Posts in July 2014
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
Customer service is one of the deciding factors for the success of a restaurant. Wait staff pagers are slowly cropping up as a better way to serve customers, but are they the right way to solve the puzzle of smoothly running the dining room? Waiter call buttons are a useful way for customers to let wait staff know they are ready to order, need something, or want to pay the bill. Restaurant pagers are also an efficient way for chefs to notify restaurant staff that dishes are ready to be delivered to tables. However, restaurant pagers may be uncomfortable for customers to use, eliminating the personal contact and challenge of getting the attention of wait staff, and replacing bad customer service with a foolproof technological solution.
Customer Service and the Restaurant Ambience
Top notch customer service is a very impressive characteristic for venues to have. Hiring caring and attentive restaurant staff is a sure-fire way to improve customer loyalty. Restaurant pagers enable customers to notify staff when they need something, providing the table location to wait staff for the fastest and most efficient service possible. However, to some extent, restaurant pagers also eliminate the challenge of providing good customer service, making it less impressive to customers. If waiters know exactly when and where a table needs service, can serving those tables quickly be labeled as good customer service? On another note, when a venue is packed and wait staff are obviously having a hard time juggling all their tasks, pressing the call button may be uncomfortable for customers, but they may not have a choice. If restaurant pagers are present, wait staff will not necessarily check on a table if not summoned by the call button, making use of
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
Tapioca is the starch of cassava root, a plant indigenous to parts of South America, Asia, and Africa. It comes in many different forms including tapioca balls, tapioca flour, and tapioca starch, creating many possibilities for incorporation into restaurant menus. Its neutral flavor makes it ideal for use for its thickening properties, without the drawback of undesired flavor added to dishes. Tapioca is a carbohydrate, without many other nutritional properties. Its main uses in the culinary world stem from its textural, gluten-free, and tasteless properties.
Tapioca balls are most often associated with bubble tea and tapioca pudding. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, though they are usually opaque white. Tapioca pearls are formed by pushing tapioca starch through a sieve at high pressure. The globules are sold dried and rehydrated and softened by cooking in large amounts of water or other types of liquid. Since tapioca pearls have a very neutral taste and color, a tapioca recipe usually relies on taking on the flavor and color of the fluid in which the pearls are cooked. Tapioca balls can be used in a variety of interesting dishes for restaurant menus. However, their use should be minimized or written clearly under the dish description, since a large percentage of people have an aversion to their texture. Besides classic tapioca pudding, tapioca balls can be used in a variety of other tapioca recipe options. They can be cooked in coconut milk and served with mango and/or caramelized pineapple cubes, or cooked in water with a bit cream and topped with vanilla-rum caramelized bananas. On the savory side, they can be cooked in reduced, concentrated chicken stock and served on a unique serving spoon as canapés, or hors d’oeuvres, similar to the “caviar” of molecular gastronomy. Tapioca recipe options go beyond tapioca pearls, incorporating tapioca flour, or the cassava root itself, into
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,
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 400,000 deaths per year are connected to high blood pressure. Salt has been shown to have a direct relationship to elevated blood pressure, making it a critical ingredient to acknowledge when planning diets for the best nutrition facts possible. Despite the detrimental effects of salt, salt is also a necessary compound for the body. The FDA recommends consuming no more than one teaspoon of salt per day, though most people go well past this limit. Processed foods and restaurant menus are notorious sources of unusually high sodium levels in food. The more a person adds salt to his/her food, the most his/her taste buds acclimate and the more necessary it is to his/her perception of whether a dish is tasty or not. Low sodium restaurants can benefit from more than just impressive nutrition facts, but also by receiving a positive reputation through proper restaurant marketing. Nutrition facts of restaurant menus with low sodium levels will draw the attention of those looking for a healthy restaurant eating experience, as well as those simply concerned with elevated blood pressure.
Low Sodium Restaurants and Delicious Restaurant Menus
Salt shakers will never be out of fashion on a restaurant table. There is no denying the taste-inducing effects of salt on food. Even desserts benefit from a pinch of salt, which helps bring out the flavors. However, food businesses can significantly cut their salt use with a few strategic steps, creating restaurant menus with more impressive nutrition facts.
It’s kind of ironic how whole wheat flour is more expensive than white flour, even though the preparation process in the factory is identical, except for white flour going through various extra steps. The explanation for this absurdity lies in the popularity of healthy eating culinary trends. Restaurants offering meals with high nutritional value can be extremely successful, depending on their target market. However, restaurants hoping to appeal to a large and varied customer base must find ways to work within the framework of culinary trends such as healthy eating, while keeping their prices down. Obvious options include offering low food-costs meals made with in-season produce and slightly cutting down portion sizes. However, many businesses invest in nutritional value in areas that are not necessarily worth the investment. Despite the faulty ideas behind some of these trends, a few of them are worth keeping, for purposes of restaurant marketing.
Trends to Keep
Organic food is one of the culinary trends that has gotten major attention over the years. Pesticides are a proven danger, and no one will argue that it is best to stay clear of coming into contact with them. However, despite the beliefs of an overwhelming percentage of the public, organic farms do use pesticides: organic ones. Organic farms do tend have some practices that are better for the environment than other, larger industrial farms, but not using pesticides is not one of them. So why is organic food a trend to keep? Offering organic food or having an organic restaurant is a great way to increase restaurant business among customers concerned with healthy eating, if only because the lack of public awareness as to the definition of organic food. Despite the higher price of organic foods, businesses with a healthy restaurant focus should consider splurging on this gimmick in order to increase restaurant business