Road to recovery: Building a brand with Michel Malecot

Michel Malecot, the Founder, Chef, and Owner of The French Gourmet, Inc, is a legend in the San Diego catering and bakery world. In an interview with us, he discussed building a brand during Covid, corporate vs. social events and staffing challenges in 2021.

Instawork’s General Manager of Hospitality, Christian Crynes, speaks with leaders across hospitality to learn how they’re approaching the road ahead. To read others in the series, visit

Building the brand

During our thirty-minute call on March 17th, Michel got at least three phone call interruptions from his team members asking for guidance on certain pressing issues. California still had heavy restrictions on indoor or corporate events, so it was not event preparations that occupied his team that day. It was a St. Patrick’s Day meal special. 

Being a caterer and building your brand as a consumer brand is not always easy. But Michel’s team had implemented a new marketing technology allowing them to advertise to over 1000 loyal customers for every order. They had similar success with selling meals on other holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The blessing and curse of corporate events

Michel’s team had been ramping up their corporate catering efforts in San Diego before the pandemic. Initially, corporate clients didn’t naturally gravitate towards The French Gourmet because there was the perception that they only did French food.

MIchael Malecot at The French Gourmet

However, Michel’s team endeavored into marketing, networking, and testimonials, and found corporate events to have  a much lower operational lift than a lot of their social events, like weddings.

Additionally, the revenue from corporate events was more predictable, given its recurring nature. Ironically, with Covid, 2021 looks to be a fairly rough year for such events, with the recovery timeline being much longer than social ones.

Before the pandemic, Michael had a staff of 40 people. Only 3 of them (7%) have expressed interest in returning when events can be held again.

Challenges of re-engaging staff

Michel believes that one of the biggest upcoming challenges for his business will be finding great talent. Before the pandemic, he had a staff of 40 people. Most recently, when he sent out a pulse check on former employees on who was interested in working when events returned, he only received three responses, a 7% response rate. 

We have heard this sentiment echoed across the industry, and many businesses are looking more creative than ever to find great talent in the industry. We look forward to working with Michel and his team, along with all of our hospitality partners, to get creative while we rebuild the industry in 2021.

Instawork is a leading flexible staffing solution located in over 20 metro cities, including California (SF Bay Area, LA, San Diego), Texas (Austin, Dallas, Texas), Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, NJ/NYC Metro, Phoenix, and more.

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