are about and what makes you different?

Are you product led (delivery/retail might suit you long term)?

Are you community focused (focus on loyalty models, in house/local delivery)?

Are you brand experience focused (hospitality in its purest form, may be hard to shift away from the usual, maybe merchandise)?

Consider how you are using your space across the day and week – Where are the time gaps? For example making meal kits i- house takes up space and requires spreading your activities out around resumed service. If they overlap too much you may need to choose between the two.

3. If you decide that a hybrid model will work for you some design considerations for your physical space include:

Flexible spaces – example; bolted down booths are not multifunctional. Consider surfaces that can transition between dining and prep.

Acoustics – Especially for those keen on hosting classes or doing video recordings. Empty restaurants are notoriously terrible for this.

Customer needs – For those looking to capture business from the remote workforce give consideration to how their needs are different from your traditional customers. This new audience may be more concerned with comfortable seating, access to power outlets, Wifi connection, etc.

Why bother about what livestock is fed?

Speakers:

Jimmy Woodrow and Fidelity Weston, both Pasture for Life, Chantelle Nicholson: Tredwells and Alls Well, Dr Hannah Davis: Lecturer in Ruminant Nutrition, University of Newcastle provided a practical guide to the different standards of meat on sale in the UK, including its feed, flavours and fat content.

Three key points:

  1. The vast proportion of meat we source is partly or wholly grain fed. Soil Association Organic allows for 60% forage or pasture fed, whilst Pasture for Life requires 100% grass fed. This largely ensures a lower carbon footprint than animals which are reared on cereal crops or soy. Pasture fed is also a more natural forage for livestock, particularly in the UK where grasslands are an abundant landscape. By sourcing through a traceable certification like Pasture for Life, your team can visit the supplier.  
  2. Currently the UK diet is deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, whilst omega 6’s are over consumed. Research presented in the session showed how omega 3 long chain fatty acids reduce as farming systems intensify, whilst omega 6 concentration increases with intensification. There was also a notable measurable difference between the pasture fed sample in contrast to simply organic livestock.
  3. Meat from different forage (grass fed feed) may have a different flavour from its unique terroir. This is something to champion and celebrate in its uniqueness, and may just require some further kitchen training to upskill your team on understanding the different cooking methods that may need to be applied to different meat supplies. What will be consistent is the flavour, and the provenance and flavour profile should be a selling point to your diners.

How sustainability can not only be affordable but also profitable?

Speakers:

Ollie Hunter, The Wheatsheaf at Chilton Foliat, Andrei Lussmann, Lussmans Sustainable Fish & Grill, David Chenery, Object Space Place

  1. Focus on what diners care about: great food, great flavour and great service. It just so happens that great food and great flavour come from using the best ingredients possible, building relationships with farmers and suppliers, and from treating your staff well.
  2. When considering your design, maximise spend on the high touch/ highly visible areas of the restaurant.
  3. Look at your kit and your tech: by paring back his menu, Ollie could do it all in the wood fired oven with no need for his conventional oven, saving energy and money in the process.

Hiring and Nurturing Diverse Teams: What does Success Look Like

Speakers:

Lorraine Copes, Be Inclusive Hospitality and Joanna Aunon, Director of Women in Hospitality Travel and Leisure provided a sobering assessment of where the industry is on diversity and said operators must be brave and tackle this critical issue and seek out organisations that can and will help ensure you’re not missing out on top talent.

  1. There is still A LOT of work to do in the hospitality sector. Though some progress has been made, the data isn’t great, and has only been made worse by Covid. It’s become clear that through Covid, women and people from Black or ethnic minority backgrounds lost their jobs in hospitality at a much higher rate than their white or male counterparts. Budget is not an excuse not to act. 
  2. The bottom line is that businesses need to be brave and have courageous conversations. and then act authentically. Understand what is happening in your business (look at the data), understand what it feels like to work in your business, and then act. Be intentional and clear on your aims to bring about structural change.
  3. Get external support. There are organisations out there that can help you have these courageous conversations at work, that can help facilitate workshops for employees on anti-racism or understanding difference. There are also businesses that can help you set up a mentorship or reverse mentorship scheme and identify structural issues within your business that might be keeping top talent out.
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