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  • An honest opinion about an awful dining experience

    Untitled design (4)Last week I had the opportunity to go to a business conference held at a beautiful hotel in central Melbourne. I had two main objectives for going there: the first one, to learn as much as possible about the latest marketing trends in Australia, and the second one to connect with fellow colleagues and generate valuable professional connections.

    This was an event that ran all day from 8 am until 5 in the evening, with three breaks in between (Morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea). It was quite difficult to talk with the people around you during the speakers’ presentations, so I was eagerly waiting for the meal breaks to be able to share insights and discuss different points of view with other marketing professionals.

    Unfortunately, the buffet was so badly set up that it made it very difficult for us to do networking. The lack of space and organisation made it hard for people to walk around and encounter with other professionals, in order to let people, grab their food we all had to squeeze to the wall just to enable some movement. It was quite a discouraging situation.

    I was not the only one who felt that way, at the end of the conference I took the task to ask people around about their opinions on the event, they all said the same: Really enjoyed the presentations, but the fact that we couldn’t do any proper networking was quite annoying. I truly believe that the awful dining experience took away a few stars from the overall rating of this business summit and to be honest, if I was the event organiser, I would probably not hire the same hotel again.

    Now, I understand that the room we were in was not that spacious, but there were a few things the hotel could have done better…much better. Here is a list of the main things I noticed:

    There was no clear understanding of the start or end of the buffet

    The main food was placed on a table in the middle of the room, that can be a good option to display food in a reduced space, but it can also be a dangerous move if the buffet is not set up correctly. There were no signs indicating the start or end of the buffet, plus the plates, cutlery and 1 serviettes were placed on both ends of the table. It took a while for us all to come to a silent agreement on which way to walk around the table, with people coming from all different directions we bumped into each other all the time.

    Plates were too small

    We all understand that it is important to reduce the size of plates and cutlery to optimise costs and avoid food waste. But in this case, the catering team took it too seriously, providing us with plates the size of coffee saucers. This was a huge problem because first of all you couldn’t fit everything that you wanted on the plate. I bet a lot of people missed out on a few good dishes just because they didn’t have any space left on their plates. Later on, we couldn’t to talk freely because we were all too worried about not spilling any food on the floor, being surrounded by strangers it would have been quite embarrassing.

    Noise… too much noise

    If you think about how many times a hotel needs to use their buffet equipment for the multiple functions, events and conferences they host, it is fair to say that investing on a good quality set of warmers, chafers, risers, and trays (to say the least) is extremely important. The chafers used by this hotel in particular were completely outdated, they were so noisy that everyone in the room could hear when someone would try to open or close them. Trust me, at business events people want to focus on the conversation, not on the annoying sound of rusty lids.

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    Food trays

    A good thing in the middle of this entire disaster, was the food itself. I could see the exhaustive effort that the chefs and cooks must have put into preparing the delicious hot dishes and sandwiches served, but unfortunately the presentation was wrong.

    I remember seeing a huge pile of chicken and avocado sandwiches stacked on top of each other, the warm bread smelled delicious, but they didn’t look appealing whatsoever. After a few seconds I realised what the problem was: The serving trays were so old you could almost see the scratches on the fibreglass from the constant washing and heavy usage. My advice: If you have already invested so much money on creating a delicious menu, please invest in a good set of trays so your sandwiches don’t look like they’ve been bought from a fast food chain.

    What about the vegos and people with special dietary requirements?

    OK, so I got to admit that I’m not vegetarian but 95% of my diet is plant based. I was really happy when the organisers sent us an email asking for our dietary requirements, such a thoughtful thing to do.

    On the day of the event, I started looking for the food labelled as “vegetarian” but to my surprise, there was none. It was until a bunch of ladies started harassing this poor waitress asking her for the veg, gluten free and dairy free options (which they had offered in the first place), that they brought us some warm vegetarian curry with rice.

    The lovely waitress had to run back and forth to the kitchen at least 5 times to be able to bring the “special meals” for us; I felt so bad for her being in a situation that could have been so easily avoided if they would have set up a special station with the dietary requirement options clearly labelled.

    I've finished all my food… now what?

    I feel that one of the most awkward situations that happened, was right at the end of each meal break.

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    There wasn’t a table to leave all the dirty plates,

     people where wondering where to put them, our options were either on one of the sponsors tables (and ruin their entire set up of freebies & merchandise) or perhaps on the middle table where all the food was. At the end, we all held on the tiny plates for the whole 20-minute break we had and just pilled them up on the table next to the conference hall before starting the next round of presentations.

    Let’s remark that I am not a food stylist or professional chef, I am a marketing professional who just had a bad dining experience which diminished the overall satisfaction of an event I was excited to assist. I bet I was not the only one at the conference feeling the same way, and it was a reassurance for me about the importance of food presentation.

    If I was to review the hotel based on my dining experience I would certainly not give them 5 stars… but instead I am writing this blog, hoping to create some awareness across the entire hospitality community about the importance of food presentation and good planning.

     

     

    5Paulina S. Ortega
    Marketing Coordinator
    Top Shelf Concepts

  • How to reduce buffet costs? Follow these simple tips and decrease food costs by 5% in the first year.

    Restaurants and hotels that offer buffets can be very attractive for customers, a beautifully presented buffet can increase the venue's popularity and promote repeat business. While this can be a great option to attract new customers and encourage word of mouth, it can also be highly expensive. If food costs and portions are not managed effectively, buffets can result in a loss of profit rather than a benefit for the business. Follow these simple steps and learn how to reduce buffet costs by 5% in the first year.

    Food and portion control info-graphic, tips on how to reduce buffet costs Reduce buffet costs

     

  • This Valentines day steal your customer's heart.

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    Finally, things are sparking up for the hospitality industry. After what it seemed to be a long month of January, customers are starting to go out and spend money again.

     

    It seems like Australia day became a day of celebration for hospitality business owners and leaders who were finally able to relieve some stress off their shoulders. Receiving dinners with open arms and delighting them with their most delicious food creations. So, bring it on! Let’s make this year a successful one for everyone involved in this great industry.

    A good way to boost sales this month is to prepare for the global celebration of love: Valentines day. Now, not everyone might like this event, some people might say that Valentines day is just a good excuse for people to spend money, but isn’t it what you want your customers to do?

    It is estimated that this year,Australians will spend an average of $13.6 million dollars on dinner alone plus $7 million on drinks. So, there you have it, Valentines day is the perfect occasion to generate business. With each individual spending an average of $80 AUD-be it on gifts, dinner, chocolates, flowers, etc. you want to make sure to capture you customer’s attention and persuade them to choose your venue to celebrate this romantic day.

     

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    But with so many venues to choose from, how can you capture people’s attention and impress your dinners? First things first, and as we always say: excel in your food presentation. Specially on Valentines day, people look out for restaurants that can offer an amazingly presented dinner, worthy of many photos. This is a night to show off!

    Little details make a big difference and can be the tipping point between a successful dinner and a total disaster. On Valentines day (actually on any day) there is no room for chipped plates or run-down equipment, make sure to revise all your serving utensils in advance so there are no surprises on the day. Same thing applies to all cutlery, serviettes, glasses and even staff uniforms.

    If you want to get a little creative, you could create a special Valentines day set menu with drinks or wine included. This option can generate great profits for your venue; on Valentines day, dinner prices can increase up to 250%, but as long as your customers see the value on the food and service provided and feel confident that your offering would impress their partner, they will happily pay the price.

    Another way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to provide an outstanding customer service. Many people know how to prepare a good meal, but something that customers can’t replicate at home is the service they receive when dining out. If people decide to leave the comfort of their home, most likely is because they are looking for a great service experience. Now is the time to align your staff with the business goals, create unity amongst them all and get them motivated to facilitate an outstanding dining experience.

    Employees are always your best brand advocates, if your staff cares about the venue and customers, they are more likely to go the extra mile to excel in their customer service. But for them to care about your business, they must first feel appreciated and cared for. There is no way someone would put in extra effort at work if they don’t feel valued; make sure to encourage your employees and show appreciation when things are done right every time you can. Trust us, caring makes a great deal of a difference and your customers will surely notice it.

    Romantic evening

    Finally, spread the word out there! In business, the saying “if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist” is true. Nowadays, advertising is incredibly important for any business to succeed, and with the hospitality industry becoming more competitive year by year relying solely on word of mouth is no longer enough. There are many tools out there that can help you to create a good advertising strategy for your business, choose the one that works best for you and help your customers understand why they should visit your venue to celebrate Valentines day in the most romantic way.

    Let’s not forget that Valentines day is also a great day to celebrate friendship, so if you need a little help from your friends to improve your food presentation please contact us, our team is always ready to help.

     

  • The Power of Food Presentation

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    Natura Bakery Collection

    Imagine booking the dream holiday at a destination you’ve been wanting to visit for many years. You reach the hotel, quickly check in, grab your assigned key, rush into your room…and Oh Surprise! when you open the door, you realise that the bed has not been done yet, there are tissues from the previous guests lying on the floor, the bathroom bench is dirty and there is a trash can full of beer bottles. Shocked and angry, you close the door, go back into the main lobby and tell the reception staff (hopefully in a calm tone) about your room’s situation. They immediately realise that there has been a mistake, apologise and assign you a different room (with a little discount from their side, of course) …but even though the new room is spick and span, the damage has been done, your mood is not the same, that first impression changed it all.

    Same thing applies to buffets and food presentation: first impressions do count (maybe even more than you might think). Visual appeal is an extremely important element when judging food, we “eat” in more ways than one, so before food even touches our mouths, we have already tasted it. Remember when you were a kid and you would only eat your chicken if it was cut into dinosaur shapes? Well, things haven’t changed much since then. Food presentation is a promise to dinners, it plays a vital storyteller role evoking new emotions and sensations. It showcases the chef’s personality demonstrating how experienced the kitchen staff is, the quality of the ingredients used, and the hygiene standards in the restaurant.  

     Let's have a feast.

    From the management’s perspective, food presentation is the easiest way to elevate the price per head. It has been proven that customers are willing to pay more money for their food if it is visually appealing, you can use the same ingredients, but if you present them in a more attractive way, it can mean a great difference for the customer’s perception and ultimately your venue's success. Chefs and kitchen staff have the power to create an amazing dining experience for customers, build the restaurant or hotel’s reputation, increase profits and create free advertising. That is the power of food presentation.

     

    Today, more than ever before, food presentation should be a priority for any hospitality professional. In this digital era there is something restaurants can no longer escape from and that is social media and online reviews. All information is out there, ready for everyone to see and share. For someone who understands the importance of food presentation, social networks such as Instagram can become really powerful advertising tools. People don’t have to wait anymore to get to the restaurant and judge the food with their eyes, today they can do so thousands of kilometres away through their mobile screen. In the case of foodies, people are actually willing to travel far and wide only because they saw a visually appealing photo on social media with great reviews. Leverage on this phenomenon and get on top of your competitors by taking care of your food and restaurant aesthetics.

    Let's have a feast.

    Eating is a sense-ational experience and how you choose to present food to your customers is an art form, make sure it is worthy of the Louvre. Entice your customer’s senses by creating mesmerising dining experiences; help them experience your food using all their senses by presenting your food with great style to mesmerise their eyes, using fresh and aromatic ingredients to touch their hearts, and exploring a variety of textures to create unforgettable memories with every bite.

     

    Food is your signature, so introduce yourself and your meal in the right way: with great food presentation standards and outstanding creativity.

  • Must have foods in any Chinese New Year buffet

    Chinese New Year is coming soon, this is the time to celebrate in great spirits and receive with open arms the year of the rat!

    If you are in the hospitality industry, this is a great opportunity to showcase your talent and delicious food by offering dinners traditional lucky foods to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Here is a list of the seven lucky foods that every Chinese New Year buffet must have to be a success!

     

    Colour Psychology Infographic

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We do not intend to claim any cultural appropriation. This information has been collected from various websites and publications in the hope to instruct, inspire, and entertain our readers.

     

  • Hospitality trends in Australia 2020

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    The first month of 2020 has almost come to an end, for many it has been a great start of the year, nevertheless there are various businesses facing major challenges. If you are in the hospitality industry, your ability to adapt to new trends and meet customer’s demands would ultimately determine your business’ success.

    Sometimes it is hard to catch up with every single trend that pops up in this rapidly changing world, technology plays a major role in the increasing number of customer’s demands and expectations and every single business wants to be at the top of its game. To help you, here is a list of the different hospitality trends you can expect to influence our industry this 2020:

     

    Technology integration:

    Making processes easier for customers should be a huge priority for any hospitality business. Technology plays an important role into making that possible not only on the customer’s end, but it also facilitates the business operation for owners and managers.

    Solutions like “After Pay” are great alternatives that will continue to lead this year, offering customers a wider variety of easier payment options.

    Let’s not forget these days customers are hungrier for information (relevant and useful of course) than ever before, the more details hospitality professionals can provide them about their travel destination, accommodation, food and ingredients, etc. prior, during, and after their visit the better. Trust us, this is a great way to increase repeat business and customer’s loyalty.

     

    Customer Experience:

    It is not enough anymore to only offer a good customer service, like we mentioned before, customers are eager to embark in new adventures and experiences. In order to survive and thrive in this new era, hospitality professionals need to really understand their customers at a deeper level: Know what they are interested in and deliver mesmerizing experiences according to their likings.

    Recent studies have demonstrated that travellers are willing to immerse themselves in new cultures. Activities like wine tastings, traditional dance shows, or cooking classes rank high in the top list of things travellers will seek to do this 2020.

    Privacy also plays a huge role into making the guest’s experience more pleasant, with some hotels already implementing private spaces for recreation or dinning experiences with private chefs. This is a trend you should not miss.

    In the case of restaurants, even though takeaway options are becoming increasingly popular, dinners are still keen to visit brick and mortar restaurants that are willing to provide them with exciting experiences in an atmosphere that can’t be recreated at home, facilitating one of human’s favourite activities: socializing.

     Sustainability:

    This trend is not exclusive to the hospitality industry. The way we see it, sustainability should be top of mind to all customers, businesses and governments. Gladly, customers are increasingly demanding venues to adopt more eco-friendly practices and review the environmental impact of their operational activities.

    Regarding to food, a good way to tackle this trend would be to offer locally sourced and organic ingredients, eliminating or reducing food waste and growing your own herbs and vegetables garden.

    Another easy alternative for food professionals to adopt is to say “goodbye” to all disposable plastic products and welcome new consumable products with low impact to the environment. Some of the most common materials that are here to stay are pine, bamboo, sugarcane and make sure to check out consumable products made with biopolymers derived from plants.

    Whatever methods you decide to implement, make sure you do it fast because this trend would only grow from this year onwards.

     

    Health:

    Millennials are health conscious, this provides hospitality professionals with a great opportunity to explore a new ton of recipes and food menus. Organic ingredients are a must have on every menu to remain competitive, farm-raised food and free-range eggs are getting increasingly popular.

    Fermented drinks like kombucha or kefir are coming in full strength this year due to their gut health benefits, make sure to include them in your drink’s menu, there are many different flavours you can choose from.

    For a change, kids should not be excluded from this equation. Parents are aware of their children’s health, seeking wholefood options for their little ones. It is time to forget about pizzas and hot dogs, kids will eat quinoa and kale salads too.

     

    Are you ready to embrace change this 2020?

    Many individuals and businesses often fall into the trap of focusing too much on sales, but they ignore the activities and investments necessary to generate more demand. Some of these activities/investments include: training, equipment, technology, and willingness to understand the customer; of course this is a never ending process, learning and growing is an intrinsic  part of any business’ success, and of course we are always pleased and honoured to help you in that process.

  • A Useful Guide: How to organise the perfect Christmas party or event (and not die trying).

    The best time of the year is finally coming: Christmas & New Year’s holidays! This is the time to celebrate our victories, laugh about the tough times, and enjoy the celebrations with friends & family. b1

    For hospitality professionals it is an occasion to be excited about, the endless Christmas parties and events generate a great opportunity for restaurants and hotels to increase their profits and impress their customers to encourage positive conversations & repeated business.

    But we are in 2019 and with such a wide variety of venues to choose from, customers are more demanding than ever before, craving for memorable customer experiences to share with their loved ones. With information travelling at the speed of light, customers become the best brand advocates or worst critics, having the power to elevate or destroy a business’ reputation in a matter of seconds.

    When it comes to food delivery and presentation there is no longer a “win every time” strategy, with so many new trends & requirements from customers, it is hard to catch up. But don’t you worry; here are a few recommendations for you to organise the perfect Christmas party or event (and not die trying).

    Let’s talk sustainability.

    Climate change & pollution is a reality we all have to face, with the latest events such as the terrible bush fires happening in the Australian East Coast, customers are becoming extremely conscious about their purchase decisions, demanding service providers to offer more Eco-friendly options to minimise waste. Sustainability

    The hospitality industry is not exempted to this trend or should we say “new rule”. It all started a couple of years ago with customers refusing plastic straws and plastic bags, but nowadays offering only paper straws as an alternative to plastic is not enough.

    Plastic plates, cutlery, and cups are totally unacceptable… to the extent that some customers might refuse to eat their food if served that way. With a negative review being likely to be shared seven times more than a positive one; this is a mistake hospitality professionals don’t want to make.

    Gladly, manufacturers are aware of this trend and have developed high-end & innovative Eco-friendly alternatives to present food with style while minimising waste.

    Bamboo-

    One approach that can help operators improve their environmental platform is to offer sustainable bamboo products. Boats, cups, cones and knot picks, may seem like small essentials, but in the grand scheme they can quickly add up to help hotels & restaurants reduce waste, demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and increase operational efficiency.

    Bamboo grows incredibly fast and never needs replanting, offering vital economic and ecological benefits to the lives of millions of people around the world. Utilising this environmentally friendly alternative is not only a great way to comply with customer’s requirements, but is also beneficial for the planet and farmer communities.

    Compostable plant-based polymersmagic fork snip

    The development of green chemistry has brought to the market bio-based polymers, a material that contains renewable plant sources and is 100% compostable. Products made from this material look very similar to plastic because of their transparent finish and rigidity, with the advantage that they can be disposed in organic waste or reused.

    A breakthrough alternative that is here to revolutionise the concept of "disposables”. Once the products are disposed, they can be transformed into compost that will fertilise the soil on which to regrow plants, creating a virtuous cycle that involves less use of non-renewable resources, less energy and less CO2.

    For venues looking to amaze their customers and display their commitment to sustainability with an innovative approach, these compostable items are the perfect food presentation solution that will certainly generate positive word of mouth amongst commensals.

     

    Never ending dietary requirements

    Another increasing challenge for hospitality professionals is to comply with all different dietary requirements. When presented with an interminable list of requests for vegetarian or gluten free options you might think “when I was a kid, we would eat everything…these are just none sense requests”…and while you might be right to some extent, this is something not to take lightly as those “none sense requests” might actually represent a genuine health concern.

    We live in the “wellness” era, consumers are more conscious about their eating habits choosing less processed food made with better quality ingredients either for health reasons, to save the animals or to reduce their carbon footprint… motifs are never-ending. The great news is that they are willing to spend more money when these alternatives are presented in the right way.b4

    At the end of the day hospitality professionals want their customers to feel comfortable, not worrying about what they are putting in their mouth or feeling secluded. When organising a big event or party this is very easy to accomplish if just sticking to basics: avoid cross-contamination and label food clearly; surely there would be plenty of food options presented, it is important to make sure customers are aware of which food is suitable for them to enjoy.

    An easy way to do so it to place this special food in different plates or trays, that way it won’t get in contact with contaminating agents such as wheat or dairy. Handling all ingredients with care in the kitchen & using separate working stations would ensure the plates presented are 100% suitable for customers with special dietary requirements.

    To distinguish these food items, just place an allergen labelled skewer on them. This would allow customers to read the label and make the choice themselves, eliminating the need for front of house staff to clarify customers a million times if the food is suitable for them or not.

     

    When things start getting funny

    Now, let’s face it: Christmas parties tend to get out of control as the night enters. The booze and happy ambience tend to make people “a little uncoordinated” let’s just say. It’s all laughs and games until an accident happens, and hospitality leaders certainly want to avoid at all costs anyone getting injured in their venue. b5

    First things first: don’t serve anything in glass; that is the easiest way to prevent an injury. If someone accidentally trips over, spills their drink and the glass shatters, it would take time for the mess to be cleaned, the person can land on the glasses or someone can step on them, getting a serious cut. It is a very ugly scene to imagine, but unfortunately these things happen more often that we would like to admit. Same situation applies with porcelain plates and bowls, the likelihood of them breaking is quite high.

    So what is the alternative? Utilise lite-ware disposable cups, they perform greatly and look fantastic because of their transparent finish & if someone drops them you won’t have to worry about it as they are shatterproof. Clean up is very easy, these solutions are disposable, so staff members won’t have to spend hours washing and polishing glasses.

    In regards to food, present it with serving solutions made of melamine. This is a very resistant & shatterproof material and nowadays there are many styles to choose from, an easy solution that would surely elevate the venues’ food presentation greatly.

    Another advantage of melamine is that it is light weight, facilitating front of house staff the task of carrying trays full of food around, the less heavy they are the easier it is to maneuver them. When the event finishes they can be put straight into the dishwasher, saving clean-up time and labour costs.

    A quick tip: Make sure your plates and trays have rubber feet to prevent them from slipping.
     
     
     

    Last but not least, it is important to remember that hospitality is the industry of creating memories, fun times and

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    amazing experiences! If you can delight your customers with beautifully presented food and attentive customer service you are sure to win big this Christmas season. So go ahead, create a smart customer service strategy, make delicious food, present it with great style, keep your customers safe…and create the most memorable Christmas event. Good luck!

  • Checklist for Successful Restaurants Guest Exprience is Essential for Repeat Business!

    Steps of Service

    P & O Do your servers understand the keys to your steps of service? From greeting tables and taking orders, to recommending menu items and providing excellent guest experience? Increase sales and Encourage Repeat business.

    Alcohol Safety

    Prevent issues around alcohol service with these keys to serving alcohol products safely and lawfully. Teach your staff how to serve, and who can be served. How to check ID. How to identify intoxicated guests and what to do if they are.

    Table Service Teach the basics of table service. Give your employees a good foundation for excellent service

    Beer Have you trained on the basics? Do they know the product that you are serving? Including the beer making process, key terminology, beer styles and how to pour?

    Wine Have you trained on the basics of wine and get them ready for prime-time wine sales? Teach them how wine is made, key terminology , types of wine, and how to open and pour wine. What wine matches what food choices?

    Spirits Have you introduced the fundamentals of distilled spirits? Do they know how to tell the difference between brandy and cognac, scotch, bourbon and more?

    Selling

    Selling the Food Menu is so important! Does your front-of-house team know everything they need to sell effectively? Do they have product knowledge? – this is the key to good sales.

    Selling the Drink Menu – add on sales, knowing what and how to sell speciality drinks, beer and wine can measurably improve your staff’s ability to sell, as well as your own profits.

    High Performance Server – train them to be high-powered, positive smiling guest service rock stars! Teach them how to sell, and give them the tools, techniques to increase their tips as well as your sales and profits.

    Product

    Food Prep – consistency of standards for prepping ingredients is a non-negotiable! Helping to reduce food waste and increase profitability.

    Plating – teaching how to consistently plate makes for a more consistent product, which makes for happy customers, and encourage repeat business.

    Cocktails Making the most popular cocktails consistently is essential to any quality bar service. Teach how to add a bit of theatre!

    Operations

    Server Sidework train your team to keep your operations run like clockwork. Teach specific server sidework, procedures with an emphasis on cleanliness and being shift-ready.

    Team (Culture)

    History , Mission & Culture It’s all about the Why! Teach your employees your history, unique concept, values and mission. You will see dramatic improvements in your culture and show your employees your roots. Get this right, and it fixes it all!

    HR & Scheduling Take the key elements of your handbook and teach employees the basics of your operation, from parking, to clocking in, to scheduling a vacation. No excuses for not knowing! Smoother 0perations for everyone!

    Uniform & Appearance Teach your front of house how to dress for the job. Including approved clothing and uniform as well as hair, jewellery , makeup. Get your staff to look and present the right way for guest.

    Handbook Verification – Have a set Induction agenda, make the handbook required reading as part of the new hire training program.

    Food Saftey

    Teach everything needed to pass the food handler certification test. Including causes of foodborne illness, personal hygiene, food safe temperatures and sanitisation. Lower your risk of food safety hazards and get an A rating on reviews.

  • From Asian Tradition to Modern Australian Dining: Reviving Japanese and Chinese Tea Culture

    tea culture for JapaneseServing tea is an art and a spiritual discipline in Japan and China. Also called chanoyu in Japan and chayi in China, tea ceremonies have major influences on the development of Japanese and Chinese cultures. Tea helps people create intimate connections with art, literature, religion and philosophy.

    Traditional Tea Practices

    A tea ceremony in Japan involves a choreographic preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea). Tea ceremonies have been an integral part of the Japanese culture for many centuries and are, according to Alexandre Avdulov, a perfect paradigm for life-long learning. They are celebrations performed with grace, mindfulness and great respect for tradition.

    Chinese tea culture differs from that of Japan in terms of taste, preparation and occasion. The Chinese consume tea regularly, both on casual and formal events. They also serve tea as a sign of respect to elders, as a formal apology and as a gesture of gratitude. To the Chinese, tea is an essential part of self-cultivation.

    Contemporary Australian Tea Ceremonies

    Today, the Japanese and Chinese practices of serving tea have travelled way beyond the borders of Asia and into contemporary dining settings across the globe.

    In November 2017, as a salute to Japan’s Culture Day, the first Japanese High Tea Ceremony of Australia was held at the summit of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Three participants partook in a tea ceremony 134 metres above the ground, overlooking the gorgeous cityscape of Sydney. Wendy Lin and Julian McVittie, two tea enthusiasts, chose the iconic bridge because of the majestic views of the harbour as well as its symbolic significance in Australia culture.

    Bo Wong, an Australian woman of Chinese heritage, regularly holds tea ceremonies in indoor and outdoor spaces for guests from across Australia. Participants book her for private sessions, social gatherings and special events. Wong’s goal is to meet like-minded individuals who have the same desire to connect, practise tea culture and celebrate life.

    Tea, Today and Tomorrow

    Modern dining gives you the opportunity to preserve Asian tea culture. In fact, holding your own tea ceremony is a wonderful way to pay tribute to traditional Japanese and Chinese practices.

    Create a peaceful setting for your guests and offer them a warm welcome. If you’re working with a large venue, transform the dining setting into an intimate space where the guests face each other.

    Then, serve simply. Place your tea in a beautiful Japanese cast iron teapot and pour them into teacups. To balance the bitter taste of the tea, bring out a plate of confectioneries. Connect with your guests and express gratitude for their willingness to participate in the ceremony.

    Top Shelf Concepts

    At Top Shelf Concepts, you get high-quality teaware for your cafe, hotel or restaurant. We are one of the most dependable Australian suppliers and distributors of food display products. If you want to browse our collection of food and beverage dispensers, feel free to explore our extensive range.

    For any enquiries, please call 1300 81 30 40. Make a lasting impression on your guests and enhance your food displays with Top Shelf Concept today.

  • Food for the I Do's: Elevating Wedding Food Presentation

    the-peninsula-picnic-mornington-racecourse-missy-h21Wedding trends are changing the way couples and wedding planners throw receptions. A couple of years ago, a simple platter display with traditional Australian wedding food would have done the job. Today, social media trends, bridal magazines and celebrities are inspiring more elaborate food presentations, making them one of the highlights of any ceremony.

    Planners and caterers need to improve their wedding food presentations in anticipation of clients with higher expectations. Great food displays attract couples who are looking for novel receptions, in fact. If your presentation is truly exceptional, people might post and share it on social media, increasing your brand’s exposure.

    Enhancing your food presentation game involves more than big and flashy displays, though. As a caterer or planner, you need to anticipate trends, stay true to the themes and invest in quality buffet equipment.

    Anticipating Food Trends

    Modern couples are revolutionising the items on wedding menus. For instance, InStyle Magazine reports that comfort foods would be making their way to wedding buffets in 2018. These include tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried chicken, fish and chips, cookies and doughnuts.

    Brunch receptions would also be more popular next year because daytime weddings are cheaper than their evening or afternoon counterparts. These receptions would feature classic brunch foods, like eggs, pancakes, fritters and cocktails. Moreover, cupcakes would no longer be the dessert of choice; taking its place are crepes, macaroons and mini milkshakes.

    To stay ahead of the game, you need to anticipate these trends and plan accordingly. Conventional presentations might not work on these non-traditional foods, after all. Gather your team and discuss novel ways to display your spread.

    Stay True to the Theme

    Many weddings have themes that tie the entire event together. The most popular themes to date, according to Easy Weddings, a digital wedding resource, are rustic, garden, vintage, beach, vineyard, contemporary and boho chic. Wedding experts also predict that Disney- and Great Gatsby-themed weddings would be popular next year.

    Couples pay attention even to the smallest details to make sure that the colours, décor, favours and venue all complement each other. So, the food presentation should also blend in seamlessly with the theme.

    Since the themes are many and varied, you should be ready to accommodate them — an especially challenging endeavour, because some displays are not suitable for certain themes. For instance, a contemporary presentation would look out of place in a rustic barn wedding.

    It helps to have diverse buffet equipment that can furnish equally diverse themes.

    Invest in Quality Buffet Equipment

    To truly elevate the way you present food, you need to invest in top-notch buffet equipment. With these at your disposal, you can accommodate more client requests and leave a good impression on wedding guests.

    At Top Shelf Concepts, we offer only innovative buffet equipment that would present the foods in their best light. We are a trusted supplier of Rosseto, a provider of premium serving solutions like buffet equipment that combines aesthetic appeal and utility. Moreover, its products are made of durable materials; they will accommodate countless weddings. Rosseto has a wide range of serving sets, from rustic presentations to sleek, modern displays.

    Ready to enhance your food presentation? Enquire about our Rosseto buffet equipment today. Call us on 07 3394 2043 or fill out our online form.

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