Food industry – Art or Business?

In our age of globalization people are constantly lack of time. They want to do everything fast and eating is not an exception. The popularity of fast-food all over the world proves this thesis. “McDonald’s has come to occupy a central place in American popular culture, not just the business world” (Ritzer, 5) People forget that the process of taking meal used to have other function than primitive satiation. People do not enjoy the meal and the surrounding any more. They are preoccupied with problems and want to finish their meal soonest in order to come back to their business. Growing temps of modern life leave little time for relaxed contemplation. Gastronomy, which is a science about cooking and eating is replaced by commercial necessity. Luckily, there are exceptions and oasis of cafes and restaurants, where the art of gastronomy isn’t forgotten still exist in the world. La Caille at Quail Run is one of such places. This one of the most expensive restaurants in Utah, La Caille sells entries for the prices of several complete meals in McDonald’s. If in McDonald’s everything that surrounds us is an embodiment of utilitarism and unification, the owner of La Caille, David Johnson, bases his business on just opposing principles. Success is attributed to “setting the tone from the first time you turn in through those big iron gates and wind up the bobble drive”¦ It’s not the sort of place you go every week , but it is such an awesome sight the first time you go there ”“ almost like to Disney world as a small child ”“ that you have to go back because you are afraid you might have missed something”,  – states David. In La Caille everything is unique and antique. Cozy atmosphere, limited number of visitors and individual approach make this restaurant different from other ones and make customers come back there again and again. Food produced there can satisfy the most demanding tastes and can’t be regarded as food only. Each dish is treated like a piece of art by both, chiefs and visitors of the restaurant. Administration invests big sums of money in the interior of the restaurant and landscape, which surrounds it.  In contrast to McDonald’s, where everything – interior, serving, and cooking is contrasted in such a way that customers can have there a quick meal and live it as soon as possible, in La Caille the atmosphere disposers to stay there as long as possible. “Over the years, McDonald’s has appealed to people in many ways. The restaurants themselves are depicted as spick-and-span, the food is said to be fresh and nutricius, the employees are shown to be young and eager, the managers appear gentle and caring, and the dining experience itself seems fun-filled.” (Ritzer, 7) In La Caille they think not only about the process of food consumption but also about entertaining people and creating an atmosphere of a holiday. In food industry there is a strong conflict between the art of cooking and eating and profitability.

“In short, McDonald’s has succeeded because it offers consumers, workers and managers efficiency, calculability, predictability and control.” (Ritzer, 12) In hospitality management all four factors, mentioned above are important as in any kind of business. Taking into account these factors is important for obtaining profit and the model created by McDonalds has proved to be effective. For more than 60 years, since the first McDonald’s restaurant has being opened, the managers managed to create a system of restaurants all over the world. As very precisely admitted one of the manager of the company, “I want McDonald’s to be more than a leader. I want McDonald’s to dominate” (Ritzer, 7) Some specialists state that temporary difficulties McDonald’s faces can be partially explained by its extremely successful business model. A lot of fast-food restaurants have used this model and finally created a serious threat to McDonalds. This is additional example of the effectiveness of the McDonald’s’ business model.

Of course any food-serving or food-cooking institution should bring profit in order to survive but there is a big difference in the approaches applied by different fast-food industries and unique restaurants. This difference lies in attitude to the clients. When “McDonald’s approach” is adopted, quantity always stands behind quality. McDonalds and other institutions of fast-food industry try to serve as much food as possible to as many people as possible.

People leave the restaurants satisfied because they have a feeling that they got much food for comparatively low prices and managers of the restaurants are happy indeed as they managed to sell much food. In the industry, where quantity stands above quality no gastronomic ideals can ever be kept. At the opening of Euro Disney, a French politician said that it will “bombard French with uprooted creation that are to culture what fast food is to gastronomy” (Ritzer, 17)

Quality of McDonald’s and other fast food institutions food is a topic of loud debates over last decades. People, who know the name of Ronald McDonald while can not remember the name of the Prime Minister, at least stared to think about the quality of the food they eat. The tendency of the last years shows growing interest to health and healthy food. The serious of researches have proven that food produced in fast-food restaurants is not good for health. Love to fast-food can become the reason of obesity, can cause heart problems and even depression. People became more and more concerned about “unhealthy products” contained in fast-food menus in big quantity. They start taking care about the ingredients of the dishes served and about the way these dishes are cooked. And the comparison is not profitable for McDonald’s, of course. People, who can make their rational choice about the food habits are not likely to go to fast-food restaurants. Fast-food companies know about this and try to target children and youngsters ”“ the most influenced audience. Children-target advertising of fast food has a negative influence on the children’s perception and creates negative eating habits.

Damage to ecology, caused by fast-food is hard to measure. Different fertilizers used to grow up “standard” vegetables in enormous amounts causes big damage to the surrounding. Wine fields, carefully planed around La Caille create a very big contrast to the damage created by McDonald’s. All the facts mentioned about give the hope that restaurants like La Caille have future and will have visitors, who appreciate not only the quantity but also the quality of food. People are ready to drive several miles and pay high prices in order to pure in the unique atmosphere of La Caille and taste its cuisine. The success of La Cuisine and restaurants like this prove that there are people who care about the art of cooking and serving, who care what they eat and where they eat. Hopefully, the number of such people will grow with the flow of time. People hurry up in order to earn much money but when it comes to spending them, they are too busy for that. Money isn’t an aim, it’s the mean to get things desired and fine dining in restaurants like La Caille is a respected aim, to my mind. The process of eating is much more than food consumption. A lot of principles, developed by fast-food organizations in general and McDonald’s in particular can be successfully used for hospitality management is one important rule is kept. Everything depends on attitude. As long as people, who eat the food, are treated like clients or customers, the principles of the gastronomy will be applied. The wish to get profits makes managers forget about individual approach and makes them treat their clients like consumers of their products without personal characteristics.

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