Chef Edward Mendoza comes from Augusta, GA and has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Augusta State and a Culinary Degree he earned in Vail, CO. He would go on to cook all around the country and world and has garnered countless accolades along the way. Today he is the owner of Cucina 503 and serves as corporate chef at major events like the Masters, U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, and the Salt Lake City Olympics.
In this episode we discuss: Tweaking the system to make it your own. Looking at cooking in a restaurant as hosting a party every single night. For every one dollar you spend, you need to make three dollars to make that dollar back. Standards are very important. Your partners can’t follow your vision if you don’t clearly lay it out for you. How to operate when failure is not an option. Location and dependable events near your restaurant are guaranteed money made and guests served. The importance of earning a good reputation in your community. The importance of being prepared. The importance and ease of having a payroll company. There’s no room for error in catering. There is no such thing as being too prepared for a catering event.
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.
“Don’t be that guy.” You know who that guy is. Everyone knows who that guy is.
Hospitality courses from the world’s best. Find short courses. Skill up. Become an expert. You’re the average of the 5 peoples you surround yourself with, now start surrounding yourself with the best in our industry.
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Career Challenge or Failure
Not being fully prepared for events. Chef Mendoza took over a catering banquet for an event where all the attendees were on a company-wide diet. He and his colleges prepared food for no specific diet so most of the food was left untouched. Now his company makes absolutely sure that nothing like this can happen again by confirming beforehand any diet restrictions or specific culture traits taking place within the guests.
Which “it factor” habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
Consistency. Monitor and stay on your walk-ins. Date and label everything.
What is your biggest weakness?
What is one piece of advice you have for leading others?
Be fair. People respect a fair leader.
What’s one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
“Tell me the last cook book you read.” I look for someone who appreciates the classics but will also look to push forward.
What’s a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
Staffing. Culinary school is not necessary in this industry but that doesn’t mean education sent important.
What’s one thing (besides food) your restaurant does well and separates you from other restaurants?
Great atmosphere. Staff is very hospitable. Local ingredients.
What’s one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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What’s one piece of technology you’ve adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
With all the knowledge you have now if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?
“Keep your head down, shut up, and listen.”
What is one question you think should be added to this interview?
What is the key ingredient in being successful in the restaurant industry?
Thanks for Listening!
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Huge thanks to Chef Edward Mendoza for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!