Challenges Faced in the Restaurant Management Industry
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Monday, November 25, 2013
With the American food-serving industry facing a variety of challenges, restaurant management schools are addressing the issue in a proactive manner. More and more diners are demanding healthy meals and becoming aware of the role that diet plays in overall health and wellness. While many people have a penchant for foods that are filled with sugar and fat, others may have a hard time finding an establishment that caters to their dietary restrictions, and this is especially true for anyone who has allergies. Restaurant managers are responsible for the overall success of a particular facility, and it's important that they completely understand the issue of food allergies and diners who are interested in finding healthy meals that are prepared according to their dietary goals.
The Challenges in a Career as a Restaurant Manager
One of the chief challenges in the restaurant industry is the fact that more diners are beginning to understand how processed foods can lead to a host of health problems. The human body has been slow to adapt to processed food, and this leaves many dining establishments in a precarious position. In order to keep sales high, restaurants need to cater to clients who are demanding fresh food that is prepared with local ingredients. Today, diners have more choices than ever, from bakeries that produce fresh breads without gluten to cafes that rely on freshly harvested produce to make their dishes.
One of the biggest challenges that a person who is interested in a career as a restaurant manager faces has to do with the issue of food allergies. Proper training and education are an essential aspect of making sure that people with allergies have their meals prepared in a proper manner. Knowledge helps to reduce mistakes and ensures that misinformation is addressed at a fundamental level. Restaurant management schools can help address the problem because they provide the training that is essential for staff members while ensuring that management is fully aware of how allergies can be dealt with in a restaurant that provides meals to a variety of different patrons.
While enrolled in one of the accredited restaurant management schools, students can gain more information about the features of today's diet-specific restaurants. Because more consumers are becoming aware of the difficulty that is involved with preparing foods that are gluten or peanut free, it is essential for managers to cater to these patrons, and many bakeries have made the move to eliminate gluten from all of their products. The biggest challenge has to do with creating tasty entrees that are prepared in a manner that respects dietary restrictions.
Increasing Consumer Confidence
If you're considering a career as a restaurant manager, it is imperative to understand what customers are searching for when they are looking to dine out. While most restaurants can accommodate clients with special requests, there is a growing trend in the industry for facilities that cater to people who demand certain diets. The reason behind this has to do with the consumer confidence of customers. As more information becomes available to consumers, many people are searching for establishments that provide outstanding fare that is prepared in a safe, sanitary and healthy manner.
The major role and responsibility of a restaurant manager is to manage the restaurant. He/she needs to ensure efficient and effective operations of the restaurant while taking care of its ethos and reputation. Further, he/she need to maintain the high standards of food, safety, health and service. A restaurant manager needs to work as an intermediate between the diners and the chefs.
If you are already a restaurant manager in a renowned restaurant and want to establish your name to get success and fame, then you need to focus on two important aspects required in restaurant management industry i.e. work experience and practical experience. Both of them are valuable and play a vital role in boosting your professional career growth. It helps in developing subject specific and transferable skills. Further, you can participate in various contests to prove your capabilities and set an example for future employees. In case you have any specialist in mind, then be close to him and find out how he handles all his management tasks efficiently and hold expertise in his respective domain. This way, you can achieve specialization in your work and grow at a faster rate. By practicing harder with willingness to learn something new every day, you can perform your job well and gain huge appreciation.
So it will be not wrong to say or predict that in the coming years, the restaurant management career outlook will focus more on experienced professionals and bring lots of other amazing career opportunities for them.
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Zac Parker is a very creative writer and an active contributor who focuses on culinary oriented writings and brings great cooking related information to his readers. He loves cooking, eating, and writing about foods as his field of expertise.
Huckleberry Sockeye Lox and Dungeness Crab Salad with Cucumber Wrap
Sunday, September 29, 2013
This lox recipe is one which I have developed over several years. It has a mild saltiness, a bit of sweetness, and is versatile in that it can be served as is, or added as an additional component to another dish. The lox can also be smoked if you wish, or served as is without smoking. In the picture, I served it as an appetizer in the restaurant. But I first served this dish as an individual amuse bouche for the 2013 Washington Wine & Food Show. We made about 2,500 of these little hummers! It took us 10 solid man hours just to slice the salmon! (My crew hated me.) But, we received HUGE accolades at the event, rave reviews, with people coming over saying, "I was told I had to come try your dish!", or, "Is it ok to have thirds?" Now my staff was all smiles, knowing that all our work had paid off.
For the Huckleberry Sockeye Lox
1 2 lb Side Thawed, previously frozen Sockeye Salmon, skin-off, pin bones removed
10 Tbl Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbl Kosher Salt
1 Tbl Orange Peel
2 Tbl Fresh Lemon Zest
4 Tbl Granulated Sugar
2 Tbl Fresh Tarragon Leaves
2 Tbl Fresh Dill, chopped
2 Cups Huckleberries, crushed (or Blackberries)
1) Trim the salmon of excess fat. Pat dry.
2) Cut 2 pieces of aluminum foil which are about 6” longer than the salmon fillet.
3) Combine the sugars, salt, and lemon zest. Mix well. Divide the mixture in half. Reserve.
4) Place the salmon in the center of one of the sheets of foil.
5) You will apply half of the ingredients to each side of the fillet:
- Evenly sprinkle the top of the fillet with half of the tarragon and dill.Evenly sprinkle with half of the orange peel, lemon zest, sugar, and salt mixture.Place second piece of foil over all and carefully turn the salmon over. Remove the top piece of foil and repeat the above process of adding the ingredients on this side of the salmon. Replace foil and fold it multiple times on all sides so as to form a good seal.
- For day one place on a flat pan (such as a cookie sheet) with at least a ½” raised edge and store in refrigerator overnight.
- On day two place another flat pan on top of the salmon and add about 7 lbs of weight on top of it. Return to the refrigerator overnight.
- On day three drain any liquid from the bottom pan, flip the salmon over, cover with the pan and weights, and return to the refrigerator overnight again.
- On day four, remove the weights and the foil. Gently scrape the huckleberries and herbs from the fillet. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
- Slice thinly and serve!
Store in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
Notes: Because this is an uncooked product you should use a quality, frozen (and thawed) side of salmon so as to eliminate any possible danger from parasites.
For the Dungeness Crab Salad
½ Cup Fresh Corn, cut from cob, roasted, cooled
12 Oz Dungeness Crab meat, lightly pressed but not squeezed
12 Oz Red Crab meat, lightly pressed but not squeezed
4 Tbl Shallot, minced
2 Tbl Fresh Chives, minced
1 Tbl Parsley, chopped
1 ½ Tbl Fresh Tarragon, chopped
3 Tbl Red Bell Pepper, brunoise
3 Tbl Yellow Bell Pepper, brunoise
2 Tsp Dijon
3 Tbl Panko
6 Tbl Apple Bacon, cooked, cooled, 1/4" cut
¾ Cup Mayo
Pinch Sea Salt
Lightly press some of the excess liquid from the crab meats, but do not squeeze it all out. Combine all the ingredients and gently fold together. Adjust consistency with a little more mayo (to loosen) or panko (to tighten) as needed. Chill.
For the Cucumber Wrap
About 5 ea. English Cucumbers, ends trimmed
Using a mandolin, thinly shave the cucumber into long, thin ribbons. Do not use the first few ribbons or the seeded section of the cucumber. You should be able to cut each ribbon in half and make 2 separate crab salad rolls from each ribbon. Form the crab salad into a ball about 1 oz, then roll into a cylindrical shape. Place on a cucumber ribbon, roll, set aside until service. You should have enough cucumber ribbon to go about 1.5 times around the filling to ensure that it will hold.
At service, top each roll with a slice of Huckleberry Los. Add fried taro root for “crunch”. I used Hearts of Fire leaves as a garnish, which I believe are a type of sorrel because they have a nice lemony flavor which accents the dish nicely. And I laid down a line of lemon aioli under the rolls in order to add a visual "anchor" to the presentation and to give the dish a little extra "zip" of citrus.
And finally, Time to Munch!
Sous Vide New York Steaks and Salmon
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Got my new Sous Vide Supreme Chef and VacMaster VP-112 the other day and have been playing with it at work ever since! I'm hoping to be able to do Sockeye Salmon to order, cooked to 115° within 13 minutes and served within 15 minutes of getting the order. In the Pacific Northwest we love our Salmon cooked medium-rare, and doing it sous vide makes the flesh so delicate it melts like butter in your mouth! I'll give details of my experiments below.
I'm also toying with the idea of doing our fabulous 14 oz Double "R" Ranch New York steak using the sous vide process. It would guarantee that the steaks were perfectly cooked to whatever temperature we determine for rare, medium-rare, etc. Of course, this would not eliminate steaks being returned to the kitchen...what the guest thinks is a medium-rare and what we know to be a medium-rare are not always the same thing (makes me want to play Gorden Ramsey with the customers sometimes!). But it would greatly reduce errors by cooks either over-cooking or under-cooking the steaks. I'll share my lessons so far below.11
Salmon Sous Vide
OK, changing gears back to Salmon! We are a seafood restaurant so I tried Salmon first. The goal was to cook the Salmon to an internal temp of 115° within 14 minutes in order to meet our self-imposed 15 minute ticket time for entrees. I took our 7 oz portions of Sockeye and cut it on a severe bias into 3 medallions no more than 1/4" thick. Then I seasoned them as normal, placed them in the bags with some extra-virgin olive oil, fresh sprig of tarragon, and squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and vac-sealed them using the VacMaster VP-112. The vac-seal process takes about 35-45 seconds, but is very simple.
Next, I placed the fish into the sous vide machine set to my desired temp of 115° and hoped that after 14 minutes it would reach an internal temp of 115°. What happened?...Failure!! It was at 101° which meant I'd have to increase ticket times (not good), or go back to the drawing board. So, back to the drawing board I went! Next, I tried setting the machine to 125° and did the same process. This time...almost success!! The Salmon was actually at 120° after 14 minutes. So I learned that achieving a 15 minute ticket time with 1/4" medallions is possible...just need to fine-tune the timing to hit the 115° cooked mark.
The next challenge to overcome with the Salmon during dinner service is this: I'll have multiple orders rung in over the span of 15 minutes, meaning that all night long we will have multiple Salmon cooking in the machine, all with different time frames. As each new order comes into the kitchen, I could theoretically have 15 different orders all space one minute apart! How the hell do I keep track of this mess, especially when dinner service is for 6-7 hours long?! Solution (thanks Chef John Jadamec): add a second digital clock set 14 minutes fast. Explanation: we currently use a digital clock to keep tickets on a 15 minute ticket time. Each ticket is automatically time stamped when we receive it, and we pace tickets so they "hit the window" after 15 minutes. By adding a second clock which is set 14 fast (the time it takes to cook our sous vide Salmon to 114°), it makes it possible for the Wheelman (Expeditor...the guy/gal calling the Wheel/tickets) to simply look at the pull time for the Salmon, write it on the vacuum packed bag, fire it into the sous vide machine, and know which Salmon to pull at exactly what time. This way multiple orders can be working with no confusion about what gets pulled when.
New York Steak Sous Vide
Preparing the New York sous vide is definitely more challenging, especially from a restaurant perspective. It takes approximately one hour to cook a 1" thick steak to rare, medim-rare, and medium. Are you willing to wait an hour for your steak? That has epic failure written all over it. And since we can sell up to 45 NY's in a night, to make this process work using the sous vide method means we'll have to prep today for what we'll need tomorrow. And I'll have to get the re-therm process to work with-in about a 15 minute ticket time for dinner service.
So with this challenge to overcome, I tried two variations of NY. I wanted to know if a pre-seared steak or a raw steak worked better. The first steak I seasoned as normal, charred on the grill blue-rare, and chilled to 34°. The second, I seasoned as normal and left raw. Both were then vacuum-sealed and cooked sous vide to 125° (our medium). I then put them into an ice bath (still in their bags) to chill to 34°. The next day I re-thermed them as follows: the charred steak I placed in a 325° convection oven (low fan setting) until it reached 115° (about 10 minutes) and let the carry-over heat finish it out to 125°. The raw steak we seared in the Montegue broiler (top and bottom heat) for about 9 minutes. We let them rest then carved them up. We liked the raw-then-char preparation better because it had a more smoky, charred, grill flavor than the one we pre-seared then finished in the oven.
Knowing that the raw, un-seared version worked better, today we did our second test. I had two steaks, both raw, seasoned, vacuum sealed, and cooked sous vide then charred to finish. One was sous vide to rare 105°, the other to medium-rare 115°. Both were immediately chilled in their bags to 34° (a safety step for HAACP). I then used the Montegue broiler (top and bottom intense heat) and cooked the rare steak to 90° (about 5 minutes) and the medium-rare to 100° (about 7 minutes), let both rest for 3 minutes, and found that both rested out to their ideal temps of 105° and 115°...success!!
Rare is on the left, medium-rare on the right
Additional restaurant service challenges to overcome: since it takes about an hour to cook these puppies, ideally I would have at least 3 machines, one for cooking each temperature of steak (R, MR, M). I still have to see how many I can cook at once in the Sous Vide Supreme Chef machine... I think 10-14, but the cooking time will probably increase. Another HUGE, MONSTROUS, obstacle...if I am going to cook steaks for about an hour in a vacuum sealed bag, then chill them, and then re-thermalize them to order, I will probably have to get an approved HAACP plan by the local health department to verify that I am using/applying appropriate health and safety procedures. ?@#&%*! A necessary trip through pergatory...but holy crap what a pain in the a__ to accomplish! I heard that it took Chef Jason Wilson of Seattle's Crush 90 hours to complete his! Not something I'm looking forward to, although I have already started the process.
As a note, here are our steak temps: rare 105° (60 minutes), medium-rare 115° (70 minutes), medium 125° (80 minutes), medium-well (not going to do MW sous vide), well-done (WTF?! Sorry if you like your steak this way, but I STRONGLY disagree. However, as a paying customer, if you want to put an automatic transmission in your Lamborghini I'll do it for you.)
Shigoku Oysters with Seafood Mary Shaved Ice
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Oyster purists will argue that raw oysters should be consumed as is, with no embellishment, with the possible exception of a squeeze fresh lemon! But for many of us the addition of some kind of sauce or condiment adds to the experience, making slurping oysters more fun and pleasurable. This recipe is a "twist" on the traditional cocktail sauce, with added fresh horseradish and lime juice to add a little “zip” to any oyster on the half shell. I've called this a Seafood Mary Sauce and it is actually a Granita, which is a preparation which is turned into shaved ice.
Shigoku Oysters are an elegant, deep cupped oyster with gorgeous black and gold shells. They are cultivated by using a unique method which tumbles the shells naturally with the rise & fall of the tides. They are placed in narrow, rectangular mesh cages which are attached to a horizontal line on one end, and have floats at the opposite end. Thus, as the tides ebb and flow the floats cause the cages to rise or fall, resulting in the gentle tumbling of the oysters in the cage. This tumbling chips the edges of the shell causing the oyster to grow a deeper cup rather than a broader or longer shell. It also creates very uniformly shaped, manicured shells. Shigokus have a briny bite, a clean, sweet flavor with a hint of cucumber and melon finish.
In the center of the dish I made an "ice sculpture" by freezing some pink peppercorns and tarragon in a rectangular mold. Its so easy to do and adds a cool presentation piece. Add about half the amount of water you need for the thickness you want (mine is about 1/2" thick). Freeze it. Add about 1 or 2 tsp of water, then add your garnishes (pink peppercorns, etc). Freeze. Add remaining water to the thickness you want the sculpture to be. This process puts the garnishes "inside" the ice.
2 cups V-8 juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
9 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh horseradish, micro-planed
Pinch sea salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a broad, shallow pan (such as a 2" half pan, or a cake pane) and place in the freezer. As it starts to freeze, use a fork to drag through the forming crystals to break them up into shaved ice. Repeat this process about every 5-10 minutes until all of the mixture has frozen and been shaved into tiny crystals. The purpose of the process is to keep it from freezing into a solid block of ice. The resulting small crystals should have the consistency of a snow cone.
At service, use a brush to scrub the oyster shells clean. Carefully shuck them, being sure to preserve the precious liquor (the liquid inside of the oyster shell). There are a variety of ways to present them. You can serve them on crushed ice, rock salt, over mixed greens (spring mix), or any other thing that will keep the oysters level. At the last moment, add about 1 teaspoon of the granita on top of each oyster and serve immediately because the granite will melt quickly.
Tips for Hiring a Skilled Chef
Thursday, July 18, 2013
by Zac Parker
When it comes knowing how to hire a skilled chef, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. From a minimum amount of experience to a formal culinary degree, the exact top qualities of expert chefs that need to be looked for will be determined by the employer's size and the type of food it serves.
For most fast-food restaurants, a head chef will not need to be employed. Instead, a kitchen manager can usually fulfill the role of a chef. On the other hand, for higher-end dining establishments, one or more chefs need to be hired. Likewise, there are certain aspects that have to be taken into account when hiring a chef.
How to Hire a Skilled Chef
No matter the size or type of food being served, the following top qualities of expert chefs need to be looked for:
A chef is like the captain of a ship. He or she must have superb leadership skills, guiding kitchen workers in a way that efficiency and effectiveness will be maintained at all times. Besides, a good leader can lead to success.
Even though a chef does not tend to work directly with customers, he or she must understand the importance of good customer service. Having a good customer sense let the chef connect with the people. In doing this, the chef will be able to consistently provide customers with a unique and enjoyable dining experience.
A chef who can't cook is useless. The professional must possess the ability to delight the taste buds of the people. The only way to make sure proper cooking skills have been obtained is to allow a chef to prove himself or herself.
An expert chef will most likely have formal training through an accredited culinary school. Although this is not always the case, it is important to look for formal credentials as this helps hiring personnel rest assured the person has gone through proper training. Credentials make a person reliable.
A chef worth hiring will have much experience working in the culinary industry. Experience determines the active years that enabled the chef to gain expertise. To make sure an applicant is being truthful about his or her prior culinary experience, it is helpful to contact references.
Delivers a Consistent Product
A great chef will be able to consistently deliver superb food items. Better yet, he or she will be able to manage a kitchen in an efficient manner, helping the employer to boost its profit levels to the furthest level possible. Hence, when hiring a chef, it is vital to determine the consistency of their work.
Knowing Where to look for a Skilled Chef
There are many outlets that restaurants can turn to when it comes to hiring a skilled chef. From online job boards to newspaper ads to the good ol' word-of-mouth advertising, the outlets are endless and each of them has their own advantages.
Using a recruiting agency is especially advantageous when a restaurant is going about replacing its current chef. The agency can help fill the position without the current chef becoming aware that his or her position is going to be replaced. In doing this, the restaurant won't have to worry about the current chef becoming upset and quitting. Moreover, one would also have the benefit of selecting from a vast pool of chefs.
Promote Another Employee
Another great way to go about filling a head chef position is to promote a current employee who has the necessary skills. In doing this, the restaurant will be able to fill the position with a person who already understands the philosophy of the restaurant as well as its procedures.
Online Job Boards
Using the Internet is a great way to identify numerous people who are qualified to fill a chef position. Online Job Boards can help in acquainting several skilled professionals.
Talk with Friends and Family
The owner of a restaurant most likely has connection with friends and family who also work in the food service industry. When filling a chef position, it can be valuable to ask for their input as well as any references that they have regarding qualified candidates for the position.
Zac Parker is an active contributor who shares his valuable knowledge about bright futures in the culinary industry. To know more, you can do a close watch on trends in his field of expertise on culinary education and careers from top culinary schools.
The Willows Inn on Lummi Island - Off the Chain Good!
Friday, July 12, 2013
I have lived in the Bellingham area for over 30 years and although Lummi Island is known to be a beautiful, peaceful place there has never really been any reason to go out there. The whole state is filled with beautiful, peaceful places so why go out there? Well, owner John Gibb and Chef Blaine Wetzel are offering some pretty compelling reasons to make the trip.
The Willows Inn across the bay from Bellingham, WA on Lummi Island has garnered a great culinary reputation, and although I have been wanting to try Chef Blaine Wetzel's food for several years now, I never got around to making the trip to the island...my loss. I have the great fortune of being able to go out three or four times a year with a few of my bosses to "wine and dine" as we R & D local (Seattle and north) restaurants. We have to pay for the wine (and other alcoholic indulgences!), but our employer picks up the food portion of the bill. I chose the Willows Inn for our most recent R & D exploration. It's days like this that I especially love my job!
I had seen a sample menu for Willows Inn online and was therefore under the assumption that this would be about a five or six course dinner. And when we were presented with the evening's menu (a Prix Fixe menu so there's no choices here, you get what the Chef serves) it also showed only five courses. However, when the first course arrived sous chef Nick said that they would be bringing out a number of "pre" courses before the actual menu courses started. Buy evenings end we had reveled our way through 16 courses! 17 if you count that awesome bread with the chicken drippings. Of course, with 16 dishes there were some courses which we didn't appreciate quite as well as others. But this was a matter of choosing a distinction between "off the f__king chain awesome!", or simply "really damn good". I found all of the courses to be simple and pure in flavor, yet executed in such a perfect way as to be truly a culinary delight.
This is the kind of gig which every chef would love to have. A small restaurant with about 40 seats, service staff of three, and a kitchen staff of 7 talented cooks, 1 intern and 1 estage' along with a dishwasher to serve those 40 guests. The guests hang out in a separate area having cocktails while they wait to be seated for the one and only 7 o'clock seating. The Chef controls the timing as to when different guests are sat, he knows exactly what the menu is, and he gets to set the pace. No multiple seatings, no getting slammed followed by lulls in service followed by getting slammed again, no scrambling to prep more of that one item which everyone and their brother wants tonight. Just one smooth flowing machine serving incredible bites to your guests.
But, that doesn't mean that this is an easy job. I heard that the cook's average shift is about 14 hours, including some time foraging the island for some of today's menu items. And level of execution on these dishes shows the highest degree of commitment to consistency, quality, presentation, and flavor. No second rate stuff here, nothing which is simply "good enough".
For a little history on Chef Wetzel and the Willow Inn follow this link.
Click on the images for a larger photo. The full menu is listed below.
Willows Inn Menu July 10, 2013
A beautiful small wooden box was presented at the table by sous chef Nick with the comment that we would receive several "pre" courses before the actual dinner menu. When I opened the wooden lid, a puff of wood smoke and the fragrant aroma of roasted mussel greeted me. And, to my surprised delight, the mussel opened before my eyes as I removed the lid! This was sooooo cool! I was an instant fan of the Willows!
served on crisp rye with savory and fennel fronds
While the presentation on the mussel dish delighted me, the flavor of this dish made me smile ear to ear and was one of my favorites of the evening.
Crispy Crepe with Steelhead Roe
The roe was folded into whip cream and stuffed into golden brown brik dough rings. The ends were then touched into fines herbs and served. You got the crunch of the brik dough followed by the delightful "pop" of the roe... freakin awesome!
Kale with Black Truffle and Rye
Crispy leaf of kale spiked with truffle and rye
Crispy Halibut Skin
Talk about an innovative way to utilize every part of the fish, this concept had us talking. Filled I think with a clam farce, this had a wonderful crunch and flavorful center. It was also lightly dusted with...sorry, don't remember. Was it fishy? Not at all.
Singing Pink Scallops with Watercress
Light and refreshing, this reminded me of a ceviche.
Turnips steamed in Whey
A flavorful broth, tender turnips with just the right amount of "bite" or "chew".
The shiitakes were very tender and had a light smokiness to them. They were also very moist as if they had been marinated. I found a separate recipe by Chef Wetzel for confit shiitakes and think that is how these were prepared. Very nice.
Charred Kohlrabi with Red Currants and Coriander
served with a quenelle of mussel cream
This was warm as if right out of the smoker. The salmon was rich and lightly salty (which suggests they used a brining process) with a mild sweetness which I thought was maple.
Wild Seaweeds braised with Dungeness Crab & Brown Butter
Local seaweeds are harvested from the Lummi Island beaches and utilized. It's not "a looker" but it sure tasted good. The crab meat was fresh and moist.
Dried Beets glazed with Lingonberries served with Bone Marrow
I love the intense, earthy, mildly sweet flavor of beets, and with the lingonberry glaze these puppies were worth fighting for! They made a nice counter point to the richness of the marrow which added its own decadence to the dish. Loved it!
King Salmon with summer squash and Nasturtiums
Locally caught king salmon with a perfectly crispy skin yet juicy-tender flesh...this crew knows how to cook salmon for Pacific Northwesterners!
Strawberries and Pineapple Weed granita
The first of three dessert courses, fresh local strawberries with their pure taste of summer coupled with the refreshing pineapple weed (never used it before) shaved ice.
Blueberries with Woodruff and Malt
The malt was turned into a kind of "dirt" for this presentation with the blueberries scattered throughout. It offered a nice crunch to go along with the berries. And the woodruff was made into either a cream or panna cotta quenelle.
The parting gift was caramel cube with flax seeds. It was "just sweet enough" and made for a great ending to a fantastic dining experience.
The Benefits of Growing Herbs for Your Restaurant
Friday, May 31, 2013
More and more restaurants have been increasing their use of fresh herbs since the 1990’s. During that era, growing interest on the ecological state of our planet started to pick up and a significant paradigm shift was formed. More and more individuals moved from the excess of the 80’s to learning the ropes of eco-activism, buying organic and sourcing local.
Given that eating is a daily routine, this grassroots shift affected restaurateurs in the city considerably more than any other lifestyle element. Restaurants caught on and later became forerunners in what others may have thought to be just a trend.
When the advantages significantly surpass the disadvantages, why not?
- Growing your own herbs and produce cuts costs and ensures quality ingredients for your customers.
- For those restaurateurs who have already been into the hobby of gardening, this definitely fulfills a passion, as well as cuts costs. Some have even expanded to selling herbs to the diners themselves, as well as being suppliers to neighboring restaurants.
- The Chefs who are able to grow their own herbs find that their customers are enthused by the quality of the produce on their plates!
- Many upscale restaurants develop their menus around the available produce in their garden. Hence, creativity is exercised while the menu remains interesting and never stagnant.
- With the economy these days, people are spending wisely when it comes to dining out. Therefore, diners aim for the best and freshest culinary experience for their money’s worth.
If you are ready to take on such measures, these are a few essentials you’ll need to keep in mind, according to the AICA culinary school.
- To begin with, restaurants need herbs first and foremost for their distinct flavor. Second, for their aroma and third for garnishing. Depending on the type of restaurant you have, you’ll need to know which ones and how much you’ll need daily.
- Yields range between 70% to 100% for each kind. The typical herbs a regular 50-seat restaurant may need include Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary and Chives.
- The number one herb used in most, if not all restaurant types is Sweet Basil, followed by Thyme and Cilantro. Mint is relatively indispensable to Asian restaurants while Rosemary to Mediterranean ones. Parsley is commonly used for garnishing.
- Since you are doing this for the first time, start with the easy ones. Known to be easiest to grow are Parsley, Chives, Basil and Oregano. The hardest being Thyme and Rosemary.
The Importance of Space
- To yield a pound of each herb, a space approximately 1x1 meters is enough, for each kind. However, for you to constantly yield a pound each week, make sure you have 3x3 meters set up.
Keep Them Organic
- Grow them organic. Don't skimp on soil quality. Use organic soil. Boost their health by keeping them fertilized with natural additives. If your restaurant serves coffee, don’t throw away your grounds. Mix them with an organic compost.
- Keep close watch for insect infestation. Inspect leaves and stems closely and wash them daily with an organic soapy mixture. Use a spray bottle to spray the soapy solution onto the leaves; this will prevent pests from settling in. If you do find yourself infested, don’t worry. There are all-natural, inexpensive and organic solutions. Namely; Neem Oil, Salt Spray, Mineral Oil, Eucalyptus Oil.
Getting Through Winter
While ideally you’ll want to grow them all year round, the winter season can be tricky. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
- Sunlight: Plants generally thrive best with lots of light. So make sure they get 6 hours of natural light or at least 14 hours of artificial light.
- Temperature: Keep them where the temperature stays mildly cool to warm. 60 degrees at night to 70 degrees during the day is ideal for budding herbs.
- Soil: Keep an eye on the soil. Keep it moist, and remember not to over water. If you are growing them in pots, clay terra-cotta ones with holes for drainage, are best. Garden soil is a no-no when growing indoor plants, as it often contains fungi, bacteria, insects and nematodes that promote disease. Use an appropriate organic potting soil.
- Choose: Some herbs naturally thrive better indoors. Herbs that are known to hold up longer inside are Parsley, Basil, Sage and Thyme.
Doing this yourself may not be an easy feat and will require added responsibility to your already full plate. However, if you see yourself equipped and ready, the benefits and satisfaction you may reap are exceedingly more than you can cook up!
Samantha Samonte is a writer for Culinary One, a website about culinary careers, cuisines and food. Helping aspiring chefs to find the best cooking schools. She spends the rest of her time living life to the fullest in the company of her laptop and creative writing prowess.
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