Monthly Archives: September 2016

  1. Successful Blog Posts Translating to Bottom-Line Dollars?

    We have all heard the saying all publicity is good publicity. Most of us are also well aware that there are countless blogs on the internet today, in our case thousands of food blogs. Yes, some bloggers may have started their social media platforms as a place to share their love of cooking and dining out but, with enough followers they are able to showcase and entice fellow consumers where to eat next.

    Typically, bloggers with professional kitchen experience are those who started off cooking in restaurant kitchens, but started their food blog after leaving the industry. Some may be self taught home cooks that have a true love of food - recent studies show that about 41% of bloggers have a professional background in food or foodservice. Not bad considering these critics are starting to play a large role on consumer trends, you can sigh in relief knowing that the people influencing your current and potential customers have validity.

    It is true that loving food is enough reason to start a blog, but it isn’t enough of a reason to start a restaurant. Hence the reasoning behind why many believe that both bloggers and restauranteurs should work harmoniously together to create a stellar restaurant that everyone wants to be at.

    Using successful bloggers in your area as a platform to gain larger restaurant visibility in your surrounding community has its advantages. From opening day, to special occasions and promotions when done properly bloggers are able to influence your diners decisions, with tremendous force. As owners you are able to showcase bloggers how wonderful your establishment is and what you are able to offer.

    The sheer momentum that bloggers have in today’s businesses is exponentially higher than it was, even five years ago. We highly recommend reaching out to local bloggers and see what they would be able to help you with. With a little research on who the proper bloggers would be in your area, the outcome from having them come in and try your restaurant could help turn a slow time of year into a profitable one, help sell out that wine dinner or even help gift card sales. True professional bloggers know will know how to captivate their audience and sell what it is your looking for them to showcase.

    Because, many bloggers only write part time and do not get paid for what they do, we recommend send a gift card so the meal they purchase is either free or at a discounted rate. You can also do a blogging event, this allows you to entertain numbers local bloggers and be viewed by more potential clients.

    Blogger events are usually held on slower evenings, you set aside a part of of a private room or the bar area. Typically, you send out a few appetizers and allow the guests one or two cocktails. They are able to get a feel for the venue and write about their experience. Remember, it takes money to make money!

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  2. Oktoberfest 2016

    Looking at our calendars it is hard to believe that Saturday marks October 1st and with this comes the fabulous flavor of fall and our favorite German Oktoberfest Brews. Oktoberfest is the traditional beer festival that happens every year. The festival may begin as early as the last few weeks of September and last up until Halloween.

    As odd as it seems to abruptly switch from sweet corn and tomatoes to wurst and weiner schnitzel, but that’s Fall for you- no sooner that we were commenting of Labor Day do we go into Oktoberfest. The raucous celebration of Bavarian culture is far to fun to ignore and quite frankly too devious too miss. Even this most refined restaurants ploy us into believing that we just have to sample every Pilsner stain and sausages for the entire month of October.

    When this 200+ year old festival began, there was no beer. Yes, you read that correct, Oktoberfest started as a wedding that was dry. The nuptials of Ludwig von Bayern, the King of Bavaria, and princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In the old days the festival was kicked off with real horses.

    The beer Americans most associate with Oktoberfest celebrations is, naturally, Oktoberfest beer. But, as any beer nerd who has made the pilgrimage to Munich in late September will tell you, the beer served at the festival is a blonde lager, not the amber Oktoberfest beer we all know and love.

    What we think of as Oktoberfest beer in the United States is, strictly speaking, a Märzenbier, or “March beer.” Traditionally brewed in March, this malty amber lager would have been stored away in caves to sustain the thirsty masses throughout the summer. Come fall, any remaining Märzen would have been consumed to free up barrels for the new season’s beers.

    As restaurant owners and managers we have a huge advantage at our finger tips. We are able to satisfy our consumers want to participate in tasting traditional Oktoberfest beer and food while increasing out profit margin in what may be a traditionally slower time of year.

    We recommend keeping a small collection of Oktoberfest brews in house during the magical time of year and even adventuring out into the unknown and sampling traditional German food. It may not always be easy but, your clients will absolutely love if you are able to have a true sampling of beer and food even if it is for only a week. By advertising and getting the word out about the promotion your Oktoberfest will surely be a success!

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  3. Fig(uring) the Pair

    Figs with leaves on a white background.

    One of our favorite ingredients making its way onto menu in the recent season is Figs. Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothies of their skin, and the the cushiness of their seeds. California figs are available from June through September and some European varieties are available through the late autumn months.

    Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, we highly recommend purchasing the fruit only one to two day in advance of when you and your chef plan on preparing and serving them. Because, figs are plump, deep in color and extremely tender they do tend to become mushy if they not used in a timely manner.

    Fear not, this delightful fruit can be prepared easily and quickly and create rich menu items are will be sure to impress your guests palates. It is important before eating or cooking figs to wash them under cool water and then gently remove the stem. Gently wipe dry. You can then decide to either did the fruit or set aside to use in a recipe.

    The versatility of figs is undoubtedly a impressive selling point and reason to procure the product. Whether you are preparing a delicious oatmeal dish, poaching the figs in juice/red wine and serve them for dessert, quartered figs into a salad with fennel, arugula and shaved parmesan or even fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and chopped almonds that be served as hors d’oeuvres or desserts. The options are endless and we know that your guests will absolutely be enthralled that you are serving such a tantalizing item.

    Some of our favorite recipes are cost effective and will help you branch off into new segments.

    Below we hope you enjoy some of our favorite recipes incorporating figs.

    Fig and Fresh Apple No-Bake Cobbler

    Prep and Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Ingredients:

    2 small apples
    1/4 tsp lemon juice
    1 TBS apple juice
    4 dried figs (or fresh when in season)
    4 TBS chopped almonds
    1/2 tsp lemon zest (*Use organic lemon for zest, if possible)
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    pinch of cloves
    pinch of allspice
    2 tsp honey

    Directions:

    1 Cut apples into quarters. Cut out core and slice fruit into 1/4-inch thick slices. Turn apples and cut across slices for diced apples. In a mixing bowl, toss with lemon and apple juice.
    2 Cut the stem off of the figs. Cut figs into quarters and chop to produce pieces 1/4-inch or less. Add to the apples.
    3 Add the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined. For best nutrition, eat immediately. If you prefer it chilled, cover well and place in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

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  4. For the Love of Football

    Closeup of American Football on Field

    We are already two weeks into another fantastic Football Season. The fans are geared upped in their favorite teams apparel, the beer is flowing and the food can’t seem to come out quick enough. It can be a wonderful time of year and a profitable time, for those of us who have multiple big screen TV’s to showcase games on but, for those who may only have one screen or perhaps none at all what are you to do to gain those loyal fans business? You know even the loyalist customer who is a diehard fan will not miss their team play a game and chances are not willing/unable to show their game your missing our on their business. But are you?

    Most of us, especially those who have worked in the chaotic restaurants know the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” This saying is absolutely the truth, even if you are unable to show your guests their favorite games there is always something you can do to keep your customers happy and loyal.

    We have identified three ideas for you to try this football season. We know that if you give either a shot it will help you build sales and keep your customers happy as Bill Belichick.

    First, send out a friendly email your customers informing them that large catering orders are welcomed on game day. You can specify when the orders need to be in by so that your chef is able to properly execute and can limit the menu to certain items if need be. You can also throw in the incentive to order from you for game day by deserving the order directly to the guests. We know that this can get costly so this incentive may only be applicable to orders with a minimum purchase i.e. $300, $400 per order. Catering orders will help grow sales and make your customers feel valued!

    Second, if your bar space is limited on game day try opening the main dining room/ patio areas and renting TV’s. If moe customers watching the game will equal to more revenue it is your job to have as many people, with being safe of course, come in your venue and enjoy their game! Lastly, depending on the type of venue you have, rent out your private dining rooms. From experience we know that Sunday’s can be a slower time for private dining and if you are able to lower minimums to make them more appealing your profits on what would have been empty rooms are sure to double!

    We hope this season is a great one for you and no matter what team you route for, we know the best team will always win!

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  5. Utilizing the Beauty of Fall Leaves

    fall-foliage

    Parts of the country are beginning to witness the magical/ mystical event that is fall. With this comes the beauty that is crisp air, fresh apples and the color charing of the leaves. The mountain communities start to be sanctuaries for many and the seasonal restaurants in various areas begin to come alive and flourish!

    Perhaps it is the warm feeling these establishments are able to portray or perhaps it is the simple truth that they are in the right place at the right time. But, one thing for certain is that these establishments use all of their resources responsibly and to the best of their abilities. They are not afraid to be bold, take chances and be daring when it comes to using unique ingredients that may seem strange to some of us.

    One of the more daring items chefs in the perspective areas have been using, that can easily be found in your back yard are leaves. Yes, an item that most of us would walk by and never think to use in the dishes we prepare. The glory with working with leaves is that if the recipe does not come out perfectly the first time, you have a plethora of ingredients.

    One of the most tasty dishes you can produce using leaves is broth, along with water, spices, moss and leaves (stems removed) you simmer the mixture together allowing the aromas and flavors to come full circle. The broth allows numerous flavors to come forward on the palate and accompanies items such as mushrooms, squash and root vegetables perfectly. Dishes like these, even if in a city will sure to please your guests palates and increase your bottom line.

    Below please find a simple take on this idea - we hope you enjoy!

    Ingredients

    - 1 pound of high quality, fresh mushrooms, different flavors are best
    - 4 cups of water
    - 1/2 cup of clean moss ( make sure it is an edible variety in your region)
    - 1 full cup of autumn leaves

    Method

    - Place the mushrooms in a heatproof container and pour the water over them. Close the lid tightly and steam for 25 minutes ( steam should be at 200°F).
    - Meanwhile, put the moss, the old leave and 2 cups of fresh leaves in a glass teapot ( or coffee pot - it’s nice to be able to see what is happening, so anything that is clear and heatproof will work)
    - Once mushrooms are cooked and water has been stepped remove both from heat ( both should cook for 20 - 30 minutes )
    - Adjust the salt if you wish, and immediately strain the hot liquid over the contents of the pot and leave the infuse for about 3 minutes.
    - Arrange some fresh autumn leaves in soup bowls, and pour the hot aromatic broth over them, preferably in from of the diner.

    Note on Leaves: we highly suggest that you collect leaves that are already clean. For this year’s leaves, you need to gather the top layer of the leaf covering on the woodland floor, any moss used must not have soil attached or will not allow for the true flavors to come through.

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  6. How to Handle your Restaurant's Overtime

    overtime-restaurant-supply

    Scheduling, we all have been there, sitting down to write our staff’s schedule and we see that five servers have requested the next week, 3 cooks can only work 20 hours and the entire host team has gone back to school. Once upon a time we would automatically think to give those available extra hours, and pay them overtime. However, with 2016 welcoming in new minimum wage regulations and 2017 welcoming in new overtime pay regulations, we will be forced to reconsider how those hours are distributed.

    To help you transition into following these new regulations successfully, we have identified three tricks that we will ultimately advance your schedule writing skills. We are confident with these tricks you will be able to keep a strict schedule, that not only abide by the new labor laws but, that also keep your bottom line growing.

    First, have a firm rule with all of your employees that everyone on your payroll must ask for time off 4 weeks in advance. Time off should be requested in one book that is kept in the same location at all time. When requested a manager should sign and date when the request was made. This will stop any employee from saying favorites are considered when time off is given/ allowed.

    Second, write your schedule two weeks in advance. We know this seems like it is is impossible but, once you begin to do it on a normal basis it truly becomes second natural. Writing your schedule two weeks in advance allows your staff enough time to change their schedule around, with a managers approval should they need to change things around.

    Third, we highly recommend using a scheduling writing computer system. Our personal favorite is HotSchedules. The program allows you complete control when scheduling your staff. You are able to set the amount of employees needed on a daily basis, change schedules with the click of a button and gain complete control over your employees schedule. HotSchedules has the options of iPhone and Android Apps and is extremely user friendly.

    Lastly, we know the difficulties with hanging a large staff, if you are able to keep open lines of communications and make you staff feel valued the more likely they will be to respect you and your schedule.

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  7. The Chinese Moon Festival

    Mooncake

    Yesterday marked the official Chinese Moon Festival, but celebrations will continue today and tomorrow in China and places of the world where Chinese people live and honor their cultural traditions. This festival is significant for food as it involves the baking and eating of moon cakes - traditional cakes which are thought to look like the moon and are purchased to bring prosperity in the year ahead. People sacrifice cakes to the moon and eat them with family to signify unity and celebrate those close and dear to them. How big of a deal are moon cakes? Some bakeries report that up to 25% of their ANNUAL sales come from the sale of moon cakes along - for a festival that lasts only a couple of days. If you're in an area with strong Asian cultural traditions, consider adding a moon cake to your pastry case or dessert menu during next year's Moon Festival - a special and delicious little treat with a rich history behind it. Please note that this recipe is intricate as a moon cake is a beautifully decorated little dessert - so it may be easier to find a local supplier to support and purchase vs. making your own. But if you're up for a challenge, then get to baking!

    Not sure how to make a moon cake? Recipe is below courtesy of https://chinasichuafood.com

    Chinese Mooncakes—Traditional Version
    Ingredients
    Wrapper dough
      • 115g plain flour
      • 28g(around 2 tablespoons) peanut oil or other vegetable oil
      • 1 tablespoon flour for coating the tool
      • 75g golden syrup (homemadeor store bought)
      • 2g lye water
    Filling:
      • 8 salted egg yolks, each 10g
      • 380g bean paste or black sesame filling (25g*8+30g*6)
    egg wash:
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tablespoon egg white

    Instructions

      1. Prepare the filling paste in the previously, lotus seed paste, mung bean paste or red bean paste.
    To make the wrapper
      1. Combine lye water, golden syrup, and vegetable oil in a small bowl and then mix with flour. Stir until well combined. Wrap with plastic wrapper and then knead several times until smooth. Set aside in fridge for 2-3 hours.
      2. Transfer out and then divide into 14 equal balls (each one 15g)
    Assembling
    1. Measure the fillings for egg yolk mooncake: paste+ egg yolk=35g. Measure the fillings for pure paste filling: paste filling=30g. Wrap the egg yolks with paste firstly. And shape all the filling into round balls. Take one portion of the wrapper, press into a round wrapper and then place one filling ball in center. Push the wrapper from bottom to top little by little until the whole ball is completely sealed. Shape it into a round ball firstly and then into an oval.Slightly dust your mooncake tool and press the rod and gently remove the cake from the tool.
    2. Preheat oven to 180C (356F). Spray a very thin layer of water on surface to avoid cracking surface (especially you used larger amount of dusting flour). Bake for 5 minutes.
    3. In a small bowl, whisked the egg yolk and combine with egg whites. Transfer mooncakes out and brush a very thin layer of egg wash on the surface.
    4. Continue bake for around 15 to 20 minutes until the mooncake becomes well browned.
    5. Transfer out to a cooling down crack to cool down completely. Place in an airtight containers. Wait for around 1 or 2 days for the pasty to become soft and oily. After the "oil return" process, keep the mooncakes in fridge up to 2 weeks.

    Notes

    For mooncakes, smaller duck egg yolk around 10 grams each one is highly recommended. If your egg yolks are larger, for example near 20g. Divide it into two halves and wrap in two moon cakes.

    When pushing the outer wrappers, be carefully and slow down your process. Do not break the wrapper. If you do, pinch any small holes together. The time needed for assemble one moon cake should be around 1 minute even you are quite skilled. Be patient during the process.

     

     

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  8. Getting Ready For Fall

    fall-foliage

    For the past two weeks we have witnessed what seem like a full fledged Summer weather pattern, but no matter how badly we may like the warm weather to stay we must brace for what is to surely come. With so many different fruits and vegetables being grown in greenhouse, imported from other states and counties, it can be difficult, unless you are a farmer yourself, to know for certain what is really in season where you live.

    Here in the Northeast, we are fortunate to gather few fruits in the warm summer months and have a very short fall time frame to harvest our apples, pears, cranberries and grapes. Although the autumn months are beautiful and drive tourism, the food industry heavily relies on other parts of the nations to provide fresh fruit from the brining of fall into the following summer months.

    Fall Vegetables are much more plentiful and can be distributed across the country. You are able to find well balances root vegetables that are sure to please your guests palates. Vegetables such as; beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, salad greens, spinach, squash, sweet potato and turnips.

    Consumers truly enjoy locally sourced and produced foods, it makes them feel connected to the area they live in, dine in and spend money in. It not only helps with the cycle of business but, it also makes sure that produce is not wasted and is benefiting everyone when it is produced. One of our favorite ideas comes to us from local farms in the Northeast Area. The local flavors are bold, fresh and full of life and farmers are more than willing to take a few extra minutes and deliver freshly picked produce directly to the chefs themselves. We found that many times with the fresh produce chefs in the area also have access to freshly/humanely butchered meats such as chicken, beef, turkey and rabbit. The chefs actually change the menu based on what the local farmers are able to offer, they say it only solidifies how dedicated they are to the area that they work and live in.

    So happy fall everyone, may you find locally sourced produce!

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  9. Benefits of Providing Employee Meals

    Portrait of 2 restaurant workers

    There are very few, if any other businesses that view staff meals as not only a benefit, but rather a necessity. Labor laws do not mandate that restauranteurs provider meals for their staff, only that time is allowed for a meal to be consumed. If you choose however to create a wonderful culture in your business and give sustenance for your employees it will be well worth your while. Over the course of years, chefs/manager/owner have expressed very mixed feelings about providing meals for their employees. Recently, there has been a movement that shows a restaurants commitment to growing their internal community and building a “family” or team building opportunity. These meals allow the opportunity to inspire and build stronger relationships and can reference the term,”breaking bread.”

    Rather than throwing away overripe produce, day old fish and meat why not offering a daily family meal for everyone on your staff. Lend your staff your true appreciation and offer either a staff a lunch or dinner. Dedicated a shelf in your walk-in to your staff meal, and fill this shelf with leftover ingredients at the end of each day. Although these items placed on the shelf may not be worthy of your customers, they will be absolutely delectable to your staff.

    It may not seem like offering a free meal is worth your time/effort but, there are definite perks when putting your employees needs/wants first. Not only will you be able to allow your cooks the opportunity to create new and fresh ideas but, it will reduce your food cost and operate a more sustainable restaurant.

    Recent studies have shown that even if you offer your employees general benefits, when extend ing those benefits a free meal your employees productivity is likely to skyrocket. They will feel more focused, happier and are much more likely to stay with the company and recommend the company to a perspective employee. As such restaurants who make it a priority to feed their employees demonstrate that they care about those working for them and many have seen that the best way to an employee's heart is through their stomachs.

    Not only will a complimentary lunch/dinner uplift your internal customers but, it will also make sure that they are ready for their shift. They are not thinking about how hungry they are, if they will have time to eat and whether or not they will be allowed to order food from the line.

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  10. Top Restaurant Technology Trends

    Technology

    In our every changing industry, it is no surprise that the technology we use while dining out and taking care of our customers change as well. Our consumers are constantly using their smart phones and have endless amounts of data in the palm of their hands. Consumers tend to forget that they come to an establishment for a full dining experience, they have become so immersed with technology that it has changed their experience of eating at restaurants all together. It can be frustrating, to know that our customers are more concerned with what is happening in the palm of their hand than the food, service and experience all together happening around them. But it is our job to improve our business and build better relationships with our customers, and leverage means of communication to satisfy your consumers wants/needs through means of communicating with them by technology.

    Using specific technological trends will help your establishment set a firm footprint in your consumers minds and bring validity that you are able to adapt to their needs, no matter what they are.

    The first major trend, although it may seem extremely simple, is to advertise your restaurant on well known apps such as; Yelp, TripAdvisor and Open Table. Over 50% of consumers decide the day of dining where to go, and out of that number most say that they are more likely to book a table with a restaurant that pops up right away while searching restaurants in the desired area. As a manager/business owner you have a huge opportunity to gain continuous and new business when advertising on these sight. These consumers search, read review and reserve all on their mobile devises and chances are if your name isn’t on their search list they are not coming to you.

    A few tricks: make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. Make sure you have a valid google location. Ensure that the basics such as your address, phone number and valet services are clearly marked. Convey customer experiences though photographs and show the value of the restaurant so the guests know what to expect before stepping foot inside.

    A big mistake we see by many restauranteurs is not having their menus online. Yes, we all have our menus online but, the real question is, is the menu quickly assessable to your consumers? Most customers who may be new to your establishment want to see the menu, if they are unable to find your but, find the restaurants menu next to you they are 86% more likely to dine at your competition. This can easily be resolved but uploading your menus to all apps listed above as well as your website and google.

    Use technology to help your business, do not view it as a setback or a pain. Reward your customers for using technology when commenting, reviewing and posting about you. Technology can be your friend and when you use it to properly obtain and keep clients you will have a very successful business.

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