From left to right, Enrique Fleischmann, Ibon Leunda and Nuño Urrea.
What do we mean by digitalisation of culinary processes? During the roundtable on last 4 October, which we organised together with Janby Digital Kitchen, within the San Sebastian Gastronomika congress framework, we invited 3 experts from the sector to give us their point of view.
These were Enrique Fleischmann, Sammic corporate chef, director of FCG and teacher specialising in vacuum and low-temperature at the Basque Culinary Center. Nuño Urrea, digital consultant for the hospitality industry, F&B and trainer for caterers. And, Ibon Leunda, director of the Gastroteka Arrasate group.
If you were unable to attend, we have posted the video of the roundtable here as well as a summary with some of the main ideas that came out of the meeting. Activate the subtitles.
1. What is digitalising a kitchen? (1:42)
Nuño: Digitalising is to add equipment such as a POS terminal, but digital transformation is to understand why we are implementing a technology, to see how it influences the operation of the business and that it is aligned with the objectives.
Ibon: Without going into the latest developments, things as basic as a spreadsheet and having control over pricing is something that we still do not find everywhere.
Enrique: Digitalisation combined with quality. I used to measure how much I sold, what I had been asked for, but not how it was sold. In this way, I can measure the quality with which a product has been served.
2. What are the main challenges that confront restaurants today? (05:11)
Nuño: The first is precisely that knowledge that the restaurant owner has of what digital transformation is. It is important to understand the business and their specific case: their target market, purchasing process, management, etc., which must be properly understood in order to be able to implement the necessary tools.
Organisational change barrier; the human factor in the digital transformation process is lacking in the hospitality industry channel: the delegation, trust and data sharing make the data useful and involves the team in the decisions that are being taken.
Ibon: You must know why you have purchased a specific product and what you need from this product. What you need to put in place urgently from the first day and the subsequent evolution. More than something sold to you, what you have to buy.
Enrique: Understand that quality does not have to incompatible with standardisation. Before, ready meals were bad, today the people who make ready meals are specialists in something that you don't do every day and they do.
3. The boom in ready meals and central kitchens (15:50)
Ibon: It has allowed me to create each restaurant as if it were a company that does not stop in 12 hours. As regards the workforce, the standardisation in the processes and the shifts allows them to work in a single shift and in a more peaceful atmosphere.
Nuño: There are 2 objectives of the production kitchen or central kitchen On the one hand, the optimisation of resources. And, on the other, to calm the atmosphere. This is meant building staff loyalty and lowering noise in internal communications.
4. Equipment or software that you think are necessary to work in this way (21:09)
Nuño: We always start the digitalisation sessions with pen and paper. First we are going to understand the business model (what we do and what we can do), and from there to see the parameters that we are going to need to control in order to avoid impulsive technology purchases.
Ibon: Systems that help to control the order process, but at the same time it also very important to involve the whole team.
Enrique: In our case, we have applied technology to energize vacuum and low-temperature, the ability to produce a product, say a cheek, whoever tells the cooking teams how it should be cooked.
5. Why vacuum and low temperature? (27:34)
Enrique: The fundamental principle of a chef must be to cook tasty, flavourful, healthy food and this technique respects the quality and the flavour. Furthermore, vacuum packing also provides a longer shelf life and allergies can be better controlled because they are single packages.
Nuño: Because it facilitates food safety.
Ibon: In my case and added to the quality and flavour factors, it allows me to have a better control of the stock. A proper FIFO. It also allows a business to be based on this technique at the same time.
6. Where is the restaurant business going? (31:10)
Nuño: The restaurant business and all that the hospitality industry channel can be, I believe that we are going to face two blocks at trend level. On the one hand, the independent hospitality business that forms part of a resistance that wants to maintain certain values: cultural, socially connected to the region, with a positive impact on its social environment. On the other hand, the large organised restaurant businesses that put up a strong fight for location, processes and market penetration.
As regards business models, we are at a key moment for hybrid models and omnichannel models. Delivery, take away, and in situ which is a trend shared with eating at home. The food subscription model; Basque people have a certain amount of experience through gastronomic societies in which I can belong to a business X and can go there to collect the meal and finish it at home. And at a food trend level, the Netflix effect, that point of customisation for assessing how the same dish can taste different to 2 people. And all linked to healthy food and here we frame traceability.
Ibon: I see a very significant change in the treatment of personnel, or in how the customer wants to be attended to. From 25 years old down, 32% do not want to interact with the waiter. They want to arrive be able to read the menu by means of a QR and if they can pay by the same app, all the better. Afterwards, on leaving, they make their assessment which is the digital tip.
Enrique: I think it goes towards being able to maintain all the traceability that a producer gives to a product throughout the entire process.
7. What importance do social networks have? (38:30)
Social networks are one more communication channel. They not only serve as a marketing or branding tool, but also to educate the customer about what to expect at my restaurant. It is not so much used as an aggressive sales tool, but is used to evangelise. That the people understand the concept and that they understand why you are working in this way.