Here to vote? What colour do you want your pancake?

Rutter Collage‘Politician-speak’ is the use of a number of words and phrases that are designed to placate, pacify and deflect scrutiny. Some people call it ‘spinning‘ or saying things in a way that while no untruths are told, the real story is not revealed to those asking the questions. And while this week may have been a bad week for some politicians don’t think that ‘politician-speak’ is only limited to them.

Renowned chef Marco Pierre White (or at least, his spokesman) was quoted as saying things like, “… we can confirm …” and “… the feedback was provided in an informal way …” and my favourite, “… we have acted on what needed addressing and we continue to work closely with the Birmingham City Council …” All this because the food safety inspectors slapped a zero-rating on the good chef’s four-star restaurant that sits perched on the top of the block in Birmingham known by many as The Cube. But I suppose mouse droppings, mouldy cow carcasses and old and re-labelled chicken will do that to a restaurant. I shouldn’t think that there was much ‘politician-speak’ behind the closed doors of the restaurant when Marco got his certificate and window sticker with a big fat “Zero” on it that is supposed to be displayed to the paying public.

More of the same type of language was doled out too by the powerful and seemingly immoveable Sepp Blatter who admitted that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was “a mistake.” In response Gary Lineker Tweeted that he imagined that “Sepp’s resignation letter was being composed as we tweet” … don’t hold your breath, Gary. Sepp has indicated that he will be seeking election for a fifth term as FIFA President next month. The soccer supremo suggested that his French rival who might oppose him was “… a man of very deep character, he wouldn’t do it.” The maneuvering and discussions that go on in the corridors and boardrooms across the world of football also confirm that “politics” is not always limited to running a country. Perhaps the irony of Sepp’s comments about referring to his rival as being of “deep character” was lost on himself.

The good news for Gary and other supporters of Team England is that London has once again outshone the French. London has been crowned the most attractive city in the world, knocking New York of the top spot, while Paris moved down two places. This has got have a positive impact on attracting visitors to England in general and to the capital in particular. So people like Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers will probably have even more challenges placed on them as their customers plan and innovate to stay ahead of their competition.

Jon is probably hoping that he doesn’t have to analyse the profitability of new technology someone might want to install in their restaurant after having read about personalised pancake designs. If some place that sells pancakes gets it in their heads to get the “design-your-own-pancake” machine it will be one more thing to consider whether it is worth investing in or not. It is a nifty little number though. Apparently you can program in a unique design and then the “PancakeBot” machine uses CAD technology to distribute the design, in batter, onto a hotplate. Flipping the pancakes still requires human intervention.

Knowing politicians, though, come this time next year you might find a slew of tables outside polling stations with activists giving out pancakes in the shape of their party logo using coloured batter that matches their party’s colour.

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Give me a pub team anytime! (… so says Roy)

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Any place that runs speed-eating competitions would probably have their stocktakers tearing their hair out over pre-ordering quantities for the event. Especially if the world champion competitive eater is expected in town. But in order to be recognized, she’d probably have to wear a notice saying “I’m the Champion” because the petite, size 8 mum-of-four doesn’t look like she could shovel away a 5000 calorie burger in six½ minutes! The “Stellanator” consisted of six slabs of meat, slices of cheese, six fried eggs, 12 slices of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles, grilled onions, peanut butter, jalapenos and then there was the bun (top & bottom) to keep it all together.

It all started off as a way of proving someone wrong – as one does – and things escalated from there to 9 lb burritos, 54-inch pizzas and more. I’m still trying to get my head around how she manages to work her way through a 12 lb sandwich and 1 lb of fries in 53 minutes!

The question many ask is, “Why?” But Mollie Schuyler does it for the money. In January she scooped £17 800.00 for guzzling 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes.

Money also seems to be the motivation for becoming a professional football player. You’d think that earning 200 grand a week would be enough. But no, Yaya Touré “wants his cake and eat it” too! But Manchester City insist that they did give him a cake to celebrate his birthday. I didn’t realize that birthday #31 was such an important milestone.

Who would be a football coach? Especially when your star player is miffed because no one (allegedly) gave him his birthday bumps? And especially if you’re Louis van Gaal, the new coach of Manchester United when the National Coach has said that he could beat Man U with a pub team if he had six months to prepare! And he’d probably only have to pay them in pints and crisps, too.

But for that matter, who’d be a politician when things go wrong for some of them the way they did this week. You had a leader who didn’t know who he was there to support, nor who was running that particular council – all caught on two separate occasions on TV and on radio. Awkward.

Or the politician that organised for steel band who were all set to play their tunes and entertain the crowds when they discovered that the political party that had contracted them wasn’t who they wanted to support. “Pack the drums away, lads, we’re outta here!” I wonder if they had to return their fee?

Jon Rutter would be the first to tell you how imperative careful planning and good strategy is in running a successful pub, restaurant or club. Sportsmen and politicians could do well to take note of his principles and ethos – if they did, they’d end up with the cake they wanted, knowing what candidate they were there to support and they’d have had music to dance to as well.

The beautiful game showcase kicks off in Brazil in 21 days time – hopefully the hosts have their careful planning and good strategy all in place. 

All it takes is teamwork …

SeatsIt’s only a ten minute drive along the A56 & A57 to get from Old Trafford to The Etihad but even though they’re in pretty close proximity to each other, the similarities in atmosphere within the two giant clubs ends there! ‘City’ are already talking about conquering Europe while Man-U ex-captain, Roy Keane is urging his old club to ‘get tough’ and is also suggesting that some other personalities need to step up to take responsibility for the Club’s showing over the season and not lay everything at Moyes’ doorstep.

A lot of what Keane says can be translated into one word, “teamwork.” Clearly, City was the more successful club of the two from Manchester that gelled as a team and they have the results to show for it. A disjointed team, for whatever reason will result in below average performance and sometimes even cause the whole shebang to leave the rails completely.

Sometimes the main players in a team forget that there are others who are also part of the same team, just not as prominent. Like the chap who carries the drinks, or the one who arranges the bus for the team to travel in, or the person who makes sure that nothing gets left behind in the change-room when the players go back to their hotel. They’re all part of the team but most people don’t even know they exist. And if their particular function breaks down, it impacts on the whole team – sometimes as a minor irritation and sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Well, someone dropped the ball at Jamie’s Barbecoa Butchery recently and the whole team felt the impact. But, it only came to light after a freedom of information request was submitted (I suppose some things don’t liked being aired to the public). It revealed that the establishment had received a ‘hazardous‘ assessment and closed down to remedy the situation. This is not the first time this type of problem has plagued Jamie – last year his Portsmouth branch of his Italian chain paid £17 000.00 after pleading guilty to breaching the Food Safety Act.

Many establishments will agree with Jon Rutter and his team of professionals when they say that their stocktaker is definitely part of their team. They work in the background and most folk aren’t even aware that they exist. But without them the wheels of an operation can come off rather rapidly. Stocktaking services provide all the figures needed to keep up to date with exactly what is happening at the premises. Specialist stocktakers ensure that the their extensive experience avoids unnecessary wastage or losses (whether accidental or otherwise) and recommended action is passed on to the client to keep everything running smoothly. Just what a team needs! 

Some restaurants have had a team member suggest installing fish tanks as they can create an ambience of peace and tranquility. Others have tanks so customers can choose their own particular fish or crustacean to have prepared for them. One hotel in the Maldives has gone to the other extreme and has their restaurant built under water to give diners a view of the free-swimming fish, turtles and other sea creatures all around them.

The hotel is inviting the guests to “dine with the sharks” … hopefully the sharks don’t get confused and start thinking the ‘tank’ is showcasing diners for their benefit.

We DO have a child-free area, sir … it’s called the cockpit

Airplane Flying Towards The SunsetThere are times when people visit restaurants and pubs for special occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Sometimes business meetings also take place over a meal or a snack accompanied by a glass of wine or a pint of beer. The waiting staff and management of these establishments are generally conscious of these things and usually don’t intrude on the people’s conversations – they like to leave them to get on with it!

But when a guest arrives with a child in tow it has been known to cause some consternation and disruption. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong or bad about the child, but management may be concerned that some of the child’s table manners and behaviour might not be as restrained as the majority of the patrons they are trying to serve. And this is why Grant Achatz, chef of Alinea in Chicago, is considering a ‘baby ban’ at his restaurant as it would put diners off their hors d’oeuvres and other courses.

It is reported that some diners have expressed the opinion that they would be livid if they were out for a quiet dinner and their senses were being assaulted with a crying baby in the background. Especially if they are paying the type of prices the Alinea charges.

These ‘noise’ concerns are probably also the reason that 7 out of 10 Britons also want to see child-free flights on airlines. It is reported that as much as 35% of those interviewed would be prepared to pay extra for child free flights. The awkward part about the survey though, reports that ‘drunk and rowdy travellers’ or ‘people with bad hygiene’ and ‘seat-kicking passengers’ were rated even more aggravating that crying babies. So will there be advocates of alcohol-free flights? And who is going to determine who are those with bad “B/O” and redirect them to board the ‘stinky’ flight from Heathrow to Dubai?

At what age does it then become acceptable to introduce one’s child to fine dining? Some would even say that there are some chefs even better behaved than their customers – regardless of the customer’s age. And when is it acceptable to have a child in a flight, when there are adults who cry and shout and throw tantrums on a plane when there isn’t a child in sight?

The lawyers must be rubbing their hands in anticipation.

In much the same way Mrs Attenborough’s barrister son (how convenient for her) had prevented a cricket team from hitting sixes when they have home matches as it might annoy his mum. She doesn’t like the odd cricket ball landing in her garden which is next to the field. Apparently they have come to an ‘amicable solution’ with the club. I’m sure that the Britwell Salome Cricket Club’s opponents are the ones who are most pleased with the solution – especially if they have a dodgy slow bowler – they aren’t going to be slaughtered in their matches.

All the permutations each restaurant, each airline, each cricket club has must be challenging to stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his team of professionals. What a good thing there are easy tools like spreadsheets, stock programmes and CRM platforms to help them keep track of what each client needs in their quest to keep patrons happy.

How long will it be until a restaurant is threatened with legal action by some customer with a relative who’s a judge for playing the wrong music, or being seated at the wrong table because it upsets their feng shui?