Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian on Staff Training: The Best Way to Deliver Exceptional Service to Your Diners

Joshua Manocherian on the Importance of Training Your Restaurant Staff

Joshua Manocherian co-owns a farm-to-table concept restaurant with his wife. He is a retired photographer who now enjoys being a restaurateur. He created this blog to share his passion for food and photography. In his latest post, he talks about one of the most critical factors in restaurant management: a team of well-trained and highly-skilled staff.
When a guest walks into a restaurant, there are three things that greatly affect their dining experience: the food, service, and ambience. When any of these factors are not up to standard—what the guests expect—then it is safe to assume that those guests are unlikely to return. Your guests' dining experience is the ultimate indicator of success—more than the profits, at least for Joshua Manocherian and his wife.
Food, service, and ambience; three crucial factors in a restaurant's success or failure; but the one that weighs heavily on your guests' experience at your restaurant is service. Suffice it to say that no matter how delectable your dishes are, if you deliver poor service, your guests will hesitate to come back. Who would want to be stressed out when dining out? And stressful is what their experience could be if you make them wait for their food, if you serve cold food meant to be enjoyed hot, or horrors upon horrors, you have a rude wait staff!
To ensure that your restaurant staff delivers exceptional service to every guest each and every time, regular training is necessary. Upon first coming in to join you, your new hires need to be trained about the food and the menu, your safety protocols, food preparation, waiting, welcoming guests, dishwashing and cleaning tables. All of these elements are what make your daily operations run smoothly; and new hires need to be well-informed about each of these as well as every other aspect of the restaurant to enable them to communicate effectively with guests should they raise concerns or questions.
Yearly training is also recommended to refresh your staff's knowledge about the restaurant and the protocols, as well as to give them the opportunity to hone their skills and learn new ones. This deters complacency in the workplace. In the restaurant business, everyone needs to be on their toes all the time; and they need to be alert and attentive. A minute of delay could completely ruin your guests' dining experience. Your staff also needs to learn how to anticipate—especially when it comes to what each specific customer may want or need. In this regard, they need to truly pay attention to every guest that comes through your doors. Giving customers something (like a glass of water perhaps) before they even ask for it can work wonders.
In my next post, I will share with you some of the training steps and areas that you can focus on to enable your staff to deliver exceptional service to your guests.
Do you have comments on this post? Please feel free to leave Joshua Manocherian a message below.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: How to Start Your Own Backyard Garden

Joshua Manocherian: Starting Your Own Backyard Garden? Here’s How!

Hello, everyone! I’m Joshua Manocherian. I was a professional photographer before going into the restaurant business. While I’ve always loved eating, most of what I ate came from either a can or a box. When I met my wife, though, she introduced me to fresh produce and organic cuisine. We settled into a little house with a pretty large backyard and we tried planting random seeds, hoping that something would sprout out of the soil.
To make a long story short, we failed miserably. Weeds soon took over the garden and choked the life out of our plants, and those that survived were undernourished. The following planting season, we got advice from a friend of ours who was into organic farming. Here are some things we learned from him that you could use, too:
1. Start slow and small. Backyard gardening takes time and effort, and if you have a full-time job, it’s tough enough to take care of one raised bed, let alone a whole garden of raised beds. Speaking of raised beds, you need to construct them – raised beds are basically plots of loose, uncompressed soil that serve as physical barriers between your crops and the rest of the garden.
2. Start early. If your backyard has a lawn, till it up and rake out the sod. The sod can be very useful later. Once you’re done tilling, build raised beds with the tilled soil. I suggest doing it before winter so that it’s ready when spring comes around.
3. It’s never too early to enrich the soil. You can find a source of compost or aged mushroom soil easily. When enriching the soil, use a 50/50 mix of the compost and the soil that you have right now. Next, cover it with two inches of mulch – shredded fallen leaves are good for this purpose. Mulch will keep the soil moist and help keep weed seeds from being blown into the ground.
Also, while you might want to grow plants straight out of the seed packet right away, I’ve found out that it’s not a good idea for a first-time backyard farmer. Instead, use seedlings from a reputable gardener. Rake off the mulch, plant the seedlings, then rake the mulch back on, leaving just enough space to let the seedlings grow. Once you are able to nurture seedlings to maturity, then you can go on to planting straight from seeds.
While backyard gardening is hard work, remember to have fun. Set aside enough time to take care of your plants, and if something fails, learn something from it it. Backyard gardening is perfect if you like learning about plants, soil, and water. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two about yourself too. After all, planting a garden takes a lot of patience and love.
I will write more about organic backyard gardening in future posts so do check back for updates. This is Joshua Manocherian, and I hope you had fun reading my blog as much as I had fun writing it.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Food Photo Tips from a Professional Photographer

Joshua Manocherian: How Photographers Make Food Look Good in Pictures

Hi, Joshua Manocherian here. I was a professional photographer in a past life, and even if I’ve exchanged my DSLR camera for a chef’s toque, I still appreciate the value of a good picture. When it comes to the food industry, appearances can make or break a restaurant. It is a well-known fact that the proper presentation of food can affect how the diner tastes it. A well-taken photo of a platter of bread, for instance, can make someone want to visit the bakery, while a not-so-appetizing picture of the fanciest fare won’t be enough to make someone have a taste.

If you use Instagram, you might notice that a large proportion of the posts you see are pictures of food. Social media makes it easy for people to document their food adventures; and to be honest, a lot of the food photos I see do not do justice to the dishes and those who prepare them. A second-rate camera phone, for example, can reduce a fiery red bell pepper into a paler shade that is closer to pink, while a bowl of purple yam preserve can look drab and gray when taken by an inexperienced photographer. As a restaurateur, one has to make sure that his/her food looks good all the time, even in pictures.

Here are some food photography tips that I’ve picked up during my time as a professional shutterbug:

1. Use natural light. Too much light, such as that coming from a flash, can "drown" all the vibrant colors of food, while too little light will result in something barely visible. Whenever I eat during my travels, I always asked for a table near the window to let me use natural light while taking photos of my food. Natural light has a way of bringing out food's natural colors, unlike artificial light that is too harsh too often.

2. Composition matters. Like every other form of photography, food photography relies heavily on proper composition to come up with a beautiful shot. Your food photo is well-composed if you can tell right away what the subject is. Are you shooting the cake, the wine, or the plate? Most photographers use the rule of thirds to compose their shots. Think of a picture as a canvas intersected by three horizontal and three vertical lines. Your food should appear where the invisible lines meet to draw your eyes to it.

3. Style your food. Food looks a lot better when they’re styled very well. Just like clothes, the size, color, and shape of the crockery they’re served in will affect the way they look in pictures. If the dish is a bit plain-looking, consider serving it in a colorful container or surround it with color-coordinated accessories such as napkins. On the other hand, colorful dishes should be served on plain white plates. Whatever you do, do not show used or dirty spoons, forks, or knives!

I will next discuss the importance of presentation in a restaurant environment. This is Joshua Manocherian and I hope you keep reading my blog!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: My Tips on Running a Small Restaurant Part 1

Joshua Manocherian Shares His Tips on Starting a Restaurant Business

Hi, dear readers! Joshua Manocherian here. When my wife and I decided to open a restaurant, I must admit that I had a lot of apprehensions about it. After all, my wife and I didn't really have any hands-on experience in running any type of business. While we did a lot of freelance work, we've never had a go at a traditional brick-and-mortar business with overhead and utility expenses, operations, and general management needs.

While my apprehensions and fears may be legitimate, they nevertheless were an obstacle that I needed to hurdle if I wanted to truly go ahead with a career shift that has been on the back of my mind for the longest time. So when my wife and I finally, finally decided that managing our own restaurant was the next—and best—step for us, we made it our goal to never quit regardless of the roadblocks and stops that could be thrown our way.

With that said, my first tip is to keep your eyes on your goal and never quit, no matter the obstacles, delays and dead-ends. There will be times when you'll doubt yourself and your decision, and perhaps even berating yourself for giving up a stable job to chase a dream. These are the times that you need to remind yourself that quitting wasn't part of the deal when you started on this road.

Now, as to the details of your small restaurant, the first thing you need to do is look for a good location. This can be quite challenging because business locations can be a hit-or-miss deal. Ever wonder why some restaurants don't make it despite the heavy foot and vehicle traffic, while others located in a remote neighborhood have customers lining up for hours? A lot of it has to do with the neighborhood, the purchasing behavior of the consumers within your vicinity, income, and of course, your menu.

So when choosing a location, analyze the demographics, the neighborhood diners and restaurants, and other social indicators. You should also pay attention to the lease agreement as sometimes it's the exorbitant rental fees that are taking up almost all of the profits. You may also want to check the history of the location. Whether you're superstitious or not, it wouldn't hurt to find out the location's past as this could be a factor for consideration for some consumers.

Still on location, is the commercial space in good condition or does it need extensive remodeling or renovation? Check also that all utilities are in perfect working order; that the space follows strict building and safety codes, and that you have enough room for the dining area, lounge or waiting area, and the kitchen.

I will talk more about space, kitchen, and table set-up in my next post so please stay tuned for that!

If you have questions regarding running a small restaurant, or you wish to share your thoughts about this post, please feel free to leave me, Joshua Manocherian, a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian Sports Blog | Monmouth’s Sudden Demise

Joshua Manocherian: Monmouth and the Art of Not Dancing

Joshua Manocherian is a fan of teams with good bench mobs, and by “bench mob”, he’s referring to in-game celebrations. Last year’s Monmouth Hawks had everything – scorers, dunkers, signature wins, bench mobs – except an NCAA Tournament slot. And now, it seems they’re going to miss the Big Dance again.

This year was supposed to be Monmouth’s year. One season removed from an NCAA basketball season marked by highs and lows, Monmouth was pegged to finally break through the MAAC conference tournament and on to the NCAA Tournament with a 27-6 overall record.

Siena, who entered MAAC tournament play at 16-26 after starting the season with four wins and 11 losses, had other plans. The Saints were down by fifteen at the half, but rallied to take the lead with four minutes remaining. It was a monumental upset by Siena as Monmouth had beaten them twice in the regular season, but if the Saints make it all the way to the Big Dance, it won’t be their first time – they had a string of appearances from 2008 to 2010.

As for Monmouth, they might have to wait another year. Their last appearance was in 2006.

This is no doubt frustrating for the Hawks and their fans, who surprised the world in 2015-16 with their high-octane running game and colorful bench celebrations. They even made the highlights of ESPN SportsCenter on the strength of their celebrations alone, but on-court, were also making a strong case for an at-large bid.

The Hawks opened their season with wins at UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, Georgetown, and Rutgers, with Notre Dame ranked at #17 when they played. Normally, that type of performance would net a team an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. However, they went on to lose conference games to teams who were ranked much lower than them, lost to Iona in the MAAC championship game, and they didn’t get to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Instead, they played in the NIT, losing to George Washington by 16 at home in the second round.

This season, the non-conference slate was significantly weaker than the previous season’s. Instead of playing against teams that traditionally had high RPI rankings, they played just two teams with top-50 RPIs: North Carolina and South Carolina. The former blew the Hawks off the Dean Dome, beating them by 28. The South Carolina game, however, was decided only in the final seconds. In hindsight, with the Gamecocks standing fourth in the competitive SEC, it was a good loss. But of course, a really good win is a lot better when it comes to computing for at-large slots.

The rest of Monmouth’s schedule doesn’t look good on paper, either. They only won against two teams in the top 100 of the RPI rankings: Princeton and Iona, and Memphis, which now plays in the American Athletic Conference, isn’t the same as the Derick Rose-led Memphis team that almost won the NCAA championship game against Kansas. Princeton leads the Ivy League and has a pretty good non-conference record. Iona, while third in the MAAC, is ranked 33rd among all Division I teams for scoring and has signature wins against WAC leader Nevada, MAC runner-up Ohio, and not much else.

If you were ticked off that Monmouth did not make it to the tournament last year, you might as well skip Selection Sunday and watch something else. And maybe wait for the NIT or CIT to come around and hope that the bench is still worth watching.

Keyword: Joshua Manocherian Joshua Manocherian Sports Blog | Tim Tebow’s Unusual Road to Major League Baseball

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats Preview

Preview: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats

Emily Muhleman is a sports blogger based in Seattle. She writes mostly about the NFL, the Pac-12, and the West Coast Conference. When she’s not writing about sports, she likes long walks on the beach in Olympic National Park.

This Sunday’s matchup between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Arizona Wildcats is expected to be an exciting affair. Gonzaga and Arizona are ranked #10 and #16 in the AP Poll, respectively, and each have exciting players that might just be NBA draft first-round picks next year.

The Zags are coming off six straight wins to start their season. Their last two games were against #21 Iowa State and Florida (who were unranked last week but now sit at #24), and winning a third straight game against a ranked, high-major opponent will only boost their confidence heading into the rivalry game against Washington. It will also help them make their case for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

Arizona, on the other hand, had their own little run scuttled by the Butler Bulldogs. While the Wildcats are in the AP rankings right now, it isn’t exactly because of their strength of schedule. Their past four wins have come against Santa Clara, Northern Colorado, Sacred Heart, and Cal State Bakersfield. A win against a higher-ranked opponent, such as Gonzaga, could make a difference on Selection Sunday, especially with UCLA expected to run the table in the Pac-12.

While much has been said about both teams’ backcourts, the must-see matchup will be the one inside. Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski was projected to be a first-round pick this year, but opted to take another year of college eligibility after missing most of last season due to back injuries. This season, the seven-foot Pole is looking every bit the NBA player, averaging 11.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Facing him is the Finnish phenom, Lauri Markkanen, who is already being compared to the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis this early. Markkanen is averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, and the contrast between Karnowski’s bruising inside game and Markkanen’s finesse will be intriguing to watch.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Markelle Fultz: NBA Star in the Making

Why Washington’s Markelle Fultz Might Be Next Year’s Number One Pick

Emily Muhleman writes about sports in the state of Washington. While she studied at Washington State, she keeps close tabs on the state’s other collegiate teams, including the Washington Huskies, the Seattle Redhawks, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The Washington Huskies might be a middle-of-the-pack team right now, losing their season opener to Yale and dropping two straight games against TCU, but it isn’t keeping the crowds away from home games. The reason? A 6-5 freshman guard named Markelle Fultz.
A five-star recruit out of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland, Fultz chose Washington over 21 other schools that included Xavier, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Kansas, and Louisville. He averaged 19 points as a senior and was named MVP at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. What makes his story even more impressive is the fact that he started playing varsity ball only as a junior, being assigned to DeMatha’s junior varsity team as a sophomore. He joined the Huskies as part of the eighth-ranked 2016 recruiting class, which included three other ESPN 100 players.
Fultz started the season strong in Washington’s loss to the Yale Bulldogs, logging 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Prior to the November 30 game against TCU, he averaged 23 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. These are all impressive numbers for any NCAA player; what makes them all the more impressive is that Fultz is a true freshman. Against TCU, he had a highlight play where he crossed over a defender before dunking over another with one hand on a fast break. This shows Fultz is not just a scorer – he can also be very entertaining.
Draft Express has ranked Fultz as the possible number one pick in next year’s NBA Draft on the strength of his performance so far. I wouldn’t bet against it even if Washington doesn’t get into the NCAA Tournament. After all, if Ben Simmons failed to lead LSU to the Big Dance and was still drafted first overall, Fultz could do it too.