Iraj Fernando: Elevating Culinary

At Bosch LLC, Iraj Fernando implements his commitment to restaurant-quality food.

Accomplishments

IRAJ FERNANDO has transformed the foodservice at BOSCH LLC by:

  • BRINGING creativity to menu selections, which often rival fine-dining restaurants, through fresh cooking and a No Repeats philosophy
  • INCREASING daily participation to as high as 80% through impeccable customer service
  • MENTORING his staff to encourage them to produce the best food possible
  • BECOMING an ambassador for Southern Foodservice to bring in new accounts 

“Fernando began a campaign to keep at least some of these events in house,” DeLeonardis says. “He started by convincing a couple of meeting planners to give him the opportunity to develop a menu similar to what the event planner was looking at from a particular restaurant. Iraj and his staff not only succeeded in pulling off the event, but the guests said his selections and the quality of the food rivaled any five-star restaurant they have been to in a very long time.”

DeLeonardis isn’t the only one to take notice of Fernando’s attention to high-quality food. “Typical cafeteria-type food is not acceptable [to Iraj],” says Mike Barclay, president of Southern Foodservice Management. “He goes the extra mile to make sure each meal or catering event is special and possesses his own signature touch.”

Teaching staff: Fernando must train staff to be able to provide that signature touch. Mentoring his employees to broaden their culinary horizons is something on which Fernando prides himself.

“I want [the staff] to become more than just cooks,” Fernando says. “I want them to be good people. Most of the cooks in our side of the business never get to go out to eat to see the kind of food I want them to deliver. So I put together information on different foods and countries. Those give the staff the global knowledge of where this stuff comes from so they appreciate it.”

Fernando also leads by example. He feels it’s important to show staff the dedication it takes to get the most out of the job, which means not being afraid to try new things.

“A lot of B&I contractors come into an account, put their programs in place and then forget about the location,” Fernando says. “Working with the staff is how you keep the account fresh. You have to do cool things every day to keep the audience interested.”

“His can-do work ethic is contagious,” DeLeonardis says of Fernando. “He would never expect any more from his employees than he does himself. He takes the time to properly train each employee, from cooks to dishwashers. He is demanding but fair and he pays attention to every detail and expects his employees to do the same.”

Barclay has seen the success of Fernando’s mentoring skills first hand.

“Iraj developed his assistant, Ivonne, from a person who couldn’t boil water to an extremely talented sous chef,” Barclay says. “Ivonne had no cooking skills prior to joining our team 13 years ago, and today she can help prepare all meals in Iraj’s location.”

Fernando says he sees himself as a personal chef, especially since he still prefers to be on the floor cooking at Showplace.

“A lot of times the staff were not taught well,” Fernando says. “I had to believe in what I do and to share what I want to share and say what I want to say—tell it like it is. Some people didn’t like that at the beginning, but they have to know that over the years I’ve experienced these things. I’ve failed and succeeded, so I know what is the best way to go. I like to be out there with them because if you teach them enough, people find their talents.”

Company ambassador: Fernando’s success has elevated him into a role as Southern Foodservice ambassador, someone who can present the Birmingham, Ala.-based management company in the best light to other accounts and potential clients.

“Someone a long time ago told me you write your own check. I believe that,” Fernando says. “If you make your operation all about the food, the clientele will recognize it and be surprised. If you take away [the client’s] burden of finding a new contractor every two years, they know Southern is doing their part. I always find that it’s important for the people who pay our bills to see what we do.”

Barclay says Fernando’s dedication to the company has made him an ideal ambassador to potential clients.

“He has often been out promoting our company, not by praising himself, but by doing what he does on a daily basis,” Barclay says. “His client has written letters to prospective Southern clients expressing what a great job we do and why they should select our company for their on-site dining services. Iraj is the most humble foodservice professional I have ever met. He is always giving credit to his staff and the company that employs him.” 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
condiments

It’s still true that diners want it their way. But the straightforward, choose-your-toppings Chipotle model is, as the kids say, so basic. The noncommercial diners of 2018 are coming to the table with expectations for meals that fit their personalized needs, from portion size to protein type, calories and more. Operators are responding by pushing beyond the basics with spice-your-own-soup bars, specialty condiment stations and serving size tweaks cooked a la minute.

For some operations, the next phase truly revs up the personal part of personalization, turning diners into chefs...

Managing Your Business
glendale senior dining catering

At the residential facilities Glendale Senior Dining serves, catered birthday and anniversary parties, summer barbecues and other private on- and off-site events give senior residents a convenient alternative to cooking themselves, Director of Business Development Todd Lindsay says.

For these events, Glendale, which serves locations throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, will often tap employees from nearby units to take on catering events; and for weekend or summer engagements, it will reach out to the parent company’s school dining division for a few extra hands.

“We...

Industry News & Opinion
Shedd Aquarium White Sox Shedd The Straw

The Chicago White Sox have partnered with the Shedd Aquarium to support their “Shedd the Straw” initiative: a plan that the groups expect to curb the use of plastic straws by about 215,000 this baseball season.

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, drinks at all dining locations throughout the Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field will not be automatically served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request. Guaranteed Rate Field is said to be the first in Major League Baseball to ban the use of plastic straws.

“At one of Shedd Aquarium’s local...

Industry News & Opinion

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, a philanthropic group that aims to create a more sustainable food system in New England, has announced its creation of the New England Food Vision Prize .

The foundation is inviting foodservice leaders from colleges and universities throughout New England to submit their ideas on how to create a stronger food system that will help the region produce at least half of its own food by 2060.

Qualifying ideas must be collaborative and replicable, among other requirements. The foundation hopes that by reaching out to large food purchasers, like...

FSD Resources