AJAR.id – Hello Ajarian! Knowledge about food, beverages, the services you offer and the facilities available is called ‘product knowledge’, and you can’t have too much of it! Product knowledge is different to skills and competencies. For example, a food waiter may have knowledge about gueridon cookery but not have the skills to provide that service.
There are endless sources of information from which food and beverage knowledge can be extracted. That said, there are a number of good reliable sources from which to start, including:
- Trade magazines – these specialist publications are a great source of all information and trends that are specific to the food and beverage industry. Whilst the focus of these magazines may be on food and beverage the range of topics are endless. These can include management tips, operational strategies, trends and new products
- Feature newspaper articles – most newspapers will have a section dedicated to hospitality and tourism, with many having dedicated space for interesting food and beverage items, creations or industry events
- Television programs – in recent times there has been a rapid rise in the popularity of cooking shows, as more people, many of whom do not work in the industry, seek an interest in improving their culinary and beverage awareness
- Food and beverage reference books – these specific information tools traditionally contain detailed content in a variety of food and beverage operational and management disciplines. They are normally an invaluable resource for students and anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and understanding
- Recipes and menus – helpful tools detailing specific dishes and cookery methods
- Internet – no doubt, the greatest source of industry knowledge at one’s fingertips
- Wine/food tasting events and other promotional activities – these are a great opportunity to not only understand and taste new products, but it allows you to meet with industry leaders and to get a first-hand appreciation of current offerings in the market place. Along with tastings, it is common for chefs or winemakers to provide an informational seminar or question and answer session, which provides tremendous insight into different types of food and beverages
- Trade shows, exhibitions, food and beverage festivals – these provide a great opportunity to not only understand the latest offerings to the industry, but allow you to speak with a wide variety of suppliers. Keep an eye on the media and invitations sent to your employer. Make the time to go to as many shows or exhibitions as possible. These are free to industry personnel and they are a great way to establish industry networks and keep abreast of what’s happening in the business
- Food and cooking demonstrations – like tastings, they allow the audience to get an appreciation of how items are prepared, with background information provided and an opportunity to ask questions of the professionals. You can always learn something from these events even where they are conducted by a company with a vested interest in promoting their range of products
- Chefs, cooks and other food service personnel – these experts in the industry have specific knowledge, skills, and experiences which is beneficial to help food and beverage servers understand and expand their industry knowledge
- Sales representatives – all suppliers are a great source of information, not only of their own range of products but what the industry as a whole is seeking and to identify items and trends that are in demand. Information can be obtained by speaking to them directly or by asking them to send you product information sheets
- Customers through customer opinion and feedback – given the customer is the most important aspect of a business, it is no point conducting large amounts of research, unless the customer is happy with the end result. Therefore their feedback is invaluable either to get reassurance for items that are successful, or to see where items or preparation methods can be replaced or improved.
- Workplace observations - this information can also be used to evaluate products, services and promotional incentives offered by the establishment. Note that for any research, questioning or observation to be successful it must be done with a purpose in mind. You must have a definite idea of what you want to find out about.
- Your own experiences as a food and beverage staff member - you can recall and reflect on your own experiences in restaurants and bars and evaluate them in a more critical manner than the average customer. By looking back at both positive and negative experiences you have had as a customer you actually have a great starting tool in being able to see what can be implemented in the workplace.
Whilst this article has identified a number of good informational resources, all food and beverage professionals can strive to seek information, whether it be on a trip to a supermarket, discussions with friends or simply watching the news there are opportunities to develop your understanding right before your eyes.
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Nurturing You to Grow®
Written by: Alan Hickman, Nick Hyland
Subject Matter: Provide advice to patrons on food and beverage services