Created by foodservice veterans for industry professionals like you, Simple 123 is working to revolutionize and streamline the food service industry. Chef Gary “FX” LaMorte – one of the many celebrated culinary greats who are beginning to incorporate the new platform into their food service rituals and routines – shares his views about the importance of increasingly integrating technology such as Simple 123 into the culinary world and gives some valuable lessons and insights into his career as a chef and business owner.
Your professional accomplishments include being the Executive Chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant, managing for Thomas Keller and then VP Culinary Ops under Chef Michael Mina at Mina Group, tell us one aspect of working in that capacity that was more challenging than anticipated, and what made it so?
Learning to manage managers is a skill set very different than managing hourly employees. Managing such strong willed and talented people requires extreme humility, skills and confidence to keep their faith and cultural economy in the positive. Great multi-unit managers understand the importance of working for their outlets not the converse.
What is your motivation for pushing technology integration in the culinary field?
I have always found my greatest satisfaction in working FOR the industry, and I mean that in a sense that I am working for the employees as much as the guests and ownership (maybe even a little more so). Tools like are going to help the front-line industry operators be more competitive in a land dominated by big business; this is a huge advantage for independent operators.
How do you leverage technology in your business and how do you see Simple 123 integrating into that?
I use technology in all aspects of kitchen and restaurant operations; from organizing production to recipes, to ordering and communication -it integrates into all of our tasks. Simple 123 consolidates multiple relationships and tasks into one easily accessible platform that records and allows access to multiple key players. A few years from now, people will wonder how they ever operated without it.
What do you do to stay current on new trends? What do you see as the top industry trends today?
Traveling, eating out, and social media are probably the major conduits for relevance for most these days. Books are still a factor, but the internet provides access to huge amounts of data quickly. Current top trends are low waste concepts, food delivery, plant-based eating, and huge cuts of meats. I believe that the next big trend is going to be melding chef-driven food and food that’s healthy for you together.
What are your thoughts on restaurant technology, where do you see restaurant technology going in the next 2-3 years?
Technology already plays a large role in the financial management of restaurants. The next step is definitely integration into the daily operations to streamline the training processes and minimize the demands on management teams – such as digitally controlled Combi ovens and sous vide technology that assist with consistency of product. I also see a great deal of technology playing a role in food safety moving forward, and products like Kitchen Display Systems for expediting, and Simple 123 for ordering are great for operations management.
How do you anticipate the industry reacting to rising labor and supply cost?
Many operators are creating smaller more focused menus, because it increases the efficiency labor per dollar of revenue allowing for them to have less employees. We also see trends in less traditional business models and a shift to more fast casual concepts featuring less service team members.
Restaurant openings are always hectic, and no matter how much preparation goes into it, something always happens. What’s your secret to success?
Immediately after hiring the right people – it’s always communication, teamwork and systems. The most important thing I ever did was develop systems with redundancies that run into each other, picking up where others leave off – ensuring systematic success.