All posts by Jennifer Welsh
Asian food can go far beyond the foldable takeout boxes and chopsticks so often associated with Chinese food delivery. Asian gourmet is being spotted on more and more restaurant menus, as the culinary world and consumers become aware of the intense, complex flavors it offers. Asian food or Asian-inspired dishes can have a place on restaurant menus at almost any type of venue. It’s not only the typical Chinese and Japanese dishes that America has come to know so well, but Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian cuisines are becoming front and center as well. Many of the dishes lend themselves to beautiful plating too, being composed of ingredients with varying textures, colors, and aromas.
Building Asian Gourmet Dishes
Though staples of Chinese food delivery such as eggrolls can be a great place to start when building an Asian gourmet menu, or even simply one dish, chefs should not limit themselves and should expand their culinary knowledge of Asian ingredients. Asian food usually includes components that satisfy the five tastes, stimulating every type of taste bud. Sour rice vinegar and lime, sweet mirin and brown sugar, salty soy sauce
It’s not good to drink on an empty stomach. This mantra has been repeated over and over again, most likely to every person exposed to alcohol in any way. For bars, this rule is a great reason to offer food in addition to wine, beer, cocktails, and other beverages. Bar food can be a great platform of experimentation for chefs, and a great way to raise profits for businesses. In order to maximize sales, bar businesses should draft the menus in a different way than typical restaurant menus. If the venue is mainly a bar, smaller dishes will complement the different types of beverages, while drawing customers’ eyes with the tapas-style concept.
Complementing the Beverages
Bar food is usually salty, playing on the idea that if customers consume salty foods along with alcohol, they will be thirsty, and order more drinks. There tends to be a stereotype that bite-sized, fried, carbohydrate-heavy foods are the best kinds to serve in bars. Though this may not always be the best approach, there is no doubt that savory food is usually more closely associated with bar food than sweets. Including dishes that can be complemented by the drinks offered on the bar menu, will help improve sales of bar food. For example, having a cheese and fruit plate may be attractive to some as an accompaniment to a glass of wine. Dehydrated chicken skin chips or bite-sized popcorn chicken, on the other hand, will be a great snack to go alongside a mug of beer. Cocktails can go great with layered salads or soups served in small glasses, or bite-sized gourmet sandwiches. Think about complementing the flavors and mouth-feel of the drinks with the bar food, to make the best pairing available on the menu. By offering bar food for every type of customer and every kind of drink on the menu, bars can increase their sales.
Food and drink pairings are subjects of debates, culinary experiments,
You don’t have to be the Culinary Institute of America or the Cordon Bleu to offer cooking classes at your venue. Supermarkets and stores can be great places for a cooking class or demonstrations, and can benefit from advertising the products they offer through these events. While restaurants offering culinary education need to plan the restaurant floor plan to enable such events, supermarkets and stores usually have counters that can easily be cleared to allow cooking classes and demonstrations occur.
Planning the Cooking Class
Cooking classes and demonstrations at supermarkets usually highlight one type of dish, and incorporate the ingredients available at the store. Culinary schools such as the Culinary Institute of America and the Cordon Bleu offer workshops of multiple meetings with a curriculum, as well as one-time classes. Supermarkets and stores may want to do the same, to maximize the potential of their resources and bring in customers looking for at-home cooking skill enrichment. Others may choose one-time events instead. For some stores, demonstrations will be the most convenient culinary education platform. Yet others may prefer to offer cooking classes. Some will prefer to combine both options, with the attendees preparing the mise en place and the instructor assembling and/or cooking
Consumers are going nuts over health fads and nutrition-related culinary trends. As the public’s awareness of healthy foods pulls away from low-fat trends towards super-foods with health benefits, nuts are gaining favor. Nuts are typically high in unsaturated fats and essential omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins, minerals, and protein. They have been shown to reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which is linked to cardiovascular disease and other health complications. Beyond that, though, nuts are prized in the culinary world for their richness and versatility, making them a culinary trend we can expect to see growing on restaurant menus.
How to Incorporate Nuts
Restaurants with healthy foods may choose to incorporate nuts, along with other healthy fats, into restaurant menus, because of their rich taste and ability to satisfy hunger. Healthy fats have been associated with higher satiety levels in diners, according to numerous studies. Therefore, adding nuts to salads can make healthy food more satisfying for customers. Nuts can be added to salads, blended into sauces and marinades to thicken, and used in desserts, among other applications. Pesto, pecan pie, and salad with blue cheese, poached pears, and caramelized nuts, are some of the most famous dishes which use nuts. However, creative chefs and cooks can find a multitude of other uses for wholesale nuts.
Fitting Nuts Into the Budget
Nuts can be very pricey, for a variety of reasons, including the required growth conditions and processing to make them edible. Some nut varieties are highly dangerous to health without proper processing. For example, fresh almonds contain traces of cyanide, a deadly poison. California provides about 80% of the world’s almonds. However, drought and the bee crisis are making almonds harder to come by and afford. The strict environmental requirements, along with
How to prevent bacteria in the kitchen is an issue that concerns every cook, whether at home or in a commercial kitchen. Bacteria have become infamous for causing food spoilage and sicknesses, but they’re not all bad. There are millions of species of bacteria, and though some of them can cause illness, and even death, others are used in the cosmetic, biotechnology, high tech, environmental, and petroleum industries for various purposes. Yogurt, cheese, wine, beer, and many other foods, could not be prepared without the help of specific types of bacteria. In a commercial kitchen, however, restaurant staff should create a restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist to prevent the spread and growth of unwanted and damaging bacteria.
Strategies for How to Prevent Bacteria
Microbial growth usually slows in cold temperatures. Therefore, keeping foods in refrigerators and freezers can help slow the spoilage process. Most chefs know that it is not recommended to refreeze thawed food, especially meats, poultry, and fish. Though this piece of advice helps prevent texture deterioration, the main reason for not refreezing thawed foods is that when food is defrosted, bacteria on it and in it are given good conditions to grow, with a food source and comfortable temperatures. If the food is then refrozen and re-thawed, those bacteria that grew the first time around are given a chance to multiply, increasing the bacterial count in the food, and increasing the chances of spoilage and harmful side effects or sickness as a result of eating the food.
Bacteria in food can spread to surfaces that come into contact with it, including cutting boards, knives, workers’ hands, and counters. Therefore, keeping the restaurant kitchen clean and organized is of the utmost importance. Commercial kitchen appliances and all kitchen equipment should be washed frequently with hot, soapy water. Restaurant staff should frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap, especially after handling raw ingredients and before handling cooked or ready to serve foods. Some bacteria, when faced with tough conditions such as heat, can develop spores. Spores are dormant forms of bacteria that can survive extreme conditions and cleaning processes. Though spores themselves aren’t harmful, when placed in a compatible environment once again, spores can develop into bacteria which can lead to food spoilage or sickness. Cleaning kitchen equipment and
Foraging is undoubtedly an interesting way to make the most of local produce. With modern-day concern over genetically modified produce, the spotlight on oversized vegetables, heavy with water and low on flavor, has caused many culinary enthusiasts to doubt the quality of supermarket produce from industrial farms. Chefs of top restaurants, such as René Redzepi of Noma, use foraging as a means of getting the freshest and most authentic local produce possible. Foraging has opened up a world of spices, herbs, and wild edibles overlooked by industrial farms and unavailable in stores. Beach peas, Indian cucumber, colorful mushrooms in various shapes and sizes, wild asparagus, berries, herbs such as mint, tarragon, and chives, and even hay, edible flowers, and fish are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fresh ingredients that can be found while foraging for food. Despite the concentrated flavor and incomparably fresh produce that can be found in wild edibles, foraging is not right for all restaurant menus.
Is Foraging for Food Right for Your Restaurant Menus?
Foraging for food is a time consuming and sometimes dangerous business, which can be extremely rewarding for certain venues. Restaurant menus that rely on edible wild plants are likely to change every week, since foraging for food can bring surprising finds to the kitchen, but inconsistently. Another factor to consider is the time investment of foraging for food. Searching for and gathering wild edibles requires time and patience, but so does learning the trade. Before starting to forage, chefs, or any individual for that matter, will have to take the time to study the area and its plants thoroughly, making contact with local experts in order to receive advice about wild edibles. Foraging without proper knowledge of plants is a dangerous business. Edible mushrooms and berries are notorious for having wild, poison relatives, yet the list of poison plants spreads to wild peas and herbs as well. By gathering knowledge of local produce, conversing with local professionals familiar with the regional plants, and always being extremely cautious, foragers
Indian food belongs on menus beyond Indian restaurants. The use of spices such as cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger benefits both the taste and health properties of Indian food recipes. Dishes such as Chicken Tikka and Steamed Rice with Curry can easily be incorporated into fast casual venues, high-class restaurants, and every type of venue in between. In addition to delicious dishes, the Indian culinary culture embraces vegetarianism and therefore the ethnic food of the region provides many vegetarian meal ideas and Indian vegetarian recipes. Many of these dishes can be easily altered to be relatively healthy, especially since there is a heavy focus of vegetables and herbs.
Those that cannot be made healthy without losing their charm, such
as fried samosas, hold their own as delicious dishes on restaurant menus.
Indian Vegetarian Recipes
Hindu is a major religion in India. Some sects of the religion practice vegetarianism, a custom which has made its way into much of ethnic food of Indian culture. Indian vegetarian recipes therefore provide food businesses with ready-made vegetarian meal ideas. The rich spices and seasonings that are used in many Indian food recipes make it easy to spice up vegetarian and vegan dishes, persuading even meat-eating customers to order the dishes. The heavy use of spices also gives many Indian dishes health
Artificial sweeteners have taken the place of sugar as we know it in sodas, baked goods, yogurts, coffee drinks, and more. As of May, the obesity rate in the United States was estimated to be about 27.7%. The use of artificial sweeteners is hoped to help reduce sugar intake and hopefully lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Today, with nutrition facts becoming a more central focus on restaurant menus, food businesses may be tempted into experimenting with these sugar substitutes, swapping them in place of sugar in salad dressings, dipping sauces, and other foods. However, customers interested in following a sugar free diet are not usually customers looking for healthy restaurant eating in general. Customers practicing healthy restaurant eating habits may actually be less inclined to order dishes with sugar alternatives, due to studies and suspicions that have given artificial sweeteners bad reputations. And though the nutrition facts may look attractive by using sugar alternatives, businesses should keep in mind the negative effects that artificial sweeteners can have on health and taste.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad or Good?
Aside from their undeniable popularity in sugar packet holders, artificial sweeteners have yet to widely grace restaurants and restaurant menus. Big coffee shop and bakery chains do offer some sugar free options, but most venues have yet to catch on. Frankly, sugar alternatives’ aftertastes and lack of ability to caramelize, make them come short for the culinary world. Sugar does more for the culinary world than just effect taste. It also helps the chemical processes in the kitchen. It helps yeast produce carbon dioxide to make dough rise, thickens jams, and caramelizes, among other things. Sugar alternatives do not participate in these cooking processes the way sugar does. Therefore, before the biological impacts of sugar alternatives on health and taste are considered, these culinary implications of sugar alternatives should be acknowledged.
Synthetic sugar alternatives, such as saccharin and aspartame, are created to sit on the taste bud receptors that sense sweet tastes. Yet the majority of these sugar alternatives are much sweeter than sugar, ranging from one to 8,000
Beets are extremely versatile, healthy, aesthetic, and delicious vegetables that are gaining popularity and importance in culinary trends and in the industry. Restaurant menus can incorporate beets in many ways to draw customers looking for healthy restaurant eating options, as well as those interested in gourmet food rich in flavor. The root has shown evidence of playing a role in preventing heart disease and preventing cancer, placing it in the spotlight for nutrition facts. However, praise for the vegetable goes beyond the health benefits of beets. Its sweet taste and the multiple preparation methods that suit it make it a great ingredient to add on restaurant menus for more than just its nutrition facts.
Beets on Restaurant Menus
Beets can have many different purposes on restaurant menus and inspire a wide range of restaurant menu ideas to boost restaurant nutrition: from salads to dessert, juices to pastas. Their rich colors make beets a great option for adding a pop of color to dishes, or for use as a natural food coloring for many dishes, such as pasta dough and mashed vegetables. In baking, beets are a great way to sweeten desserts while keeping attractive nutrition facts. They can be blended and added to a variety of chocolate desserts in low quantities, or in higher quantities to create a red-velvet-like color. Blended beets can also be used to prepare sauces and spreads such as horseradish or beet ketchup. Beets add color, taste, and nutrients such as vitamin C,
Food selfies are taking over Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites. Chefs and culinary professionals have mixed feelings about the trend and, in some cases, chefs have banned taking pictures of food in their venue, while others have gone to the other extreme, offering free food to those who take pictures of their food and tag the venue on Instagram. Food plating and presentation has always been viewed as an important aspect of running a restaurant. However, with food photography ballooning in popularity food stylist worthy dishes should be a key focus for venues. By pulling out those garnishes and squeeze bottles, and giving customers dishes worthy of the best food photography, businesses can get effective and free restaurant marketing from customers’ pictures of food.
Making Customers the Food Stylist
Let’s face it. The majority of customers do not know how to photograph food on a professional level. They lack the artistic knowledge and equipment. However, the widespread restaurant marketing that can result from customers uploading their pictures of food in a venue can bring in new restaurant business, and draw back old customers. Restaurant marketing is often at the forefront of the minds of managers and owners. Luckily, with the rise in social media and smartphones, as well as an appreciation for culinary culture, much word of mouth restaurant marketing is being done for businesses, for free, by the customer. Venues can easily get in on this type of restaurant marketing by persuading customers to take pictures of food and mention the venue. Offering prizes for the best food photography each month, or offering discounts for mentioning the venue, along with pictures of food, on social media sites, can get the trend started. Instead of worrying about food photographers or learning how to photograph food, venues can benefit from customers’ food pictures. Customers a likely to get a wide range of shots and, even better, flaunt them to their friends, giving a venue great restaurant marketing.