Tarryn Gorre, Kafoodle1st May 2018
What’s it really like to start a business in hospitality? We started an interview series to find out.
This week, we talked with Tarryn Gorre, Co-founder of Kafoodle, about consumer dining trends, the role of tech in hospitality and why nobody is eating burgers on a Monday.
First up, tell us a bit about Kafoodle.
Kafoodle is a fast-growing FoodTech company that has both a B2B compliance software as well as B2C app for diners. Our software is used by commercial kitchens looking to stay compliant and communicate with their diners. In 2016 we received government funding to expand our solution into the healthcare sector, and we’re really proud of our new digital health product Kafoodle Kare that we launched this year.
To date, we have had great traction with restaurants, retailers and contract caterers, as well as care homes, and with some brilliant clients who really understand what we’re doing and want to create healthier food and communicate this to customers and residents.
We’ve also been able to develop our software to do more and to have an emphasis on the communications tools that help match people to the food that is best for them. based on a variety of data-points.
5 years ago, there really wasn’t much food-tech on the scene. What’s changed?
So much has changed. I remember a former chef dictating recipes to me to type up on Microsoft Word as he hated using computers, that was just over 5 years ago!
So, there is both a new breed of chef and food innovator using technology to develop amazing concepts; whether it’s sugar-free ketchup or true farm to fork menus. And they’re embracing as much technology as they can.
This, matched with diners becoming more conscious about what they’re eating and the customer desire for transparency, has increased the demand, and need, for new technologies.
In addition, legislation has made food providers more aware of special diets, allergies and intolerances, and opened up the potential of this growing market, resulting in both consumers and businesses turning to technology to deliver them the information they need.
Why do you think nutrition and eating out were at odds for years in the UK dining market?
Eating out used to be seen as an indulgence, something you did as a treat, and healthy eating was considered something you do when cooking at home, but this has all changed in the past few years. Now consumers eat out more regularly – they want their healthy cake and to be able to eat it – so providers have had to adapt their menus to suit diners that want something healthy to eat.
This demand comes hand-in-hand with understanding nutrition and being able to display this information clearly to customers so that they can make their own informed choices.
I do still think we have a bit further to go. For instance, my local pub still only does fried food and burgers and they always complain that they are quiet at lunch and on Mondays. Our app shows that users want lighter lunches in summer such as salads and it still surprises me how many venues don’t have any healthy options available, even in the warmer months.
"They want their healthy cake and to be able to eat it"
Do you think food culture requires generational change – kids to become parents and so on – or can there be major, incremental improvement in education and diet? And not just in London, but across the UK?
I don’t believe it’s a generational change, but you’re right in saying education can provide a huge improvement.
I think it’s about consumers understanding the information that they’ve been given and knowing the facts around various foods. In the past there have been a lot of food myths and miscommunication about what is good and bad for you, hopefully now with the rise of technology, information can be distributed more quickly and be more accurate.
Presumably, consumers are leading the charge and restaurants are reacting, or is this not the case? And are there any restaurants that you think are doing this really well right now?
I think it’s a mixture. Chefs are passionate about food, that can be Michelin starred decadence or slightly healthier food – or both, look at Tom Kerridge with his latest appearance on BBC.
I think all chefs are becoming more aware of what’s in their food the same way consumers have and yes some might of thought it was a trend and not a movement but I think it can be quite a symbiotic relationship. I have a lot of friends who unwittingly eat a really healthy meal at Farmacy because it’s just tasty food and does it really well.
I’d be hesitant to say this is 100% consumer driven as I have seen so many lifestyle changes from my chef friends, who have been wanting to reformulate and experiment with lighter dishes for years. It ties in with the fact eating out is no longer a luxury; it’s often an every week, everyday occasion, at least in London.
Do you think tech is helping or hindering service in restaurants?
I used to hate tech in restaurants EPOS systems and card machines crashing in the middle of a Christmas service; every operations managers nightmare.
However, tech has come a long way and I personally couldn’t imagine running a restaurant without a bookings system, or a till system. I’ve also always believed that the point of technology is to support us to do our jobs better and make our lives easier. For instance, can you imagine it being day 3 of a new job as a waiter and a customer, rightfully, wanting to know exactly which type of gluten was used in the hamburger patty?
Technology allows you to access that at the touch of a button providing great service and a happy customer, as well as a happy waiter.
I don’t think we’ve become too reliant yet and even when we work with kitchens on digitising ‘all’ their processes there is a still a human element that has to be there to make sure everything is right.