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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report

How Chef Philman George has Diversified to Thrive

Chef Philman George is known as ‘The Rhyming Chef’. True to the title, Chef Philman is known to kick a few bars while cooking up a storm in the kitchen. While many chefs shy away from the spotlight, Chef Philman thrives in it. His charisma and down-to-earth charm make him incredibly likable, and his enthusiasm for cooking and food is infectious. He’s carved out a niche for himself by blending hip hop and culinary arts for a brand that is uniquely him.

As host of the Garland Discovered Culinary Competition at RC Show 2020, Chef Philman will be bringing his rhyming skills (and cooking expertise) to the Main Stage. This year’s RC Show theme is ‘Diversify & Thrive’, a concept that Chef Philman has exemplified throughout his journey in foodservice.

Chef Philman began his foodservice career as a dishwasher and at the time, he didn’t expect to make foodservice his long-term career. However, as he moved into a prep role, then to a line cook, he found in cooking, that he was able to both express himself creatively and (more importantly) that he would “always have good food to eat.” This need for creativity makes sense now, as he rhymes his way through recipes.

While culinary school provided Chef Philman with a foundational base of classical styles and skills, his Torontonian background has enabled him to diversify his cuisine, palette, and cooking style. “Toronto is such a melting pot of flavours,” he explains. “You do yourself a disservice just specializing in one thing when there is so much out there to try and explore.” Chef Philman elaborates by recommending to “never put your blinders on. Pull from all your experiences to create flavourful cuisine and elevate your cooking.”

Beyond his skillset, Chef Philman brings this attitude of adaptability to his approach to the culinary landscape. Working as a corporate chef for High Liner Foodservice has allowed Chef Philman to gain a deep understanding of the current climate in foodservice. He sees how trends and tastes are shifting and how businesses can make small adjustments now to succeed.

He’s seen the rise of delivery firsthand and how convenience is king for the consumers. “If you’re a restaurant and not leveraging third-party delivery apps, you may have a tough time in the future,” he points out.

Sustainability is key for Chef Philman. Marrying sustainability and delivery together, Chef Philman points out that restaurants should be looking into how they can reduce the single-use plastics in their packaging and instead choosing biodegradable materials.

As “eco-friendly” products and practices move to the forefront, Chef Philman also touts the benefits of going frozen when it comes to seafood. Opting for frozen seafood can help reduce food waste and increase consistency without sacrificing quality. According to Chef Philman, “Buying frozen from a reputable supplier gives you access to a wider variety of quality sustainable seafood all year round, which in turn will help diversify your menus.”

While investing in more sustainable packaging and ingredients benefits the environment, it can also benefit your bottom line. Not only are you saving yourself from throwing money in the garbage by reducing food waste, but customers do and will expect sustainable ingredients and packaging going forward. When looking to practice a more sustainable approach in your business, more than anything, Chef Philman recommends doing your research when it comes to suppliers. “Pick your suppliers wisely,” he advises, and adds, “ensure that your supplier has the same vision and goal as your restaurant.”

How Chef Philman Diversifies & Thrives

Meeting customers’ demands and desires can also be achieved by diversifying your menu. Expanding your menu to include trending dishes, or offering different, special items for a limited time can create excitement with consumers, but can be challenging to execute consistently by the kitchen staff. To this point, Chef Philman recommends leveraging frozen and value-added products.

“Say for example that you want to try putting fish and chips dish on your menu,” he explains. “This is an iconic dish that takes skilled line cooks to execute it flawlessly every time. A quality pre-battered product is a turn-key solution that will allow your line cooks to execute fish and chips consistently regardless of their skill level.

Value-added products are also a good option for those looking into starting a reduced, late-night menu. Because the items are not time and skill-intensive, you can serve up delicious, tasty, and fresh meals for customers with just a few bodies in the kitchen.

Based on his years of experience, Chef Philman does warn operators that not all trends are the right fit for all restaurants. When considering diversifying your menu, he recommends first to secure a good understanding of your clientele. Tap into your regular customers to receive feedback. Test out new items for a short period and see how they do before putting them permanently on the menu.

Whether in terms of sustainable efforts or menus, it’s clear that customers are hungry for more. Chef Philman highlights the rising ‘umbrella’ trend of experiential dining. This can take many forms, from “eatertainment” as Chef Philman puts it, to community table seating, to the increasingly popular upscale hawker stall markets, to customizable dining experiences, tailored to customer tastes.

The experience doesn’t stop at the restaurant either, Chef Philman believes that restaurants should explore diversifying into retail to keep up with consumer demand. “Customers want to take the experience home with them,” he says. “Consider retail for a lucrative opportunity. Look into selling spices, rubs, condiments – simple products that are packaged to reinforce your brand.”

In uncertain economic times and with external forces putting pressure on the foodservice industry, diversifying your career, and your business is imperative. The importance of meeting consumer demands should not be understated. It can be challenging to adapt but to thrive, adjusting your business model, menu, approach, or looking into multiple profit avenues, is needed. With years of experience under his belt and keen insight into the future of foodservice, Chef Philman has his finger on the pulse of the restaurant business. Head over here to learn more about where you can meet and greet Chef Philman George during RC Show 2020.


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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report