Restaurants are a key success factor for hotels; thus getting the right concept for a given property is crucial.
Jan Smeets, managing director at 'Recipe for Concept', explains how he became an F&B consultant and what his firm offers to hotels.
Jan, please describe briefly what your firm does and how it is structured, number of employees, etc.
Recipe for Concept develops authentic, contemporary and holistic restaurant & bar concepts with a turnkey-framework approach.
We aim on establishing individual, authentic and fitting concepts, for both, our clients and their target group of guests.
My team and I work with a network of professionals and are currently seeking talented colleagues to add to the team.
Please explain how you got into this business; what sort of hospitality background do you have –hotel school, perhaps, or chef training?
My father was a chef, so I grew up with the restaurant business.
I started my ‘professional’ career as a kitchen hand in Germany and later in a bakery shop at Selfridges in London before studying at the Hotel Management School in Maastricht – before, during and after I have been working in the international upmarket hospitality industry ever since, with a strong focus on food & beverage with several food & beverage management positions.
I decided to start Recipe for Concept after a couple of years in international concept development for a renowned brewery.
What qualities/background would you look for if you were hiring a young person for your business?
I AM hiring ;) so I am looking for people with first-hand operational experience and an understanding of today's requirements in an appealing restaurant concept from both, a guest experience perspective and the operators point of view.
Most importantly though: common sense!
What new trends do you see in hotel F&B, both in terms of format and cuisine?
That is a difficult one and hard to generally state – apart from the existing trends such as hyper-local concepts, clean eating, veggie-centric cuisine.
Gladly, there are many very good examples of where hotel F&B should move to – for a large proportion though, I would like to see more movements such as:
- A relevant offer and well thought through concepts catering to hotel and local guests – give your guests something different than the standard international menu/cuisine… (what is that anyway) and same, same bar selection of drinks;
- Secondly look at F&B more from an experience point of view – let's create exciting moments
- Thirdly – let’s use more current technology
- Lastly, especially for the 5*- star plus sector, make prices attractive and affordable again.
I believe in local profile and positioning of your hotel though its food & beverage offering and thus it’s just ridiculous to charge 10€ and above for a bottle of mineral water… How cool would it be for an “average” guest to drink more than just 1! glass of wine and possibly order a full menu instead of just a main course.
Related Article: Beyond Food & Beverage
Do you see a significant impact of millennials on hotel F&B practices?
Yes, of course and hopefully more.
Especially in terms of sharing and tasting experience, presentation, waste reduction and sustainability, use of technology and marketing.
By the way, I am currently setting up a program of “green turnaround measures” for the food & beverage/hospitality industry together with an experienced “green entrepreneur”. It's not so much about being hippy-green, but to introduce the methods of the circular economy and easy-to-implement ecological steps in a 3-tier system.
Since you are German-based and work mainly with German clients. What are some of the particularities of the German F&B market?
In metropolitan regions: a growing readiness to experiment with taste and discover new or unknown culinary horizons.
At the same time in more rural areas a strong sense for tradition and little trend-enthusiasm. Both have their up- and flipsides.
Outsourcing of hotel restaurants has become a major trend? Do think this is a good idea? If so what structure would you recommend – lease, management contract, etc.?
It depends on the hotel operator and again a brief answer is difficult. Good hotel operators make a fantastic culinary experience possible if they are in a comfortable position not to mainly focus on profitability.
But if you work with an operator with little interest in food & beverage, it is indeed a good idea to work with an outsider to still offer a high quality food & beverage experience.
Recommended structure? That’s pretty much up to market conditions and location characteristics.You want your outsourced company to be able to make good money as well.
What career advice could you give for current hotel school graduates?
Focus on the right experience rather than a fast career progress – if you are motivated, resilient, and passionate, the career ladder will automatically move you up – but with a stronger base of experience and knowledge.
At the same time: listen to your inner self, travel, experience and be open for old and new.