In conversation with

Josh Paterson

Founder of Service Please!

Introduction

Introduction

A podcast talking all things food? Sign us up. Josh Paterson started Service Please! after years in food and hospitality, describing his podcast as one that ‘aims to capture the energy, ambition and drive of the industry’. His passion and love of the sector is evident – from regenerative agriculture to restaurant branding to the post-pandemic impact on food businesses, Josh has many a story to tell.

He’s determined to share the highs and lows of the landscape with everyone who comes across his work one podcast episode at a time, and our very own co-founder Kate spoke to Josh on this week’s release of Service Please! You can listen to it here.

But for now, enjoy our very own interview with Josh below.

Question and Answer

How did Service Please all begin?

Everyone has their Covid story – mine was having to watch the erosion of my two successful street food businesses which I’d spent most of my 20s building crumble, seemingly with no-one really having any answers about what to do in that situation. It meant [that time was] a steep learning curve through lived experience trying to survive. The sector seems like it’s about to be plunged into another phase of uncertainty after a brief gasp for air over the last 6 months. But this sector and the people within it blow my mind. Resilience, ambition and a desire to continually innovate is one of the things that has kept me within it.

In my time, food culture has become an even larger part of the social tapestry within the UK. I’m blessed to have been close to the source of this and Service Please was born because I wanted to share all these stories. And maybe be a source of answers to some of the questions I dealt with. Even to those who don’t have any skin in the game.

What’s the story behind the name?

A few rogue ideas floated around before I landed on Service Please. ‘Order 69’ was one of them – everyone seems to get excited when that ticket number is shouted out, but as the show isn’t a comedy and I thought better of that one….

What you’re really asking is what does the name mean to me?
If you spend any time within a restaurant, working or as a customer you will hear one of two things. The sound of a bell (bit old school fine dining vibesIi think) or a chef shouting ‘Service Please’. That single moment in my mind symbolises a hell of a lot – that plate of food is a small part in a journey that has a wealth of stories and knowledge to share: you have the producers of the ingredients that have spent months rearing & nurturing them. The restaurant owner bringing their vision to life and all the hands that played a role in its execution (which is normally a lot). And then you have the industry pioneers trying to break down barriers to make a more sustainable and ethical food system with the hope of educating as many people along that journey.

Service Please graphic

The pandemic changed a lot for the hospitality industry. Now that we’re coming out of it, what’s different? Are there any trends you’re seeing in food industries as a direct consequence of the changing landscape?

I could talk about this for days as there’s A LOT happening in the space – cost of ingredients, cost of labour but also the labour storages that are a hangover from the pandemic. This means that ‘fast casual restaurants’ are on the rise. Fast casual eateries combine the quick service of a fast food joint with an elevated menu of healthier, less processed food options. The model requires less labour and you have better stock control due to a limited menu offering, making it a more profitable model.

Delivery and ‘dark/ghost kitchen’ is also on the rise – it’s when a customer can only buy online and not rockup to physical premises. A leader in this market is a company called ‘Session’ founded by the Ex-MD of Delieveroo Dan Warner, with a model that is basically franishing independent food brands and removing lots of the operational headaches small businesses have in the current climate.

Another trend which is gaining momentum is regenerative agriculture – a farming practice lost when industrialisation of farming came into the mixer. There’s a movement within the UK farming community to bring back these methods which had a proven positive impact on the wider food system. Have a look at ‘Natoora‘ ‘Wildfarmed‘ and ‘The Ethical Butcher’ for some good insights.

How can food businesses stand apart from the competition?

There are so many different styles of food businesses and each requires different elements to stand apart. But fundamentally, serve food that bangs and make sure it bangs consistently. Give your customers a positive experience that is worth sharing. Remember food is culture so let that story come through.

“Remember food is culture so let that story come through.”

What are some food businesses or restaurants you love for their branding?

Smokestak, M.Manze, Brutto & JKS restaurant group.

All of these places transport me to a time or place – you’re immersed within the brand. The brand allures. Then comes the food and service. Otherwise it’s just great interior design.

Who are your favourite food storytellers and why?

Anthony Bourdain. He had a great way of immersing himself in his surroundings. I never felt like he was out of place, but instead already part of the furniture. People opened up, they shared food and stories and drank too much.

You’re hosting your dream dinner party. Where are you hosting - what’s on the menu, who are you inviting, what’s on the playlist, etc.?

I have been catering for a while and i’m not intimidated by numbers. My dream dinner party would be hosted at a house next to a body of water. I’d be cooking outside over an open wood fire throughout the day. The menu would be super simple – great meats and seasonal vegetables grilled and then finished with olive oil and salt. I’d also make a chimichurri sauce, ginger and soya-based sauce, have some pickled vegetables and loaves of freshly baked focaccia. To drink: negroni’s, Guinness on tab and natural wines.

It’s an open invite to friends, family and their loved ones as I don’t really have heroes in my life that I’d love to break bread with (or haven’t looked hard enough., The only rule is come over to the grill where I’ll be – I’m sure we’d have a good chat about something.

There’d be a set of decks and I’d tell guests to bring their USB if that’s their thing. In an absolute dream world J.Cole, Kano, Maribou State and Jay-z would also perform. Like a mini festival for like 50+ people as the sun goes down.

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