Above anything else, what I love most about my job in Rwanda is being able to engage stakeholders on issues that can help improve the level of service in public and private institutions.
I like the fact that we have agreed to constantly aim higher to excel in all that we do. Obviously, that is one of the key success components of Rwanda we can all witness.
During the last African Union Summit, I had lunch in one of the tent restaurants, where a group of delegates was also having lunch. Later, I overheard one of them saying what probably some delegates could have experienced, concerning the food offers available during the summit.
“Why is the buffet the same, asks a delegate from Cameroon? Even the way the avocado is sliced has not changed for the past four days I have been eating from here,” he delegate remarked.
“Because of my diet, I have been eating fish for the past four days. But this fish is pan-fried the same way every day. Why can’t these guys change their presentations?” another delegate wondered.
After discussing this issue (on diversification of food presentation or lack of it) with one of the managers of the concerned restaurant, I posted the complaint on social media, and it went viral, generating some thought-provoking comments.
One of the offline messages I got said; “For God’s sake, food is food. Why make a fuss about how avocado is sliced? These guys should just fill their stomachs and go back to find solutions for serious issues Africa faces”.
Another one said, “Sandra, seriously, we do not talk about food in Rwanda…And I’m sure by now, you know it. This is our culture”.
Jayjay Akelola had this to say: “This was bound to happen. First it was quantity, then quality, now presentation. Managers and their chefs should adapt an East African menu and think outside the ‘profit making’ mind-set. This can be embarrassing!”
“RDB again? Someone educate me here. It all trickles down to presentation, creativity, quality and, above all, exploring other cuisines,” wondered Malo Nyar.
Moses Ndizera quipped; “Do hotel managers also want HE to intervene in their menu? RDB should think of having a team specialised in menu verification.”
While Nellie Ingabire observed that a number of people don’t know that “cooking can be artistic”.
“You cannot have one piece of art displayed for days in a gallery. Look at shops that sell clothes, for instance, they keep changing the clothes they display outside their shops. Why? To create a difference,” Ingabire noted. And yes, our dear hotel operators, you could do the same menu with a difference.
As Rwanda opens up to the world with all the new facilities for MICE, it is time we up our game in offering diversifications on our buffets. It is time our chefs understand and learn how to create fusion of colours and presentations on plates and buffets because that is how they can create a first positive impression from their guests.
In the world of culinary art, it is well known that the appearance of food is an important factor that will attract or reject guests to choose a specific meal. This is because we ‘first eat with our eyes’ before we actually taste the food.
It is the specific and creative ways of how food is placed on the plate or on a buffet that will create the wow factor. Just like I have been posting on The ServiceMag social media pages for the past few days, there are hundred ways of presenting, for instance avocado.
Buffets as we all know are good ways to offer customers a diversity of choices at a minimum cost but this doesn’t imply that they their presentations cannot be creative. Buffets or food presentations should be inviting to all the senses, have exceptional appearance and give the customer the feeling that he or she will be experiencing something unique.
Now is the time for creativity on how we present our food.
The writer is a customer service consultant and the publisher of The ServiceMag