Chef Ivan Orkin, known as Ivan Ramen and the keynote speaker at the Food On Demand Conference April 1-2, recalls many times and people that fed his “obsession with hospitality.” Chief among them was one of his first jobs at a very famous restaurant, a four-star New York Times establishment where “the chef was a sight to see. He wore a starched white chef jacket … and he had incredible posture. He would whisk through the dining room touching tables,” Orkin said. “I learned a lot about cooking but the thing I remembered most was the way the chef handled hospitality.”
Heads of state dined at the restaurant and Hollywood stars, too. “The chef would walk into the dining room and Henry Kissinger himself could be sitting here, and a college kid could be sitting here with his girlfriend, and the chef would treat both of them the same way,” he said.
Orkin, who owns Ivan Ramen restaurant and Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in New York City, is now working on a franchised version he expects to launch late this year. He exhorted the delivery providers in the audience—everyone from Grubhub to Google to Amazon Restaurants to UberEats to Postmates to Delivery Dudes—to put that same sense of hospitality at the center of their businesses.
“As everybody here is talking about their algorithms and their software and their earth-friendly containers,” he says, he believes the most important thing to discuss is hospitality. “What do we need to bring that warmth? How are you going to inject hospitality into what you do? Because I guarantee you that people like me are going to choose the vendors that have embraced hospitality the best.”
Click HERE another take on Ivan Orkin’s thoughts on hospitality, including a charming tale from his days in Tokyo’s ramen scene.
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