BRUNCH+ BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER

The last Brunch+ was the start of new and great things, the aim is to give our guests a totally different experience using music,food and drink. here is how it works; after booking your ticket there are simple steps to follow…

Our Menus

the variety of menu items on our menus are complemented by the cocktails designed with the food in mind. Food and drinks goes well together, always. Thanks to GreyGoose and Martini Prosecco as our brands of choice at last month’s Brunch+. Their cocktails are easy to make while you are at home enjoying your chilled weekends.

Transitioning from summer to autumn our deserts are mouthwatering, simple and easy to make chocolate pancakes. Not forgetting bottomless Greygoose cocktails on the day.
So, save the date for the next Brunch +  to be held on Sunday, 24 June 2018 at SSHydePark.

One last thing

follow us on Instagram: @MANGERmanje
FaceBook: MANGERmanje
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Tickets Available: http://qkt.io/brunchplusjhb

Eight Food Trends For 2018

Euromonitor International has released the eight most influential packaged food megatrends for 2018. These megatrends, sharing common drivers, have the power to transform and disrupt entire categories while also providing sustainable growth and relevance for companies that succeed in these new ideas.

Of these eight megatrends, Healthy Living stands out as the biggest relevance for and impact on foods.

Healthy Living: Back to Nature and No to Sugar

The Healthy Living trend can be described in two sub-trends: Back to Nature and Naturally Functional.

The food industry continues to shift its focus from weight management to nutrition and natural wellbeing. The industry has seen a rise in “Back to Nature”, defined as so-called “raw foods” – uncooked / unprocessed without being heated above 48˚C to preserve most of the natural vitamins and minerals.

With sugar becoming the new villain in the obesity debate, savoury snacks and healthy fats and grains have made a comeback.

Meanwhile, the “Naturally Functional” centers around the big trend of gut health, which has links with mental health and performance. The rise in this trend concentrates on 1) fermented food, 2) ancient grains and probiotics, and 3) healthy fats.

Premiumisation: Redefining Indulgence

Indulgence is and will always be a core driver in foods. However, it is changing shape and form, as consumers crave different products for different occasions and in different geographies.

Redefining Indulgence has been changed through ingredients, health, ethics and flavour.

Ethical Living: Plant-based and Origin Foods

Brought by “Generation X”, ethical living is the fastest spreading megatrend in foods, with 30% of consumers reporting that they are shopping local.

There is a new emphasis on plant-based and origin foods that utilise plant protein, insects, food waste, or origin foods and provenance.

Experience More: From Buying to Creating

From Buying to creating, consumers’ emphasis is shifting from possession to experience.

Shopping Reinvented: Alternative Business Models

By 2021, modern grocery (supermarkets and hypermarkets), will account for less than half of the total consumer goods trade.

In food, modern grocery is still very important, but especially in Western markets, alternative business models such as subscription services and online/offline hybrids are showing strong growth.

Shifting Market Frontiers: Global Exoticism

Resulting from rising immigration of the Muslim population across the world, this trend impacts mainly cooking ingredients and meals.

Food trends tend to track migration, so 2018 is likely to see an uptick of Syrian and Middle Eastern-inspired flavours in Western markets. Halal food is another area to watch.

Middle Class Retreat: Affordable Quality

Mainly impacting staple food categories, this trend is becoming more apparent in down-trading and shrinking households.

The number of single-dad families in the US has doubled in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, wealth inequality is worsening, with low-income groups across the world growing at a much faster rate than a decade ago.

Connected Consumers: Food Technology

Becoming increasingly common in Asia Pacific, but also metropolitan cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, the trend of a non-product proposition is manifesting itself via social platforms, digitally-enabled or enhanced supply chains and distribution practices.

Bringing it all Together – Disruptive Brands

A favourite buzzword for 2018 is disruption. Disruption has prompted multinational companies and legacy brands to acquire start-ups or launch their own innovation labs.

These disruptive brands tend to simultaneously tap into several megatrends and are agile and responsive to consumers’ changing needs; as such, they innovate rapidly.

They might create their own niche category, topple a legacy brand in an existing category, adopt a new technology, or disrupt through a novel marketing or channel strategy.

Source: Food Stuff SA

Healthy African Cuisine – The African Pot

As a health care professional, I can unequivocally announce that I am worried.
I’m worried about the nutrition transition in which many Africans are trading wholesome traditional ingredients for western-inspired foods of poorer nutritional quality.

I am worried about the rise of obesity and diseases of lifestyle such as diabetes and hypertension amongst people of African descent, especially those who lack access to adequate healthcare.

I am worried about the engineers, doctors, lawyers and the rest of the working class lives being lost to complications of chronic disease.

I am worried about our children who if current trends persist will inherit a future of ill-health.

I founded The African Pot Nutrition (TAPN), to teach people how to eat and stay well in a period of extreme development and diseases of lifestyle.

I FOUNDED THE AFRICAN POT NUTRITION (TAPN), TO TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO EAT AND STAY WELL IN A PERIOD OF EXTREME DEVELOPMENT AND DISEASES OF LIFESTYLE.

I value prevention, especially in the absence of reliable health care. I believe in the power of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles for both prevention and management of medical conditions. But, there’s a problem, with all the conflicting diet and lifestyle information circulating in both mainstream and new forms of media, getting healthy can be downright confusing.

As a board certified dietitian nutritionist with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from California State University, Los Angeles and a Master’s of Arts in African Area Studies (with an emphasis on Public Health) from the University of California, Los Angeles I have a unique understanding of both the science of improving health through changing diets and lifestyles as well as improving health on the African continent. In addition, to ensure that I provide cutting-edge, evidence based information, I hold a Certificate in Advanced Training for Adult Weight Management from the Commission on Dietetic Registration and am a Certified Diabetes Prevention Coach.

The goal of TAPN is to translate the science of healthy living into bite sized action plans that you can incorporate in your day to day activities. No gimmicks, magic bullets or special gadgets here. Just science driven results.

Source: The African Pot

12 Burning Questions for the Entrepreneur Trying to Get You to Eat Bugs

Whether a crispy cricket on the end of a fork triggers your spirit for adventure or makes you want to gag, there’s no denying that edible insects will soon be part of the food landscape.

Indeed, in a 2013 paper, Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security, the United Nations outlined the key issue.

“To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today — there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide — and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated,” the authors wrote. “Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.”

Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire.
Image credit: Courtesy of Aspire

To get more insights into this growing trend, Entrepreneur spoke with Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire, which operates cricket farms in Texas and Ghana and produces cricket powder, among other products. The company recently acquired Exo, the makers of a cricket-powder protein bar that’s backed by Tim Ferrissand Nas. Collectively, the new company is likely the biggest in the edible insects space.

We quizzed Ashour about why people should eat insects, the technology involved in farming insects and the best insect dish he’s ever had.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

1. Why should we eat crickets and other insects?

You should eat crickets and other insects because they are nutritious, delicious and better for the environment than almost any other source of protein. Most sources of animal protein require dramatically more land, water and energy resources to produce. To put that in perspective, to produce one pound of beef, you need around 5,000 gallons of water, whereas to produce one pound of cricket protein, you need less than 5 gallons of water.

2. How do you convince people to eat insects?

Most people just need to try it once and that’s all it takes. But the challenge is, how do you get people to be willing to try? Part of that has to do with how you present the product. Some people are adventurous and won’t mind eating a cricket that still looks like a cricket. Other people would prefer you to grind crickets into a powder and then add that powder to a product they already enjoy and are familiar with, like bars, chips, protein beverages and other consumer packaged goods.

3. What about the people who are terrified of eating insects? How would you get them on board?

It’s not irrational to have a fear of insects. Insects can be disease vectors, they can destroy crops and in some circumstances they can be directly harmful to human beings. However, we focus on insects that are edible and safe to eat. People can start off by trying familiar products that use insects as an ingredient. Rather than having a bag of whole roasted crickets, perhaps they would be open to trying a peanut-butter chocolate chip protein bar made using cricket protein powder.

4. What are some of the products that feature edible insects?

Under our brand we sell bars that use cricket protein powder, which are high in protein and low in sugar. We also sell granola paleo bites and crispy crickets. There’s other companies that sell chips, pasta using crickets flour and other edibles like beef patties and sausages using insect protein.

5. What kind of technology is involved in farming insects?

We use automated robotic systems that deliver feed and water directly to crickets throughout their entire lives. So instead of a person going around and inserting food and water into every bin — we have thousands of bins in our facility — and calibrating that food and water to the needs of each cricket bin, we have robotic systems that do that automatically and measure exactly the amount of feed and water and record it.

That recording is actually registered in our cloud so that we can keep and compile a massive data archive on how that particular bin has been serviced throughout its life. Because of that we can use theoretically blockchain to keep a ledger of every bin in the entire history of our facility and to know the relationship of the different bins to one another and which crickets ultimately gave rise to which future progeny bins and so on and so forth.

Image credit: Courtesy of Aspire

We have IoT sensors throughout our entire facilities to capture second-by-second data about different parameters like heating, cooling, temperature, humidity, water distribution, air flow, air ventilation, oxygen levels and things of that sort to help us constantly respond and improve the environmental conditions for farming.

6. Why acquire Exo, the cricket-powder protein bar company?

The merger makes a lot of sense if you think about any early stage industry where vertical integration can be essential to improving the product value proposition to the end consumer. Consumers more than ever want to understand where their food is coming from. Who’s farming it? What is the food that their food ate? What things did their food get exposed to? Did you use chemicals, antibiotics, any types of things like that that don’t resonate with these consumer preferences?

There’s a strong need for some type of supply chain transparency. One of the best ways to understand consumers is to actually have a consumer brand. So by being a company that can address the supply chain side and also understand the consumer, we are able to stretch the journey truly from farm to table.

There are some added value benefits like reduced costs, improved customer retention and loyalty because there is an increased level of accountability and transparency.

7. Can you name some famous people who are supportive of the collective company’s mission?

Tim Ferriss was actually an early investor in Exo. John Chambers, the former CEO of Cisco, is a major investor in Aspire. Mark Melancon of the San Francisco Giants was a huge supporter. Nas the rapper was also an investor in Exo. That’s just a handful of folks. It’s also worth noting that there’s a number of celebrities that have come out talking about how they enjoy eating insects. Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie are three that come to mind right away.

8. What are some of the countries that eat the most insects?

In Asia you have places like Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan and China. In Africa you have Ghana — we have a farm here. Many parts of Africa: Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. Most of Latin America, and of course in North America you have Mexico, where insects are prominently consumed.

The common statistic that the United Nations cites is that 80 percent of the world’s countries have a tradition of consuming insects.

9. Why do the world’s wealthy nations need to adapt to eating insects?

There’s a need to adapt to it because of the sheer shift in how we’re producing food around the world and trends like reduced land, water, energy, more urbanization, higher population.

There’s also the fact that if you look at the history of most of our food, almost all began with a very inglorious and tough sell, but ended up at the top of the menu. Lobsters are an excellent case in point, but so is shrimp and sushi. Most people think insects are the food of the poor, but that could not be further from the truth. If you go to countries like Mexico, for example, one kilogram of grasshoppers is actually more expensive than beef, chicken and pork. It’s not actually a food of the poor. It’s a delicacy of the very wealthy.

10. What’s the most creative insect dish you’ve ever had?

In Mexico, I had the most delicious tamale that was made with a base that uses grasshoppers. It was peppered with flakes of cricket. On top of that it was garnished with ant eggs, which is called escamol. It was divine.

11. When do you hope to see a big turning point with edible insects?

A major turning point was in 2013, when the United Nations published a landmark report that put edible insects on the map in most parts of the world in economic and financial circles. In 2015 there were some very significant investments made into this industry and some early-stage companies. There’s a number of major retailers that are soon going to be launching cricket products for the first time.

12. What is on the horizon in the edible insects’ space?

Major retail launches, new product development and tons of growth in food service and other distribution channels (think: sports stadiums, airline snacks, convenience stores). This industry is rapidly approaching a tipping point, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this exciting market transition.

Source: Entrepreneur

Starting a food business in South Africa

You have a great recipe for rusks, you want to sell at the local flea market or perhaps you would like to become a home chef? Whatever your food business may be, our two part article explain the process  into 10 actionable steps for you.

The fundamentals of food safety

Hopefully by now you have discovered that in order to manufacture food in South Africa or open a restaurant or coffee shop, you have to comply with the Hygiene regulation under the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972. Yes, the regulation used to be under the Health Act, but it was moved. Of course, it is still a matter of public health concern.

So what does regulation R962 – “Regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and transport” actually say in plain English?

 

1. You must have a valid certificate of acceptablity

You must apply for this certificate at your local department of environmental health. You should have this certificate before you start to trade. Try this link for the contact details: Department of Environmental Health

The best option is to actually go into the offices rather than call.

 

2. Your facility must look like a food facility

Not a scrap yard. It needs to be in an area that doesn’t pose a risk to the processes or the food handled. Open ground can lead to rodent infestation, dust from the neighbor can contaminate the product. If the environment is not idea and you cannot move, you need to apply additional measures to keep the outside from becoming a problem on the inside.

 

The regulation puts the onus on you to protect food by the best available method against contamination or spoilage by poisonous or offensive gases, vapours, odours, smoke, soot deposits, dust, moisture, insects or other vectors, or by any other physical, chemical or biological contamination or pollution or by any other agent whatsoever.

 

The design of a food facility must also be conducive to easy cleaning. The regulation uses the words, smooth, easy to clean, non-porous when describing walls, ceilings and floors. Be careful with tiles as the grout may be porous.

The facility must be adequately ventilated to remove the build up of steam. Any cooking appliances will require extraction hoods. Lighting must also be sufficient. In both cases the national building regulations apply. Kitchens for restaurants must also be of a minimum size for the number of patrons. If you are changing the building or designing a new one – make sure your plans are approved first.

Your facility must also be pest proof – flies and rodents are specifically mentioned. This means keeping them out so there should be no open windows unless these are screened, grates on drains and no opening in walls. Rubber strips on the bottom of doors will further discourage rodents.

Your waste water system must be approved by the EHP. Fat traps should be installed.

There must be a wash up facility for cleaning purposes. NOTE! This is NOT the handwash basin.

3. Enough toilets and handwash basins

You will need to provide the right number of toilets for the employees and the patrons if you have a restaurant. The regulation provides a table with the number of toilets you will need.

Each bathroom must have running hot and cold water, soap – always use liquid soap and a means to dry hands.

Rather use paper towels or adequately powered hot air dryers. Make sure there is a waste bin too. The occupational health and safety act regulations also require you to provide sanitary bins in ladies toilets.

The toilets cannot open directly onto the restaurant or the kitchen/food preparation areas. There must be a lobby/double door configuration at least.

Toilets should obviously be cleaner very regularly and preferably not by kitchen staff. NOTE! There still have to be more handwash basins in the food preparation areas.

4. A place for everything and everything in its place

There should be enough space for all activities in your process. This should be storage areas for food that are separate from storage areas for food and ingredients. Ideally you should keep raw food and any cooked/heat processed products separately.

There must be a specific designated area for waste containers.

There must be a place for staff to change and store their personal clothing away from food handling activities. Staff should not change in the toilets.

5. The right tools for the job

All the equipment used in a food handling facility must be fit-for-purpose. You have to consider that items will be used repeatedly so domestic equipment will not last. Rather spend the money and invest in industrial equipment.

 

Any surface that is in contact with food must not be a source of contamination so these surfaces should be smooth, rust-proof, non-toxic and non-absorbent material that is easy to clean. Wooden chopping boards are not ideal.

Crockery, cutlery and any other utensils must not be chipped or cracked and must be cleaned before used.

 

The second part of our article looks at hygienic practices and the duties of the boss and the food handlers.

 

The fundamentals of food safety

 

In Part 1 of this article you will have discovered that in order to manufacture food in South Africa or open a restaurant or coffee shop, you have to comply with the Hygiene regulation under the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972. Yes, the regulation used to be under the Health Act, but it was moved. Of course, it is still a matter of public health concern.

So what does regulation R962 – “Regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and transport” actually say in plain English?

6. How to display, store and transport food

Food must not be stored directly on the floor. This includes all ingredients too. Always store on a pallet or crate to ensure it cannot be contaminated.

 

Food on display must be protected – no fingers, no flies, no dust, no condensation. Look at how you handle a buffet or salad displays in a retail store. Food in storage must also be protected – make sure you cover all containers.

 

Temperature is a critical issue to ensure the safety of your food. Make sure hot is hot and cold is cold. In fact, make sure you keep to the following:

 

 

These temperatures should be monitored regularly and be recorded. Think about it – otherwise how would you prove it when there is an alleged complaint. You will need an accurate thermometer.

 

7. The right PPE for food handlers

While a uniform can be trendy and build your brand, it’s up to you to ensure your food is protected from the people handling it. To this end, it’s up to you to clothe them with proper protective clothing. This clothing is to protect the food primarily so it must be clean and not a source of contamination. If buttons can fall off into your coleslaw, that would be contamination. So, in general we avoid buttons, zips and the like.

White clothing is always the best – you guessed it – it does show the dirt off and then you should wash it frequently. By the way, it is up to YOU to keep it clean, not the employee. Best to use a professional service who have a good reputation in the food industry. You will need more than one set of clothing. Ideally three sets will ensure you have a clean change daily.

Long sleeves are always the best option.

Hair should always be covered – to avoid it falling into food. Yes I know hairnets are not sexy….tough, deal with it and make sure you set a good example.

 

8. The responsibility of the person in charge of the food facility

If your name is on the certificate of acceptability – the buck stops with you!

The law makes you responsible for the following:

• Adhering to the legislation
• Doing the right things to keep flies, other insects, rodents or vermin under control on the food premises;
• Making sure any person working on the food premises is adequately trained in food hygiene and that your staff follow the regulations
• Ensuring waste and waste containers are handled correctly to that it does not create a Nuisance or health hazard
• Keeping the food premises and all facilities, freight compartments of vehicles and containers are clean and free from any unnecessary materials that have a negative effect on the general hygiene of the food premises;
• Supervising staff to ensure that no person handling non-prepacked food wears any jewellery
• Making sure there are no animals around food handling areas
• Esure that there are no unhygienic practices taking place at the facility.
• Make sure no one handles ready-to-consume non-prepacked food with his or her bare hands, unless it is unavoidable for preparation purposes.
• Finally keep records of illness and conditions you and your staff may suffer from as listed in the law which could potentially be transmitted via food.

9. The duties of the food handler

It’s not just you, although obviously, you will be accountable at all times. The law speaks directly to your staff too regarding the following:

Your staff must know that:

Food shall not be handled by any person –
• whose fingernails, hands or clothes are not clean;
• who has not washed his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water or cleaned them in another effective manner –
o immediately prior to the commencement of each work shift;
o at the beginning of the day’s work or after a rest period;
o after every visit to a latrine or urinal;
o every time he or she has blown his or her nose or after his or her hands have been in contact with perspiration or with his or her hair, nose or mouth;
o after handling a handkerchief, money or a refuse container or refuse;
o after handling raw vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat or fish and before
o handling ready-to-use food;
o after he or she has smoked or on return to the food premises; or
o after his or her hands have become contaminated for any other reason.

They also need to know that if they are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, it is best not to come to work. Trust me, you would rather they were not there than risk infecting the entire production or restaurant seating for the day. Don’t forget to keep a record of this though – it’s the law.
Any cuts, abrasions, abscesses or skin condition on their hands and arms should also be immediately reported to you. You will need a first aid box to be able to provide treatment and then gloves to cover the dressing to avoid it landing in your potato salad.
You will need to ensure you staff behave hygienically and therefore do not do any of the following:
• spit in an area where food is handled or on any facility;
• smoke or use tobacco in any other manner while he or she is handling non-prepacked food or while he or she is in an area where such food is handled;
• handle non-prepacked food in a manner that brings it into contact with any exposed part of his or her body, excluding his or her hands;
• lick his or her fingers when he or she is handling non-prepacked food or material for the wrapping of food;
• cough or sneeze over non-prepacked food or food containers or facilities;
• spit on whetstones or bring meat skewers, labels, equipment, or any other object used in the handling of food or any part of his or her hands into        contact with his or her mouth, or inflate sausage casings, bags or other wrappings by mouth or in any other manner that may contaminate the         food;
• walk, stand, sit or lie on food or on non-hermetically sealed containers containing food or on containers or on food-processing surfaces or other        facilities;
• use a hand washbasin for the cleaning of his or her hands and simultaneously for the cleaning of facilities; or
• while he or she is handling food, perform any act other than those referred to above which could contaminate or spoil food.
A long list which is ideally incorporated into a code of conduct which all employees should sign, including you. You might have to use it as a reminder from time to time. Old habits do die hard so expect to be talking about this daily. It’s best to have a formal inspection every day to keep everyone honest.

10. How to transport food hygienically

Finally, the law does address how you transport food. If you have your own vehicles, they are usually covered by your certificate of acceptability. If you use an outsourced provider, please make sure they have certificates of acceptability for their trucks.
Trucks must be clean – obviously. You cannot transport food with any of the following:
• contaminated food or waste food;
• poison or any harmful substance;
• a live animal; or
• any object that may contaminate or spoil the food.

So tackle these 1o items and you are well on your way to compliance with the most basic legal requirement of the country. Even street vendors are required to comply with this one. And when you see your local EHP – please give them a hug!

By Linda Jackson

Source: Food Focus

Fry’s: You don’t become something big by winging it

“There’s a process for how you walk into my factory – and if you walk in the wrong way, I’m going to [figuratively] klap you for it, because that system is there for a reason. It has its foundation in the mistakes that we’ve made and the solutions we’ve found to challenges.” – Wally Fry

Wally & Debbie Fry, founders of vegetarian food company Fry’s Family, that went from missing meat and a home kitchen to shipping over 6 000 tonnes (or 27 vegan products) to 20 countries every year.

Wally Fry never intended on becoming an entrepreneur. He’d given up meat and missed it, so he tinkered in his kitchen to create a convincing meat alternative for him and his family. Having started the company running absolutely every function from manufacturing, to finance, to marketing himself, he knew that systems and processes were the only way the business would be able to scale and free up his time to focus on strategy and growing the business. He gave up control of each function incrementally, and only once he was happy he’d put in the right person with the right skills and training to run things the way he believed they should be run. It’s being this kind of stickler for detail, system and process that has seen the brand gain all the right food health and safety stamps, and accreditations as it’s grown that has allowed the products to find their way into the fridges of major South African retailers, and international markets.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine 

Ocean Basket was launched with R800 and a dream

“We convinced all of our suppliers to let us pay them with post-dated cheques, and then we worked like hell to make enough money that month to ensure they didn’t bounce.”

Fats Lazarides founded Ocean Basket in 1995 with R800. Today the nation-wide brand has system-wide sales of over R1 billion.

Ocean Basket was launched from a 118 m2 store in Menlyn Park with some crazy restrictions, because the centre management had assured their current clients there would be no more restaurants in the centre. They could only serve five proteins and two starches. They weren’t allowed to serve salads, desserts or coffee, and only one red and one white wine by the glass. Doors had to be closed by 7pm.

For every restriction, Fats Lazarides found an advantage. “We focused on the lunch-time trade. Meals were cooked and served quickly. Bar stools set up against the wall saved space and let single shoppers eat without feeling lonely.” Soon, families would deliberately eat an early dinner before the store closed. “An entire family of four could eat for R60 because we let them bring their own salads, wine and even desserts.”

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

The Simple Strategy That Grew Simply Asia Into SA’s Best Eastern Restaurant

Little compares to the happiness that is felt across the table of a great meal shared with family or friends. Or to that moment when you experience the sights, smells and tastes of a new culture for the first time.

It’s an experience Mr Chai Lekcharoensuk, founder of Simply Asia Thai Food & Noodle Bar, wanted to create when he came to South Africa 25 years ago. Back then, he couldn’t find any Thai food that reminded him of home and so he opened Wang Thai Restaurant, in Cape Town, an upscale establishment that promised an authentic Thai dining experience: mouth-watering meals made by Thai chefs, using only the freshest ingredients.

“The success of Wang Thai inspired Mr Chai to make Thai cooking something everyone across South Africa could enjoy,” says Enzo Cocca, Group General Manager of Simply Asia. “And so, he changed the restaurant format from fine dining to family friendly restaurants – and the Simply Asia brand was born, with the first branch opening in Cape Town’s historic Heritage Square.”

simply-asiaThai food was not unfamiliar to South Africans at the time, as Thailand was a popular travel destination. But Mr Chai identified an opportunity to bring speciality, authentic Thai food and trading formats to the market and, by 2006, the company had opened 12 restaurants.

Today, customers can experience the taste of Thailand at 64 outlets across South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, as Simply Asia continues to grow its footprint across the continent. By the end of 2017, the restaurant count will increase to 66 – and 72 by the end of 2018.

Quality and authenticity

Every restaurant in the franchise chain operates on the same values that the very first restaurant was built on: quality and authenticity. It’s these values that Enzo believes sets Simply Asia apart in a market that is now crowded with a wide variety of specialist food styles and trading formats.

“Consumers have a lot of choice today. They can find high-quality, readily prepared food anywhere, from restaurants, to food trucks, to supermarkets. There are a lot of competent local and international traders entering the market every day, many offering similar cuisine.”

So, how does Simply Asia keep customers coming back for more – and appeal to new customers?

The answer to that question is in the question itself: “Customer retention has been key to our growth,” says Enzo. “We have to stay relevant to our customers and still be able to attract new customers every day.”

Employees first

Simply Asia’s growth strategy centres on four pillars: training, innovation, partnering with the right people, and leveraging tools and technology that provide real-time insights into its operations.

“Franchise owners and their teams are continually trained and upskilled to ensure they always offer the best possible customer service and experience,” says Enzo.

He adds that a Simply Asia franchisee is not a hobbyist looking to make an extra buck but is a passionate businessperson who is committed to the values of quality and authenticity above everything else.

“Many of our franchisees own multiple stores and treat their investment as a serious business. We believe this strategy breeds a different calibre of franchisee – one who is driven and understands that the secret to success is hard work, respect and transparency.”

Innovation at all touch points

Underlying all of this is an aggressive approach to innovation, says Enzo. Innovation extends across product offerings and business models and it’s one reason why Simply Asia has maintained its relevance and appeal to new and existing customers.

“Innovation, to us, means delivering new experiences to our customers, whether that’s through more variety and flavours on our menus, our rewards programme that puts cash back in customers’ pockets, or through partnering with service providers like Uber Eats to bring convenience to our customers,” says Enzo.

In a market where customers are spoilt for choice and competition is high, the key to success is having access to the right information, at the right time, says Enzo.

“We control the entire supply chain, from Thailand right to our stores. When you work in the restaurant industry, control of your business processes is important. Information must be real-time and reliable so that you can properly manage your inventory and quickly make the right decisions as situations arise. If you don’t have that information, you can’t see where you’re going.”

simply-asia1For Enzo, the various tools within the Sage Evolution and Payroll solutions give him access to that information and allow him to analyse data in real-time to easily pinpoint issues and opportunities.

“In June 2017, we added 15 new items to our menus across our network of restaurants. As these items were perishable, we needed to optimise the ordering and delivery of fresh ingredients across our production facility, three distribution centres and, of course, all the stores,” says Enzo. “Sage gives us the insights we need, when we need them, resulting in zero wastage and optimal stock levels across the network.”

Transparency, trust, respect

Taking the guesswork out of supply and demand has given Enzo more time to visit Simply Asia stores and to spend time with managers, staff and customers. “At Simply Asia, we’re building more than just restaurants. We’re building opportunities for others and that depends on strong relationships built on trust and respect.”

Enzo has the following advice for anyone looking to either buy a franchise in a chain store, or to franchise out their own businesses: “The key to building a successful franchise group is to fully understand your market and your customers. This is your starting point. If you want to buy a franchise, be sure to interrogate the business model in detail and to get a clear picture of the actual results.”

The people of Thailand place a lot of value on hard work, balanced with friendliness and hospitality. Traditionally, people would greet others by asking if they’d eaten yet. This sums up the Thai way of life, which revolves around sharing and enjoying delicious food in great company.

“When you bring the flavours of another country into your community, something magical happens; a culture is shared between strangers. At Simply Asia, we enjoy nothing more than sharing an authentic Thai experience with our customers.”

*For more on the story, please watch the video here.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Why African food is the next big thing

It’s only February, but many 2018 food trend predictions have cited African cuisine as something to look out for in the months to come. From countries in Europe to right here in our own backyard, flavours from the African continent are inching their way onto mainstream menus, leaving food enthusiasts to ponder why it’s taken so long in the first place.

According to Mohamed Diagne, a Senegalese man who has owned multiple African restaurants across Sydney (including Kilimanjaro in Newtown), this newfound appreciation for the cuisine is borne from diners looking to expand their palates. “People get tired of eating the same thing all the time – Thai, Indian, Italian,” he tells SBS. “They’re after something different, and something healthy.”

Diagne has been a restaurateur in Sydney for more than 30 years. He currently owns and runs Lat-Dior African Eatery in Enmore, and he’s noticing an uptick in patronage in recent years as people become more familiar with African dishes, like Yassa chicken (chicken off the bone marinated with mild spices) and nbambe (tomato, brown lentils, kidney beans and vegetables steamed with spices). “Our connections in Africa tell us African food is becoming a big hit in Europe,” he says. “It’s just the beginning – it’s definitely coming up in Sydney.”

As far as umbrella terms go, ‘African’ is a large one. The continent comprises a multitude of countries, cultures and regions – the food is as diverse as the continent itself. If you’re in West African countries like Senegal, Nigeria or Ghana, you’re eating plate loads of jollof rice, an everything-but-the-sink staple that can be made with rice, tomatoes, onions, nutmeg, ginger and cumin.

Cuisines in Central African countries remained almost entirely free of outside influence until the 19th century, and lean heavily on starchy foods, plantain, cassava, beef and chicken. Diagne says dishes based on cereals, grains and greens (like beans and watercress) feature heavily in the continent’s bevy of cuisines.

Adelaide restaurant Africola takes cues from The Maghreb, which spans the north-western countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. According to head chef Duncan Welgemoed, this region offers an expansive palate of flavours to work with.

“I don’t like talking ’bout trends because they generally fizzle out,” he says. “But I do think the potential for more households to draw the influences of African food into their own repertoire is immense. More people will start eating African food, because it’s vegetable and grain-heavy and packed with flavour.”

Welgemoed sees restaurants like Africola as the frontlines of changing diners’ perceptions of African food – too spicy, too basic, or not basic enough. “African food is still seen as home cooking, so it’s suffered in regards to gastronomy because of the hardships the continent has faced,” he says. “It’s slowly reclaiming its culinary heritage, so there’s a real potential for educating people about African food at the moment.”

Jollof rice, potjiekos (a South African dish, literally translating to ‘small pot food’), Banga soup(made with a type of palm fruit) and Cameroon-style ekwang (a stew made with taro, smoked meat, fish, crayfish, and spices) are all Africola menu stars. “We take these humble dishes and reinterpret them with local produce and refined techniques, which in my opinion makes people consider African cuisine to be world class.”

Just quietly, while we’re talking about spice, Diagne says that contrary to popular belief, African food is actually on the milder side.

“African flavours are tangy, but not very hot,” he says. “If you’re interested in making it hot, we have house-made harissa at Lat-Dior. The way it’s made [with vegetables, hot chillies and oil blended together] – it just melts into your mouth.”

London and Paris have always been certified hotspots for African cuisine; if Australia’s burgeoning appreciation for jollof rice and yassa chicken continues, we might be able to claim that title sooner rather than later.

Source: SBS

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