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National Restaurant Association - Supply and demand: the search for logistics pros

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Supply and demand: the search for logistics pros

There will always be a home for the cool new hotshot chef. But the industry also needs professionals with a “science mindset.

“Restaurants are always looking to deliver a consistent product at a certain level of quality at a better price,” says ,” says Ron Hayes, associate director of career services at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Part of that push centers on logistics and supply-chain experts who can ensure restaurants get the best possible products at the point of source.

“How you purchase food, whom you purchase it from and at what cost is as important as ever,” says Dan Soloway, an investing partner in Der Kommissar, a German restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y.

A former Wall Street analyst, Soloway translated his understanding of markets and real-time analytics into purchasing and operations jobs with well-known restaurateurs, including Thomas Keller and Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group before joining Der Kommissar.

Today’s operations and supply-chain manager is a veritable jack-of-all-trades. He or she must be able to think like a salesperson, understand product quality, track sourcing and build relationships — all while keeping an eagle eye on the bottom line. If the restaurant’s kitchen needs apples, that person must know where to find the best ones, who’s selling them and what to pay for them.

Many of the new talent demands are sparked by the diversity of revenue streams now available to restaurants. At Der Kommissar, Soloway is interested in selling his restaurant’s handcrafted sausages to other purveyors, including specialty grocery stores, foodservice operators or even other restaurants. It’s an exciting profit stream, but one that demands a strong understanding of supply-chain operations.

“The smartest operators know where their skill sets end, when they can’t go any further without help,” Soloway says. “Being able to find people with those skills is going to be critical for the future of this industry.”

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