Leadership Lessons from King Chef

Our church, Horizon, is privileged to partner with King Chef Seafood, one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila, in feeding spiritual food to their great service people. My able and hardworking colleague, Pastor Mike Bulanadi holds a Bible study every Friday afternoon at their Lucky Chinatown Mall location in downtown Manila.

Recently, Pastor Mike and I had the honor of having dinner with the owners of King Chef, Sir Mike and Ma’am Maritess, together with their general manager, Mr. Erwin Moon.

I am a sucker for success. Anything that is successful, even in areas that are way out of my expertise (I don’t know anything about food, but I do love to eat ☺), and I am a willing student as to the how’s and whys of their success.

Here are three lessons I learned about leadership, King Chef style.

  1. Motivation Matters

I found out that pirating of employees and specially of chefs are a standard operating procedure in the restaurant business. I asked their GM on how they deal with this, and Mr. Moon answered, “We keep our people motivated. Only motivated employees can give good service!”

Competitors can offer your people better pay, but life is not always about money. Money and happiness, contrary to popular beliefs, does not always go hand in hand. When you take the time to train, equip and motivate your people, then they wouldn’t see themselves working anywhere else.

I can attest to that.  In leading our own church, 99% of our people are not paid for their services. They are even the ones who give money so that our church can fulfill our mandate of being the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Jesus Christ here on earth. How do we do this? By giving people a vision that is bigger than themselves.

      2. Service, not Food, puts You Over the Top!

Mr. Moon explained further, “What separates restaurants from each other is not only the food, but the dining experience of the customer.’’

That means King Chef is in the service business, not the food business! It means they serve people, and it so happens that they also serve sumptuous food along the way. That’s a distinction! Because if restaurants only serve food, and not people, then they should offer only “Take Out” food. But for those brave and daring enough to open a dining experience, then service is king!

If I understand Sir Moon correctly, people don’t just pay for the food when they enter your business, they pay for the experience!

      3. Take Pride in Your Own Company

Ma’am Tess recounted a story of how she and a previous chef didn’t see eye to eye on how certain products should be served and cooked. When the chef tried to insist on his own way, Ma’am Tess told him, “please don’t make me hate my own restaurant!”

I sometimes ask myself, “If I wasn’t the Pastor of our church, would I still attend our church?”

Some owners are in business simply to make money! Not so the owners of King Chef. They take pride in their own restaurant. It is a place that they themselves would love to go and eat even if they didn’t own it! Now that’s what you literally call OWNERSHIP!

Don’t just take my word for it. If you haven’t tried the King Chef Experience, you owe it to yourself to visit any of their four locations- two in the Banawe, Quezon City area; Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo; or at the Block, SM City North Edsa.

Who knows, like me, you might “take out” not only their great food, but also a few leadership lessons along the way. And the latter is for free.

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