Sunday, September 29, 2013

Anthony Hoy Fong

Small Business: Restaurateurs - Anthony Hoy Fong

Small Business: Restaurateurs - Anthony Hoy Fong By Gill South 3:30 PM Friday Sep 27, 2013 Chef Anthony Hoy Fong is Auckland-born and educated, learning about food from his family's Mt Roskill fruit shop. Now a New York based chef, he has cooked for the US President, appeared on Oprah and cooking shows across America. Hoy Fong was in Auckland last week for the launch of new Wattie's Creations Cooking Sauces with Food in a Minute. The former IBM IT consultant has set up Top Chef University, an online culinary school that was designed for aspiring home chefs, foodies or anyone who wants to learn how to cook better. It offers people a culinary school program experience in a convenient and entertaining format. The online video-based training is taught by real professional chefs in a curriculum that mirrors a traditional culinary school. The business started three years ago and now the original online product has evolved into line extensions of an iPad app with over 150,000 active users from over 16 different countries ; a box-set DVD retail line in Target and Costco stores across America and next month the chef is launching Top Chef University Lite - an abbreviated iPhone version of the app - his first foray into an ad and brand sponsored content model. Do you think that chefs can make good business owners? Article continues below Absolutely. Chefs in general are passionate, creative and hard working. Good chefs are always supremely organized and focused too which are all key components to being a good business operator. The restaurant business is a tough industry with so many variables so any chef that has opened or operated and sustained a restaurant business successfully has to be a good business person, not just a good chef. Is it true that most chefs don't make any real money unless they have their own restaurant? It's a hard slog being a chef. When I started out in my first gig in New York, I was making $7.50 an hour working 6 days a week, 10 till closing which in NY can be as late as two in the morning. It is tough when you're starting out, like any industry, the hours are long and the pay is not good. So, yes, of course you can make more money when you own your own business just like any job. But of course that comes with greater risk and greater burden but if all goes well then yes, there can be a greater return. It's not the first year a restaurant opens, but the second and third years which are the hardest. Do you agree? In the first year, there's always that buzz about a new opening, it's exciting and there's always a lot of curiosity and attention around a new restaurant, so you're always going to get that foot traffic in the first year. The key to longevity is consistency in quality, while also keeping things fresh and new to sustain interest - listen to your diners and listen to what's going on in your neighbourhood to stay abreast. How can restaurant owners work with social media to help create a buzz about their business? The industry's constantly changing and dining and food as a culture and interest is so popular now. People used not to care about who the chef was or where their salad greens on their plate came from or how the beef was raised and what it was fed. Now people want the full experience and the story only adds to an incredible and enjoyable dining experience which is fantastic. Social media provides a vehicle in which chefs, restaurants and brands can communicate with their customers directly further breaking down that wall between chef and diner. Who doesn't want to see a tweet or photo posted to them of the chickens being roasted that day on the menu tonight, or the chef picking up the greens from the market? What sorts of approaches do you see to running restaurants in New York that we could learn from here - in terms of getting the word out about a new restaurant? The dining scene in general, and especially in New York, is a noisy environment. Diners there have so many choices, so in order to influence a diner to make that choice to dine at your restaurant, you have to have a presence in the dining publications or blogs - whether it be sites like OpenTable, Yelp, Zagat, TastingTable or simply good press - it definitely helps to get the word out. On the other hand, some chefs like those in the West Village simply have developed a cult following so every time they open a new place their crowd flocks to it. How do you create the niche of a good neighbourhood local? Keep it simple and in line with the neighbourhood. Like any restaurant location/concept, you have to listen to your customers in the locale and give them what they want. In Brooklyn, New York, there's a really laid back but hipster scene that's taken hold. All the young, hot chefs are doing small, interesting plates with innovative combinations that tease the palate. Dining is super casual but very cutting edge and hip. It's caught the attention of locals - and they can't get enough of it. NZ has chefs who create good profiles for themselves on TV and then open restaurants or new food businesses off the back of that. Does this happen a lot in the States? Yes. In general the US is quite a celebrity driven culture - endorsements help marketing and reach. I can't stress enough what a noisy business environment it is there especially in the food scene so anything you can do to get a competitive advantage or have your business/product be heard, helps. TV and profile all help. Of course, it's important that what you do matches with your values and beliefs. I'm currently working with Wattie's which to me feels like a great fit. Wattie's are a Kiwi icon - I grew up with their products in the cupboards and spaghetti or beans on toast were a weekend staple before playing sports. And I guess, coming from a background in produce, for me Wattie's commitment to using locally grown produce is really important.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The changing face of architecture

Phoenix Wang, The stereotypes - all egos, round spectacles and black turtlenecks - reflect the statistics: while equal number of male and female grads leave architecture school, only 18 per cent of registered architects are women. And yet, this is slowly changing, in part from groups like non-profit Architecture+Women NZ, which aims to raise the visibility of women in architecture. What does this new face of New Zealand architecture look like? Three women at various stages of their architecture careers, working across commercial architecture, housing and interiors in full-time and part-time roles, show a new direction for the design industry. Phoenix Wang's projects include the Comvita and Glassons shop designs Phoenix Wang's projects include the Comvita and Glassons shop designs Architect Phoenix Wang works at Studio Gascoigne - an award-winning architecture firm specialising in retail and commercial interiors. You used to work on high-end houses, now you work on commercial and retail interiors. Has that been a big switch, or do the same design principles still apply? It has been a switch, they're two different mind-sets on the way you design and the time frame that you're given. When I worked on high-end residential I worked very closely with my clients. That way I was given an insight into the way they live and what their interests are. It's was very personal journey. With retail and commercial design, I'm often designing to create an impact, and a response from the end user. Do you have a favourite project? I think one of my favourite jobs so far would have to be a small interior villa alteration project I worked on a few years ago. The client gave us a simple brief and pretty much let us have free rein on the design front. They fully trusted us to create a design that is suitable for the house. It's a very freeing feeling and privileged position to be. Most of the time, clients can question and doubt what you've designed for them, and the end result can be a watered-down version of your original idea. What do people not understand about architecture that you wish they would? Architecture is a response to the surrounding environment and has a permanent impact to the context it is within. Each design decision we make and each detail we draw interlinks closely on how it affects the rest of the building, so when clients ask us to just quickly draw a few sketches, or make a small change, it requires a whole thought-process of weighing up the pros and cons, and will take more than just a couple of minutes to do. People can assume interiors are easier than architecture. Is this the case? I think people see interior design as more of a surface decoration that is added into the base building, and it is not as complex in terms of its design process as designing a building. I find interiors both interesting and challenging in the way so much of it is to do with human behaviour. Through carefully crafted spaces you can attract people to enter a space, you can influence what they will interact with, and what their attention will fall upon. By Nicola Stock 7:30 AM Thursday Sep 12, 2013 It's really fascinating.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

TE HA O TE WHENUA THE BREATH OF THE LAND Simon Kaan 13 September – 20 October Opening: Thursday 12 September, 6pm Artist talk: Saturday 14 September, 10.30am In this current series of new work, artist Simon Kaan references whenua (land) issues. Through multiple art disciplines the exhibition investigates the connection of land with water, to consider the responsibility of belonging to a place. Set in Kaan’s landscapes are visual motifs inherited from his Kai Tahu and Chinese ancestry. MRS CHRYSANTHEMUM PATIENTLY WAITS… Kim Lowe 13 September – 20 October Opening: Thursday 12 September, 6pm Artist talk: Saturday 14 September, 10.30am Kim Lowe is an artist and printmaker of New Zealand Chinese and Pakeha descent. Lowe’s latest exhibition features new works that allude to a fabricated family narrative based loosely on historical events and snippets of her family's mixed history. KIM LOWE + SIMON KAAN | 2 ARTIST TALKS Saturday 14 September, 10.30am - 12pm Join Dunedin-based artist, Simon Kaan and Christchurch-based artist Kim Lowe as they discuss the relationship that being culture-hybrid has on their art. Lowe will also speak about how the 22/2/2011 Christchurch earthquake led to her involvement in the Sendai-Christchurch Art Exchange BEAUTY THROUGH THE FOUR HANDS Sang Sool Shim & Keum Sun Lee 13 September – 20 October Opening: Thursday 12 September, 6pm Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee are self-taught potters. Together they collaborate on large and small scale ceramic works. Hand thrown by Shim and intricately decorated by Lee, they work with both traditional Korean and contemporary ceramic techniques. Their works are influenced by their cultural heritage and a life set in Waitakere Ranges.