I interview famous restaurateur, Rohini Dey on the My Food Job Rocks Podcast and besides salivating while she was describing tandoori skirt steak, she also gives some very concrete and actionable takeaways to building a restaurant empire.
One thing I want to distill in the interview is to really talk about what it took to make the restaurant a successful before even planning it. I think Rohini nailed it on the head.
So here are the key tips that I extracted that you can take away if you decide to quit your day job and make a successful restaurant.
Find gaps in the market
Rohini tells me that when she was on a business trip, she realized that ethnic food was on the rise. For example, a decade or more back, Korean food was unheard. In fact, when Koreans first entered the restaurant industry, they had to make sushi because Americans found their food so weird.
So what Rohini noticed was that though Indian food was getting popular, it was dirty and had a stigma of being low class street food. This is where Rohini got creative in not only making Indian food into a high end restaurant, but also infusing the flavors, ingredients and techniques of Latin cuisine. Combining the two complex flavors of Indian and Latin gave the dishes a spectrum of flavors that literally made guests speechless.
Interview at least 40 experts
I found Rohini’s ability to prepare inhuman as she took her experiences in her consulting management company and went to town. Rohini is very process driven as you can tell and she not only holds a PhD, but has worked at the World Bank and consulted businesses as her past career.
So she definitely had a plan.
For one, she set a goal of 2 months to do market research by interviewing 40 professionals. As you can tell from her career and education, she grilled them with hard and complicated questions.
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Another tip Rohini has is to shadow people ion th3e restaurant industry. She took the time to get into the kitchen and follow a restaurant owner’s every move for about 2 weeks.
Through her research, she figured out that high end dining is definitely not as rosy and easy as it sounds. You won’t be sipping a drink with your favorite Hollywood star for a while. But that didn’t stop her.
Have an amazing team
Critics say that Vermilion’s strength is the amazingly dedicated and dynamic team that works at the restaurant. Rohini states very clearly that though she has thoughts on every dish, she has no professional culinary experience and is not a chef. Instead, she highlights the importance of having a good chef who is proactive, and not only knows how to deal with only people, but is businesses conscious. Employees who share their passion and vision with Rohini are the ones who have made Vermilion what it is today.
It is important to look for employees who go beyond what they are asked for and this is the key reason why her restaurants in both Chicago and New York are so successful.
Rohini is also very involved in the James Beard Foundation and runs a scholarship that empowers women to take charge in the culinary field. This is an amazing opportunity because Rohini’s course will tell you the important things to know in the industry and her and her team’s mentorship will be the exact same style as taught in her restaurants.
I hope you enjoyed the Weekly Stew. If you have any comments, let me know!