Book Review – The Underground Culinary Tour

Behind the scenes is a fascinating place to be. With the rise of so many cooking shows and Diners, Dives and some other D word, one has to dig deeper to read about what is going on in the business of restaurants.

But Damian Mogavero has done that with his book, The Underground Culinary Tour. He goes into the numbers. The statistics generated each time a server punches in a code and taps a colored square on a POS (Point of Sale) device in a restaurant.

And what that data can tell the owners and managers of a restaurant is amazing. Even the celebrity chef names dropped don’t hold a candle to the insights.

Restaurants are a thin margin business so any percentage point of savings or increased business can be a difference maker. Mogavero details how the data can be used to make ordering more efficient, to better utilize the wait staff and cooks, to have ingredients and beer on hand when it is needed. Most importantly, it tells you what dishes are selling and which are not.

Interspersed amongst the success stories is a gut wrenching (in a good way) culinary tour that could double as itinerary for the food hearty traveler to New York.

The book travels from new York to New Orleans and Las Vegas to Downtown Disney in Anaheim with tales of how the numbers helped restaurants of all different varieties.

My favorite section was the details of the most common scams that waiters and waitresses could pull to put a little extra coin in their pocket. Next time you order ice tea or coffee, check out your bill. How to track the sales by day and adjust accordingly seems really easy when explained but I had never thought of it before.

From the craft beer perspective, I found it heartening that Mogavero has identified, I think correctly, that restaurants today will need at least a decent craft beer list not handed down by a distributor but customized for the neighborhood and the customers.

Anyone with a passing interest in foodie business will lap this book up.

Thanks to Blogging for Books and NetGalley for bringing this book to my attention.