The Dining Experience…

…at a four-star restaurant provides excellent lessons for hospitality in the church.

With one son who is a chef and kitchen manager for a national restaurant chain and another who just finished four years of culinary school and is working as a line cook in one of Charlotte’s top-rated restaurants, I have a serious interest in all things food. My waistline also shows that, but that’s another story.

One of my favorite genres of books is that of the food industry, especially those that give a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the kitchen and dining room.

During a visit to my older son’s house I was perusing his bookshelf and took a look at “On the Line“, about the famous New York restaurant Le Bernardin and Executive Chef Eric Ripert. It’s a well-written and beautifully photographed look at the inner workings of the world-famous restaurant.

It’s also full of great lessons for churches that want to have world-class guest services.

Your church will not be serving exquisite meals that diners pay big bucks for – but your church can learn that the meal is only a part of the total dining experience.

The Dining Experience

One of the things that diners remark upon after eating at Le Bernardin is that the service is almost invisible. By the end of the meal, you’ve been helped by as many as seven people, but you can’t quite identify them. Although friendly and available, they work out of your field of attention so that you can focus on the food, and companions, in front of you.

While it might seem effortless, it’s a rigorous ballet that requires training and focus. The men and women juggle a plethora of details in their heads while projecting an air of gracious calm.

We have to perform to give you an illusion of effortless perfection. For you to have the right food in front of you at the right time, excellent and at the right temperature, and obviously having clean china – all those little details you’d never think of are vital

– Eric Ripert

In an earlier post, I introduced Le Bernardin’s “The List,”  as a way to think about the guest services practices at your church. I hope you’ll join in on the rest of the conversation over the next few days.

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Invisible Design

It’s a home run for me: the September issue of Wired magazine features a section on experience and design thinking.

courtesy wired.com

courtesy wired.com

Here are a few select quotes – a paragraph, 2 sentences, and a phrase:

The Wright brothers didn’t invent powered, manned flight. By the end of the 19th century, daredevils around the world had already put motors on gliders and launched themselves into the air. Technically these machines could fly—they just tended to crash afterward. But the Wright brothers created a plane that people could actually control, with an effective steering system that let pilots maneuver the craft in midair and land safely. They may not have invented powered flight, but they brought it into the realm of human experience. They designed it.

Design doesn’t just make things beautiful, it makes them work.

The next great challenge for design: weaving the threads of technology, information, and access seamlessly and elegantly into our everyday lives.

carefully designed experiences appear invisible

Read the stories here.

Today.

How will you apply invisible design in your organization?