When I started my business I took every opportunity to learn from as many people and situations as I could. I would often visit stores just to observe how they ran their businesses, and how they interacted with their customers. I hope to never stop learning and improving my business practices, and something which always inspires me is the changes in food styles and trends.
You would think that food was something that was dictated by a person’s taste – we all have a favourite food after all. However, think about your answer to that question: what is your favourite food? Chances are you choose a food which not only satisfies your taste buds, but also holds some sort of personal memory. Your favourite food is one which recalls your childhood, the first date with your partner, or a spectacular holiday.
My entire working life revolves around food and feeding other people, so when I go out for a meal, I want to go somewhere that means something too. Anecdotally chefs are very hard to please when they’re on the other side of the table, but realistically, it’s not as hard as all that. When I go out to eat, I want to go somewhere that will care as much about my evening, as I care about each of my functions.
Service is the basis of any business, whether you’re in sales, construction, retail or hospitality the success of every business comes down to people, because people are still making the final decision. So I look at the details when I’m eating out – has the butter been softened or taken straight out of the fridge, are the glasses warm from the dishwasher, are you waiting to be offered a drink? This is why I absolutely loved the National ABIA Awards dinner at the Palazzo Versace Hotel. This was the wedding industry’s night of nights and ABIA and Versace pulled out all of the stops to pamper us, and there was not a crumb out of place.
I can look at just about any item on any menu and work out exactly how it has been put together, so I’m always excited to see dishes I’ve never seen before. I like to be surprised, and I love punches of flavour! This is why whenever I visit my sisters in Queensland, we always make a trip to the Surfers Paradise Night Markets. These markets feature stands from popular restaurants as well as unique popups, which means we always see interesting dishes the restaurants are trying out before adding to their menu to gauge popularity, or things you’d never see on a restaurant menu because they’re not viable for a commercial kitchen.
It’s also very relaxing for me to get out of Adelaide to some of my partnered venues which are wineries and cellar doors. At a cellar door you’re not only trying wines you can’t buy anywhere else, but you’re also treated to food in its purest form. My favourite cellar doors don’t want to overpower your tasting experience, so they’ll serve platters of local produce, breads, olives, olive oil, cheeses and fruits allowing you to taste the natural beauty of the ingredients, in their natural environment.
Chefs work hard, we’re always on our feet, and we work weekends, public holidays and sometimes even Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Although I’ve never felt like I’m missing out when I’m at work on a weekend (if I did I wouldn’t still be doing it!), because I love everything to do with food and functions, and I still take every opportunity to go out and see what’s new.
Maybe I’ll see you out there, or until next time,
Cindy Westphalen owns and operates award winning SA based wedding catering business Cindy's Classic Gourmet.