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Case Study: Executive chef John King of Pentahotels

Executive chef John King is the big boss of all Pentahotels kitchens.

Pentahotels is a +200 room lifestyle hotel with properties across Europe, the UK and China. All 27 head chefs of the group report to John directly.

As we say in the restaurant business, he has a full plate. He manages food and production and assures group-wide consistency in quality and presentation.

Since December 2018 John has been using Apicbase to streamline information for each hotel and kitchen.

John King: “The time saved using Apicbase is enormous. Food costings on recipes are accurate and consistent, with a positive impact on food cost for all hotels.”

We talked to John King about his job as an executive chef and the challenges he faces every day.

What is your role at Pentahotels?

“I am responsible for the implementation of the group-wide à la carte menus and costings. Same goes for breakfast in all countries. I take care of the allergen & nutritional values information in our SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and I manage the cross-country F&B supply chain, including cost negotiations.

The head chefs follow my SOPs. They manage the day-to-day running of their kitchens with my guidance.”

What does Apicbase fix for you?

“Apicbase streamlines all information needed for each of the hotels and kitchens with step-by-step guides for the chefs. The system has made it easier for me to control food costs, allergens, products and nutritional information.

It lets me roll out group-wide menus within days. In short, Apicbase saves me hours of manual work in Excel spreadsheets.”

Apicbase lets me roll out group-wide menus within days.

Did you consider other kitchen or restaurant management software?

“There seem to be more of these systems around these days. Of course, I checked them, but there was nothing there with the right price to value ratio.

I believe these other platforms will price themselves out of the market because of the cost per hotel. There is no point in having a product that people cannot afford.”

Did you have any concerns about Apicbase beforehand?

“Like for anything new, the primary concern is, will it fit into the business. I did think twice about the time needed for input, but that goes for any software.

I believe you have to put in what you want to get out. That is exactly what I have done.”

Can you describe what your work process was before Apicbase?

“Everything was done manually in Excel spreadsheets. All information for each country was put in by hand, technical sheets, recipes, allergens, and food costs.

I would then take a substandard photo of the finished dish, and expect the kitchens to produce the same plate. Of course, this never happened. 

Even with cook-offs for every country, on location, two weeks before the launch of a menu, chefs would generally forget what I had shown them.”

What about the tracking of KPI’s?

“Each hotel had to do their menu engineering manually in the Micros operating system. It took time and was often inaccurate.”

What has changed since then?

“My daily work now, short and long term, is highly influenced by Apicbase. For example, we have a much faster approval rate for the dishes I create. You must know that I work in Brussels, but Pentahotels headquarters are in Frankfurt.

Thanks to Apicbase, HQ has immediate access to menus and dishes I create. They can make on the spot decisions so that I can move forward with the costing of the meals.

It has improved our work process greatly.”

We have a much faster approval time now that HQ has immediate access to new menus.

How does the software help to achieve your targets?

“In many ways, for example, in keeping the information up to date at all times. All changes are immediately updated throughout the system, whether it be food cost, allergens, product changes, and so on.

All chefs have access to the latest info.”

Other advantages?

“I am always learning on the job. With the help of Apicbase, I am now learning how to calculate the nutritional value of food. I am getting a better grip on the laws surrounding this subject. So that’s great. 

Apicbase also has financial benefits for Pentahotels. Travel costs have gone down as well. I don’t have to back and forth between hotels for training so much anymore.

All the chefs have access to the step-by-step cooking and plating guides I include with the recipes in the system. “

It is a tremendous tool for any hospitality business that needs to implement menus across multiple properties.

In conclusion, would you recommend Apicbase?

“Yes, I would recommend it for 200%. I have mentioned Apicbase to people in the industry that I know create menus similar to us.

It is a tremendous tool for any hospitality business that needs to implement menus across multiple properties.

Everyone I showed the platform to – chefs, financial controllers, Penta presidents and vice-presidents – loved the insights it provides.

Apicbase has had a significant impact on the way I work and the speed I can get food and menus produced.”

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