Chef John Wood may be better known for being the executive chef at renowned kitchens like The Burj Al Arab in Dubai, The Cliveden Hotel, and as culinary director of The Grove, Hertfordshire. John has also worked with prestigious hotels like The Savoy, The Dorchester, and The Mount Nelson Hotels. Today, this Michelin-starred executive chef has spent the last eight years developing and launching a unique new food and beverage management website called Kitchen CUT. Kitchen CUT offers a variety of unique features that come from both the culinary side and the technology side.
We sat down with Chef John Wood to learn a little bit more about this revolutionary new management software. This software has the ability to be set up fast, store recipes safely, can create menus, is scalable to meet your business needs, has automatic wasting and food costs, create nutritional analysis, has the ability to upload your own ingredients and is accessible 24/7! We sat down with John to learn the ins and out of Kitchen CUT to really learn what makes it so unique.
Please give a brief introduction of who you are and your history in the foodservice and technology industry?
I am one of the founding members of Kitchen CUT. I draw on 35 years’ food and beverage (F&B) experience across job functions including positions as Executive Chef, F&B Director, Restaurateur, Multi-Outlet Operations Director and F&B consultant. During my career, I have achieved a Michelin Star, 4 AA Rosettes and 8 out of 10 in the Good Food Guide. I am proud to have had International experience that amassed at some of the best-known establishments in the world, including The Burj al Arab, The Savoy and The Dorchester.
Where did the idea for Kitchen CUT come to be?
A chef’s role isn’t just about creating fantastic culinary experiences. Today’s chef needs to be able to cost dishes, comply with allergen legislation, manage stock, reduce waste, inspire teams, manage suppliers, create innovative menu ideas, report to management and much more. As a Chef, I understood this. As an F&B Director, I demanded it.
I had a feeling that there must be a better way, but I never found it. My desire to create something intuitive and time-saving for kitchen teams—and something analytical and insightful for managers—is why Kitchen CUT is what it is today.
Kitchen CUT is a dynamic and agile technology business. We address operational challenges and headaches, and we find ways to simplify and reduce the administrative burden. As a result, chefs can spend more time being creative, training and developing their teams, listening to customers and delivering consistently high-quality food. Our industry is bursting with innovation in technology for front of house: payment systems, loyalty CRMs, customer ordering and so much more. But the back of house has been largely neglected. We designed Kitchen CUT specifically to cut the workload for kitchen and F&B teams, helping them to concentrate on what they do best, creating consistently great food, with profitable margins, that ensure Chefs adds to improving to the overall customer experience.
Can you walk me through the timeline from idea to beta-to on the market?
In 2007 I started researching what F&B management systems were available on the market for a consultancy client and was amazed that not much had changed since I was a chef. A few years later I teamed up with my business partner and co-founder Simon Haynes (now Technical Director at Kitchen CUT), who had a wealth of digital and design experience and between us, we created something very unique.
In 2012 when we launched our Beta platform we were widely seen as breaking the mold bringing something new, yet simplified to the market. By May 2015 our new platform was operational which brought all of the new development plans into focus to which the product has now moved forwards significantly following re-investment and business evolution. We now operate in over 56 countries, with some world-leading hotel and restaurant brands using Kitchen CUT.
How did your expertise help the layout?
With 35 years of experience in the industry, I was able to use my real operational knowledge to create a polished design and simple user experience to deliver intuitive software that meets the expectations of today’s digital user. Having worked with some of the World’s best chefs, F&B managers, restaurateurs and owners, I pulled from my personal and professional relationships to find out what people in the industry were really looking for in a system.
In real terms, I understand what the software needed to do, but would also understand practically what a chef would need to do in operations. The workflow and processes, therefore, reflect a chef’s process on the ground, rather than a technical team mapping a routine.
The insights that I was able to bring went beyond the development phase as a former chef. A key advantage we have is that we can actively play out critical scenarios from an operational perspective. We can then stress test the product and ensure that we meet our overall targets for usability and experience. We also have had the advantage of feedback from key industry experts on the product so we are able to hear first-hand from those on the front line.
Let’s talk about some of the features Kitchen CUT offers, what is the most essential of features?
Kitchen CUT’s online F&B management system will help drive profitability, ease the administrative burdens and enable restaurants to become fully compliant with new USDA legislation. It will help them benefit from higher levels of consistency across the business as a whole, (e.g. manage inventory, track waste etc.) turning this legislative burden into a business advantage.
- Incredibly powerful, yet intuitive cloud-based system that’s easy-to-use: Take control, wherever you are, with accessibility on tap
- Ability to oversee all locations centrally or individually as required – you can see performance and profitability at a group or outlet level
- Menu engineering in total confidence. Ground-breaking sales mixes that are maximized for an F&B business
- Create dishes in minutes, with complete accuracy, allergen tracking, total profitability and 100% led by chefs
- A centralized platform for knowledge-sharing, best practice, and inspiration. Ability to capitalize on internal knowledge and innovation by sharing among teams
- Stock, inventory management and real-time stock value via built-in intelligence tracks and monitors
- Costing happens in the background. Capability to develop dishes in minutes, with complete accuracy, allergen tracking, nutritional information, total profitability and 100% led by chefs
- Create consolidated and automated or repeat orders to key suppliers
- Buffet analysis. An option to create optimized, profitable F&B offerings
How does the nutritional analysis feature work?
Users simply write their recipe selecting the ingredient and quantity required, and the system will then immediately calculate the dish price. Users then simply need to match the ingredients to the nutritional database and the system will calculate the nutritional analysis and calorie content for you. The system accesses the official USFDA database to provide analysis of raw foods as well as for foods cooked in various formats and some branded products.
Kitchen CUT truly comes into its own when it comes to declaring calories on dishes/recipes featuring multiple ingredients and ‘combination meals’, i.e. those that come with more than one food item, e.g. sandwich, chips and a side salad. Ultimately the technology does all the analysis and the mathematics so that you don’t have to, ensuring chefs are always providing customers with accurate and up-to-date information. The system offers the option to create a nutritional profile, traffic lights, RDAs, allergen data and customer view, simply and efficiently.
We also have a new wastage tracking tool which helps F&B teams manage food waste levels more effectively by logging the amounts of and types of waste they produce. Adding reasons for waste gives users the ability to take effective action to reduce this, as a simple report highlights the monetary value of wastage in the business. This can often be a key area that is overlooked in the overall financial performance. Kitchen CUT offers accurate and easily identifiable areas for improvement. Waste is trackable by area and allows users to gain deeper insights from monitoring the reasons for waste. These reports give instant answers, allowing chefs to make better decisions and instigate business change.
What about cross-platform functionality (Multi-Site Enterprise Network)?
We have a number of configurations within our infrastructure that allows system-to-system connectivity. This connection base is fully scalable and so can be used across regions and geographies centralizing control, information, dish and menu releases as well as analytics top down. Our architecture allows us to easily work with 3rd party systems also. Our developing API has no boundaries.
The benefits of connecting Kitchen CUT to your EPOS system are:
- Automated Menu Engineering reports, and Sales Tracker updates.
- Eradicates the need to manually record sales information across all connected outlets minimizing administration time.
- Sales information drives the analytics giving a more accurate and up to date picture of performance and profitability.
- Automates sales records, daily, weekly, monthly.
- When sales records are created we automatically produce other reports such as; stock usage, menu engineering, sales actual vs theoretical giving more in-depth insights.
How often is the software being updated?
Typically, we will have 2 or 3 releases per month which will be a mix of new features and optimizations so we are pretty continuous when it comes to updates. We are still rolling out new frontiers to the system and so the product is going from strength to strength and with our development plan for the rest of this year, the system is only going to get better.
How are the needs of your customers (operators) changing?
With the impending change in legislation in the US, customers are more so than ever looking for a simple & effective tool to revolutionize their business. Kitchen CUT is proud to be able to offer a system that will provide kitchen teams across the US with the tools they need to control costs, deliver consistency, manage kitchen operations and comply with new USDA legislation.
Technology needs to be usable, accessible and automated. Everyone is becoming accustomed to a higher level of experience from Apps and Games on mobiles and tablets. Legacy systems will indeed fall away to make way for the new breed.
How will Kitchen CUT keep up with the ever-changing, ever-adapting restaurant industry?
Kitchen CUT will evolve with the F&B industry based on insight and technology advances. For any F&B operation, the kitchen is the engine room. If things aren’t posted, tracked, managed, calculated, forecasted, ordered, plated and delivered consistently, nothing else will be accurate.
Legislation will always be a changing so giving F&B teams to agility and ultimately, the confidence to make updates and decisions to run a compliant and profitable organization is the ambition.
To learn more about Kitchen CUT, please visit their website.