Jason Sourasis has worn many hats during his career. He’s held executive leadership roles within finance firms, run a successful fine dining establishment in Melbourne and even has a film credit to his name on IMDB. While food and corporate business may seem like entirely different worlds to some, it was the spirit of teamwork which featured heavily in both that inspired Sourasis to bridge those two worlds and create Your Corporate Kitchen. Here, he shares with Spice his business journey and global expansion plans.
Who started the business?
I came up with the concept and started running Corporate Kitchens in 2015. Even though I am from a financial services background, I owned a fine dining restaurant named Albert Street Food and Wine in Brunswick, which is in the inner North of Melbourne. Albert Street Food and Wine was one of Melbourne’s best restaurants, which turned over millions of dollars, employed over 30 staff and was a beast of a business. I was amazed at how much went into running a fine dining restaurant and how much had to go smoothly to produce the end result, which, despite the organised chaos in the background, was the only thing that diners experienced. This insight initially led to the creation of Your Corporate Kitchen.
A lot of the skillsets that I developed as a youngster in hospitality was a great training base for entering the corporate world and I continue to use the basic fundamentals of hospitality in the corporate world today. Individually the hospitality industry helped with my communication skills, attention to detail, customer focus and helped me remain balanced and grounded.
From a broader business perspective, I was surprised by the striking similarities in running a corporate business and running a fine dining restaurant.
In both worlds, everyone’s role is important and everyone has a role to play with KPI’s to meet. In both world’s teamwork is imperative and customer service should always be the main focus.
So with that in mind I set about developing a leadership and development program that corporates could use to help build individual skillsets of their employees which they could bring back to the workplace and at the same time help build a true team culture, by using a fine dining restaurant experience as the vehicle to facilitate outcomes.
What services do you offer and to whom?
Your Corporate Kitchen is a fun, interactive and unique user experience that combines everyone’s love of exquisite food and wine with some engaging and high-pressure team building activities which would be common place in a hustling and bustling fine dining restaurant.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in the business?
Like any business, there is a need for balance between reinvesting in your business and profitability. We are always trying to improve our offering and user experience and for the first few years we have kept reinvesting to make Corporate Kitchen the successful offering it is today. We’ve been able to secure some high profile corporate brands such as KPMG, Pitcher Partner’s, Fordham Group, Black & Decker, Knight Frank as well as High Profile leadership Groups within some of Australia’s high performance sports teams such as Collingwood, North Melbourne and Carlton Football Club.
What are the big trends in your industry?
A lot of corporate team building events that are currently offered in the marketplace revolve around sport, average food and excessive drinking. Apart from a couple of hours of entertainment and possibly a bad hangover, the feedback we’ve had from corporates is that these traditional team building and development events don’t deliver any outcome that can be implemented back in the workplace. Not everyone likes sports or binge drinking.
The beautiful thing about food and wine is that everybody must eat and everybody generally has an appreciation for high end food and wine!
Corporate clients have been asking for more team building events that deliver fun, interactive team-building activities with measurable and tangible outcomes for their people.
What do you love about the industry?
I love seeing and developing people and have learnt that individual talent and education is one small part of success. The main part is the individual’s attitude and willingness to get on with things with a smile and persevere with determination and positivity. I generally find that individuals with a positive “can do” attitude in turn have the most positive affect on their peers, the business and are generally the most successful.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
Corporate Kitchen has seen some amazing growth over the last 12-18 months. We mainly pick up new clients via word of mouth referrals from happy participants who have raved about the experience. We are already Australia wide and currently working with a couple of global brands that could possible even see a global expansion. So in five years I’d like to think we will have Corporate Kitchens running all over the world and diners will have a new appreciation of the work and effort that goes into running a fine dining restaurant and in particular the hospitality industry.
If you could tell clients one thing, what would it be?
Attitude reflects leadership.
Interested in booking your next event with Your Corporate Kitchen – click here to view their listing.