CHEF SAMBRANO Food Articles Video Recipes




Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Photo by Jo McGarry

Bob Longhi died at age 79, his restaurant is a landmark in Lahaina. The two story restaurant, open air across the seawall, Bubba Gump right across the street. Longhi's to me was where good live music played, awesome musicians played upstairs, long before the Hard Rock set up shop across the street. I remember he had a cooking segment on t.v., his cookbooks, his hat that he wore. And their shirts that the staff wore and sold was embroidered on the sleeve, an expletive, it was our Hard Rock before Hard Rock came to town.

You could walk through town, and see some Hollywood or recording artist eating breakfast on one of the tables, Bob was a visionary, a businessman, and he loved food. He was a cool cat. I remember hanging out with some friends, his son Charlie was with us. He offered to feed us, fine food from the restaurant, wow! That's cool man. The man is now in Pasta Heaven.

When Longhi's in Wailea opened at the Shops, I showed up and got free stuff, just a cool guy. Bar tabs can be expensive, but to have the man just erase my tab, awesome, and the seafood pasta was on the house... yeah Bob was one of a kind man, one of kind!

So all you foodies out there, and you restaurant owners, keep on doing what you love, keep creating awesome foods and serving the public that food, and you owners of restaurants remember, you guys are creating not just food and an experience, you guys create jobs too, for whoever wants it, you are job creators.


Saturday, July 28, 2012


For those of you wanting to own your own restaurant that never did work in one before, here are some key terms you'll need to know, hey you gotta speak the lingo bro! You can't be a Bozo owner, be in the know, sound hip and cool too.

BUSSING- to clear a dirty table, removing every piece of utensil, cups, glasses, anything, getting it thrown out or taken to the dishwasher, and resetting the tables, cleaned and ready for the next guests to sit down and enjoy their meal. This is where Bussers or Bus Boys come into play.
Fancy Chaffing Dish (L)
CHAFFING DISH- a stainless steel dish filled with some water and heated by a fuel cell under it. You see these fancy shiny warmers at buffets. Rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, seafood, pastas just to name a few are kept warm for serving in these.

86- the term 86 means something has run out, when your chef yells out "86 the Peking Duck!" He's not saying "Hey owner we got 86 Peking Ducks ready." It means you are out of Peking Duck, for whatever reason, there's none to be sold. 86 means it's a done deal, no more, got to order more. Or if you own a night club, and some crap heads come in and cause trouble, you can have your hired bouncers 86 his ass. "You, get out and never come back! You're 86!"

EXPEDITER- More than likely if you are watching your overhead, you'll be the Expediter my friend. An Expediter is very important. I'll give you an example, your dig is very busy, you are a freeking hit! The airlines are advertising your place on the flight video, imagine, some family flying in from Seattle watches the pre-landing video in their Airbus Hawaiian Airlines jet, they see your restaurant, all the good food, and people enjoying it. Now when these guys show up, the last thing they want is their food getting to their table late. So an Expediter's job is to group all the plates ordered for a particular table, so the server will have an easier time delivering the food on time and still hot and fresh. Team work is vital in a restaurant. If I ran one, everyone that works for me better be a team player.

SECTIONS- refers to the dining room that are divided into sections, usually it is sectioned by numbers, and each section will have a few tables that a waiter/waitress is responsible for. For instance, you'll schedule the waitstaff like this. Tonight, Jen has section 1 which has one table near the window, and three towards the middle of the room. Mike has section2, he has one table by the window, and 3 along side the wall. Tani has section 3, his section doesn't have even one table by the window, he may be upset, but hey, there's only two tables by the window, he can get one of those the next shift. So depending on your dining room layout, you can section it so that each waiter will have at least one table that may get him more tips. A couple dining and sipping wine and overlooking the ocean may have a great effect on them for tipping large. When diners are looking at a pretty view, they tend to be happier, I mean if you were seated next to the bathroom, would you feel all Yay Yay? I don't think so.

TURNOVER RATE- this refers to how quickly your tables are filled with diners, and then cleared, cleaned, and filled with the next set of diners. If you are into comfort foods, or a diner, you want your tables or booths turning over quickly, if you got great food, this is your goal, number one, you aren't charging gourmet prices so the people are those that can afford it. Two, that line out the door has to move forward, greeted and seated in minutes. If you want to watch a good system, find your local IHOP restaurant, everyone eats there, and when it's busy, people are moving in and out of there pretty quickly. The average wait time once you sign in, is about 20 minutes. Meaning for every table that's taken, someone is going to leave soon. Just go and study this. It is like that, unless there's a special event, where a family of 40 is seated on tables joined together, then it may take longer. But you want your turnover rate to be pretty fast. Get em in, let them enjoy, let them relax a little, and get them going to fill that table again, high volume, higher profits.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Life can end at any time, it can end when we get into a car wreck unexpectedly, we can fall out of the shower stall and whack our head on the sharp edge of the sink counter, we can die of a stroke even when the doctor tells us we are healthy, we really don't know when our time will come to an end on this place we call planet Earth. We never know.

Just think about all the times our close friends or loved ones died, and we just saw them yesterday. "Hey I just saw Jim yesterday, looked fine, he said he ran six miles, and saw his wife and daughter and had lunch together, can't believe he died today." We had those moments, we all have, or will sooner or later. So when someone dies because he was brutally murdered by his subordinate, that's really insane, horrific, okay I can't name it any more, any senseless murder is well...senseless!

It was the Holiday season 2000, usually a stressful time for hotel managers, the busy season is upon them, festivities, all of that, but also a happy and joyous time too, especially if you live in Hawaii. I just had to write this blog because well, I just had to. No other reason, well maybe the reason is, when I heard this story on the news nearly twelve years ago, I kinda saw this happening, I've worked in professional kitchens, and it can be stressful, in fact, in the pro kitchens you really get the goofballs of society, the train wrecks, total dysfunctional people behind the scenes. C'mon, tell me what person in his right mind wants to cut veggies for a living, or wash tons of greasy pots and pans, and get yelled at by the kitchen manager, or the chef in charge? I was that guy and I hated it, seriously, kitchen work sucks, plain and simple. Oh yeah, if you love cooking Thanksgiving Turkey that's just one day out of the year my friend, do it 5 or 6 days a week, you really want to.... well read on.

There was this kitchen hand named Tam Van Huynh, he was a cook. Now he probably had things on his mind, like most people. Maybe a woman problem, or a bill collector hounding him, or just pissed at life. All I can gather from this and there's probably a final psychiatrist report done, but I don't have the luxury of acquiring that, even with the internet, forget it, I'll use some Hollywood creativity to make it flow. Tam Van Huynh, tired, burned out, maybe snorted some cocaine, has some friends that don't a give crap about life themselves, Tam is busting tail in a hot sweaty kitchen day in and day out. He just needs a break, he's burnt. He figures he'll take a day off or something, maybe see someone. He is just tired.

Tom Matsuda Executive Chef Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, age 43, worked his way up the ranks, did all the dog eat dog jobs that most culinary school grads bypass. Tom Matsuda earned that title of Exec. Chef, he paid his dues, he earned that right to be called Chef. Some are pretenders, Chef? We don't think so, you gotta earn it bro! That title should go to only a chosen few, like the term master whatever, you earn it, you do not pose it. You bloody earn that title, Tom Matsuda earned it.

Back track to 1998, Tam Van Huynh was suspended by the hotel for an argument with a co-worker, and he was to undergo counseling. Counseling? That is not a pretty order, a pretty order is, "Take some time off with the wife and kids to snow capped Calgary and go snow boarding, relax." Counseling? That's kind of clinical. Anytime you offer counseling to someone, it's not a superficial move, it's pretty deep if you ask me. Deep. As in that dude is wounded in the head, he's scary.

I've worked with people in the kitchen myself, it gets stressful, it gets ugly. I myself  had run ins with waiters for dissin me in the kitchen, it's just a stressful place. I wouldn't stab anyone, but when your blood boils, and you have a street mentality, it really is dangerous, and most kitchens, you get a lot of streetwise workers, gamblers, wannabe pimps, drug dealers, all kinds, and the kitchen is not for the weak, you have to be tough to play in the kitchen it is hardball all the way, especially in a hotel like the Sheraton Waikiki, it's all perfection, that plate of Mahi better look ├ęclat, or else.... 

So in two years this dude Tam Van Huynh who had to get counseling is still a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, something is wrong with his mentality, but he remains in Tom Matsuda's kitchen, his ship, why? Hmm. He had to undergo some anger management. But in the case in the trail, Tam Van was emotional because of the place he left behind, a war ravaged Vietnam, he was a 12 year employee at the hotel. Fellow co-workers claim that he was a loner, sometimes working with a scary blank stare to his demeanor,  ice water going through his body.

Tom Matsuda was a family man, no doubt that good old boy done good, one of those guys you looked up to, like your older brother that has all the answers, the guy with the clean cut, never looks at other women the way well, we do.. at times.. Tom Matsuda was a good man, according to reports from friends and family. He was a model employee, a fine son, husband and father, the good ones usually are, fine human beings. Sure Tom was an Executive Chef, and if he had to yell at someone, well that's what chefs do, let me tell you, I had many a time when a chef yelled at me, "Sambrano! Move your (blank) ass! MOVE!" Like I said earlier, it's hard ball, a Sheraton Hotel's kitchen, is not a playing field in Triple A guys, when you work in a Sheraton Hotel's kitchen, think you're playing in Dodger Stadium, or Yankee Stadium, my friend reading this who has no clue about the pro kitchen, if you are working in a Sheraton Hotel's kitchen, you list that on your resume, congratulations, that's one fine piece of your work history, you work, you're a starter at Dodger or Yankee Stadiums, you're in the majors my friend, plain and simple, you are a major leaguer!

It was the Holidays, I can imagine Tom talking to his wife, "Hon, I'll be busy for Christmas, maybe we can do something after New Years, if you have to go and be with your family, go ahead, and have a good time, I'll be fine, we just got a lot of dinners, and functions going on, go ahead babe, I'll be okay, you and the kids, we'll celebrate later, you know every year it's the same thing.. but this job does put food on the table and pays our mortgage." I can just imagine.

Tom is in his office making his schedule for the week, he finds out that probably he'll need extra hands in the kitchen, like he told his wife, it was the holidays, and it's busy. He looks up and down his roster, he looks at the projected dinners that needs to be made, he has to look over the orders, making sure that he's right on the hotel's budget, after all, it isn't his money he's spending, everything an executive chef does, has to do with numbers not just how to make awesome exquisite dinners. So he looks up and down his roster, line cooks check. Prep cooks, check. Pantry, check. Hmmm, maybe keep these guys, yes, keep these guys. Then he posts the schedule, his employees take a look, of course some are disgruntled, maybe cussing, but they figure it's all good, extra pay, another present for the girlfriend, no worries, Chef Matsuda takes care of us, no biggie. Okay, I'll work, what the hell.

As he makes his way to the kitchen to check on his schedule, Tam Van is already in an unstable condition, the ice water in his veins is nearly freezing, his stare almost demon possessive. He walks up to the wall, he looks for his name. He notices his name, and that he is scheduled for a Sunday shift. The ice water in his veins start to rise in temperature, he is becoming very unstable, very emotional, hmmm, a victim of the ravages of war in his home country of Vietnam? I'm just asking, just asking.

In his office Chef Tom Matsuda is probably going over some numbers, calling the executive accountant, telling him that he really needs to order some gourmet scallops, and some extra ahi for sashimi. He has to explain what the prices will be that he'll charge, so that the marketing department and concierges can tell their guests, "Chef Tom has a great Holiday special this Sunday..." As he converses with his colleagues, there's the song White Christmas playing in the background, and then it is I Say Mommy Kissing Santa Clause. All the while, Tam Van is waiting outside of his office, the wall where the schedule is pinned, is the wall of Chef Tom's office.

Tam Van waits.

Chef doesn't come out.

Tam Van walks to the magnetic knife holder, he grabs a knife, a sharp one.

Tam Van waits. He takes a deep breath. Sweat drops down his face.

The door opens, Chef Tom greets Tam Van.

"Hi Tam, how's it going?"
"I'm on for Sunday! Why?!"
"Tam we are busy, I need you to work."
"Tam calm down, I'll give you another day off, it's Christmas, you know we are busy, c'mon buddy, I'll get you another day off, make the O.T.."
His hands are sweating, his mouth is wide opened, he grips the knife from behind him, Chef just stands there, and then.... with a quick thrust, Tam Van stabs Chef Tom Matsuda in his stomach, he starts to bleed profusely.... he slowly dies... he stops breathing.

After the stabbling Tam Van walked over to a hotel security officer and muttered, "He changed my schedule, he changed my schedule, he changed my schedule."

This man Tam Van Huynh had a severe case of mental disorder, he was found guilty of murder and sent to prison. At a press conference, Tom Matsuda's son said that they could move forward, but their loss was great, the conviction could not bring Tom back, but justice was served.

All in the professional kitchen, and I myself always said, "This day will come, one of these days this will happen, there's so many unstable workers in the kitchen with all the knives around, it'll happen. So when it did happen, I shook my head, and said, "God take care of Tom's family, and take Tom home.... I seen this day coming, because I've worked with guys like Tam Van Huynh before." Sad... it had to happen, I just seen this day coming.

In court Tam Van Huynh without expression as he listens to his conviction of second degree murder.

Below Warren Matsuda son of Tom Matsuda speaks after the trial. Copyright Honolulu Advertiser

Thursday, July 26, 2012


For you that are owners of a restaurant, or you wannabe owners. Once you open your doors, or pull up the shades at the counter, you are ready for your first sale. The importance of exceptional service is part of the value you offer your customers. Always value, that way they'll come back for more. Friendly service, smile, getting to know customers by their first names means a lot. It shows that you care, and that their visits are noticed. Oh yeah, you better serve great food first, but after that service is everything.

If you need some tips on selling your product, well something's wrong, that means you don't believe in your product. If you know your product, and believe in it, that's all you really need. If you aren't satisfied with your 1/2 pound chicken burrito that you serve, well that means you don't have any confidence in it, if I owned a restaurant, and I had a lousy burrito that didn't taste great, I myself would hesitate to sell it. So get your foods tasting great so that you can actually pick up that burrito and eat it all in front of your customers. If you believe in your food and you can eat it, or serve it to your family then you've won the battle. "Hey try our 1/2 pound chicken burrito, it's great, 2 cheeses, grilled chicken breast over Kiawe wood, cilantro, and sour cream and chives butter! How's that?"

Here's some books I want you to read on selling and service, The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffery Gittomer. Also by Jeffery The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. Jeffery's books are simple and cuts to the chase, he tells it like it is. I read most of his books also one that you need is the Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for networking your way to Rich relationships.

Greet your customers, explain your menu even if you are selling a couple of items. A great salesperson will get into everything about that cup of 12 oz. coffee, from the beans, where did it come from, how it was shipped, how it is ground up, and how it is brewed with the right temperature of filtered water, to the recycled coffee cups, and how every .25 cents will go to help kids in India find drinking water. Know your know, or else kiss your biz good bye, I mean it, the more you know your product, you can bank. I mean if I went to a coffee kiosk and the guy selling it didn't tell me hi, didn't acknowledge me, and didn't know squat about the coffee, I'm walking baby!

Remember last time I checked, human beings are the ones still walking into restaurants, not robots, so act humane, and treat people right, even if the guy comes across like a fucking dick, or the woman comes across like a fucking bitch! Be nice, take the high road all of the time, and sorry for my bad words, forgive me Lord. But sometimes you guys need to be spoken to in your own language!

Service, service and more service, make this your every day ritual, if you have teammates then hold each other accountable for being nice, make wagers, if one of you snaps at a customer, you throw 10 bucks into that empty mayonnaise jar. And if you have that empty mayonnaise jar for tips, be nice and more than likely you'll get that gratuity, don't give up being kind to your customers, if 5 people didn't tip you, the next one very well might. So heads up, be nice and get those tips, fill your apron pockets with cash, remember the lazy will not eat, but the hard worker always prospers, the hard worker has more chances of being lucky or blessed, because action produces, and inaction does not.

If you need help in creating a great customer service program for your restaurant, contact me, I'm on Maui, maybe Vegas, but if you're having trouble with your staff not producing, I'll help you out, I can draw up a plan by just corresponding via email or phone, no charges, I'm here to shed some light on the weary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


What's the best things about Maui, or Hawaii in general? I tell you what, it's our mixed ethnic culture that continues to grow, from music, dance, film, stage, businesses, and of course everybody's favorite... FOOD! In Hawaii, because of our rooted culture in Polynesia and Asia, our foods are very exotic, yet simple, and tasty that anyone that moves to Hawaii always gets the food bug, the local food bug that is.

We locals do love a fine dine once in a while, sure we like to go to Merriman's and nail some delicious fish, and a steak, and some wine. Sure we like to visit James Mc Donald's place, and we do love the fine fresh foods at our friend Mark Ellman's Mala and Honu. We love to go once in a while to those fancy plated restaurants that are awesome, I mean going to Nick's Fish Market, and going to the Hyatt and sitting at Swan Court is a blast for that special night out you know? And who wouldn't want a fine night on occasion?

But it's the simpler things in life that gets us locals jacked up, simple, I mean my niece lives in Los Angeles now, she's married, and has a child, but when she comes home to Maui, that Hapa Haole girl loves her local ethnic plate lunches, and being in L.A. she can get her fine dine after all it is L.A. home of the celebs. But us locals are simple, we really drool over Uncle's steamed Uhu, gutted, and stuffed with Chinese sausage, onions, mushrooms, and soy sauce with mayonnaise mixture, of course Uhu is Parrot Fish, and it is steamed over a hot Kiawe wood burning grill, the fish is stuffed and seasoned, and wrapped in foil, men talk about how they caught the fish as they drink beer, you know the BS is all part of manhood. Me... I was the guy that always pulled the floater when my friends went diving, I'm a team player, God himself did not make me a great free diver, so I stayed on the surface of the ocean, pulling a huge tub that floated in a used inner tube and waited as my buddies speared fish and octopus and filled the tub, when they were done they shouted, "Okay Ron, swim em in!" And I did, with the movie Jaws in the back of my mind, or Shark Week. 

So today (Wednesday, July 25 I think), my buddy Ron asked me to help him at his house, the task was throw away rubbish at the local dump, and to help him dig around his house to see if the foundations were alright. Hmm, easy gig. I took that gig number one, because he's a great friend, that would give me the shirt on his back.. well, hope he'll wash it first if that time came. But you get the idea, Ron's a great guy. And number two he promised me he'd buy me lunch.

"Eh you help me, I'll buy you lunch."
"No shit?"
"No shit, I'll buy you lunch."
"Okay man.. where are we gonna eat?"
"Don't know, help me first."

But I could not help wondering like a little kid what I'm gonna get when we hit the toy store. As I dug around his house, I helped him inspect the house foundation, it looked great, then we went to the dump to throw the rubbish, went back to the house and washed up real fast, you know sanitize our hands, then we went to Treats & Sweets in Kahului. I actually did not want to go there because I had a bad experience not long ago there, my Shoyu Chicken plate was very very very very less than spectacular, it was just too sweet.

Anyhow, Ron tells me, "Eh you like eat Chow Fun?"
I'm like, "Yeah, you know how fond I am about Chow Fun, it's my favorite food."
Then he tells me, "I'm going to Treats & Sweets to get some."
No! That place made my Shoyu Chicken experience horrible, seriously, even if the cook was on a bad day, it was horrible. But Ron is paying, so I just shut my trap.

When we got there, there weren't anyone around except two guys that were looking into each others eyes... and ah... some kids with their mom... oh yeah and some girls that stopped by to probably smoke some dope in the parking lot.

Ron who has a bad knee ordered as I waited under the tree for shade, he motioned me over to grab the ticket, he wanted to sit down at one of the tables he was hurting, bad knees. So I grabbed the ticket and stood in line, ha ha it was only me in line at the pick up window. When the order was filled, I grabbed this huge ass paper bag, it was heavy, I took it to the table. I opened the bag, and took out two huge plates of Chow Fun, and two trays of crinkled french fries, some packets of Tabasco and Ketchup and Mustard mixture, and some pepper, and some chopsticks. I'm bad ass with the chopsticks.

The meal was awesome, simple like how we like it, the Chow Fun noodles were the wide ones, there was Charsiu Pork pieces inside, and it was hot, very very simple and delicious, no fancy veggies, primarily it was just lots of noodles and pork. Pork by the way I should stay away from because it gives me gout. But today it was just tiny bits, I ate it and so far as I type on my MacBookPro, I feel no tingling in my feet, a sign that's Yay, no gout coming on.. well I hope so.

So if you want some simple local style Chow Fun small or large sizes, stop by Treats & Swets on Lono Ave. in Kahului, it looks like an old Dairy Queen, because it is an old Dairy Queen. They got other kinds of plate lunches, and I got to admit, they do smell good, the food that is... I just had a bad run in with their shoyu chicken plate one time, we got off on the wrong foot, but that's okay, Treats & Sweets made my day a Yay Day!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Wannabe restaurant owner, here's a few terms you'll need to learn, and this is for you that never worked in a restaurant, and never ran a business, and you just want to own a restaurant...good luck buddy.

Here's some key terms.

CASH FLOW- This refers to the movement of money within your operations, such as your income, what you're making for the day, week, month etc. And it is about what you're paying for, or your expenses. Hire a very competent accountant that will make sure every cent is accounted for. Make sure he or she also is paying all pertinent taxes, local/state/IRS etc. I've heard of many naive business people trusting a not so competent accountant that did not pay all pertinent taxes and bills, only to get bitten big time in the ass later with penalties and fines, and even possibly jail time. Do not F around with the money situation! This is business. Be professional. It is your money, you are hiring these people to do their jobs. Cash flow is the lifeblood of the business.

Please get advice from anyone in a successful business, network in your locale, go to business luncheons, get to know other movers and shakers in your area. I bet you'll hear some very horrific stories about business.

CASUAL DINING RESTAURANT- Exactly what it says, are you setting up a high end gourmet eatery, or are you doing casual? Full serve casual serves foods that everyday folks want to eat, the whole ambience is very laid back, friendly, family themed. Wait staff is dressed casually, shorts, t-shirts, women maybe in tank tops if it is a warm locale. The foods can range from sandwiches, to hot meals cooked to order such as pastas, or other ethnic dishes served simple. You'll probably have more success in these economic times to start a casual diner as opposed to a high end joint. More people will be inclined to eat a seafood pasta that runs about 14.99 at a casual establishment as opposed to spending nearly 30.00 for the same product that's on a nice fancy table with silverware.

COMPENSATE or COMP- In the restaurant business if a customer is not satisfied with his meal for example, his pork loin with wine sauce was tough and was not appealing, the manager on duty may offer something for free, maybe a glass of wine, or a dessert, or a free meal the next time they visit. It is to make the customer happy, so of course they come back. Imagine if you went out do dine, your rib eye was hard and dried up, and the restaurant didn't compensate you, what would you be feeling? I'd feel sick. "I paid 19.00 for this piece of .... and I get nothing?"

COST OF GOODS SOLD or COGS- The costs associated with producing the foods you will be selling off of your menu. What does it cost to make a rib roast with the au ju, and the cost of serving it? There's always a cost for everything you'll sell, find out what it is. Some restaurants get really anal and charge for a small pat of butter. Why? Because being a ruthless business person can payoff. If there's 100 pats of butter in a case, and it costs an x amount, each pat has a price on it, if you give it away, you're losing money. It depends on how you price your meals, some restaurants will slightly price a meal a little over but not too obvious, so with that they can afford to hand out some free stuff like an extra packet of mustard or ketchup. Once this gets out of hand, this is where charging for these things comes into play. I've seen a pizza place charge for extra plates a while back. Now remember, it is your money invested in your restaurant, or investors, your job is to turn a profit. Well, breaking even is more the goal, and then profits. First things first, you have to have extremely good quality stuff being sold. As my friend Peter who's in the food business always says, "You can't break even on lousy food, if you can't break even you won't turn a profit, your job is to get quality in place first before you start thinking profits."


Okay restaurant owner, or future owner, I'm going to give this to you straight, you'll not only need a staff and nice menus. You'll need insurance to cover your ass in the event some asshole wants to sue you because you made fun of his fat nose when his boogers came flying out into his seafood ramen. He wants to sue your ass, he wants to litigate, you hurt his feelings awwww! Now he can't sleep, he's an emotional wreck! Ha ha ha, this can happen, so tell me how the f... k are you going to cover your ass? Insurance bubba, you'll need Liability Insurance, call an insurance company or a few and get some quotes.

Also look into how your business is going to be structured, ask an attorney for this part, it gets tricky with lots of paperworks, such as, are you setting up as an LLC, Limited Liability Company or a corporation. An LLC protects the partners or member of the LLC against a law suit, it can protect your personal assets in the event a suit is brought upon your LLC.

Insurance is key when owning a business or anything, you would not think of driving your BMW without insurance right? Same goes for your business, you got to protect it with the right insurance. Remember, I could be a patron in your Buddy's Grill and Bar, and you had 1 dollar draft Wednesdays, I walk in, and there's a wet spot on the floor and I take a mean ass flop. Oh I'm okay, but oh yeah, ah my neck is tweaked, I'll go to the doc, and oh yeah, ah he says I can't work now for life.... sweet, I hire an attorney and sue you. Well, now what? You'll need insurance to defend or to pay me off or something, you'll have to face the suit if it is brought upon you, and if you were in a cave the last few decades, attorney fees are quite high these days. So I hope you'll have the right liability insurance.

There's other insurance you'll need to look into, but for now, this is good enough.



It does not matter if your restaurant is in Las Vegas, Nevada or in India, you the owner should know some serious terminology especially if you've never managed a restaurant before, and you aren't Donald Trump with his connections to fast financing. You will probably need to be in your dig many hours, overseeing every aspect of the business, after all it is your baby, and even if you've hired a GM, you need to oversee him or her. So talk to some other GMs or owners and get some tips, you'll need a crash course. And in this blog post I'll go over some terminology that's totally relative to running a restaurant. Okay here we go.

ACTUAL USAGE- This means the amount of product and the supplies physically used in a certain time period. Put it this way, if you used 50 pounds of potatoes in a week, then your actual usage of potatoes would be 50 pounds for a week. This is for of course taking your inventory seriously. Ha ha, you thought this shit was all glam didn't you? Yeah you did, you saw Mario Batali kicking back all styling, but it's not all kick back buddy, it's work! If you can't handle this, get out of the biz now! Or don't even try.

BACK OF THE HOUSE or (BOH)- Simply put, this term means any area where customers do not access or see. Such areas are, your office, storage room, break room, and of course where the foods are prepped and cooked the kitchen. If you don't know this one, man you are really messed up buddy.

BREAK EVEN POINT- Here's an illustration I'll draw for your mind, or something like that. Imagine you are running a lemonade stand, and it costs you 30.00 dollars in supplies and man power a day to run it. You hit the break even point when you sell enough lemonade to cover the 30.00 in expenses, after you hit that, all the other sales is your profits. You see, if your dig barely breaks even, you'll be... how should I say this... you'll be out of business in no time, ha ha ha ha ha ha.

BUILD-TO-AMOUNT- Otherwise known as Par Level. Okay I'll make it simple. Everyday your staff or the leader of say the kitchen will have to do some ordering of food products. Okay let's take for example, mayonnaise because I love mayonnaise, my favorite condiment. Every day, your cooks use 5 gallons of mayonnaise, you should have at least another tub of 5 gallons or a little more as a backup. You get the idea. In other words, you just don't order what you need, you order a little more in case you need it, not double the orders, but just a small percentage of backup. Same goes for everything else, like rice, if your kitchen is cooking 10 pounds a day, make sure you got a few pounds for backup for the week. And this gets tricky when the next few days become dead all of sudden without warning, now you'll have extra inventory. Hmmm, not easy eh? Ha ha ha ha ha, and you thought you were gonna be Chef Ramsay chilling in Hawaii with a Mai Tai in his hand, nope! ha ha ha ha.

Okay till the next blog post


I'll do a few blog posts called SO YOU WANNA BE AN OWNER OF A RESTAURANT? I'll just delve in the realities of being an owner of a restaurant, especially in these trying times of a shaky fickle economy, after all, owning a restaurant is business, and you won't be immune to the forces that have shattered many corporations in the past 5 years or so. But look up and be positive, you want to own a restaurant.

Hopefully you'll know what kind of food you'll be serving up, and who the target market is going to be. Now you need to figure out who's going to play the key roles in the operations, I mean to say, who's going to be in charge of the front of the house, like greeting customers, taking orders, and serving, and also collecting the payments for the foods you'll be selling. And who will be in charge of the back of the house, meaning the setting up of the food production area, who's going to order, and keep track of the inventory, who's going to set up the day to day kitchen duties? Who's the head chef? Who's the line cooks? Who's your prep crew and dish or utility people? Are you going to hire out the heavy duty cleaning jobs like scrubbing the kitchen floors when it's all built up with gunk? Or are you going to pay your crew extra when the time comes, because my friend you future restaurant owner, all these maintenance tasks needs to be done. Imagine you don't clean the hood, you keep your grills caked with heavy grease, it may cause a fire, I've seen it happen. Cleaning is a day to day task, but the heavy cleaning, like the grease trap has to be sucked up by an expert, all of these things needs to be addressed.

Oh there's no glam my friend in owning a restaurant, do not be fooled by those celebrity chefs on the Food Network, there's a bunch of pee ons that do the dirty work so they look marvelous, in the real world buddy boy, forget glam, and think sweat and stink come the end of the night. That's exactly what I said, kitchen work? Stink! Front of the house? Sore feet, sweat and stink! Ask any hard working waitress, she'll tell you, "Are you kidding me? I love my job? Get real!" Okay some do love their jobs, but deep down inside when they're busting tail all week, it's not the job they'll say they'd die for. Same goes for cooks, ask them if a better gig comes along, like a valet job that fetches several hundred a night in tips, I'm telling you restaurant owner man, those cooks will be gone in a heartbeat! Cooks are the dogs of the operation, they tend to be more day to day, live for today, kind of personalities, so you'll have to deal with their attitudes because in every bloody kitchen I've worked in, cooks are or could be psychotic! Sorry, you'll be dealing with a wide and broad range of screwed up personalities.

Okay, I hope you're not running away from your dream. Seriously come back and sit down, I'm not done yet. Oh...I hope you've worked in a restaurant before.... yes? Ah was that a yes?.... Ahem... I can't hear you.... Oh... you did not....Okay... we got a big ass problem. If you haven't even worked in a restaurant before, .... I really can't help you there, you mean nothing? Not even a few months on a summer vay cay at Mc Donald's? No. Okay. Let me see. Okay you know business I hope, I mean what it is to be in business, like you are not to be in business to be a tax write off understood? You are here to make bank! Okay... this is getting hard for me to explain because you haven't worked in a dig before.

First things first, hire managers that has lots of experience. Hire a general manager that's been in the restaurant business for many years, make sure he or she understands everything about the business of running a food service operation, and I mean everything! I'm just blown away that you never worked in a.... never mind.

Get the GM down, he or she is your first round draft pick, go over what your concept is, and listen to he or she, if they got experience in turning a profit where they worked before in the past, they'll be your most valuable player. Work together to hire the rest of the staff, your chef, supervisors, cooks etc. And the front of the house, wait staff, bar staff if applicable. Man you see what happens when you go into something blind? Lots of work buddy!

Now your GM will no doubt have a bunch of ex-employees that want a gig, a new refreshing gig, you see in the restaurant biz, everyone knows everyone else, or close to that notion anyhow. So you get the GM, have him/her talk to people in the business, if it's a good GM, trust their instincts, they'll get a good crew for you, from the head waiter, down to the dish washer. Okay, that's just one phase.

Just keep this in mind. I'll blog something else soon, or a continuation on this subject.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

ITALIAN DELIGHT Lahaina Gateway Maui

Another new Italian Restaurant in Lahaina, right in our hood. A very tasty place to eat, you can smell the Italian seasonings emulating from the place as soon as you park your car, or walking from either direction. Located close to Foot Locker and Office Max, this is what the Foodie Gods were planning for us locals. 

I love Italian food, as soon as I walked in I was greeted by Jody the part-owner of the joint, and I did notice that she was busy. She explained that by being new, and just opened, it was hectic. I saw my friend Joanie with her boyfriend in there mauling on huge slices of pizza, and Italian Delight, that's the name of the dig, has pizza by the slice. As I watched the chef toss the pizza dough, this was really unique, why? Because I can tell that the owners love what they do. Really the food is not fancy, it's like Italian home cooking, you can tell when food is good, you caaaaan smellllllll it!

So I ordered a Spaghetti w/ Sausage, it came with a Garlic Knot, and some parmesan cheese in a ramekin. The prices are very reasonable for what it cost to run a food establishment, and the portions are real in proportion of the price. My meal was about 15 bucks plus tax.

So if you come to Lahaina, and want a great home cooking with Italian as the roots, Italian Delight is a new dig that I hope makes it in the future. I was always for the small business owner(s), all of the time. I want to see more small businesses open up, not just any business, but businesses owned by people that are in business because they are passionate about what they produce and ultimately sell to the public.

Part Owner Jody jams on the phone taking to go orders. The menu is perfect, not confusing, and it has everything you'd want if you're an Italian food aficionado

335 Keawe ST. #211
Lahaina Gateway Shoppping Center
Open 7 Days a Week Lunch/Dinners

N.Y. Style Pizzas by the slice 2.75 to 3.75

16" Whole Pizza 18.95 plus additional toppings from 2.25 to 2.50.

White Pizzas w/ Mozzarella 18.95

Calzones/Stromboli 11.95 to 13.95

Pastas from 14.95 Spaghetti from 8.95 to 14.95

Cold Hoagies and Wraps from 11.95 to 13.95

Pasta (penne, rigatoni, ziti or spaghetti) Pupus, Salads, Hot Subs, the got it all! Ask for their daily specials.

Dine in or take out.
"Mama Mia, this is Pizza!"

What's a Stramboli? Basically it's a square pizza dough with toppings and cheese, rolled up, or think of it as a turn over pizza, or a pizza roll.

Thanks For Visiting Ron S.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Here I sit in my sister's office in her lovely home she shares with her husband, here on the island of Maui, it's a rather warm and sometimes cool Summer evening, I was contemplating watching the t.v. David Letterman is on, and he's got the greatest rock band for his so-called orchestra. I love that show more than Leno.

I was thinking what to write, and since this is a food blog I figured I'd give some info for people that want to start a restaurant, some things you may look for when searching for that perfect location. There are a lot of information from just using Google or Bing, you'd be surprised to learn that there's countless restaurants up and running with all of the valuable equipment needed to store, prepare, cook, and serve your potential customers.

You may see an ad that is displayed like this: FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD GRILL AND BAR for sale; 85,000.00 Seller Financing available. Heavy foot traffic, located across of big box retailers, successful for 15 years, owners will retire. 2 weeks training, 5 days, 8 hours a day. 

If you see this, go check it out, and interview the owners, ask them what their cash flow was like, ask if you can see proof in numbers too, let them know you are seriously interested in what they got. No, you aren't guaranteeing that you'll buy the joint, but you are seriously interested, and it is in their best interest to converse with you if they want to sell their baby, don't come across like a jerk, be friendly.

Number one, it says they been in biz for 15 years, that's a long time, research them, ask their diners what makes them so special. If you go there and study them, and every day they got a line out the door, this is a future money maker, I mean in contrast to a restaurant with zero lines? You got the picture? Take a tour of the place, ask to visit the chef and the kitchen crew for a few minutes. Check out the front of the house, observe the menu, the kinds of people there. And there's big box retailers across the street, that's gold man, that's heavy duty traffic. Think at this point like a true Capitalist! Sorry, if I had the money and this place rocked, I'd be thinking "Cha Ching!"

So you did your recon, it looks great, but you want to add on to the menu your own little twist, cool, ease into it, don't buy the place and change the whole menu and look of the place, especially if the owner has a fan base. Maybe you figure you'd make his Grannies Roast Chicken differently, you don't like the taste. But listen to me and don't be an idiot. Listen, if the patrons there love his Grannies chicken, do not mess with it. If the POS registers good numbers on this item on his menu, leave it be.

Now you see that his Seafood Pasta looks pretty shabby, and it doesn't twirl your beanie, and you see the POS register hardly with a blip of the seafood pasta, go right ahead and redo it, and make sure that the customers know that you re-did that dish, highlight it on the menu, place a placard on every table, with something like this: "Try The Seafood Pasta, creamy lobster sauce, fresh herbs, and generous slices of thick garlic bread." That's all you need, let them know that they gotta try it, maybe have a batch of it, and give away free sample plates of it. If it's a hit, pat yourself on the back. The customers will appreciate that you've kept the original hot sellers, and that you want them to sample your new inventions. You are bridging the gap from the old owner to you, the new maverick in town.

If the logo is well known, and they sell shirts and ladies tank tops, do not mess with the logo. What you may do, is slowly make changes to the logo, maybe erasing Chuck's name with yours, but keeping the main body of the logo in tact. Imagine when a pro football team leaves one city for another and they keep the name. One example is the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis, they kept the Ram on the helmets, but they removed Los Angeles because the team is currently in St. Louis. You get the idea?

When looking at a business that's successful, and you want to buy it, keep in mind what they are known for, and if they sell it like hot cakes do not mess with it, that car ain't got nothin wrong with it, don't fix what's not broken.

Observe the surrounding area, what's located behind the restaurant, do you need more lighting for security reasons? Protecting your customers and employees is important. Have a contractor friend come along with you to eyeball the premises, maybe you want to redo the bar and some of the dining room because it does look worn and tired, some wood and tile may need to be replaced, check the electric outlets, wiring, is it fire safe? How safe is the gas line? Is the fire extinguishers up to date? Just give it a look, have it inspected before you sign your life away. Hire an attorney to draw up and go over any negotiated statements in writing. Hire an accountant to go over some numbers, look at your liabilities, from the very start, project when you'll turn a profit, have a business plan written out, even if you do have money, having that plan to show other investors in the event you got the capitalist fever and funds needs to be raised quickly, that plan is key.

Hire a marketing specialist to help you get people in there, for instance, if that place is 60 to 80 percent full during lunch, you want that place up to 70 to 90 percent filled. If you serve breakfast, and it's only filled at 40 percent, something's wrong, market, get that word out you own the joint, and have the chef create interesting breakfast, keeping it real and simple, great egg dishes, hot organic coffee and tea, awesome biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict's, cereals, fresh fruit, maybe a weekend brunch from 10 am to 2 pm. Marketing and advertising is keys to having your sales bloom. If you're selling 25 corned beef sandwiches from 11a to 1 pm, try a new goal to get that 25 average up to possibly 30. Practice marketing that sandwich, and advertising that sandwich. That's what the big boys do, like Mc Donald's, Burger King etc., despite their large funding, you can do that in your local area. Pass out coupons, 2.00 off entrees, with a picture of that corned beef sandwich on the coupon. The more people see, it becomes ingrained in them.

Okay that's enough for now, you get the picture, use a great restaurant to make you profits, build on it, and expand. Get a business plan written out, get a team together, an accountant, a legal advisor, a contractor, and run your ideas to others and see what kind of responses you get.

Good Luck Ron


Dairy free Green Mayonnaise/Salad Dressing is a cool looking condiment on the dining table, it is filled with richness like a mayonnaise should, and has the green and fiber from the natural ingredients. This is a simple recipe, and if you have a blender, all the better, this mayonnaise or dressing will be made the modern way, less work for the home chef.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 natural or organic large egg
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
About 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1/2 cup organic spinach leaves (fresh)
Roughly 1/4 of fresh basil
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

1. Place the egg, lemon juice, mustard in the blender.
2. Pulse then start on low speed, slowly adding in the olive oil. 
3. Add in the parsley, spinach leaves, and fresh basil, it should be turning into a thicker product. Add more oil if needed.
4. Adjust with sea salt and pepper.

Cover in a serving bowl, and refrigerate, use the same day.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Time to continue on salads, today I'll speak about gluten free salad dressings. Why? Maybe you have a disorder when consuming gluten, gluten the stuff in wheat flour that holds it together, so gluten is found in lots of dressings because flour is used as a thickener, but here I'll show you a simple recipe using all gluten free ingredients that makes it good for anyone that cannot consume gluten, like a possible guest at your dinner party. In fact we do not have to have any eating disorders to enjoy a gluten free meal.

Takes about 5 minutes to prepare and about the same amount of time to finish.

1 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil, or virgin olive oil, get what you can
3/4 cup brown raw sugar, or a little more for sweet
1/2 to 1/3 cup of gluten free ketchup 
1/4 cup Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar or a few more teaspoons for bite
1 tsp. gluten free steak sauce
1 tsp. minced shallots
1 tsp. minced parsley

Directions: Mix all of ingredients in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place in an airtight plastic or glass container and refrigerate.

New Nomato Ketchup, zero tomatoes, made with organic veggies, this is a good product to use on any meal that calls for ketchup and you are a gluten free eater. Retails about 7.00 for a 10 fl oz. bottle.

Mr. Spice Organic Gluten free/ Salt Free steak sauce, another good item to have in your arsenal for cooking gluten free. Retails around 6.00 per a 10.5 fl oz bottle.

BRAGG Apple Cider Vinegar a product used by many health conscience chefs and home cooks. Once opened store in the fridge, organic and all natural, it is also good taken each morning with water to clean out your insides.