Restaurant Diners: The Next Generation
Five chefs converge to kick off Bullfrog & Baum’s weekend-long candid discussions with industry insiders. Michael Solomonov, Marc Murphy, Michelle Bernstein, Tony Maws and John Kunkel arrived at Miami’s Hotel Victor to discuss the dramatically changing restaurant diner profile. The overall consensus from the panel was that diners have, indeed, changed substantially over the years, reflecting a younger demographic who are not only cost conscious, but arrive at the table with a thorough knowledge of flavor profiles, culinary styles and even techniques. This next generation of diners are quick to post pictures online, chronicling each step of the meal and blasting it out to the public via social media channels.
When the chefs were asked how they deal with the prevalence of smart phones and the growing popularity of food blogs and Yelpers, Chef Bernstein admitted that she’s defended herself on the food blogs in the past when she knows the customer is either wrong or just ignorant. Michael Solomonov revealed that he takes these kinds of comments extremely seriously, especially if they show up online. And when faced with the critical decision to cook for themselves or cook for the discerning diner, both Chefs Tony Maws and Michelle Bernstein revealed that for better or worse, they cook the food that they enjoy, while John Kunkel added, “You have to find a balance between passion and business. That’s the bottom line.” The chefs then weighed in on the rising cost of products. For instance, they were asked how they handle the rising of of lamb, and Marc Murphy quickly replied, “I just took it off the menu.”
Among other topics, the chefs weighed in on the rising local/sustainable movement, balancing life in and out of the kitchen, the rising cost of food products and the popularity and cache that’s attached to the industry. For those of you who couldn’t make it, check out the full panel discussion here.