This post is from our senior consultant, Jared Flowers.
The late Anthony Bourdain said, in the last chapter of his book, Kitchen Confidential, “If you want to be a chef, have enough respect for yourself and your craft to learn Spanish.” He was referring to the fact that many of the back-of-house workers in our industry come from Spanish-speaking countries, and in order to effectively communicate with them on a personal and professional level, you should learn their native language. I took this to heart and spent many years learning different dialects and styles of the language, and it proved to be an invaluable tool in my restaurant career. It continues to be helpful in my work with National Restaurant Consultants, as well.
Another language I learned as a teenager recently proved equally important: American Sign Language. When I was 14 years old, I moved next door to a family that also included a 14-year-old boy. He was deaf, and I had two choices: to never connect with this potential friend, or to learn how to communicate with him. His family taught me how to sign, and Ray became one of my best childhood friends.
Last week, I had the pleasure to represent National Restaurant Consultants in the grand opening of The June Cork Pub, who has been a client of ours for the past two years. During the grand opening, we met a family with three small children, one of whom was deaf. When I greeted their table, the parents told me how much their deaf son loved cooking, and he wanted to learn about the restaurant. I was able to channel my inner 14-year-old and remember the sign language I was taught so many years ago.
Signing, I asked this young man if he wanted a tour of the kitchen. He was truly delighted, so I asked the mother and father if they would allow me to take their three children on a tour. They were just as thrilled to accept the invitation. As we walked through the kitchen, I introduced the kids to the cooks, showed them coolers, and preparation on the line. I signed to the young man what I was speaking to his siblings. The expressions on their faces was priceless. The family thanked me, and as they left, told me we had gained customers for life.
I share this story because moments like these are precisely why we do what we do at National Restaurant Consultants. It’s not the restaurant business—it’s the relationship business! We are here to change lives one guest at a time, in every restaurant we are blessed enough to be a part of, and to continue this legacy for many years to come. I only hope that, as the years go by, we can learn more about others—their backgrounds, their cultures, their languages, their interests—and, in turn, use that information to bring joy into their lives.
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