In a strange turn of events, I found myself on a fishing trip with Chef Michael Mina. An accomplished chef, Mina has cooked for three presidents and founded his namesake restaurant group that currently operates 18 restaurants around the country.
After spending some time picking his brain about his favorite knives (custom-made Japanese ones) and his favorite restaurant on Long Island (the one his sister-in-law runs), I asked him about future endeavors.
Mina explained to me that he still loves to just be a chef. His restaurants, all of which carry his name, still need his support in order to offer their guests a consistently good experience. Mina said he spends months preparing to open every restaurant. He sets up the kitchen, he controls the training and the flow and then he leaves. But when he leaves, it’s to run the kitchen at another one of his restaurants.
I chewed on his words because for some reason, I associated the word consistent with stagnant or stalled and not with something that, simply, always delivers.
But, with Mina’s voice in my head, I realized his definition was more fitting. Consistent is something that you can always depend on whether it’s the way food tastes at a restaurant or the experience of something you have grown to love.
I realized that all of our All-Stars this year — Angela Skogen from Williston, ND-based Cooks On Main, Chris Wiedemer from Rochester, NY-based Cooks’ World and Karen and Brad Hughes of Cincinnati, OH-based Artichoke — are not only consistent, but they are consistent on a high-level. They have established expectations and have to deliver on those expectations every time.
Skogen is consistent with her inventory management to the point where it is almost scary. She knows what’s selling and could rattle off a breakdown of every category’s sales to the penny. But this has allowed her to manage her cash flow well enough to expand her store and bring in new categories, like olive oil and vinegar, which has grown her clientele.
Wiedemer, who is a second-generation retailer in a store that marked 40 years in business this year, is consistent about his store’s mission.
“It’s a store for people who love to cook,” he told me during my time there, ensuring that cookware and cutlery remain the store’s core categories. This has allowed him to have razor-sharp focus on his customer base and serve them as well as he can all the time.
And Karen and Brad Hughes of Artichoke are consistent about the branding of their store. The look and the energy of Artichoke are different than other stores, but it lives up to the hype — consistently.
But, the thing that makes all of these retailers special is that they are consistent all the time, but have also built upon that consistency to become industry standouts.
Even though I disliked the word consistent, I realized that GOURMET INSIDER® has also been consistent. Our tagline is “connecting the business of gourmet housewares,” which we try to do — consistently. But, like our All-Stars, we are striving to deliver that consistent experience on a higher level.
With this issue, we are re-launching our ON THE TABLE™ supplement. As food, cocktail and lifestyle trends are making their way from the tables of restaurants to the tables of home cooks and entertainers, it is driving both product sales and demand for experiences within the realm of the housewares industry.
We are hoping that by giving you this resource — which includes commentary by chefs, mixologists and lifestyle specialists — it can either spark new ideas for your business or help you grow upon those that are already consistently good.