The journey into the world of culinary entrepreneurship often unfolds in unexpected conversations. Recently, I delved into insightful discussions with Dan, the visionary behind Eat The Bird, a thriving venture with four outlets. Our dialogues, spanning topics from start-ups to management, opened doors to shared insights and a mutual passion for creating exceptional food experiences.
The Shared Terrain of Street Food
Eat The Bird started on the road, just a Ludacrust is currently. It’s a space where creativity thrives, and flavours can become an art form. It’s an absolute blank canvas from where to solidify the fibre of a brand, its ethos and, most importantly, its menu. Restaurants like Eat the Bird and Pizzarova (who’ve recently opened a 4th branch in Bristol) have paved the way for motivated entrepreneurs like me to have an actual career path in this industry.
Sauce Mastery and Culinary Approval
One delightful aspect of our discussions was gaining Dan’s approval for my new sauce range: Lil Heat 🌶️, Flava Flame 🌶️🌶️, and Big Daddy Blaze 🌶️🌶️🌶️. As a chef renowned for understanding sauces, Dan’s endorsement resonates deeply. Using the same ingredients but titled ratios of the 5 different chilies used gives surprisingly unique flavours. Keep your eyes peeled for them hitting the streets in 2024.
Leadership Styles: Military to Culinary Transition
Coming from 22 years in the Royal Navy, my leadership approach has been influenced by a distinct military style. Conversing with Dan, whose successful venture thrives on a different model, has been enlightening. It echoes the sentiments of Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” This paradigm shift towards prioritising people as the most valuable asset is a compelling narrative.
The idea that people are your most important asset is a theme echoed by hospitality guru Will Guidara in his book Unreasonable Hospitality. “People are our most important asset” is a phrase banded around the military but it’s an actual lie – there’s no wonder why people are leaving the military in their droves, myself included. This isn’t to poke fun at the military but it serves as a reminder that if you don’t look after the people, you’ll lose them.
Dan’s leadership style diverges significantly from the traditional hierarchical pyramid. Unlike seeing himself at the top where employees work for him, he positions himself at the bottom of an inverted pyramid. In this model, his role is to support his staff, who are at the actual top – the frontline in customer satisfaction and the shop window to the business.
A Desire for Impact: Making People Happier
Inspired by Dan’s approach and fuelled by a desire to make a positive impact, my journey beyond the Navy gains clarity. Leaving the structured military environment for new pastures allows an opportunity to contribute to people’s happiness and, in turn, enhance personal fulfilment. Embarking on this journey with Ludacrust is as much about creating exceptional pizzas as it is about fostering a culture that values and cares for its most important asset – the people. Having happy staff serving up a quality product is, in summary, the route to success.