Accommodating Gluten Free Diets in your Restaurant
Today’s restaurant customers can seem overly demanding to the casual observer. Some patrons request gluten-free products. Gluten free menus may seem like the industry’s latest buzz word, but celiac disease or intolerance to products made from wheat, barley or rye is a common problem suffered by a significant minority of the population.
While less than one percent of Americans have celiac disease and follow a gluten-free diet as a medical necessity, many others are ditching bread for other reasons. Some believe a gluten-free diet offers a healthier lifestyle and avoid gluten products because it simply makes them feel better.
Gluten-free menus make it easier for people with this condition to eat out, but restaurant staff still need to be prepared for questions. For example, are fries cooked in the same oil as chicken fingers which are floured?
As a restaurant owner, you want to address the issue, but you don’t to compromise your quality. Luckily for all of us, an entire industry of wheat and grain alternatives is now available. Take a moment to explore your options. You may be surprised by how many ways you can avoid adding wheat or gluten to your menu.
Alternatives to Traditional Flour
Consider what you need your alternative flour to do. If you want to just throw it in your mixer and make your lovely, artisanal bread, try coconut flour.
Coconut flour is made from the pulp leftover from the process of making coconut milk. The meat of the coconut is dried in an oven or dehydrator and then ground into a soft, usable flour which is obviously gluten free. It has an almost traditional flour look and texture. It’s full of carbohydrates and fiber, with five grams of fiber in just two tablespoons.
Before you use coconut flour in baking, you must keep in mind that it requires about double the liquid of wheat flour. Coconut flour is much drier than your average wheat flour and absorbs a lot more moisture, including liquid from eggs.
When baking with coconut flour, add an additional 20 percent of water or milk (or whatever liquid the recipe requires), and, for every cup of coconut flour, you will need at least three eggs. Many coconut flour bakers recommend you give your batter time to sit once all the ingredients are mixed together to ensure the flour and the liquids are fully merged.
Coconut flour users love the product and claim the final baked product is more aesthetically pleasing.
Baking and cooking with coconut flour can take a little practice, and you may want to experiment with mixing it in with different alternative flours to keep your bread and pastries from being too dry.
Cassava Root Makes Great Flour
Another great gluten free flour to reach for when stocking your restaurant kitchen is cassava. Cassava, also known as yucca, is an ugly, brown root that can be skinned, dried and powdered into a usable and tasty flour. In fact, many fans of this flour brag consumers can’t tell the difference between regular and cassava flour.
There are a few health reasons why cassava flour is so popular. Anyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or just general stomach discomfort finds baked goods made with cassava flour are much easier on their digestive tract. People with nut allergies can’t eat almond or coconut flour, so yucca is a great, allergen-free choice.
Fans of this flour cite taste and recipe convenience as the main reasons to use it as a substitute for traditional flours. This alternative flour doesn’t have any flavor of its own. Cassava is neutral and soft, and it is used in the exact same amounts as called for in recipes calling for white flour.
One serving of cassava has 1.6 grams of protein and 1.6 grams of fat, making it a very light choice that doubles as a protein supplement. The same serving size also packs in over 11 grams of fiber and about 417 grams of sodium, making it easy to eat and process.
Cassava can be used to make desserts or standard bread, and there are lots of great cassava recipes available online for you to try.
Banana flour sounds like a strictly dessert- or banana-bread-making flour, but this new product is versatile and completely gluten free.
This unique product is made strictly from green bananas. The sugar content is low, and the flavor mellow and neutral. The unripe bananas are peeled, sliced, dried, ground into flour, and packaged.
Banana flour recipes require less flour than other recipes. This is due to the higher starch content. It binds more easily with wet ingredients. You can also blend banana flour with other flours with no effect on the final product. Like cassava flour, this product is allergen-free and gluten-free, which makes it a popular choice for establishments offering gluten-free products on their menu.
Banana flour adherents claim it is full of a disease-resistant starch and has a high potassium content. Many places advertise products made from banana bread as being healthier for you, especially products like sling brownies and pies.
Producers assure buyers that using this flour produces light and fluffy bakery products. While the flour does have a light banana smell and taste in its raw state, bakers who use it claim this goes away as soon as the ingredient is blended with the other ingredients.
While it may seem like a major shift in your kitchen operation to make your baked goods gluten-free, many believe it worth the time and effort. Even if your customers don’t suffer from celiac disease, or have allergies or sensitive stomachs, they will appreciate the effort you put into your menu to make choices available for everyone.
Many customers who have given up bread to avoid gluten will appreciate the option of eating bread products again. While others may be intrigued with the unique ingredients and convert to consuming and baking or cooking with alternatives to standard flour.
Experiment with all kinds of flours as you move away from traditional baking so you can adjust to the new textures, demands, and tastes that each non-wheat flour brings to the kitchen. Soon, the slight changes in recipes or preparation, depending on the alternative flour you use, will become second nature to you and your kitchen staff.
Chefs – what Info would you like added to this site?
Spawn Till You Die by Ray Troll
Being a Chef, or running a kitchen, requires that we are constantly evolving, perpetually learning, forever seeking new ideas about how to do our jobs better, faster, or more efficiently. At Chef’s Resources we are always looking for new information which may be useful to fellow Chefs. What info have you been looking for to run your operation? Excel templates, kitchen management questions, flavor profiles…what?
What info would you like to see added to this site? Leave comments/suggestions below and we will consider researching them for addition to the site!
There is a lot more to running a successful restaurant than providing customers with delicious food. Effective time management is a skill that every restaurant owner and manager needs to have in order to keep things operating smoothly. Whether you have a good grasp on managing your time or you are still looking for ways to improve, there are plenty of apps that can help you manage your business. Following are a few of the best apps for restaurant owners:
Hopefully, your restaurant is successful enough to have experienced a particularly busy period that forced you to put people on a wait list. The NoWait app is a waitlist management tool that manages your server rotation and seating. No longer will your hostesses be taking names and writing them down. This app provides a one tap guest notification and two way messaging for easy communication.
The secret behind the NoWait app is its quoted wait algorithm that learns from each individual business so that it can predict wait times twice as accurately as hostesses. It also gives private verified guest feedback from specific tables so that you can see what your customers thought of their dining experience.
When managing your restaurant through Excel spreadsheets isn’t quite doing it for you, CrunchTime may be the solution. This back office system can take all of your restaurants data—from inventory to labor management—and turn it into actionable marketing strategies. This is a great app for restaurants looking to expand and needing to improve their business processes in order to accomplish their goals.
CrunchTime has dashboards that show operators important business information and sends them alerts when the restaurant’s efficiency is declining. It also makes it easier to track spending by identifying anything from fraudulent activities to high cost ingredients. By eliminating wasteful spending, you can purchase those Hobart mixer parts you’ve been meaning to purchase.
With nearly 90 percent of people turning to online reviews to help them decide what to buy or where to eat, it is critical that restaurant owners keep tabs on their business’s page. Yelp is one resource that many diners use to make a decision on where to eat and is the place for them to leave feedback on their dining experience. In order to effectively manage your Yelp reviews, the Yelp app for business owners is extremely helpful.
The Yelp app provides business owners with real-time mobile notifications so that they can read and respond to reviews and messages quickly. It also gives you important visitor engagement data such as your customer leads and user views. When your restaurant’s reputation is closely tied to its success, this app is a must-have for connecting with your customers.
It can be tough to keep track of different schedules and what you need to tackle next on your to-do list. With the Wunderlist app, you can get everything in sync easily and boost your productivity in the process. This app not only lets you set tasks and attach notes to them, but it also lets you set sub-tasks and recurring tasks as well.
Wunderlist also allows you to set reminders for yourself so that you never forget to order those Oliver Bread Slicer Blades for your bread slicer again. It also lets you collaborate with others so that employees can add things to the list if they notice items that need replacing. You can access Wunderlist from anywhere, and anything you create on the app can be printed out for your entire staff.
Need a little food inspiration? The Key Ingredient app is perfect for those who are looking for something new to add to the menu. This app has over 1.5 million recipes and streams them to your phone with photos of mouth-watering food items to browse through. You can save these recipes to your favorites so that you can find them later and give your chef a look to see what they think. If your restaurant serves a specific niche, the app lets you browse by cuisine so that you can find a recipe that is suited to your restaurant.
Touchbistro is a point of sale solution designed specifically for the food business. User-friendly and cost-effective, this app will please both large and small restaurant owners with its ability to take orders and payments ahead of time, allowing businesses to maximize their efficiency. It also makes it easy for your staff to split bills, join seats, manage orders, and more by simply swiping their finger.
Other features this app has include tracking inventory, editing menu items, and creating personalized staff profiles, and the ability to access real-time insights from your restaurant data. This POS app has everything that busy restaurant owners need to make their business a success.
Make managing your employee hours easy, with the Zip Time Clock app, which helps you track and control your employee’s time. Not only is this app affordable, but it will pay for itself and then some, in the long run, by keeping business owners aware of potential labor law violations and tracking how closely employees stick to their schedules.
If you have even the slightest worry about employees clocking in for others and being dishonest about the time they have worked, this app is a must-have. It uses cloud-based convenience and geo-tech to let you know exactly where employees are when they clock in. In addition, it makes payroll processing simple by helping you collect and finalize your payroll hours.
Use Apps to Boost Your Restaurant’s Efficiency
If you aren’t utilizing technology to help boost your restaurant’s efficiency, you could be losing a lot of money in the process. Better customer service, reducing wasteful spending, and more effectively managing your time are things that your restaurant stands to gain when using these apps. If you are looking to get ahead of the competition and make things run more smoothly at your restaurant, it’s time to seriously consider these apps as a way to do so.
I was reading some Chef blogs the other day and I was astonished when someone actually posted a question about the validity of the 3 second rule (also called the 5 second rule). For those of you who don’t know what the 3 second rule is, it is a phrase which refers to food which has been dropped on the floor. “If you pick it up within 3 seconds its safe!” Another phrase referring to this is, “It landed on the napkin.”
I might understand this question being discussed by novices, but by professional chefs?! Most of the chefs were staunchly against it, but a few made feeble attempts of defending the practice. I see no defense for it. If a filet mignon falls on the floor, it’s done, over, garbage. Start a new steak. If any of my staff ever questions me on this, then I have them follow me into the men’s bathroom. I’ll step in the puddle under the urinal, go back to the kitchen Line and step on the floor. I’ll drop a piece of meat on that spot and ask them to eat it. I’m never asked about it a second time.
If you think that you are saving money by “cooking it to kill the germs” and serving it, then think about the damage to your reputation if your customers get sick. Or the damage done when your staff goes drinking after work and tell people their thoughts about how you save money in your restaurant.
As far as actual research on the topic, a few experiments have been done. In 2003, Jillian Clarke, a high school student and intern at the University of Illinois at Urbana performed an experiment using Gummi Bears and Fudge-striped Cookies which determined that these foods were significantly contaminated by even brief exposure (5 seconds) to a tile inoculated with E. coli.
The five-second rule was also featured in an episode of the TV series Mythbusters. They exposed food to bacteria for 2 seconds and for 6 seconds and showed that both were contaminated and there was no significant difference in the number of bacteria collected on food. It didn’t matter if it was 2 seconds or 6, it was almost equally contaminated. So the myth about food being safe if it was on the floor for less than 3 seconds was “busted”.
The Taste of Tulalip is a high-profile 2 day food & wine extravaganza which is recognized as one of the best, if notTHE best, food & wine event on the entire West Coast. The first night is an exclusive dinner for 420 people which sold out several months before the event this year. The second day featured 120 different wineries and a slew of delicacies prepared by the Tulalip chef team. This post gives a little “back kitchen perspective” of the Friday night event.
Friday night. 7-course plated food & wine pairing dinner for 420 people. $195 per plate (ie…don’t fuck it up!!) 50 cooks/stewards in the kitchen to plate and man ovens. 4 plating lines. 30 servers to catch and deliver plates. Each course will be plated á la minute directly into the server’s hands (no hot holding of plates). Each course must be plated and served in less than 15 minutes.
Its nights like this that a Chef earns his/her stripes…which make or break us. These are the nights that we live for, which give us bragging rights, which drain our bodies & minds but ultimately leave us with a deep-seated and well-earned feeling of satisfaction. We love the intense challenge, the adrenaline, the hard work, the inevitable unexpected problems and our instantaneous successful solutions. We love the feeling of “the wind in our hair and a tiger at our back.”
Even though each culinary creation and its successful wine pairing is of eminent importance, it takes so much more than culinary talent to make it a successful evening when you’re dealing with 420 fine dining quality plates and 7 courses. That’s 2,940 plates! It requires intense concentration, impeccable mise en place, detailed planning, communication, training, juggling the plating timeline as course times shift, anticipating what that bastard “murphy’s law” will bring to the table, and bringing everything to perfection on the plate. Creating awesome food is one thing…actually being able to serve it to 420 people is quite another! It’s what separates good cooks from good chefs.
The planning for this event began many months ago as each chef planned a dish (there are 7 chefs at Tulalip Resort with 2 more coming soon.) In August each chef brought their dish to a tasting to determine the food & wine match, made minor tweaks or complete revisions to their concept based upon that tasting, finalized presentation ideas, and then began the implementation process of how to prep, plate, and serve their dish in under 15 minutes.
Plating is all about “touches”…how many times do you have to “touch” the plate? Ideally, for an event like this, you have one person for each touch, which makes for a fast, efficient assembly line style plate-up. For my dish there were 9 touches which went as follows:
• Pull plates
• Apply Blackberry Puree painted brush stroke
• Add Toasted Hazelnut Pesto
• Add center Salmon Lox Popsicle (this is done first so as to assure symmetry)
• Add 2 remaining Salmon Lox Popsicles
• Place Sous Vide Salmon over Pesto at about a 60° angle
• Add cracked Hazelnut garnish
• Add Borage Flower garnish
• Wipe plate edges
Its important to note that mise en place is everything. And it is so much more than simply prepping your food. Mise en place is also your mental preparations, your organization, your prep lists, prep timeline, ordering timeline, scaled recipes, plating diagram, communications to relevant team members and so on. A well organized Chef brings sanity to an inherently chaotic and stressful environment. An unorganized chef is his own worst enemy and by failing to plan correctly turns a stressful day into a living hell both for themselves and their staff.
Here is my organizational plan for this event. It is a downloadable Excel sheet (I love Excel for planning!) and it’s important to note that this workbook began with only two or three tabs. But as my planning progressed so did the scope of the worksheet (You will need Microsoft Excel to open it.)
Here is the day at a glance:
Ibuprofen along with my breakfast…I’m already sore from the week’s prep to get ready for this day, plus it is a “preemptive strike” to prevent a “stress headache”.
Day begins with going over all the details of the day on the drive to work.
Check event prep…make sure we are on target for tonight. Check restaurant prep for same reason. Do ordering and essential restaurant work.
2:00 – 5:00
Gather and organize all mise en place for the event. Verify everything! Do I have enough pans, pastry brushes, all serving utensils, are the ovens at the correct temp, are the plates counted, etc all.
Check mise en place for the last time and give final instructions to key players.
The grand ballroom begins to fill with guests, the Chefs & staff are ready to go…the tension in the kitchen is palpable. Like a cat waiting to pounce on its prey, we appear to be relaxed but inside our minds are tense, churning, going over all the minutia of what’s going to happen in the next 3 hours. Pop 3rd dose of ibuprofen (breakfast, lunch, dinner!) for the day.
We are supposed to be serving the first course right now! But the speakers are running a little late, so we stand patiently waiting…but inside we are screaming “let’s go!”
We finally get the word to start! The kitchen goes from a standstill to slamming into fourth gear as Chef Gerry takes control of his course and we get the first plates rolling. “Straighten that sauce line!” “No! The garnish goes like this! 45° angle, not a 30° angle! Let’s get this right people!” “Line 3…speed it up, but don’t fuck it up!” Within 2 minutes we shift from fourth gear into overdrive as 50 people on 4 lines dial in the plating of this course. 11 minutes later the first course is done, all 420 plates worth.
“Good job everyone, now clear those tables!” “Remove the mise from the first course!” “Come on people, get ready for the next course!” Refresh. Repeat seven times for three hours!
Pats on the back are shared all around, smiles, relief. Last dose of ibuprofen. 1 shot of Basil Hayden bourbon.
10:45 PM Double-check status of tomorrow’s event for 2,000 people, check restaurant.
Arrive at home. 2 doubles vodka and Sobe Cranberry. Tiger Balm applied liberally to very sore feet. Crash. Awaken sharply at 3:00 am from stress dream…”Dude! Friday’s over. Let it go. Relax. Relax. Sleep.”
Chef Gerry Schultz – Amuse Bouche
J. Schram Brut Rose, North Coast California 2004 Beet Carpaccio Ravioli
Smoked Chicken, Fennel Mustard Vinaigrette
Chef Brent Clarkson – Soup
Rasa Vineyards dream deferred Chardonnay, Washington 2012 Jerusalem Artichoke Puree
Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Cream Fraiche, Crispy Leek Straws
Chef JP – Salad Course
Alleromb Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley Washington 2012 Seared Scallop with Green Papaya Slaw
North Atlantic sea scallop with green papaya slaw, micro Asian mallow, golden edamame shoots
ginger lime vinaigrette and aged balsamic
Chef David Buchanan – Fish
Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, California 2011 To Sous Vide or not to Sous Vide?
Sockeye Salmon Lox & Blackberry “popsicle” – Salmon Sous Vide 110° over Toasted Hazelnut Pesto
The Blackberry is lightly tossed in Balsamic glaze, the pesto is features roasted Holmquist Hazelnuts, fresh Basil and Tarragon
Chef John Jadamec – Intermezzo
Pomegranate and Rose Granita
Chef Perry Mascitti – Entrée
Leonetti Family “Reserve” Red Blend, Walla Walla Washington 2011 A Study of Aging: A New York Duet Older and Wiser
New York Strip Dry Aged 46 days, traditional tarragon beurre blanc
New York Strip 28 days, wild cranberry demi
Separated by a cambazola-mascarpone brioche “Twinkie”, buna shimeji and micro green sauté
Nikol Nakamura – Dessert
Valrhona caramelized white chocolate cremeux and cake, almond streusel, Osetra caviar
Whether you wish to be a Professional Chef in South Africa or in some other part of the globe, there are a few essential attributes that are required for an aspiring chef to possess. Possessing world class Chef Training classes go hand in hand with the qualities that a Professional Chef is looked upon to own. Thus, to make our opinion more clear, mentioned below are 10 useful tips and advices that will pave a successful path to become an unbeaten chef.
Passion is among the top most important quality that one needs to possess if he/she desires to be a Professional Chef. Just taking chef classes will not better one’s position if he/she lacks the obsession for food preparation. Starting from internationally renowned recipes to locally known dishes there are a lot of techniques that one needs to pay attention to while expertly preparing meals, selecting food and creating menus. Thus, lacking interest and fervour for it will turn everything boring and dull.
Creativity is an attribute that will not only enhance food preparation but is also needed to experiment with various cooking techniques and ingredients. It is only due to creativity that many renowned chefs have come up with a number of delectable dishes. To offer a never before dining experience one should always be ready to try something outside the box.
3. Business Sense
No matter from where one has undergone his/her Chef Training, to climb the ladder of success he/she should be gifted with business sense. It will be this factor that will help expand the zone and establish you as a well known chef. One should know how to run a cost effective restaurant along with offering mouth watering dishes.
A good chef is one who can swiftly arrange his/her cooking items and blend them accordingly. While preparing dishes for restaurants and hotels, a number of tasks need to be carried along at the same time. Thus multitasking is an essential talent to posses.
5. Team Player
An efficient and cooperative chef will always understand that he is part of a larger food preparation team which needs to work harmoniously so that everything gets prepared at the right time. Lacking such a spirit can cause moral & production problems and you may never be in a position to win others and attain success.
6. Attention for Details
Cooking is just like science. To prepare the finest dish, each ingredient and amount has a role to play in enhancing its taste. So, one needs an eye for each detail. Moreover, while experimenting, he/she should know which ingredient can create magic and result in a new taste.
It requires a lot of practice to present the best dish. One has to practice so much so that he/she gets used to the techniques so that they remain in finger tips while taking any order.
8. Quick Decision
To be a professional chef one should as well possess the ability for quick thinking. This becomes especially handy when any sort of crisis or problem arises. Moreover, to maintain customer satisfaction, timely decisions play an imperative role in this industry.
9. Commitment to Quality
To seek out the finest ingredients and to make use of the best techniques to cook the best dish possible, commitment for quality is a must and where there is quality, success will surely follow.
10. Handle Criticism
There is no field in which one does not have to face criticism and this is true in the culinary industry as well. It is not possible that every customer will love what you prepare, but being able to accept that with a positive attitude will push you towards success.
The FOG Tank is a heated soak tank that safely and easily cleans metal cookware and kitchen equipment. The thermostatically controlled, stainless steel FOG Tank is fully insulated, and safely cleans all types of metal, including aluminum. FOG is an acronym for Fat, Oil, and Grease, and the FOG Tank removes these substances (along with carbon buildup) from kitchen equipment through the use of the safe and proprietary Tiger Carbon Remover Powder, an environmentally safe cleaning agent that is non-toxic and completely safe for humans.
For a successful commercial kitchen, having clean equipment is a necessity, not an option. But cleaning using traditional methods can be expensive, time consuming, and wasteful. With the FOG Tank, commercial kitchens in restaurants, hotels, casinos, schools, and more, can save money, increase staff productivity, and reduce their carbon footprint. The FOG Tank’s Tiger Carbon Remover Powder cleans equipment with little scrubbing, eliminating daily work for a kitchen’s stewarding department by 3 or more hours. Since the cleaning solution in the tank lasts a full thirty days, the FOG tank also lowers energy bills and water usage by eliminating the need to continuously fill and heat 3-compartment sinks.
With only 5 simple steps, anyone can use the FOG Tank. So how does it work? First fill the FOG Tank, then add the Tiger Carbon Remover Powder, and then load the tank with your dirty pots, pans, vent hood filters, etc. After the FOG Tank is loaded just close the lid and let it work! Once the tank has run through its cycle, simply rinse off any loose or softened fragments, and your equipment will look brand new.
The FOG Tank comes in four different sizes (25, 40, 80, and 120 gallons) to fit any size kitchen, from a small bakery to a huge hotel and casino. To find out why this product is the top choice for companies like In-n-Out Burger, Hyatt Hotels, The Venetian, and Texas Road House, or to sign up for a Risk Free Trial period, visit www.fogtank.com.
The FOG Tank® is developed by Hyginix, a company dedicated to developing environmentally friendly advanced cleaning solutions that provide sanitary, operational, and financial benefits to the restaurant, bakery, and food service industries. Hyginix LLC is a woman-owned business with corporate headquarters in San Diego, CA and a prestigious customer base throughout the USA.
Comments from before Site Migration
FOG TANK [220.127.116.11] [ Jul 21, 2014 ]
To answer your question, we recommend using gloves when removing cookware from the FOG Tank because the tank reaches a temperate of 185*F. However, the chemicals are non-caustic, non-toxic, fully biodegradable, and completely safe for humans!
CAMERON [18.104.22.168] [ Jun 16, 2014 ]
watch the video again…can you or can’t you handle the wares after cleaning with your bear hands?? One shot shows a person pulling things out with bare skin hands, the other shows a person handling the wares with heavy duty rubberized gloves up to their elbows…It’s reminicent of Judge Doom dipping a toon in “The Dip” on Who Framed Roger Rabbit….all that is missing is Jessica Rabbit screaming in the back ground 🙂
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council is pushing a plan to change the King County minimum wage from Washington’s minimum wage of $9.32 to $15.00! Washington already has the highest minimum wage of any state in the country, but they want a 61% increase, and they want it now!
From what I can see, Ed Murray has zero business experience and is utterly unqualified to make business decisions for Seattle’s businesses. He clearly has no concept of the impact that a 61% increase in the cost of labor will have upon all the businesses in Seattle. Is the Seattle city council really so “business illiterate” that they don’t understand what a 61% cost increase means? Apparently they have no clue.
And one of the staunchest supporters of $15Now is…wait for it…an socialist activist! City councilwoman Kshama Sawant is an immigrant from India who actively supports the socialist agenda, is involved in this process to raise wages to $15, and calls small businesses liars when they say this change will hurt them.
I heard the Tom & Curley radio show today and John Curley said that of all the city council members who are involved in this decision-making process for King County, only one of them has experience in the private sector. All the rest have spent their careers in the public service sector, being paid by us the taxpayers. They are good at taking other people’s money and redistributing it as they see fit. They have no idea how to run a business, and are utterly unqualified for deciding what is best for the businesses of Seattle.
John Curley used a vivid example (7:26 into the segment) to describe the type of participation which local government officials have offered to Seattle businesses as they work through this process:
“To me it’s like the private sector (businesses) are brought to the table and the city council is basically saying, “OK, which finger do you want to have cut off? Do you want us to cut your thumb off, pinky off, middle finger, index finger…’cause we’re going to cut one of them off, we just need to know which one you’d be ok with losing. Because it’s coming, but at least we’re letting you sit at the table.”
Remember also that part of Ed Murray’s platform when running for Seattle Mayor was the $15 minimum wage concept. Again, this is a man who has no business background! He is blind to the ramifications, unable to see past his hand redistributing cash.
To be fair, a 60% increase in labor cost is not the same as an overall 60% increase in total operating expenses. But it is akin to a 60% increase in your mortgage payment. Or alternately, would you have a problem with Ed Murray declaring that he was raising your property taxes by 60%? That’s what he is doing to businesses.
Here are my predictions of what will happen if the minimum-wage goes to $15 an hour in Seattle:
Approximately 102,000 people who currently earn less than $15/hr in King County will temporarily experience some relief to their cost of living in Seattle…the remaining 1,942,000 people will experience a tightening of the belt as everything begins to cost more.
Low-wage jobs will be greatly reduced as small businesses try to eliminate low-wage workers
Entry level jobs for teens and unskilled workers will evaporate
Job descriptions will change so that more experienced workers will take on the duties of previously lower paid positions
busboys will be eliminated and servers will pick up that task
prep cooks will be eliminated and cooks will take up that task
grocery baggers will be eliminated
The cost of almost everything in Seattle will increase by 10% to 20%
Employers will cut healthcare coverage, vacation time, and other employee benefits to cover this new cost
Many small businesses will go out of business because they cannot afford the change
Economic growth in Seattle will decrease as new businesses avoid Seattle and choose outlying areas because of the high cost of labor in Seattle. Walmart has already declared they would do this in SeaTac.
Businesses will lose volume and sales revenue as customers go outside Seattle, or choose not to even come into Seattle, in order to save money. Likewise, tourists will spend less or choose outlying areas to go because their dollar will go 10% to 20% further outside Seattle.
After tips, servers at good restaurants will earn somewhere between $35-$50 an hour! This will cause more competition among servers, but will also cause more cooks to leave the kitchen for the better cash of the FOH, resulting in more difficulty hiring qualified cooks.
Restaurants will be very hard hit by this change as their profit margins are typically only somewhere between 3% to 8%, which allows very little room for additional expenses…certainly no room for a 61% increase in labor costs! Restaurants will close, prices will escalate.
Low-wage and unskilled workers will be very happy…experienced workers will not. The guy who was making $15 an hour had a six dollar difference between him and the inexperienced worker… now suddenly they’re both making the same wage even though the more experienced worker has the harder job which requires more skill, more responsibility, more stress, and so on.
Businesses in the border counties at the edge of King County will see an increase of business as people travel “across the border” for cheaper restaurants, coffee, groceries, almost everything.
5 years after everyone is forced to pay the higher wage and prices for services & goods have adjusted, the cost of living (as a percentage of wages) in Seattle will be equal or higher to what it is today. This is the definition of a failed idea.
For me personally, I’ll have a very hard time adding a 15-20% tip to a restaurant meal. The whole premise of tipping is that its a way to off-set the (supposed) lower wage of servers. But if they are suddenly getting paid the same as the previously higher-paid cooks then why should we tip them for doing their job? Servers work hard…but they do not deserve to earn significantly more than the cooks who prepare the food.
The ‘$15 Now’ measure promotes a sense of underachievement and lack of ambition. The purpose of “starting positions” is to provide work for both unskilled workers and “new to the work-force” workers, who will eventually learn new skills, become more valuable employees, and move up the chain. Giving them a $5.68 instantaneous raise “cheats” the people who have worked to earn a higher wage. Minimum wage assumes that people will take the initiative to make themselves more valuable through education (at work or via formal schooling) and personal ambition.
For instance, a busboy’s incentive to earn more money is to learn new skills and move up in the business. But if a busboy is suddenly earning the same amount as a line cook why would he want to change? Busing requires a small amount of physical ability, has very low stress, and requires minimal skill and training compared to other positions in the restaurant. “$15 Now” promotes a mentality of low-wage unskilled workers in Seattle (however, those jobs will disappear).
I could see the implementation of a two wage system, where there are “Starting Wage Positions” and “Minimum Wage” positions. The Minimum Wage positions would earn $15/hour and would be defined perhaps as “a position which the average person enters into and continues in for 5 or more years” (not necessarily in the same work-place, but in the same job description). Cooks would certainly fit into this category, but bussers, baristas, grocery baggers, and dishwashers would not as those tend to be more transitory positions which people more on from.
“Starting Wage Positions” could perhaps be defined as “a typically entry level position which the average person transitions out of within 2-3 years as they pursue a career”. In my opinion, these might include fast food workers, baristas, dishwashers, bussers, grocery baggers, prep cooks, movie theater workers, Walmart greeters (seriously, even though this company makes money doesn’t mean that the position of saying, “Hello, welcome to Walmart” is worth $15).
Final comment: “$15 Now” needs to take a trip to Planned Parenthood in order to save the families, and businesses, of Seattle.
What a cool concept Jon Staenberg has in The VUDE (The Velvet Underground Dining Experiment) in downtown Seattle. It is a unique venue where both established chefs, and up-and-coming chefs, can have the opportunity to showcase their talents to a small group of seasoned culinarians. It is designed in an intimate, warm setting which seats about 45 people at 3 long community tables. The kitchen is open to the guests, providing them with the opportunity to flow freely from the dining room into the kitchen just as they would if you were making dinner for friends at home. This allows guests to interact with the chef during the evening, making for a unique, fun experience for both the chef and the diners. The standard menu (created by each chef) is at least 6 courses, plus many chefs will also serve hors d’oeuvres as well.
For the chef, the intimacy of The VUDEmakes for a warm, friendly, casual evening of cooking and provides a chance for the guests to interact with the man/woman responsible for the evening’s culinary fare.
So, who would make a guest chef appearance at The VUDE? Well, the culinary bar has already been set pretty high! Seasoned Seattle favorites such as Jason Wilson of Crush andJohn Sundstrom of Lark have done a stint at the VUDE (see the full lineup of previous chefs below). The draw for established chefs to the venue is that it offers a place for them to “get out of the box” of their normal kitchen to play a little bit and to interact in a more intimate way with their guests. And for those up-and-coming “undiscovered” chefs it is a chance to show off what you have, a place where you can test your metal and make your mark.
In fact, in an effort to to feature and promote new chefs (as in chefs with limited or no previous media coverage, not new to cooking), Jon has started a new series called Up and Comer Sunday Suppers which highlights undiscovered chefs in the Seattle region. So, if you’re an experienced chef and you know of a talented chef who has a good reputation amongst his guests and peers but who hasn’t gotten his chance in the spotlight yet, or perhaps a sous chef who needs to take a step forward, talk with them and contact Jon Staenberg about the possibility of an appearance at The VUDE.
Potential candidates must have experience plating upscale multi-course menus for 50 or more people. A chef-mentor is allowed (perhaps expected) to assist in making sure the event runs smoothly (after all, guests are paying!)
If you are interested in being a guest chef and want to know how the kitchen is equipped jump to that section.
VELVET UNDERGROUND DINING EXPERIENCE
After gathering this basic info about The VUDE I had some interview questions for owner Jon Staenberg.
Q: As regards your long-term vision, what reputation do you hope to have among chefs? What do you hope chefs will think about cooking at the VUDE?
Jon: For chefs, we want to be a place equivalent to On The Boards or Townhall in Seattle; the kind of place to do things that are outside the box, that is reflective of where they are now, what they have been thinking about and brings together new ideas and a great, enthusiastic and appreciative (though critical) audience. The VUDE wants to be a blank slate where new “art” can be tried and trialed. And most importantly we want to respect and celebrate all that is part of this amazing food culture that is changing the world today.
Q: Same question but for your diners. What do you hope diners will think of the VUDE?
Jon: Years ago someone said “kill the restaurant.” We do NOT want to do that but we do want the opportunity to help shape what people think of as a great dining experience. We believe that deeper connections with the food, the wines, the chefs and even the other diners can create a more memorable experience. Diners want and are starting to want more. They want the stories behind the stories. They want personal moments. They want a total experience. And we should not forget what they expect, and we want to deliver great food and wine.
Q: What is the ultimate goal of the VUDE?
Jon: It is an experiment and The VUDE is our laboratory. Is there ever any ultimate goal? It is a work in progress. We have learned a lot and inspired many. If we keep doing that, then we will be good.
Q: How can a guest chef appearance at the VUDE benefit the chef’s business?
Jon: One of the main goals of The VUDE is to help people discover. Like a TED talk perhaps. Sure we have a large list of foodies who hear about every event and we are active on social media and we create great content of the event itself, but we now are starting to hear people say, “Yeah that chef has cooked at The VUDE” as if that is also a pretty good stamp of excellence. We are curators and I think people get that we are only doing events and bringing in chefs that are new, fresh and original.
Q: Does the guest chef have to pay for all the food?
Jon: No! We don’t expect any chef to be out of pocket ever and we hope depending on the chef, theme, event etc that we can provide a few shekels for their time and effort. We really have three kinds of events (loosely categorized):
Up and Comers
Private event chef-ing opportunities
Each of these is a bit of a different model. Generally, the more a chef helps us drive the marketing and sales the more we share in the net proceeds.
Let’s Check It Out!
Jon invited me down to actually attend one of the events. So on Tuesday February 4th I made the 2 hour trek to Seattle for an enjoyable evening of food and wine. Specialty cocktails this night were prepared by an up-and-coming chef, Jonathan Jason Proville, who is on the list to make a guest chef appearance at The VUDE. His cocktails included 2 creations: The Rye & Smoke had Old Overholt Rye whiskey, Lemon, Black Tea, and Smoked Olive Oil! A very cool, complex, satisfying drink. The Sherry Cider had a Washington Apple Cider, Amontillado Sherry, and Lillet Blanc…a refreshing cocktail.
This particular night’s guest chef was Bill Patterson, chef/owner of Orcas Island’s Sazio di Notte, a restaurant with strong Italian roots. Chef Patterson uses local products as much as is possible, and raises his own pigs for the restaurant. He is passionate about his food, and unafraid to tell you his opinion about food! When I asked if he was using Penn Cove Mussels, he exclaimed “Oh no no! Those are much too small. I prefer Taylor Shellfish oysters because they are larger, more mature, and therefore have more flavor. The same is true of baby vegetables… they are immature and lacking in flavor.” And true to form, Chef Patterson’s food was delicious and not lacking in good flavor!
It’s difficult for us chefs when someone else critiques our food saying things like, “Oh it needed a little bit more of this” or “It could have used a little less of that” etc. And because we are chefs, we tend to be hyper critical of everyone’s food…even our own (if we’re honest!) So I’m not going to go through and critique each one of chef Bill’s courses. Instead, I’ll simply say that he is clearly passionate about his food and he has excellent technique and flavors. The mussels were served just as they opened, the salad had a perfect balance of flavor, his pasta (freshly made on premises) was exquisite! And the osso bucco was perfectly fork tender. If you find yourself on Orcas Island, you must plan to dine at Chef Patterson’s place, you won’t be disappointed.
Chef William Patterson
Sazio di Notte
February 4, 2014
Tiramisu Caffe Ladro, Hand of God Unico Blend Coffee
The Kitchen Layout
The kitchen has one commercial Viking gas range with a full-size oven and six top burners. Commercial size pots, pans and brazier/rondos are available. There is a fair amount of counter space with an 8 foot prep table against the wall and a center prep/plating table about 12 feet long. There is a commercial dish machine and dish racks, and one over-sized refrigerator with a lower freezer compartment, so refrigeration is a little limited…plan accordingly.
For guest chefs, servers are provided by The VUDE so the chefs only have to focus on cooking and plating. A variety of nice plates, bowls, silver, glasses, Riedel wine glasses, cloth napkins, and other standard service essentials are provided, as well as someone who will do the dishes. However, if you want to use platters you should bring your own.
Past Guest Chefs at The VUDE
Chef Thomas Black
Bill the Butcher
Cormac Mahoney – Madison Park Conservatory
Jason Wilson – Crush
John Howie – John Howie Steak
Tibeiero Simone – “La Figa” cookbook
John Payne – formerly of Herb Farm
David Barzelay – Lazy Bear
Tomer Shneor – Nomad Dinners
Renee Erickson – Boat St Café
Chris Keff – Flying Fish
Zoi Antonitsas – Westward
Jason Vickers – FEZ Food Truck
Chris Blanco – Raikes Foundation
Jason Stratton – Aragona
John Sundstrom – Lark Restaurant
John and Caprial Pence
Tha Marc Restaurant
Chris Lobkovich – Brass Tacks
Mike Easton – Il Corvo Pasta
Chris Opsata – Brass Tacks
Meeru Dhalwala – Shanik
William Belikis – Mistra
Want to join the ranks of guest chefs who have appeared at The VUDE? Contact Jon Staenberg to discuss the possibiliies!
Have you been a guest chef, or have you attended one of the dinners? Leave a comment below!
Follow David Buchanan on Google + David Buchanan is a professional chef and author of Chefs-Resources.com, a site geared towards providing chefs and culinarians useful info to help in their kitchens.
The top 2 fillets are Sockeye Salmon, the bottom 2 are Coho
Salmon. In the Pacific Northwest salmon is akin to Manna in the local food hierarchy. Yes, we have Dungeness crab, fresh oysters, cherries, apples, Walla Walla onions, asparagus, and many other fantastic local indigenous foods. But they are simply Barons and Lords on the food chain…Salmon is king.
While the seasonality of other local foods is celebrated, it is the annual run of wild salmon that Washingtonians, and chefs in particular, eagerly await with baited breath every May. It means that for the next few months all species of wild salmon will be available fresh. Restaurants and chefs scramble to be among the those few who offer the first fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon of the year.
But even when the fresh season is over (actually, fresh king salmon is available almost year around, however, Sockeye and Coho are not), salmon continues to be an important part of our Pacific Northwest culture and our restaurant menus.
Now that the fresh Sockeye season has ended, here is an excellent recipe for Smoked Sockeye Salmon using frozen fish. Now I’m not to saying that frozen salmon isn’t good, because it is. It’s just that we get spoiled having fresh for five months, and while frozen salmon is good, fresh salmon is fantastic and always my first choice!
I’ve used this recipe now for a number of years and have never found a better one. The salt content is low, the finished product is still moist, and the smokiness “just right”. But, I recently learned a new technique, an added step, which takes this recipe from “really damn good” to “fucking amazing”! The new technique is to “allow the pellicle to form”…no additional ingredients, just an extra step. After brining, rinse the fish and dry with paper towels, then allow to air-dry in the cooler until a thin, moist layer forms (the pellicle). It takes at least an hour…I let it go overnight. Then proceed with the recipe as normal. The result is smoked salmon which is more moist and which has a fantastic glaze-like sheen that will put a big-ass smile on your face!
The pellicle is a thin, tacky protein layer which forms on meat/fish after the brining process. It acts as a protective layer to keep the fish more moist. And it gives a better surface for the smoke to attach to during the smoking process. The end result puts a big smile on your face! Beautiful, moist, and delicious! Below are before and after pics of the difference of letting the pellicle form before smoking. Other than that one step, the recipe is identical and both are Sockeye Salmon with the same color before starting the recipe.
click on the images to enlarge
without forming the pellicle
with the pellicle forming step
Smoked Salmon Recipe
Yield: 1 Pound
1 Qt Water
½ Cup Kosher Salt
½ Lb Brown Sugar
3 Each Bay Leaf
1 ½ Qts Cold Water
½ Qt Soy Lite
¼ Cup Cracked Black Pepper
1 Lb Sockeye Salmon, skin-off, pin bones removed
Heat the Step 1 ingredients until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to a container large enough to hold the salmon, yet narrow enough that the liquid will cover the salmon completely.
Add the ingredients from Step 2 and allow the brining liquid to cool to 41° or lower.
Add the salmon to the brine and leave it in the refrigerator for 1 day (18-24 hours). Remove the salmon from the brine, rinse & dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place on a drain rack in the cooler or refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 10 hours. This will allow the “pellicle” to form.
Have a smoker already lit and smoking using apple chips. Place the salmon in the smoker for 2 hours. For best results, the salmon should remain as close to 40° as possible. Remove from the smoker and bake in oven at 325° to a temperature of 135°. Chill until ready to serve.
Using a very sharp, thin knife, carefully, slowly cut the salmon into the portion sizes you want and serve!