Wednesday 30 November 2011

How Foodies are Changing Restaurant Culture

In communities around the world Food culture is making a massive change. Gone are the days of the bourgeoisie, and coming into the forefront is the more accepting all inclusive culture of the "Foodie". But why is there such a dramatic change from the past to now.

The basis of this change is the push in the Food service industry towards education and inclusion. We are coming to a time where Food Service outlets need customers to understand the difference between varying differences in food quality. That there is a difference between food that is "organic, free range, first press,.. ect. And the reason that customers need to know the terminology and ultimately the difference is because these products typically cost more and without proper marketing there would be no future for these products.

With the changes in customer perception of what is considered high end food the industry is shifting from an emphasis of quantity to an emphasis of quality. Documentaries like "Supersize Me", and "The Future of Food” are excellent examples of how the public had been brainwashed, and also how standards of what is considered food has deteriorated over time.

Finally we are seeing a push back from restaurants and customers alike. The focus on food has meant an increased importance of regional local products and farms that are ethical and responsible. The focus on grass roots products and communication between distributor and supplier have filtered down to the restaurateur customer level. Now high end restaurants are more bistro style environments, where chefs are not afraid to run out of products if it means that the product that they put out is fresh and of the highest quality.

While the foodie culture continues to experiment with new ways of delivering food to customers it is the attention to the quality of products that we need to continue cultivating to ensure that we do not slip back into the McCulture that has dominated the industry for the past 50 years.

The evolution of media has helped in some ways to advance and educate the general public. We now have entire channels on television that are dedicated to the Food industry which has helped to market certain products and various styles of cooking. Unfortunately it is very rare that anyone broaches the truly tough topics, and if they do they are met with heavy opposition. Chefs like Jamie Oliver are tackling food issues at a grade school level with his "food revolution". By educating children about proper nutritional choices he is unconsciously helping to ensure the succession of the foodie culture.

While the foodie culture is still in its growth faze it is important for people to get involved and shape the future of what it is to be a foodie. While there is a portion of this culture that is based on fun things like travel, wine and beer tastings, almost everything to do with being a foodie is based on sharing and experiencing knowledge as much as it is food.


Sunday 20 November 2011

Pro Line - not really an option for the "Real Pro"

So, here I am watching another pro line ticket go down the drain! A near certainty I presumed, simple, 3 home teams at heavily favored odds to get me an easy $150.

Let's have a closer look at this, my picks were:-

New York Giants 1.7
Tottenham 1.4
New England Patriots 1.05

3 victories = 2.5 = $250 for my $100

Then I went to my English bookie William Hill to see what they were offering-

New York Giants 1.9
Tottenham 1.53
New England Patriots 1.07

3 victories = 2.99 = $299 for my $100

Wow, a difference of $49 I hear you say!

But hold on a minute, with my pro line wager my "football teams" need to win by at least 4 points to avoid the game being settled as a Tie (I lose) how much is that little 'stipulation' worth to a "pro punter" - by the way my English 'bookie' William Hill are kinda happy with me just picking the winner, no 4 point stipulation here! If my team wins by 1 point, I win!!

Tonight as I watch the New York Giants fail miserably, was the night I placed my LAST "pro line" wager.

I am sure the same benefits would be afforded to me at, (to name but a few) Sports Interaction- Bodog- Bet365.

Is it worth the convenience of being able to wager at a 7-11 or gas store when we are so plainly being hosed when it comes to the odds and rules involved?

Your thoughts people?

Tuesday 15 November 2011

How do we decide what to put in a blog ?

Like all good stews the ingredients are vitally important I make blog enjoyable and .... You asleep yet! What a load of tosh. I write about what I know and to be honest that isn't much ... So here we go today's blog is on the plight of the white farmers in Zimbabwe.
This is test as we don't think anybody reads this blog and if you respond that you do, I will enter your name into a draw for a gift certificate for the casino ... Easy right!! In order to be entered simply put your name at the bottom of this blog and answer the simple skill testing question:-

What is the capital city of Zimbabwe.

Then we shall announce a winner next week!! Hooray!!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

No messing - Just Rememberence

Things should go into perspective this week- found this piece In the Vancouver Sun - lest we forget.

Remembrance Day has a personal and significant meaning for me on a number of levels.

I'm the son of Dutch immigrants who lived through the German occupation of Holland during WWII. A country that was liberated by Canadian-led forces during the five-week long battle of the Scheldt in October through November 1944, at a cost of 6,367 Canadian casualties (killed, wounded or missing). Their sacrifices allowed my father's family the freedom to start a new life in Canada in 1954 — as well as my mother who immigrated to Canada three years later.

Who I am, where I live and the freedoms I enjoy today are a direct result of their sacrifices.

But for me that is not the only connection nor is it the main source of my thoughts on Remembrance Day. I was a soldier with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry for four years in the 1980s and to this day it remains the fondest, most adventurous four-year stretch of my life.

The military gave me numerous life experiences in a short period of time that I would not have achieved otherwise. Basic training showed me that your body can be pushed farther than your brain thinks it can. It also showed me that greater success can be achieved through teamwork rather than individual effort.

I gained a true sense of camaraderie, a feeling of belonging that I had never known before or since. Stationed in Germany for two years, it allowed me to experience numerous different countries and cultures.That included my parents’ homeland, for not only did I get a chance to meet aunts, uncles and cousins but I also participated in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen (marching 160 km in four days while wearing standard combat clothing and carrying a military backpack weighing at least 10 kg).

Canadian troops participating in the marches are treated like celebrities.We marched to the applause of bystanders and children asking for souvenirs and autographs. The appreciation the Dutch have for the Canadian troops who liberated them has been passed down through the generations to this day and it truly was an amazing experience that brought me full circle to my ancestry.

I've been to Belgium and walked through preserved World War I trenches, understanding how miserable, wet, cold, depressing and dangerous the conditions were for the men there. I've been to some of the beautifully kept military cemeteries in Europe and have read and touched the Gravestones of the Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate price for freedom and I feel a kinship to them, a true sense of pride.

My military career ended in Germany because of a spinal cord injury which rendered me a quadriplegic. Had it not been for my career I would not enjoy the quality of life, nor the level of independence I do today. Veterans Affairs provides far more for me with respect to income, medical coverage and equipment coverage than I ever would have achieved otherwise.

When Remembrance Day comes around — and many times throughout the year — my thoughts go back to those times and experiences. I also think of current events and the soldiers participating in them today (some of whom I've known and soldiered with 20 odd years ago).

I feel their hardship, their time away from their friends and families and the horrors of war that they might be subjected to. But I also feel envious of their positive experiences, their adrenalin-rushing experiences, their scared-to-death experiences and the experience of being with a tight-knit, well-oiled group of people who have each other's back.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Twitter and its impact on Restaurant culture


The evolution of the internet, cell phones and e-mail have meant huge changes for the restaurant industry, as todays customer is often attached to their blackberry or iPhone. It is rare to see a group of people out at a restaurant without at least one person texting or chatting on their phone. Restaurants in older generations and cultures were a place of community, a place to socialize but in the age of technology and cell phones has the sense of community been swallowed up by the fast paced environment of today? Is twitter a way to get back to communicating with the guest at a grass roots level?

It is important to note that over the relatively short time that twitter has been in existence it has developed its own sub culture and even its own vernacular. This is a new world, where an average of sixty five million tweets get sent out in a single day and Charlie Sheen can reach one million followers in a little over 24 hours. So to make sure everyone has caught up to the tsunami style trend, here are just a few pieces of common twitter vocabulary:

Tweeter - Someone who is authoring a statement to a group of people.
Tweet - Is an individual statement that a tweeter has made.
Follow - Means that a twitter account holder has selected another account holder to track and will receive all of their tweets automatically
Retweet - Is reposting a tweet that someone has written
Hashtag - Hashtags allow the general public to reference tweets, so that if a certain word or un-spaced group of words is hashtaged it can be searched out from a database of recent tweets.

There are definitely other forms of social media out there; some of the sites offer similar functions, but it is the little details that make Twitter unique. While sites like Facebook and Hi5 operate on the basis of community networking, it is only Twitter that allows its users to follow their favorite movie stars, recording artists, and even culinary talents. Chefs and restaurateurs alike have direct access to their followers and can feature products and events at the touch of a button. Twitter allows for 140 characters of text, the ability to add photos and marketing potential that is limitless; so Chefs like Cam Dobranski of Calgary’s Wine Bar can tweet photos of the great food that he is serving and hit the dedicated customer base that it is intended for.

Cam Dobranski

My pork hock for two at my brasserie Kensington. Need I say more...

This approach allows guests to put a name and face to the creativity that they’re experiencing. Tweets like these represent a truly hands on approach to marketing and a way to make the intangible; tangible.

Most restaurateurs struggle with the feasibility of radio, print and television as a means of advertising as there is little way to tell how many people the ads reach, and what the success is if the customer is exposed to the ad. With Twitter writers know exactly who they are tweeting to and have the ability to invite groups of people, or reference just one specific follower to join them in their establishment. This works great for special events that tend to bring people out; sporting events can be a major revenue generator for Food and Beverage establishments, depending on what type of venue is operating. Scott Roberts Marketing Director at the Elbow River Casino uses Twitter to inform customers of upcoming events on the big screens at Sammys Sports Bar.

Elbow Casino
@elbowcasino Calgary
The #1 entertainment venue in Calgary, featuring Yuk Yuks Comedy Club.

Big Day at the Elbow!! Belmont Stakes into UFC 131throw in a side of Yuk Yuks and Vegas Style Gaming!! #1 entertainment venue in Calgary!

As strange as it seems the Twitter platform gives immense possibilities to the food and beverage industry. Twitter is a way the restaurant industry can connect with its guests on a personal level, with amazing capabilities and in real time; but with the good, the chance for bad. Although restaurateurs have the opportunity to connect with their clientele, that clientele has the same access. So if there are issues or problems with an establishment, they can be uncovered in an open forum for everyone to see and re-tweet.

Twitter is in its truest sense word of mouth advertising and the saying has always been that “word of mouth is your best form of advertising” so be sure to put your best foot forward as twitter could be a best friend or a worst enemy.

Jordan Knox

Friday 4 November 2011

Snow... Jog On !!

So, how was that for you this morning , A regular leisurely 20 minute drive turned into a crazy 1hr 20 minute episode of Fast and Furious -Calgary

Today see's the start of the breeders cup weekend here at the elbow river casino, what is the breeders cup I hear you say? Well, if you are saying that, close the browser, I don't want you reading on as it is going to be a horse racing inspired 5 minutes!

Over in Louisville, Kentucky (cue the music from deliverance) today starts 2 days of pure unadulterated horse racing heaven for yours truly, I sold my kidney on Ebay earlier this week to have enough funds to participate...I mean who needs 2 kidneys eh?

We are going to take a weekend hiatus from the pro line picks on the English soccer as I suck
terribly! really horribly! We cannot win, and so, I will not inflict more pain your way!

I will be throwing tweets out all day with the horses to follow at the Breeders Cup so if you are passing by down-town pop in and see what this spectacle is all about. The room is already packed to capacity and we are getting into the swing of things! Lovely Jubbly!

For those of you visiting the blog- You can catch our tweets at @elbowcasino

Look forward to chatting with ya!!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Working abroad

Working and traveling is one of the big upsides of a career in the Food and Beverage industry, but how easy is it and are there certain hurdles to navigate when considering a move to a warmer local?

Aside from checking out what the political situation is like in the area, the main focus of research should be financial, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Although making money is important, once you have landed a job it will generally cover the cost of living. The main financial concern to start with is how much is needed for start up costs. To figure this out you will need to know the currency of the location, most places that have their own currency will convert everything to American Dollars or to EU Currency. Once you have determined the living costs (rent, food, and transportation) there is the small issue of immigration costs. Most countries will expect you to arrive with the equivalent of $200.00 of local currency per day that you are there while unemployed, they will also expect you to have lodgings for this time period so be sure to have a copy of your online booking slip as well as bank statements.

Because you are immigrating to a new country you do not necessarily get the same welcome that you would if you were a tourist visiting. Expect immigration officers to ask a lot more questions, and if you are going to a smaller community or island perhaps, expect that everyone on the island knows someone from the immigration department that may or may not be able to vote you off.

In some countries it is up to the employee to pay for a work permit or visa, in others it is up to the employer to apply and pay. In any case the term of your permit should last as long as you want to stay. In most situations the government wants people applying for work permits out of the country until paperwork has been processed. So if you do not have a work permit before you go you may want to plan a trip to a neighboring country.

Other things to consider when you are picking out your work destination are the local rate of employment as most countries will give preferential treatment to locals. If you are going to a country like this look for major chains that are classified as equal opportunity employers this means that they sometimes have company guidelines that will supersede local government preferences.

The final thing to consider when moving abroad is the immigration process itself, many Caribbean countries will screen for various medical conditions such as tuberculosis or STD’s. Most of the time you can go on to the individual government websites and print out the work permit or visa forms to give you a head start on what you will need. Hopefully the country that you choose will be fruitful although sometimes when it comes to working abroad it is less about the money and more about getting out of the cold and experiencing the world.

Happy Trails and Good Luck
Jordan Knox