- One of the major trends to hit the food world in the past few years has been the mainstream acceptance of sous-vide cooking techniques. Restaurant supply stores have been carrying sous vide equipment for some time--but from its popularization in molecular gastronomy circles, it’s become well-known enough now to be accessible even to home cooks, enough so that people from all circles of the cooking and foodie world have begun wondering whether it is worth it for them to pick up the sometimes-pricey tools of the trade. To answer that question, we’ll take a look at what sous-vide cooking is, how it works, and what the benefits are. Sous-vide (French for ‘under vacuum’) cooking at its most basic is simply a technique of placing an item to be cooked in a vacuum-sealed plastic or glass pouch or container, and cooking it in a water bath of a specific temperature. The technique was once reserved for professionals only, but as it has become more popular in the mainstream food media, products for home cooks have emerged and gradually become more affordable. Both aspects of sous-vide cooking are important: vacuum-sealing the food item into its container is just as vital as the water bath for achieving the desired result. It is not quite the same as poaching or pressure-cooking items, but it has some of the benefits of both. The first major benefit of sous-vide cooking is that it brings and keeps the item being cooked at a specific temperature and doneness. Exposure to direct heat sources means that whatever is cooked can much more easily end up overdone, resulting in waste, and the vacuum sealing means that the food remains fresher for a longer period of time. In addition to this basic benefit, sous-vide cooking allows foods to maintain the height of flavor and texture: the juices and aromatic ingredients that are sealed into the bag with the food have nowhere to go but into the food itself. The lack of overcooking risk also means that the texture of the finished item will remain consistent--no hardened areas or dried-out parts. By cooking an item to exactly the degree of doneness that it is best at--or cooking it slightly below that doneness and finishing the item over direct heat--chefs and home cooks alike can get the best possible result without having to fuss and worry about the items. In addition, sous-vide cooking allows for more flavorful finished dishes from sometimes bland ingredients, because the packet can be stuffed not just with--for example--chicken breast but also aromatic ingredients to infuse into the breast. Rosemary, lemon, thyme, tomatoes, garlic--whatever the chef desires--can be added into the bag or jar with the rest of the ingredients to be cooked, and the pressure from the vacuum seal means that there is more contact between the flavorings and the food, ensuring thorough penetration. There is nowhere for the aromatic compounds to go except for the target food itself. With those benefits in mind, it’s worth looking into sous-vide equipment from a restaurant supply store. While there are individual companies marketing both to home chefs and to professional settings, a well-stocked supply company will have a range of products available for any-size need. At the most basic, sous-vide cooking requires the pouches, bottles, or jars for the target food to be cooked in, a vacuum sealer, a temperature-safe container for the water, and some source of precision heat. While it’s possible, certainly, to maintain consistent heat on a cooktop, it’s much easier to use one of the many sous vide products that allow for circulation of water at precise temperatures. Once you’ve made the decision to incorporate sous-vide cooking into your repertoire, there are as many options available as there are ideas in your mind for how to use the equipment. All kinds of foods, from eggs to vegetables to proteins, can benefit from the sous-vide treatment; while grains are trickier to produce in this method, it is far from impossible--and the ability to infuse intense flavors into the finished dish is, of course, a major perk. Find a reputable restaurant supply store and take a look at what they have available, and discover the benefits that sous-vide cooking can give you.Read more
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Deciding on the perfect restaurant theme is no small task. It takes a careful blend of creativity, planning, and insight into the market where you intend to open your business.
There are countless restaurant themes to choose from; whatever you decide to go with will be unique to you, your business, and your clientele.
While diners do cite ambiance as an important element of their dining experience, it’s not everything. Cool lighting fixtures and intricate murals won’t make up for excessive noise, poor service, or low quality food.
Here are four real examples of restaurants with distinct themes, accompanied by real online reviews of their businesses.
1. Bohemian With An Edge
A bohemian-themed restaurant is a great way to take your guests back in time, or transport them to parts unknown around the world.
Beatnik, located in Chicago, is designed to resemble the Bohemian lifestyle of 1950’s America and Europe. They incorporate exotic music, lush enteriors, and elements of old world elegance to bring guests back to the time of Kerouac and Ginsberg.
What Their Customers Say
Alka Maheshwari, a Google local guide, writes “A beautiful place in West Town. The decor alone is worth the visit: ornately carved wooden panels to the opulent chandeliers to the checkerboard floor. Multiple small plates and sides on the menu making it easier to order a variety of dishes. All three sections of the establishment have their own charm.”
Hunter G, another Google local guide, has a different opinion on the vibe. Accompanying his two star review, he writes, “Horrible hostess staff. Requested a nice table because it was a special event in the reservation. She sat us at a high top in the bar area. Inside is really artsy and the atmosphere is awesome.”
What Can We Learn From Beatnik?
Beatnik’s bohemian vibe is counter-culture coolness, but an experience with poor service is always sure to ruin a night out.
2. Locally Sourced
Incorporating your values into your restaurant's theme can be a great way to connect with customers on a deeper level.
The Marshal, in New York City, is a great example of a locally-sourced, sustainability-focused restaurant that has oriented their entire business operations to reflect their values. By emphasizing the importance of locally-sourced ingredients, The Marshal sends a message to customers that they support their community, value local small businesses, and want to protect the health of the environment and their customers. They source all of their menu items from local farmers, local wineries, and local distilleries to reduce carbon emissions when shipping.
What Their Customers Say
Noah Choi writes, “Quite possibly the best burger I have ever had: smoky flavor, very juicy, and with a bun that was literally oven-fresh.”
Bob Kirksey, a Google local guide, writes, “Farm to table at its finest. I travel 230 days a year. Good health makes my living. Food quality and tremendous flavor are what I seek.”
Susan Rosenthal, another Google local guide, writes, “A delicious gem of Farm to Table scrumptiousness.”
What Can We Learn From The Marshal?
Supporting your local community is always a great restaurant theme and business practice. No Farms, No Food, after all.
3. Keep It Simple
Centering your restaurant theme around one food item is a simple and effective branding tactic. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business with customers who will view you as their “go-to” for that specific product.
At Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago, the name says it all; pies and biscuits are their game.
What Their Customers Say
Matthew Martin, a Google local guide, writes, “The Key Lime was probably the best I’ve ever had!”
Another reviewer's experience was a bit of a mixed bag. They write, “Food was good, not great. The biscuits were the best I’ve had at any restaurant period. Servings are terribly undersized, flavor was good.”
What Can We Learn From Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits?
Keeping your theme and menu simple can be a successful strategy, but it’s nothing if the quality of your product is so-so.
4. Vintage Upscale
If you want to incorporate some upscale flair in your restaurant theme, attention to detail is key.
Invest in some fancy bells and whistles to make your customers feel utterly aristocratic.
El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho, both in Seattle, have a taste for the finer things. In addition to jazz on the piano and top-of-the-line service, this upscale restaurant serves a 28-day dry-aged steak and has a classy tuxedo staff.
What Their Customers Say
Jeanie writes, “The food and the view were amazing. The service was awful. We were there to celebrate our anniversary and our-less-than-attentive waiter didn’t add to the experience. Maybe they don’t care since their tip is already included in your bill.”
Here’s how El Gaucho responded: “Thank you for taking the time to review AQUA, Jeanie. While we are happy to hear you enjoyed the views and food we are terribly sorry to hear that you experienced sub par service. We strive to create an all-around memorable visit and we apologize we were wide of the mark in this regard.”
Jonji, another Facebook reviewer, writes, “Not my first rodeo here, and I must say service and food are always top notch!”
El Gaucho’s response: “Glad to hear it Jonji. Hope to see you again soon!”
What Can We Learn From El Gaucho?
Customer relationship management is essential to the success of your business. Responding to both positive and negative reviews, like El Gaucho does, is an easy way to show existing and potential customers alike and that you value their input, and their business.
If You Only Take One Thing Away From This Article...
Creating a phenomenal experience for your guests is so much more than just having a really cool restaurant theme. Didn't your mom teach you to never judge a book by its cover?
Your goal should be to have every guest walk away with great memories they’ll cherish and forever associate with your business.
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Want your restaurant’s Instagram to stand out from all the others?
Follow these easy tips & tricks to make your feed shine!
1) Get That Angle
The key to a great shot is getting the right angle. Try a variety of angles, & different vantage points to see which one suits your dish best. Always keep it interesting.
2) Light Is Key
The right lighting will either make or break your shot. Natural lighting is always best, but have fun playing with lighting until you get a shot you like. Avoid random shadows which can be distracting & unprofessional.
3) Tell A Story
A photo is worth a thousand words & photography is all about telling a story. Play with the set up of the shot (i.e. how do you fill the frame, what’s around the plate or table setting, what are the ingredients in the dish?
4) Background Check
The subject should be the main focus not the background. Select something that complements the tones & colors of your food, and matches the style of your product/brand.
5) Get Creative
Think outside of the box & keep your followers interested. Play with locations, close-ups, & even video!
6) Add Ons
Take your feed to the next level with other photo applications to collage, create memes, double exposures etc. The ap store is your oyster!
7) Engage Followers
The best way to build your brand is to engage your customer. Encourage followers to snap food pics & tag your account. Create photo competitions, hashtags, & share behind the scenes content. It will make your customers feel extra special, increase followers & most importantly it’s FREE advertising for you.
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Brussels sprouts, once the most dreaded vegetable of children and adults alike, are officially trendy. We are truly fans, and proudly not a bandwagon one — there has never been a time that we did not adore these sweet and nutty baby cabbages. During the fall and winter, when they’re at their prime, most chefs cook them constantly and consumers order them as soon as they are placed back on the menu.
Brussels sprouts are one of the most nutritious items on Earth, with four times as much vitamin C as oranges and high levels of folic acid and fiber. Many consumers have lived their lives despising this powerhouse vegetable because of early exposure to overcooked sprouts. With talented chefs opening consumers’ eyes to the true potential of these little gems, we’re seeing new Brussels sprouts lovers emerge every day.
We know it may seem odd that a vegetable that for so long was used as cruel punishment is now the trendiest of trendy foods but, it is just that. Consumers are absolutely in love with the dish and we do not see the momentum of the vegetable dying down anytime soon.
Here are some of the newest Brussels sprouts dishes causing a stir across the nation.
Roasted whole or halved, chopped and sautéed hash-style, or deep-fried. At the market, look for small, compact sprouts — they’re the most tender.
Bacon is a relatively new friend of the humble Brussels sprout; the two are paired together on many a restaurant menu these days. Look to roast your sprouts with chopped pancetta; or add a Spanish twist with chorizo.
Brussels sprouts are excellent with a little pork (what isn’t?), but they certainly don’t need meat to shine. Nor do they have to be a lowly side dish. They’re the star of this completely vegetarian (vegan, if you leave out the ricotta salata that I grated on top) winter salad, in which they mingle beautifully with their cousin red cabbage.
Though most of our consumers can’t wait for this winter’s end and rejoiced optimistically when the groundhog saw his shadow last week, Brussels sprouts are one (okay, possibly the only) perk of the season. When spring approaches, they won’t be as tasty and tender, so fill up while temps are still chilly.
Remember when possible try to source locally. These vegetables are a labor of love to grow and to cook. They have become a staple dish for so many of us and it is important to appreciate the farmers who keep this delicious treat around!
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As the days grow a bit longer and the weather a bit warmer, it is a great time to lure your customers out of hibernation with some fresh changes that reflect the transition into spring. At the bar, start with your cocktail menu by changing up your flavor enhancers that will set you apart with drinks that are as fresh as the new season. Try new mixes with Mezcal, cucumbers, orgeat, fresh fruit, honey, and peat for cocktails that are like a bouquet of spring flowers. And while you are at, try getting some new and interesting versions of classic glassware. Think of this as dressing up for in the new fashions of the season. And don’t forget how simple it is to let spring in by just putting vases of blooming flowers on the tables. Your customers will definitely notice and feel inspired. With spring and inspiration, also comes the desire for most people to start gravitating towards a healthier lifestyle. Customers will embrace having less rich, heavy, comfort food and be delighted to find light, healthy dishes filled with vegetables. This may be a great time to connect with local farmers about collaborating to provide local, farm fresh seasonal dishes. You don’t have to overhaul your whole menu, featuring dishes that are vegetable heavy or adding one new feature will go a long way. Bringing the garden into your restaurant doesn’t have to stop at vegetables, a great way to make it an early spring is to elegantly garnish cocktails, main dishes, and desserts with beautiful edible flowers such as marigolds, orchids, violets. As you are sneaking these spring touches into your restaurant, go ahead and let everyone know about! Now is a great time to create special events such as “Spring Fever Happy Hours” or “Garden Fresh Lunches” to get your customers excited. And while the spring holidays don’t have the large group and marketing buzz of the holiday season, Easter and Mother’s Day are wonderful holidays to plan special prix fix dinners and brunches around. Spring evokes newness, light, happiness, and freshness so play with those in your marketing and concepts and take advantage of that imagery to create unique and fun marketing to get customers new and old to warm up to you and the warmer sunshine.
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Pictured: brunch at Avert Brasserie
It's Mother's Day - the perfect day for brunch. Fun, relaxed, and usually involving an adult beverage (or two!) brunch is a Sunday favorite. Here are some tips on creating the perfect spread:
For a buffet style brunch: fresh and simple is best! A raw bar, like the one pictured above, is a really lovely touch, but make sure you have the proper ice and refresh the spread often to keep things fresh and cold. Including an assortment of jams, jellies, and spreads to go with your pastries is also a nice touch. Another buffet tip - a Bloody Mary bar is a fun and interactive talking point to anchor your brunch spread!
For a full menu brunch: a variety of choices is best to please your guests. Choose some sweet, some savory, and some traditional lunch items (sandwiches, cheeseburgers, etc) to make sure everyone can get what they want! Eggs benedict is an easy favorite and can be dressed up with a variety of proteins from ham to duck breast. Don't forget to keep some items vegetarian/gluten free as brunch can be heavy on the carbs and bacon for those with dietary restrictions. And finally, add sides! Fun to share (and an easy upset for the servers) some small, shareable plates such as a grapefruit brûlée or fried brussels sprouts will elevate your brunch game.
For the drinks: Mimosas are classic, but why stop there? Classic champagne cocktails can be fun and innovative. Bloody marys can be extreme when they are loaded with different ingredients. Particularly for Italian restaurants, don't forget a selection of classic, seasonal bellinis utilizing different fruit purees. Finally, offer some non-alcoholic beverage options: classic cappucinos and fresh pressed juices are easy, classic crowd pleasers.
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Even though you’ll see a lot of them in there, True merchandising freezers aren’t just for convenience store owners. In fact, you can use the freezers for much, much more. These commercial freezers fit well in any restaurant, but they also have the potential to do very well in restaurant and deli situations.
We love being able to see what’s in the freezer without having to open the doors. To be able to see the ice cream and the other goodies immediately saves time as well as energy.
One of the things that we particularly enjoy about the True GDM-23F-LD is that we don’t have to crouch down to get items from out of there. We don’t want to have to get a workout every time that we’re trying to get a tub of ice cream. The bright lighting makes everything easier to see.
If you’re feeling creative, the True merchandising freezer has modular shelving which allows you to move the shelves any way that you want. So, if you’re feeling like making a cute display for your foods, you’re more than welcome to.
If you’ve got ice cream, samples, vegetables, meats, and other foods which need to have the love of a commercial freezer, the True merchandising freezer really does the trick.
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Cooking, whether you’re doing it with a commercial boiler, a commercial oven, or a charbroiler, can be an incredible act of creativity. When cooking, there’s an opportunity to do something which has never been done, something which might break the mold. Every day becomes cause for experimentation.
Take, for instance, the standard bagel. Bagels have been around for quite a while, coming in a variety of flavors and styles. There are, however, standouts in the bagel business. There is the rainbow bagel at the Bagel Store. YES. It’s a rainbow.
And it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, as it is the culmination of someone’s creativity and ideas. The dough comes in a shocking array of colors and patterns. But, we can’t think of anything better to put into commercial boilers.
What do you think about the rainbow bagel? This is just one example of taking the ordinary and turning it into something spectacular. In reality, it’s all about taking the ordinary and making it into something extraordinary – something even more beautiful than what we could have imagined. Do you have some ideas for what you could do in your restaurant? The kitchen is an incredible test bed for new ideas, new thoughts. With that excellent understanding of flavors, where can you go wrong? Image from https://www.thebagelstoreonline.com/
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One of the best ways to improve your skills is to learn from someone else. As a bartender, you’ve sometimes got your hand into the undercounter ice machine for hours a day and don’t have time to learn more about the trade and how to make the perfect drink.
That’s how the online Craft Bartender Summit was born. The event offers online training for those who aren’t able to get away to go join a seminar. “For years we’ve heard bartenders say they want to attend educational seminars but can’t get their shifts covered or afford the cost of travel,” says the host of the summit.
The summit, held in April, will allow bartenders to practice their skills. “The presentations and seminars will focus on skills and challenges craft bartenders encounter behind the bar, such as craft techniques, business skills, product knowledge, and careers beyond the bar.” It should be very educational for all.
Bartenders will still have their hands in the undercounter ice machines, but they will be learning things which are valuable to increasing the bottom line in bars around the world.
To get to the free summit and to register, take a look at www.craftbartendersummit.com. Who’s planning on watching?
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True reach-in refrigerators are everywhere, whether you’re going into that tiny little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant for inspiration or you’re wandering around the wide, expansive aisles at Whole Foods, you definitely have the opportunity to see these reliable, efficient beauties wherever you go. One of our favorite Indian grocery stores makes great use of their glass door merchandiser by selling treats directly from the fridge.
Reach-in refrigerators are mobile with sturdy wheels so they maneuver into any configuration that you like. If you want to have a cul de sac of candy in your store, that’s easily created. Or, if you want to have one for each of your specialties, that’s definitely doable as well. There are all types of ladoo which can be displayed in these.
So, maybe you’ve filled your Vollrath pans with samosas? Perhaps you can have a True reach-in refrigerator with glass doors so that you are able to display all of the samosas to your customers. If you’ve got American clientele, you might want to have two pans: Indian hot and then American weak. Sell small containers of chutney directly with the samosas, and you’re all set to go.
Having the True reach-in refrigerator isn’t just good for merchandising. It can be a dynamite asset to have behind the counter as well. You might want to store candies and other delights just out of reach of your customers so they can be tempted.