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HUMAN RESOURCES | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Danika Heslop, Executive Chef at Jamaica Blue

On opportunities, evolution and respect.

QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?

Danika Heslop: Working in franchising means I get the opportunity to work closely with a wide range of people. I get to inspire them and this is something that I love most. During the past few years in particular, we've really pushed the boundaries in evolving the food offering at Jamaica Blue and our franchise partners have not only accepted new processes and recipes, they've embraced them for the enhanced variety and ongoing quality-focus of our food offering. This is great for the brand as it permits us to play in the same market as some of the top, independent cafés and it also boosts the skills of our in-café kitchen teams, which is also something that really excites me.

QSR Media: What 3 goals are you focused on?

Heslop: For Jamaica Blue...

1. Constant evolution of the food offering in the franchise network; I want us to be always challenging ourselves to create the best dishes, utilising the equipment and suppliers that are available to us.

2. Up-skilling the staff in our Jamaica Blue kitchens so that they are able to deliver the highest quality food to our customers.

3. Improving our processes and keeping our cost of goods for food in line with, or below our business model in order to deliver increased profitability to our franchise partners.

QSR Media: What long-term changes are you planning?

Heslop: One of our chief goals at Jamaica Blue is to keep our offering flexible so that our concept is adaptable to any location; from small espresso bars to shopping centres, hospitals, train stations and high streets. With this in mind, our food team is continually adapting the Jamaica Blue food offering to these locations by creating food that is suitable for ‘grab n go’ quick service offerings, right through to large café restaurants with a full dinner menu, table service and an alcoholic beverages offer. Streamlining the food offering for these different sites is a long term goal of Jamaica Blue; both in Australia and internationally, as getting this right is crucial to the success of the individual business as well as the brand's longevity.

QSR Media: What are your key business philosophies?

Heslop:

1. To be respectful in business, particularly in dealing with our franchise partners. When visiting a Jamaica Blue café I understand that I am not just entering someone’s business but their home away from home. I keep this in mind in relation to all dialogue and feedback which helps in establishing a strong foundation for a positive long-term working relationship.

2. To understand and listen to what people want; our franchisees, customers, suppliers and internal stakeholders.

3. To never stand still; this focus on continual improvement drives Jamaica Blue's food development and recipe innovation.

QSR Media: What previous positions prepared you for this one and how?

Heslop: I have worked in professional kitchens my whole working career, which has built my skills around food development and kitchen operations. I have worked in a range of different environments from small restaurants to hotels, large catering functions and fine dining, both locally and overseas. I use my varied experience to assist in improving every food related touch-point of Jamaica Blue, from kitchen layouts to food and recipe development, in-café training and cost of goods management. Having spent several years working overseas in Norway also gave me a new understanding of how best to work with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I understand the challenges of working in a new environment with unfamiliar food and I apply this knowledge to ensure that our training, processes and recipes can be understood by our franchisees of all walks of life.

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