All posts by Jennifer Welsh
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.
Businesses are constantly looking for new ingredients to use in restaurant menu ideas in order to set their venue apart. Kale nutritional benefits and culinary diversity make it an ideal candidate for restaurant menus. Not only is it an attractive ingredient for people concerned with healthy restaurant eating, it is also an interesting and hip addition to restaurant menus. Businesses may choose to add variety to their ingredients by switching out spinach for kale, chard, or beet greens in some existing dishes, or by creating dishes to show off these “superfood” greens.
Kale Nutritional Benefits
Kale has become famous, largely because of its incredible nutrition facts. Not only is it high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and phytonutrients, it is also fat free, low calorie, and a great source of absorbable calcium and antioxidants. Kale on restaurant menus is a dream come true for customers concerned with healthy restaurant eating. Kale nutritional benefits clearly make it a superfood, yet it does not lack in preparation possibilities for restaurant menu ideas, showing that healthy food can have a place in the culinary world as well.
Restaurant Menu Ideas with Kale
With nutrition facts and healthy eating taking center stage in the restaurant business in recent years, adding kale, and other foods with impressive nutrition facts, to restaurant menus, has clear potential for improving business. Kale nutritional benefits make it an ideal ingredient
With relatively new food labeling laws, large restaurant chains are required to print restaurant nutrition information on their restaurant menus. Small food businesses are not obligated to do so, but some may choose to offer their customers this option, in order to show their support of healthy restaurant eating. Other venues may choose to simply provide menu labels near healthy options, rather than specific nutrition facts. Either way, a study by Drexel University’s School of Public Health has shown that restaurant nutrition information impacts customers’ purchasing decisions, ultimately leading customers to ordering fewer calories. Restaurant menus with healthy restaurant eating options may benefit from letting customers know about their healthy restaurant menus. However, despite the added comfort for dieting and health-conscious customers, restaurant nutrition labelling is usually not a worthwhile investment for small businesses, when not required by law.
Menu labelling is a restaurant marketing strategy that can attract customers on a strict diet. Those effected with diabetes and obesity can clearly benefit from knowledge of carbohydrate, sugar, fat and caloric meal content. A venue that offers healthy restaurant eating options should be confident enough in their restaurant menus to add a nutrition facts label, at least to some menu items. Many consumers are aware of the studies that have been done, showing that an overwhelming majority underestimate the caloric content of restaurant and fast food chain menu items. However, by being shown the estimated restaurant nutrition information for
Many consumers concerned with nutrition facts mistakenly believe that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar. However, this is a deceiving bit of information. The answer to what is white sugar can be given in a few ways. But how to make brown sugar is relatively simple after understanding white sugar: brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added back in. By knowing the difference between white sugar and brown sugar, food businesses can make the most educated decisions about white and brown sugar kitchen applications, resulting in more mouthwatering restaurant menu ideas.
What is White Sugar?
Sugar is usually made from sugar cane or sugar beets. When sugar cane is used, the cane is crushed and its juice purified, filtered, boiled, and reduced until it begins to thicken and the sugar starts to crystallize. The sugar crystals are then spun quickly, removing the liquid around them, known as molasses, and producing raw sugar, or Demerera sugar. This raw sugar then goes through a refining process to remove any non-sugar particles and color. This refined product is crystallized and dried, yielding white sugar as we know it. How to make brown sugar is simple after this process. Brown sugar is essentially white sugar with molasses in it, giving it a stickier texture and a sweeter taste.
Hispanic markets are an increasingly important market sector for food businesses. Surveys show that the Hispanic population in the USA grew by 43% from 2000 to 2010. For restaurants, this growth means a larger potential customers base. Studies show that the average Hispanic customer visits a restaurant about 155 times a year, 4 more times than the average 151 times the general population dines out (QSR). In addition, it was found that Hispanic diners tend to dine out in larger groups when compared to the general population, often making the meal a family event. These statistics should make marketing to Hispanics a top priority for food businesses in order to increase restaurant business.
Mexican Foods and Language
While an obvious option for catering to a specific ethnic group is to offer traditional foods, Mexican foods can also be an attractive addition to many fast casual menus, due to their widespread appeal for all customers. However, offering Spanish or Mexican foods is not necessarily the best strategy for marketing to Hispanics. An almost sure way to increase customer loyalty, however, is by considering how customer service can be used as a tool for attracting new customers. Having translated menus and signs, for example, is a great way to welcome Spanish speaking customers to a venue. Restaurants may want to consider numbering menu items so that restaurant staff will be able to write down the number of the item ordered, rather than learn the translations for each menu item. Having restaurant staff on hand that speaks Spanish is another great way to boost customer service and customer loyalty. Restaurant staff made up of multilingual employees will make it easier to increase restaurant business and customer loyalty by making more customer markets feel comfortable in the venue.
When considering how to attract customers, food and customer service are obvious critical areas for food businesses. However, sometimes it takes more than that to increase restaurant business and gain customer loyalty. Therefore, when considering how to attract customers from Hispanic markets, venues should consider menus and restaurant staff that will provide award-winning customer service and improve the venue environment. Hispanic markets are a powerful customer market in the US. By considering how to cater to them, businesses can develop strategies to increase the number of satisfied customers frequenting the venue.