Webinar Takeaways: A Single Source of Truth for Culinary Operations — Harvest Table Culinary
January 6, 2022
Data is quickly being integrated into every corner of foodservice, but most operations have yet to centralize all this information. What’s it like to bring all your food and kitchen data to a system that acts as the source of truth for your entire team?
In this webinar, our own Jason Gunn talks with Chef Matt Thompson from Harvest Table Culinary Group about the journey of adopting a culinary operating system, and how Harvest Table is leveraging their food and kitchen data to increase their goals of sustainability, efficiency, profitability and more within collegiate dining experiences.
Key Takeaways from the Episode
Let’s summarize the most actionable takeaways from the episode…
How to tell a story with food that meets the customer’s needs
Matt talks about how The Harvest Table Culinary Group was founded with a goal: Create campus dining experiences that tell a story with every meal and leave every student satisfied. This kind of mission takes innovation, especially because The Harvest’s passion for sustainability and wellness for students involves listening to the students’ needs.
“Our teams are empowered to be responsive to students’ needs and make an impact on the campuses and local communities that we serve. When we started the Harvest Table Culinary Group organization, we began our value pillars and we landed on authentic, personalized and collaborative because we felt it tells our story… We should know where our food comes from – it nourishes our body, it impacts our planet, it touches everything that we do within our communities in our society. So we began there and then began to look for alignment with our partners.
”The Harvest Culinary Group is founded on five culinary commitments around the purpose of food. These commitments make sure the group sustainably sources clean ingredients from local places, and make recipes from scratch with great-tasting, healthy ingredients, and free from synthetic ingredients or chemicals.
The commitment to innovation and transforming traditional hospitality experiences led The Harvest Culinary Group to work in partnership with Galley to craft what the “ultimate culinary experience” can become. The culinary operating system improves kitchen decision-making, empowers employees, reduces waste, and increases efficiency, innovation and consistency.
Centralizing data has been the catalyst to reaching The Harvest Group’s Goals
For most of foodservice history, data collected by different departments (recipes, allergens, nutritionals, kitchen ops) has been disjointed, and connecting all of it to make important decisions has been near-impossible. Because of this, The Harvest Group’s mission has been very difficult to achieve, due to all the energy it takes to wrangle the data together and make sure every team has the right expertise and up-to-date information they need.
Figuring out how to do all this while making a profit is a challenge. For example, having to quickly change a recipe due to things like supply chain disruptions can slow the kitchen down and increase risk of creating poor experiences. In the past, Excel sheets were the main way to keep track of information – but they required lots of manual upkeep, which resulted in employees not always having the latest information. Moving to a centralized system has resolve many of these bottlenecks.
“The opportunity to look at systems and processes is a tremendous one, and there are certainly quite a few systems that are out there for people to leverage. I’ve been challenging our team to think differently about how those systems interact with one another.
If there’s ways that we can find some synergies and everyone can either work within the same system or follow some of the same processes, there’s advantages to being able to do that from not only a synergy perspective but also efficient use of our time, which we know is extremely challenging in today's environment.
”Because there are multiple teams involved, including finance, dietetics, reporting and sustainability, information that used to take time to pass around now gets communicated smoothly through one source of truth. Now, everyone can be on the same page and keep up in real-time.
Jason points out that instead of the multitude of daily decisions interrupting the day, now those decisions have transformed into opportunities for efficiency and profitability.
Data must be adopted by staff: enter the Culinary Enablement role
Adopting a culinary operating system is a journey. It’s a work in progress for The Harvest Group, but one that is continuing because of the difference they’re seeing. To help the process, Matt created a new position called the Culinary Enablement role, which bridges the gap between the culinary team’s ideas and the dieticians’ recommendations.
The Culinary Enablement role isn’t a one-person job, but a role that someone has during each shift. The role involves ensuring recipes are clear and timing is on point so teams are in alignment.
The Culinary Enablement role] is an interesting role because it is a hybrid role and we have different strategies at each of our different campuses in terms of how we accomplish that.
But essentially what the role is responsible for doing is ensuring that the process is delivering on the promise that we make to our customers every day. We have the promise around great tasting food that’s sustainably sourced, that is thinking innovatively about nutrition, that is doing all of that work.
Having a champion of the food data system and processes at any given time ensures that anyone at The Harvest Group can access the source of truth inside of Galley at a moment’s notice and know that it’s up-to-date.
Improvement of daily life in the kitchen and impact on food waste
Another way that centralized data is helping The Harvest Group is by breaking language barriers and saving time by making data-wrangling struggles a thing of the past. Since many people in the industry work most effectively reading in a non-English language, Galley can convert the system to have everything in the language of their choice so there’s no confusion.
Menu changes are instantly updated across digital screens, the website, app and production computers, which eliminates the problem of having to pass information around, print things off, and double-entry prices or ingredients into multiple systems.
Even if The Harvest Group chose not to centralize their data in Galley, their customers and staff are data-savvy Gen Z college students who are paying attention and asking questions – and Matt wants to be able to answer them.
“We have the pleasure of working with college students and college students are always pushing us to think creatively about the dining program and what’s being offered. They’re also a generation that truly believes in value-based purchasing. They want to know that what they are doing with their dollars and how they’re participating in the world is making a positive impact.”
Questions about sustainability and food waste can be answered with data aggregation to see if food spend is local, how much food waste is generated, and more.
Packaging is another piece of the puzzle because it can add to waste. One chef, for example, is working with a producer who ships produce in reusable totes so cardboard box waste is eliminated.
Galley is allowing The Harvest Group to save time and money while reaching its goals of elevating the collegiate dining experience through innovation.
Learn More About Centralizing Your Food and Kitchen Data
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