Ready, Set, Focus

In the current business climate in hospitality how do you understand the trends and limitations being considered and acted upon by busy chefs? This was a very real question asked by Mitchell & Cooper before they launch on a new website, catalogue and product offer.

At The Chefs’ Forum we think out of the box and one thing we know all about after years of experience is how chefs think and behave, what they like and dislike and what they are looking for. So, the answer to the question was straightforward.

We get a bunch of top chefs, sit them down, ask them straight, feed them a delicious lunch and then ask a whole load more questions in the afternoon. And that’s what we did. However, we were clever about it.

Mitchell & Cooper wanted to ask some very particular questions about purchasing, decision-making, provenance and corporate accountability as well as more regular questions about trends and usage. For us to get representative answers we had to choose our chefs wisely. We didn’t want them all to be the same. We needed to have chefs from different skill bands, diverse world food genres and different businesses.

The result was a unique focus group held at West London College where industry-leading chefs from hotels, restaurants, private clubs, consultancy and international businesses sat down and answered questions on how they look at purchasing and what the future of business in hospitality is going to look like. For Mitchell & Cooper this was a very real account of affairs insight into the end user culinary challenges and opportunities. For us, it was business as usual as we pride ourselves on being at the chalk face of culinary current affairs.

What was surprising was how interested the chefs were in being involved. Far from being “too busy” they were delighted to be asked their opinion and be involved in the framework of building a new catalogue with genuine industry insight interwoven into its structure.

One example sums up the day; The chefs were asked about the Bonzer® range of can openers which is made by Mitchell & Cooper. The question was about space. Was it felt that the Bonzer® got in the way?

One answer was from a chef who worked in a building with six different kitchens. However, there was only one Bonzer® can opener. All the chefs took their cans to one kitchen to open them. The reason: space.

“We rarely get to ask these questions to the end user – Chefs and hospitality industry professionals,” Kat Cooper of Mitchell & Cooper told The Chefs’ Forum. “As light catering equipment and barware manufacturers, it is imperative for us to learn how the chefs and hospitality professionals are not only perceiving our products, but actually using them for real was incredibly valuable. We had a great day learning all sorts of new things and learning how we can adapt our business and product design to suit the widely-varying needs of different types of chefs.”

Catherine Farinha, Director of The Chefs’ Forum, said: “We are very pleased with the way the day worked. It’s not easy getting a representative group of chefs together for a day and keep them interested. However, the questions were interesting and the products that Mitchell & Cooper have in the their range are household names. Plus, we threw in a delicious Brazilian BBQ lunch cooked by Level 1 students at West London College using finest quality Aussie Wagyu and lamb rump, kindly sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia – Bonzer in every sense of the word!  It was a great opportunity for us to give the students a butchery demonstration using Mitchell & Cooper’s sensational Deglon® knife range”

Michael Dutnall, Executive Chef of The RAF Club, who took part, said: “It was a very interesting day. I learnt a lot about Mitchell & Cooper and their business plans and was very happy to pass on my knowledge of how we work. The result will make our collaboration much easier.  I use KitchenAid all the time, I also have Bonzer® can openers in all of my kitchens, I even have a Nemox ice cream machine, which is another great piece of kit, also available from Mitchell & Cooper – It was great to meet the people behind the brands we use every day.