Consulting...

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by blue_wolf, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. blue_wolf

    blue_wolf

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    My wife and I have been talking alot lately about money. With a little one on the way, it has become very clear my current position isn't going to cover the bills the way we would be comfortable (barely is about the extent of it). So, we have been discussing other options. Catering came up, but the market in Madison and the surrounding area is extreamly flooded. So, another idea that has come up was consulting on restaurants, menues and what not. I had an old co-worker go into this with a small place in town, and it seemed to work out well for him. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this, advice or thoughts. This is just an idea right now, but if it would be a better position, something to look into. There are other options, which I don't really like too much, but they are options. Consulting is the one I am really intrested in knowing more about right now. Thank you a head of time for the input.
     
  2. ara gureghian

    ara gureghian

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    I read your post a while back... and I just feel now to be the proper time to answer it... as have been thinking...
    I have been self employed 35 years, after 3 years of Culinary School in Switzerland... yes... long time ago but the passion has always kept me on the daily edge.
    This past year I closed my business www.PersonalChefAra.com and adventured myself by getting a JOB... matching it with interesting geographical area where I could pursue my other passion which is Motorcycle Touring, both off and on road...

    [​IMG]


    One was 15 weeks in AZ... and now about 45 mn's from Atlanta, GA.

    The present employer has hired me as a consultant/working Chef and what I am trying to get to is, having also visited many other Kitchens, the amazement that I have has been finding operations being ran by people with kindergarden mentality... with a total lack of organization... none what so ever self discipline with not even the first and basic concept on how a kitchen should be ran... this on the cooking technical aspect and numbers aspect...
    I am blown away...
    So it seems that, yes, there is a need... a strong one also... as the business is there... and food is prepared from the seat of the pants!!!
    But right off a prospective client will ask you for references... a past accomplishment and that might be a first obsctacle unless persuading such prospective client...
    The second motion is to what degree should the Consulting be... as I am doing?... working with the flow... trying to instate slowly many new paths and being looked at, (and I am a real nice person, calm, helpful...) a **** Chef? Of course I am realizing that the ones definitly not enjoying working with me are the "lazy bums"...
    So, yes, there is a lot to say about Consulting...
    Bounce some ideas... must have a written manual that can be applied to any oprations, of course only after having it customized...
    Lets exchange some ideas...
    Be well...
    Ara
     
  3. mikefly

    mikefly

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    Ara,
    maybe i should have emailed this idea to you but have you ever thought about commanding your own little army of personal chef's???? I know you have been trying to figure out what to do now that your not traveling the world..there are probably a lot of chef's out there that would be willing to do this just have no clue as to how...
    you would interview and check work background make the travel arangments etc. all for a percentage of the contracted job.
    well it might just be my A.D.D brain going to fast but hey need something to talk about lol :bounce:
     
  4. emhahn

    emhahn

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    Becoming a consultant.

    There are lot's of consultants out there. I am one.

    Here's some suggestions to help you get going.

    Write articles about your experiences, and how you may be able to provide assistance to those who need it by getting your articles published. I do this, and so do most consultants that I know. If you need help on the publishing end, let me know. I've got tons of connections.

    Through my website, I promote chefs, managers, attorney's, CPA's, and other professionals who are seeking exposure. And the best thing, I do it for free.

    One thing to remember, is that becoming a consultant doesn't happen overnight. It's like sitting around watching a plant grow most of the time. But all it takes is one good hit somewhere, and you can go places. You never know who will admire your work.

    Let me know if there's anything I can do to help you out,

    Eric

    [email protected]

    http://www.RestaurantEdge.com
     
  5. ara gureghian

    ara gureghian

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    How ironic that one after so many years in the field can have the "luxury" to pounder on its own future... sit back and think on which path one can adventure themselves... and truly follow his heart without the "social pressure" of HAVING to do this or that... I can still remember, and do on a daily basis, the first years... pounding the pavement... having a Culinary Degree BUT... so wet behind the ears... and the first job in 1969 making a mere $70 a week... promising myself on a daily basis that someday... someday... Well, that day has I believe arrived... 57 years young, I have to also believe that most likely this might be my last venture... even thought if I get to live long enough I would never retire!
    Consulting? Personal Chef? Restaurant?
    I have to look at it this way... what would be the biggest punishment one could inflict me in life... the answer is simple... deny me from cooking... deny me from inneracting with the people kind enough to eat my food...
    The second punishment would be... give me some headaches and frustrations owning a business and seeing others carrying my name producing food at standards lower than I could bare...
    These above conditions really narrows the field of opportunity...
    Consulting? Sound awesome... rewarding in some manner... but "no cooking"...
    (or am I wrong assuming this? :confused: ).
    Restaurant? Oh!!! What a theatre subject to so many emotions, conflicts and personalities!!! I am reaching for the Advil just thinking about it!!!
    An Army of Personal Chefs? I do see the flow of $'s en route to the Bank Account... allowing me to buy even more Advil... but... $'s has never motivated me in life... I know, it is an incredible commodity, and that is all it is... fill your heart, passion and soul into your dishes and... the money will come by itself... it has always worked for me...
    So... all this with many thoughts and after thoughts only leads back to what I have been doing the past 18 years... "Personal Chef"... one man operation... of course needing help from competent servers and bartenders and sometimes prep cooks... with total control on the situation... and a one on one relationship with the many clients and events cooking for... I have always leaned toward the 8 to 12, 9 course or so, dinners... with a great stage and cast of characters...
    Be well...
    Ara
     
  6. chefcwm

    chefcwm

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    After spending more years than I want to count in both front and back of house positions, I also now find myself a "semi-retired" caterer and restaurant operations consultant. I've done menu/recipe design, organizational, staffing, etc. for a number of local and East coast businesses, most recently in Fairfax Co., VA, Ft. Wayne, IN, and Syracuse, NY. I find I really enjoy the different challenges each job offers as well as the freedom to work as much or as hard as I choose to. I wish I'd made this choice much earlier in my career after graduating with my HRIM degree, but then again, I wouldn't have gained so many "battle scars" and "war stories" in the School of Hard Knocks!! Just my $.02 worth............
     
  7. ara gureghian

    ara gureghian

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    You guys are really really making me think... no doubt... I know that I have the ability... the knowledge... the experience...
    Did you also besides the menus actually been consulted on the "cooking how to" path??? tastes??? presentations of plates???
    As I said... you are truly making me think...
    First step... a complete manual for oneself to follow and apply? I would imagine so... business plan for others...
    Will talk...
    Ara
     
  8. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    I consult with groups setting up food demonstration stages. It's been interesting. With the farmer's markets/mushroom events honing my commando cooking skills (no electricity, running water, etc) it's easy to work with chefs in getting them to think of recipes that work for certain groups that represents their restaurant. It's amazing how many chefs do not have portfolios, bios, photos, RECIPES.....edited recipes.
    I also work with schools on cooking classes.....this time around it has been a major hassle getting paid from the University that wrote the grant. The contract their atty's wrote was mindboggling detailed, the red tape in which dept was cutting the check was interesting.....12 weeks after they were invoiced I recieved 2004-5 check. It's frustrating working with a group that does not have someone with experience "working" the program.
    I've got several friends that consult with restaurants either at the beginning or more so when they've hired the young unexperienced chef that ends up perpetually in the weeds. So, my friends go in and organize from the bottom up, rework the menu and expidite for a couple months. Interestingly, one of the latest restaurants I've got info about is doing $70,000 a week in revenue and they couldn't figure out who/how they were being ripped off.
     
  9. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Blue, there is a lot to consider when thinking about taking on consulting as a job or career. First and foremost you really need to take a step back and objectively analyze your career history. How many years have you had at running a profitable and successful kitchen? How comfortable are at reading and interpreting a P&L statement? How are your Human Resource skills? How many different types and styles of restaurants have you been part of? How successful have all of them been? How many years of management experience do you have? How are your FOH skills? These are things potential customers are going to want to know. Most times when restaurants are seeking consultants it's because they are slipping or even about to go under and are grasping to stay afloat. They want someone with a well proven track record coming in and consulting. You may have a million great ideas, but unless you can prove you have created or been involved in numerous success stories, very few restaurant owners will feel comfortable putting their futures in your hands. So unless you can answer in the positive to all the questions above and show at least 15-20 years of kitchen leadership, I don't think that you will find too many people willing to put themselves in your hands.