The other night I was treated to a very special experience. I was at the chef table of a local restaurant enjoying a menu prepared and served by a skilled artisan. The presentation was precise, the flavors and textures were perfect. But what really made the meal special was the expert pairing of wine with each course. While the chef was talented in the kitchen, he was truly a wine and food pairing genius, going beyond traditional and conventional pairings to something more risky, unique and amazing.
When was the last time you had an evening like this? Had the opportunity to experience the talents and skills of a gifted chef or sommelier? What if you could have this type of encounter on a regular basis, or offer your guests this type of experience tonight? While nothing can take the place of a personal touch, I believe you can draw out many aspects of this type of experience though a tableside engagement strategy featuring innovative technology and unique design.
Imagine being seated at your favorite restaurant and being handed an iPad or tablet device. You review the daily specials, watch a short video of the chef preparing a dish, read about the chef’s emphasis on local, organic ingredients and find chef recommendations for menu selections and pairings. You can see the most popular items based on order volume and guest ratings, and make a few selections to sample. Maybe you find that at the end of your meal you’ve tried a couple of new things, enjoyed the way the chef guided you through the meal, and even learned a thing or two during the process. This is the power of tableside engagement. Providing each guest with the opportunity to learn, sample and enjoy just as if the chef was right there each step of the way.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of tableside chef visits and like to see a chef confident enough to approach a table to make recommendations and discuss his craft. But I also like to see the chef spend the majority of his time in the kitchen preparing his delicious food and less time in the dining room talking about it. The combination of innovative technology, elegant design and a large dose of culinary know-how can take the restaurant experience to a new level, one that is unforgettable and repeatable, and can be delivered to the masses.