The Art of the Preparation
by David Klemt
Chef Brian Duffy‘s take on preparation and its overall impact on the guest experience extends to every aspect of operations.
In one sentence during his 2023 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago cooking demo, Chef Duffy sums up the power of the proper mindset.
“The art of the preparation creates the experience,” says Chef Duffy.
Now, he was preparing plant-based shrimp from New Wave Foods at the time. After preparing a pan, the revered chef was readying a pound of FABI Award-winning New Wave Shrimp for Duffified Shrimp Fried Rice.
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When making this dish, Chef Duffy chops roughly half the New Wave Shrimp in half. He does so to enhance the dish’s texture, and therefore the guest experience. Additionally, Chef Duffy likes to toast basmati rice before adding it to the pan with the shrimp and vegetables.
Again, Chef Duffy shared his view on the guest experience when cutting animal-alternative shrimp (the product is made with sustainable seaweed and mung bean).
Okay, so what does slicing or chopping shrimp have to do with the guest experience? It’s the attention to what others may consider a tiny detail. In fact, some may deem important details “optional.”
Whether front-of-house, back-of-house, or back office, everyone’s mindset matters. How one views their role and how they approach their responsibilities impacts every element of a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or hotel’s success.
Choosing to halve half the shrimp because it will deliver a better experience speaks volumes. It’s a commitment to perfect the “small” details so every guest walks away wanting to return.
If an operator wants to know if they have a chef or an executive chef, this is one way to tell. Is the chef teaching their brigade? Guiding them? Implementing policies around preparation? Or are they just punching the clock, making sure the rest of the team shows up, and sending out food that’s “good enough”?
Operators can apply versions of those questions to every role in the house, including their own. Is their pride in preparing every element of service and operation? Or is the team just muddling through each shift?
There are no Small Details
Interestingly, most guests likely won’t ever be aware of every detail operators and their teams get right. However, they will feel every choice each team member makes. They may not know precisely what goes right, but they take home with them that their visit was exceptional.
Pulling the threads tighter separates operators and their brands from one another. Guests can get a bite and a drink anywhere. They reward outstanding service and experiences with their time and money.
It’s a simple equation to understand: Operators want to create an army of loyal guests, guests expect exceptional experiences. The operators who deliver on guest expectations are rewarded with loyalty.
Chef Duffy isn’t “just” slicing shrimp. He’s not “just” toasting rice. Chef’s not “just” making “the world’s most perfect dippy egg.” In reality, he’s ensuring every decision he, his teams, and his clients make enhance the guest experience exponentially.
There are no small details. There are no small decisions. The art of the preparation, as Chef Duffy says, creates the experience. Indeed, preparation also separates the mediocre from the exceptional.