Website of the Year

Kitchen CUT

Co-founder, John Wood talks about the digital kitchen management system.

Kitchen CUT is a complete digital kitchen management system geared towards dish costing, cost tracking, and day to day back office kitchen operations. The system takes away the hardship that is put on chefs and their brigades in ensuring that their kitchens are running efficiently and profitably, whilst the food being served is of a consistent standard which in turn delivers a consistent customer experience. We talk to co-founder, John Wood, to find out more.

What was the inspiration for the site?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve come across in my 35 years in hospitality as an execitive chef, restaurant owner and consultant, is the lack of training beyond culinary skills that exists in this industry (particularly within the UK). Chefs are escalating up through the ranks in brigades very fast and find themselves in senior positions without the necessary skills to successfully manage their kitchens – both financially and operationally. The skill gap that is often present puts huge pressure on chefs to learn new skills quickly and on the job. This was part of my motivation for setting up Kitchen CUT – to create somewhere where chefs could easily manage their food costs, track waste, do stock takes, perform daily routines, create menus and order sheets, share information and so much more. It can become the central tool for managing their operation, and allowing them to get their teams to use it too to provide a consistent and open approach to kitchen management.

Not only that, but chefs come in to this business to create great culinary dishes, not to be bogged down with admin. The beauty of Kitchen CUT is that it allows chefs to confidently manage the business from a financial point of view, without taking them away from the kitchen for too much time.

When did you launch the site?

The site launched in 2012 after three years of extensive research, development and testing in the industry with professionals across all levels and sectors in hospitality. This is what has allowed us to build a system that is very scalable for our members, meaning they can start out with what they need on a low-cost entry point and it can grow with them, right up to managing entire hotel groups.

What are your greatest challenges?

Our biggest challenge is talking to a global audience on a daily basis. Kitchen CUT can be transformational for businesses, but the problem is telling everyone all of the things it can do and all of the aspects of an operation that can be improved by using it!

The hospitality industry has a very advanced technology offering when it comes to front of house systems (bookings, ordering, tickets, point of sale) etc, but the back office systems have often been difficult to use. That’s where we’re breaking the mould.

Getting customers to see the value of investing in this kind of system is often a hurdle, but when we explain that by using it they can save between 3-5% on their food cost, and up to 50% administration time, it starts to have a measurable impact on their business.

Where do you see the business going from here?

We have a very ambitious growth plan in place, to continue to grow within and beyond the 50+ countries we are operating in already.

Our integrations programme is a big focus for us over the next twelve months. We pride ourselves on our open approach and look for integrations with other systems so that our members can benefit. Our focus is to become the best kitchen management system and not become diluted in other areas of restaurant management.

We integrate with procurement and purchasing systems to feed data in to our system to allow for accurate dish costings, but we also integrate with EPOS to allow us to extract sales data so chefs can make intelligent and informed business decisions around which dishes are selling well and achieving high margins, versus which should be replaced.

One of the things that differentiates us from competitors is that we are constantly innovating – our development list for new features and functionality is growing every day. We have some very exciting announcements to come in 2016!

What's your background?

I have worked in some of the best establishments in the world, both as an executive chef and as F&B Director. My career has taken me to the Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, the Mount Nelson, Cape Town, and the Island Shangri-la, Hong Kong. I also worked extensively in the UK at the prestigious Savoy, The Dorchester and Cliveden, the latter at which I gained a Michelin star in Waldo’s restaurant.

After many years in large operations, I took the position of Executive Chef at the highly successful Chapter One on the outskirts of London. I also set up and opened a second operation during my time there, Chapter Two in Blackheath.

The lure of the world famous 7 star Burj-al-Arab hotel in Dubai was enough to tempt me back into hotels for my final executive chef position.

My career has seen me achieve a Michelin star, 4 AA Rosettes and 8 out of 10 in the Good Food Guide.

Who do you admire in business?

Specifically within the hospitality industry, I admire Danny Meyer, Chris & Jeff Galvin, The Roux Family.

Please recommend a really useful website...

I’m a firm believer in technology helping to build better businesses and there are plenty of apps and websites out there to help you do that. It’s not about one system doing everything, but about finding the best systems that work for you and getting them to work together so that your business can operate more efficiently and effectively. I use many different websites and apps but for me personally, I rely on Highrise for managing my contacts and conversations and Basecamp for organising projects, tasks and discussions between myself and my teams.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

“Commit to what you believe in.”

What is your motto?

“To remain content in an easy job will put a stop to any career.”

Have you entered an award before?

We’ve entered The GWG awards for the last two years and been shortlisted. We have re-launched our online software earlier this year and based on client feedback we hope it’s enough to take home an award this year!

August 2015