Yesterday we started talking to Anthony Redendo of Sofrita and Redendo's Pizzeria about some of what has brought him success in the restaurant industry. Today the chef/owner/teacher gives us some common sense advice that works in any environment.
Redendo, who is an avid Facebook user, understands the value of sites like Yelp! and Urbanspoon. After having good food, being nice is the next most important thing for a restaurant to get right. It sounds fairly simple, but if you honestly think back through some of our recent dining experiences, niceties seem to be slipping through the cracks, don't you think? When was the last time you encountered an overwhelmingly friendly server, bartender, chef or restaurant owner? We're still thinking.
Culinary casualties: If I see a restaurant and I know it's going to fail and it fails, well...the ones that I don't see coming, like when Verde went out of business, I was up for like three nights tossing and turning. It bothers me - I wish I could help more people. They don't come for help. I don't think they know where to go for help. They probably can't afford a consultant. I think of could have saved Verde.
Hold the organs please: I don't like any organ meat. I can cook it, but I don't like it. I'll have someone else taste it.
Learn about Redendo's rebellious philosophy on Spanish tapas after the jump.
A Latin American rebellion: A lot of tapas restaurants stick to the rigid guidelines of Spain. I feel like I go more with the Latin American countries. The way Latin American countries rebelled against Spain is the way I do my restaurant. I kind of do anti-Spain. We do things from Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba - I kind of keep it that way.
Be nice: Don't let people leave unhappy. Everyone with a computer is a food critic now. And to some extent I take the Yelp!'s pretty seriously. Anyone with a keyboard can say whatever he wants.
Don't mess with what works: I just like a good cheese pizza. New York city pizza evolved from Italy. It put me through college, my brother through college, got us out here - made my grandpa a lot of money, my dad a lot of money. It's not that hard to make good pizza. I don't know why there's so much bad pizza out there. It takes work, but it's not physically hard or a lot of thinking.
Men not machines: My tagline is pizza made by men not machines. It's a craft, you don't have to press it in a machine.
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Pitiful paella: Without naming any names...I went to Las Vegas for a pizza expo, but we were also looking at different tapas restaurants. A very famous tapas restaurant, I was highly disappointed in. It was very expensive. A $50 paella with crunchy, raw rice. I don't usually send things back and I was hungry, so I ate it. I always try really hard to make perfect food. This was horrible and it had great reviews.
The next generation: I'm a third-generation restaurant owner. My grandfather came over from Italy during the 50s and opened a little restaurant - he was in the restaurant business, then my father got into the business. Redendo's has been around for a really long time. I took the concept from New York and brought it to Arizona.
Tomorrow Redendo will teach us how to make a tropical ceviche perfect for poolside hang time. To read Part One, go here.