Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Beginning of the Journey

Prelude to the Recipes for Restaurateurs Journey

After months of writing, one great idea and a few all nighters, Recipes for Restaurateurs was finally finished! Linda and Janet Berge, our wonderful graphic designer, were relieved to send the last pages of the book to the printer and for the first time in months, they were free from working into all hours of the night. Linda was so excited that she had accomplished her goal she jumped into the swimming pool, fully clothed, including her cell phone, which had a few malfunctions, to say the least, after it was drenched in water.

From Left: Janet Berge, book designer, and Linda Duke

However, we knew that finishing the book was just one part of the goal we had set for ourselves. Instead of writing, our present goal was to focus on educating others about the great resource that Recipes for Restaurateurs provides to all different types of industry professionals. We were off to visit tradeshows and speaking engagements presented by Linda all over the country. And this is where our journey truly begins…

Leading up to The Western Foodservice Show

Even before the books had been shipped to the Duke Marketing office, we had received requests from buyers all over North America. This really got us fired up thinking about the impact that the book was already making even though we had only seen a sample copy.

We also learned an interesting piece of information from a prospective buyer. When we first conceived Recipes for Restaurateurs, Linda and Michael knew that our target market would consist of chefs, students, teachers, restaurant owners, operators, franchisees and other industry professionals. However, this particular buyer was a leader from a food distribution company that wanted to give the books to his restaurant clients. As food costs are rising, many food distributors are being asked by their clients to lower the price of their food. This puts the food distributor in a tough situation. While the food distributor prospers when his client prospers, it is almost impossible for him to lower the prices of his food because he must meet his margins. This particular food distributor wished to purchase books for his clients, to educate them about how to keep sales up through marketing techniques, instead of lowering food costs. The food distributor also wanted Linda to come speak at the annual conference where all the clients would receive a copy of the book and an instructional lecture about how to use it. This information was very exciting for us because we realized that the book could reach a different marketplace.

The books arrived much later than we had expected, so late in fact, that we didn't have time to ship the books to Los Angeles. Michael, being the great Duke Marketing Team member that he is, generously sacrificed his forty-five minute plane ride for the seven-hour drive to Los Angeles so that the books would make it the restaurant show.
With heavy boxes packed, suitcases stuffed and all of our checklists marked off, the Duke Marketing was ready for Los Angeles!

The Western Foodservice show and Recipes for Restaurateurs Book Debut

Duke Marketing had been looking forward to the trip to Los Angeles for months and none of us could even believe that it had come so fast. Not only were we going to have our first booth ever at a tradeshow, but Linda was also speaking three times over the weekend, including a session with Food Network Star Guy Fieri. And to top off all the fun of the weekend, Linda was throwing a special cocktail party for the book launch at the super swanky Standard Hotel.

On August 23rd, the first day of the Western Foodservice Show, Linda, Michael and Laura were off to set up the first Duke Marketing Tradeshow booth ever! Our booth looked great. We had a Recipe for Restaurateurs tablecloth, star decorations, tons of books to display, great signage, and a laptop with a slideshow of the client case studies from the book.

Sure enough, shortly after setting up the booth we had our first, real-live customer. It was so amazing to finally see our hard work paying off.

A few short hours at the tradeshow booth and Linda was off to moderate a live cooking demonstration with Guy Fieri. The demonstration was designed to teach chefs how to speak while cooking, market themselves appropriately and make food look great on camera, which correspond with a recipe in the book titled Chef™-Ratuer Marketing.

Backstage before the cooking demonstration with Guy Fieri.
From Left: Ferdinand Metz, Linda Duke and Guy Fieri.

The demonstration went well. Linda even got a chance to play a joke on Guy at the end. Linda put on a white-spiked hair visor, just like Guy’s hair, and told Guy that he forgot one rule, “Always be prepared for the unexpected.” The crowd and Guy really got a kick out of this. Guy put his signature shades on the back of Linda’s head and made her say “Dines, Drive-Ins and Dives,” which Linda hilariously translated to “Dines, Drive-Ins and Drag Queens!”

Many busy hours later at the tradeshow, we were off to the Standard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles for the Recipes for Restaurateurs cocktail reception. Linda and Laura hardly even had enough time to change for the event and used the bathroom upstairs at the Standard Hotel for a changing room! Nevertheless, even with all the commotion, the entire Duke Marketing Team still looked flawless. We even had enough time to add a little red, black and white Duke Marketing flair to the uber-hip Standard Hotel Lounge where the reception was being hosted.

Linda was the celebrity of the evening and even had beautiful (and delicious) red-velvet cupcakes topped with red stars made special for the occasion. Friends and family attended our event to sip drinks and congratulate Linda on her book. We even had a few purchases from special friends! After mingling, eating, drinking champagne and having a great time with friends, the entire party headed up to the rooftop bar. If there is one thing that Los Angeles is great for, is creating a line out the door. There were people backed up to the parking lot and after our turn in line we all made it up to the exclusive rooftop, where there was warm air, drinks and fun dance music. We called it a night pretty early because we had another long day at the tradeshow ahead of us.

Photos clockwise from top left:
Laura McKee, associate editor. Ferdinand Metz and Linda Duke. Debbie Leibling and Linda Duke. Associates of Culinary Institute of America St. Helena. Linda Duke and Mark Tadros of Foster Farms.

Two more days at the tradeshow yielded great results. Michael was teaching Laura some tips on selling and Laura, Linda and Michael were all understanding how to concisely explain the premise of the book. We had many inquiries as to whether this was a recipe book, yet even after chefs and caterers learned what the book was all about, they seemed genuinely interested it is contents.

Linda did some great speaking to audiences about the book, local store marketing and also moderated a panel for Fast Casual Alliance. The speaking really helped people to understand the spirit that is behind Recipes for Restaurateurs. Linda got to show people how easy it is to execute the recipes, yet also was able to instruct people that the book will not help you build sales unless you put your heart, hard effort and inspiration into the tactics.

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