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Expert Summit Hotel & Marine: high flying for inquisitive minds

By: Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Business is booming, the place is the talk of the town, sales are steady and there is plenty left over by the end of the day.  Yes, this is all happening despite the days of Corona. You can do this in a hotel, on a cruise ship, in a restaurant or wherever you prepare and sell food– at least if you’re doing things right.

That’s certainly what the speakers and participants at the Round Table at RATIONAL’s first digital Expert Summit believe. They will also be showing how this works, from theory to practice.

Expert Summit

Image: Rational AG

Neo-ecology and risk management off to a great start

Neo-ecology is the latest buzzword among sustainability pioneers. Oliver Feiler, Head of Market Intelligence at RATIONAL, pointed out that this brings clear economic advantages. We are well aware that the earth’s resources must be conserved (everything was already used up for this year by the end of August, since then we have been living on credit), but this isn’t the whole story. The fact is, an increasing number of customers are also paying attention to how we do business. Energy, protein sources, waste–each of these factors will play an even greater role in attracting and retaining customers in the future. Christian Leder, Head of International Business at Aon Switzerland, realized that this could actually turn into a business. In his opinion, many decision makers underestimate the significance of properly assessing risks. He recognizes this in the string of supposed arguments made to justify refusing to address this topic. These range from, “We will solve this intuitively,” to “As long as the results are good, I have no questions.” However, the risks are very real.  In his opinion, the weakening economy, accelerated market changes, cyber attacks, price risk, failed innovations, more competition, business disruption, less attractive employers, liquidity and reputation are only the ten most important risks worth mentioning.

Food & kitchen trends – Here’s how it can work

Mohit Malhotra, International Key Account Culinary Excellence, RATIONAL International AG, knows how to do things right. This is possible with trained personnel, that is, if you have the right kitchen equipment. He set himself a challenge to prepare a hot breakfast with several ingredients such as eggs sunny side up, sausages, grilled tomatoes and bacon all at the same time. With help from the new iCombi Pro combi-steamer from RATIONAL, he achieved this with such ease he even found time for in-depth commentary. With a little practice and some training, anyone can achieve what he did in this impressive demonstration.

Equally impressive was the tutorial in sous-vide by Tim Whitehead, General Manager of Cuisine Solutions MEA. This process of sealing, preparing and storing food in bags ensures simple, hygienic and safe food preparation, which still remains moist and delicious. At the same time, questions regarding precise production in the desired quantities, reducing food waste and food safety are all resolved in one fell swoop. For example, Whitehead mentioned a hotel where room service now takes only seven minutes to transform hungry guests into full guests.

The next topic on the list here is hygiene– a tedious, labor-intensive task which is almost screaming to be streamlined. This was definitely the verdict of Benjamin Nothaft, Food-to-Go & Retail Specialist RATIONAL AG, who presented the cloud-based ConnectedCooking platform. It can be used to record all hygiene-related steps, from the receipt of goods to serving food. This applies not only to the iCombi Pro and iVario cooking systems, but also to rinsing and cooling systems from third-party manufacturers. It can even manage housekeeping. Although this is still being further developed at this time, it has already proven to be an excellent solution.

Expert Summit Hotel & Marine

Image: Oliver Feiler Rational AG

Developing the restaurant of the future – It will be a comfy place

Who wouldn’t like to raise the curtain for a moment and get a glimpse of the future? They did exactly that here, and showcased food, drinks and concepts that are definitely second to none– for example, the V – Feed your senses in Stockholm. V here refers to the Roman letter for the number five and alludes to the five senses that are stimulated here. But you could also interpret it as the victory sign. This was conceived by Livit Design and presented by their VP of Business Development, Paul Webster. He presented cocktails that change color when being poured, that seem to come from another world with the help of dry ice. Don’t have a bartender? No problem. These drinks are actually pre-mixed, which means the real show is in the pouring or serving. When the pizza goes into its black cardboard box, which has a gold shimmer inside, it is also a great cinematic experience. Indeed, it looks more like a box for a necklace than one for pizza. Since the V has been conceived from top to bottom, no chef is needed. Only skilled workers run the business, and they do so very successfully. The menu is also customized– they only serve pizza and salad (the pizza is said to be the best in Stockholm). However, the place is also enhanced with something else: fragrance. In summer the scent is rather cool with a touch of basil, in winter rather warm with a touch of wood. The V is located in Stockholm and L.A. and was named Restaurant of the Year in 2019.

Hotel Restaurant innovation and experience

Image: Livit Design & Fast Fine Restaurant Group

Christian Pratsch, Corp. Director, Culinary Development & Operations Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., has illustrated how conceptual design works on a cruise ship. In theory it’s the same as other places, although Pratsch can rely on specialists. However, sometimes he also has to spread out over the whole ship fleet. For him this means that his recipes must be suitable for use in any kitchen and different chefs must be able to prepare them. Until then, he likes to wander around the world to cook as authentically as possible. His latest success is a Texas BBQ steak, whose original recipe he personally collected directly at the source. Another challenge is cooking on the ship. You’re not allowed to do everything and not every method is possible. For example, smoking was a near disaster. There was so much smoke that the on-board fire department marched in and was surprised to find that everything was going well. As a compensation they were served probably the most opulent lunch of their lives.

Now you have an idea, a concept and also for the first time enough guests. Today it is important to at least maintain the status quo so that you are not among the 80% of restaurants that fail in the first five years. Christopher Barber, Director of CB Food Solutions, had a few tips at hand. For example, it’s important to keep an eye on hard facts such as turnover, bookings, etc. and to face up to the truth– at the very latest, when the tax consultant takes a look at the books, it will be revealed anyway. A second point is not to feel insecure, but rather accept and implement criticism and assessments. Make sure that the team puts just as much emphasis on feedback as well. Last but not least, social media is an important factor. These channels are indispensable and having a presence is key. Instagram, for example, is a sales and promotional tool that an increasing number of people are looking at.

All in all, a host of interesting topics and speakers were featured at RATIONAL’s first Expert Summit. From Landsberg, we hear that the format was so successful that the next topic is already in the works. The date will be announced in due time.

If you would like to know more about Expert Summit Hotel & Marine, you can find videos, whitepapers and articles here.

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