ARTISAN = the person who creates by hand.
ARTISANAL = the way in which something is made or done
Artisanal conjures the notion of healthy, made by hand, and a connection to the person who made the article or product. In essence there is a story that is created around the item. Artisanal is a catch word that gets someone’s attention; it is the execution of the artisanal experience that is integral to keeping the customer’s attention. It is a broadly used and wide encompassing term that brings a customer to a vision point of the experience about to be embarked upon. And that experience should be warm and fuzzy. If an experience creates an emotion of happiness it can transcend the feeling of I went out to dinner to avoid cooking and doing the dishes. It can bring the customer into the realm of the chef’s/owner’s/restaurant’s personal space. It’s a connection. And aside from good food and nice ambiance, people love to feel connected. That is what artisanal is all about.
Little word. Don’t abuse it.
It is a lot of weight to carry on one word, but used in the right way, can bring your restaurant to the forefront. It is the responsibility of the chef/owner/menu writer to create the integral connection between the artisanal ingredient or menu item or overarching artisanal theme of the restaurant to the customer. It all begins with the mental assessment and mental tasting that the customer makes long before the journey begins of raising a fork full of food to an eagerly awaiting mouth. Yes, it is in the décor and the style of dress that the front of the house sports, but of greater importance is the written and spoken description that will ultimately make the artisanal connection for the customer.
How do you create the artisanal experience?
- Select an ingredient or menu item and tell its story:
- Where was it made or grown?
- How did it get to the restaurant?
- Did the chef go to the farmer’s market?
- Did it come from a personal friend of the chef or owner?
- Did the animal roam on rolling hills of green grass?
- What can the customer be told about the creativity and inspiration of the dish?
- It is an overarching vision of the restaurant:
- Does the décor encompass the feeling when the customer walks through the door?
- Are there hand-hewn slabs of recycled barnboard?
- Were the placemats or mugs made by a local artisan?
- Conveying the message:
- Brainstorm with staff and get everyone on the same page
- Choose keywords and catch phrases that everyone can easily use
- Write down three bullet points and/or keywords that will become the written and spoken description (three is plenty)
An artisanal experience is one that many restaurants can accomplish. Artisanal is about the whole experience, not just the fork-food-to mouth.