Thursday, March 29, 2012

ProStart Mentor Profile: Tom Pyburn

Tom Pyburn
Human Resources Manager
Emeril’s Home Base 
Armed with more than 25 years of restaurant management and human resource experience, Tom Pyburn has an extensive repertoire of information he brings to John Ehret High School’s ProStart program.
While studying at Loyola University, Tom Pyburn began gathering his industry experience as a server at Commander’s Palace and then Mr. B’s. Upon receiving his undergraduate degree in Communications, he worked in restaurants such as the Broadway CafĂ© and Bouligny honing his restaurant management skills.
Now, years later with an MBA in Management from LoyolaChicago, he’s worked in Human Resources for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Acme Oyster House and for the last six years, for Emeril’s Home Base in New Orleans.
He’s got a history too of working with high school-aged students. For the past four years, he and his fellow Society of Human Resources members have held sessions at the St. Charles Satellite Center on the topics of cover letters, resumes and conducting interviews.
“Many of these students have not had their first jobs yet,” said Pyburn. “The sessions provide an introduction to the process and the do’s and don’ts of the applying and interviewing for a position.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LRA donates culinary books to SoFab

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to donate nearly 100 books to New Orleans’ Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB) this afternoon. The books, some of which have been a part of the LRA’s library for more than 50 years, will have a home at SoFAB’s new, 30,000 square-foot facility on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.

The donation consists of reference books, cookbooks and business books, all for the restaurateur. Titles include: Professional Knowledge: The Art of Cookery,” Volumes I-III, printed in 1951; “Professional Baking,” printed in 1985; “Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook,” printed in 1961; “Principles of Food Sanitation,” printed in 1985 and “Hospitality and Travel Marketing,” printed in 1989.

“SoFAB is really excited to have this collection of books about the business of food and restaurants for the SoFAB library,” said Liz Williams, SoFAB Director/President. “The library currently has more than 9,000 volumes. We hope to be open by the fall of this year when we will share the collection with the public. We thank the LRA for this donation.”

The LRA decided to donate these living documents to SoFAB so that they could be appreciated by a much larger audience. Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to view these books and get a better understanding of the knowledge base needed to successfully run a restaurant.

“We are delighted to offer a portion of our library to SoFAB,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris. “The LRA considers education a top priority and we are proud to share this valuable information with the general public about the restaurant industry.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are your profits going in the trash?

There are a number of ways that restaurant profits simply walk out of the door. They include but aren’t limited to servers under ringing sales, taking home supplies or product or not charging their friend’s beverages or appetizers. What about product that’s going directly in the garbage at prep or being returned because of over portioning?  

According to, a myth of restaurant profitability is “Using Trash Cans in the Kitchen are a Good Way to Dispose of Trim and Waste.”  Often referred to as “black holes of profitability” any restaurant, including yours, is at risk for losing good, usable food products to kitchen trash cans. If there’s a training gap or people are careless when slicing, dicing or prepping anything in your kitchen, good, usable (and expensive) products can end up in the dumpster.
Say someone is preparing a piece of fish or meat and inadvertently makes a slice in the wrong place. Might they be tempted to hide their mistake in the trash? You bet! It could be happening all the time unless you're doing something to control it.

I know of operators who have removed all the trash cans in their kitchens and replaced them with clear plastic food boxes. They start by assigning a food box to each prep cook with their name on it. The prep cooks are instructed to place all of their scraps, trimmings and waste into their own food box.

At the end of each shift, a manager briefly inspects the contents of each employee's food box. If good, usable product is discovered, it's immediately brought to the employee's attention and, if necessary, they receive some on-the-spot training.

As they say, "don't expect what you don't inspect." Ditching your kitchen garbage cans for plastic food boxes, even for a just week or two, will give you the perfect opportunity to find out exactly what's leaving your kitchen and ending up in the dumpster.

Are you throwing away your profits?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LRA Sponsors Conference Focused on Food, Packaging Waste

Consider how much packaging and food waste is generated each day in your restaurant? Between the prep waste, uneaten meals, glass bottles and used grease, a restaurant generates a huge amount of waste. And the kicker? We have to pay a hefty price to have it hauled off.

“It has always amazed me how costly the waste removal business is,” said Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) president & CEO. “The restaurant pays to have their grease hauled off, which is then recycled into animal feed or converted to bio-diesel.”

In addition to those costs, Harris added that a restaurant also pays to have their bulk waste and recycled corrugated packaging disposed of or reprocessed. As a former restaurateur and consultant, he knows all to well that there are very few restaurants that effectively estimate the cost of total waste removal when they are constructing menus and the amount of waste created.

“We have to become more open to receiving product in reusable containers that can be sanitized,” Harris said. “We have to consider efficient methods for dealing with food waste and accept the fact that it might be time to consider upgrading existing lighting and air conditioning/heating systems to those that use less energy, require less maintenance and provide the same comfort levels at a lower cost.”