We're all liars. Most of us don't care about the quality of the ingredients we're served in a restaurant as much as we'd like to believe. We care that it tastes amazing. We care that the plate is Instagram worthy, and we care about what eating that food in that restaurant says about us.
Beyond the romantic ideals of foodie talking points, the harsh reality is that using higher quality ingredients only makes sense if they improve the experience enough to make it worthwhile.
The fastest way to make a meal more memorable is to invest in the experience you provide, not the ingredients you serve.
We've all seen restaurants that do everything right Back-of-House (BOH), but suffer the burning pain of having to close their doors less than a year later.
In reality, it's the Front-of-House (FOH) experience—the environment, presentation, and service—that adds enough value to turn an $8 cheeseburger into a $16 cheeseburger with only marginal additional overhead or effort.
I'm not arguing for smoke-and-mirrors. Ingredients are absolutely important. I personally love arugula on my burgers instead of iceberg. I'm just saying that a clean, thoughtful plating of a burger with iceberg trumps an average to messy plate with arugula.
You can hate what I'm saying, but it's the truth.
When I do brand development with restaurants, I start my audit outside and work my way back to the kitchen.
Don't misunderstand me. Restaurants don't have to care about their presentation or environment. There are plenty of diners and dive bars that put very little effort into their presentation and environment and do better than the high-end hospitality experiences across town, but they can't demand $25 for their Sunday brunch. They don't even get to have a brunch. That's how it works.
In the end, a restaurant or bar needs to know who it wants to serve and solve the problems of that customer.
It needs to give us what we want in the moment we want it. Showing us what we want before we knew we want it is better. Making us tell them what we want is too late.
What I love about Joe Michelin is that it’s about bringing the experience of a Michelin rated restaurant into your own kitchen. It’s not saying that with little to no training or apprenticing, we’re going to be able to create the magnificent culinary gastronomy brought to life by the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs, but it is the grand notion that every man can bring the same passion, vision, and adventurous nature that dares those culinary crusaders to push the limits of our imagination and dare our palettes to try something new.
Joe Michelin isn’t about cheapening the exclusivity of gaining those stars. It’s saying that any man can dare to push himself and his kitchen to new heights. Joe Michelin is about giving every man the tools, training, and the community it takes to elevate his cooking and the experiences provided by the meals he prepares.