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IRS Proposes New Tip Reporting Program

IRS Proposes New Tip Reporting Program

by David Klemt

"Tax Man" graffiti on red brick wall

The Internal Revenue Service is proposing a voluntary tip reporting program which they’re calling the Service Industry Tip Compliance Agreement (SITCA).

Making the announcement via Notice 2023-13 back in February, the IRS is giving people the chance to comment on the SITCA proposal.

Per the IRS, their intention is to “take advantage of advancements” in POS, scheduling, and e-payment technology. How do they intend to leverage all this tech? In short, the IRS is proposing that POS systems will have to process payments and tips in the same way.

To clarify further, if someone pays by credit card, they’ll have to tip via credit card. If a guest pays in cash, they’ll have to tip in cash. So, should SITCA become the industry standard, the days of paying with a credit card but leaving a cash tip will be over.

However, in my eyes, this isn’t a simple “modernization” of IRS processes.

If the IRS is proposing a new for businesses to process tips, they’re looking to catch non-compliant businesses and tipped workers. A likely culprit or contributing factor to this IRS scrutiny? The retail venues now asking for or suggesting tips when customers check out.

So, it would be wise to reiterate to your team the need to report tips accurately. And remember, business owners need to ensure they’re complying with tip reporting as well. Getting flagged for inaccurate reporting is a great way to catch an audit, penalties, and a huge bill.

Nuts and Bolts

According to the IRS, SITCA will reduce taxpayer burdens. And, of course, the service claims the program will also reduce their own administrative costs.

Additional “features,” per the IRS website, are as follows:

  • The monitoring of employer compliance based on actual annual tip revenue and charge tip data from their point-of-sale system. There will be allowance for adjustments in tipping practices from year to year.
  • Participating employers demonstrate compliance with the program requirements by submitting an annual report after the close of the calendar year. This reduces the need for compliance reviews by the IRS.
  • Employers participating in SITCA will receive protection from liability under the rules that define tips as part of an employee’s pay for calendar years in which they remain compliant with program requirements.
  • Participating employers have flexibility to implement employee tip reporting policies best suited for their employees and business model. Policies must be in accordance with the section of the tax law that requires employees to report tips to their employers.

Requests for Comment

Interestingly, Notice 2023-13 contains a request for comments in four specific areas:

  • By what means a technology-based time and attendance system may be used by tipped employees to report tips. This includes tips in cash and other forms of tipping made through electronic payments methods (other than a credit card), regardless of whether the tips are received directly from customers or through tip sharing arrangements.
  • How tip sharing practices vary across service industries and how the SITCA program can support employer participation while accommodating potential differences in Federal, state, and local labor and employment law requirements.
  • By what methods employers of large food or beverage establishments participating in the SITCA program may meet their filing and reporting obligations under section 6053(c) and also satisfy the SITCA program requirements for compliance, while minimizing the administrative burdens on taxpayers and the IRS.

Those interested in providing such feedback have until May 7, 2023 to do so. The IRS has set up two ways to provide comments on Notice 2023-13:

  • Mail: CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2023-13), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044; or
  • Electronic: Visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at (indicate IRS and Notice 2023-13) and follow the instructions for comment submission.

Personally, I have more questions than comments. Bear in mind, the IRS will stop accepting comments, feedback, and questions on May 7, 2023.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

by David Klemt

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum bottle

The Kraken, which claims to be the top-selling black spiced rum in the world, has released another monster: the Kraken Gold Spiced Rum.

This new release is a direct shot across the bow of the Captains, Sailors, and Admirals that have long commanded the spiced rum category. In other words, you know exactly which brands the Kraken is challenging with this expression.

Of course, this also gives you and your bar team a new spiced rum to introduce to guests. As it turns out, spiced rum is the most popular of the rum categories.

In June of 2020, Drizly launched BevAlc Insights by Drizly. The data-focused platform can provide operators with insights into consumer behavior and preferences. After all, if they’re ordering specific products for delivery to drink at home, they’ll expect the restaurants and bars they visit to have them on their menus.

Per BevAlc Insights, spiced rum boasted a 27-percent share in comparison to other styles in 2021. Interestingly, dark rum, according to BevAlc, held only a five-percent share. Those interested in this data can learn more reviewing BevAlc Insights’ 2021 Rum Forecast.

As far as what to expect on the nose and palate, tasting notes make mention of aromas of banana bread, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak. One reviewer on YouTube likens the nose to that of Bumbu Rum. Vanilla and oak carry through to the finish, with the top flavors being molasses, dark spice, and caramelized sugar.

The Kraken Rum Launches A New Gold Spiced Rum

The Top-Selling Rum Brand Unveils Its Latest Gold Treasure

Jersey City, NJ, March 7, 2023—Today, the world’s first and top-selling black spiced rum brand, The Kraken® Rum, emerges from its lair in the depths of the ocean to enter into the gold spiced rum category with a new release. A smooth and rich liquid, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is here to set THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in the rum category making waves for captains, sailors, and admirals alike.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum: The Product

Introducing THE NEW GOLD STANDARD for sipping: a gold spiced Caribbean rum, rich beyond words—and perhaps the only bit of lightness the legendary beast, known as “the Kraken,” loves with as much passion as its storied black ink. On the nose, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum reveals a sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Flavors of molasses and dark spice fade into caramelized sugar, with a slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

“As gold spiced rum occasions are now the highest among the rum category, we are proud to introduce this new offering from The Kraken, with a flavor profile all its own,” said Lander Otegui, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Proximo Spirits. “We are confident that this product will be THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in spiced rum thanks to its superb taste that we know matches what our consumers are looking for.”

A study conducted on the popularity of spiced rum brands showed The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum as a clear category favorite. Proximo Spirits commissioned a third-party double blind taste test study against category competitor, Captain Morgan®. The study revealed more than 70% of consumers prefer The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum over Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Furthermore, participants also overwhelmingly indicated The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum both has “superior taste” and is “the smoothest.”1

  • Aroma: Sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Rich vanilla with light cinnamon backtone.
  • Flavor: Molasses and dark spice fading into caramelized sugar. Slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is 35% ABV and sold nationwide at a $21.99 MSRP per 750ml. It is also available in 1L and 1.75L bottles.

“Take of Gold” New Campaign

To bring The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum from sip to screen, the brand is launching a new visual campaign, “Tale of Gold.” The advertisement, directed by Rich Lee who’s known for his work on the first three The Pirates of the Caribbean films, draws consumers into the dark world of the Kraken. Moody, foreboding visuals divulge the action-packed narrative of unworthy pirates who try to steal the precious treasure of gold from its lair and are thwarted by the Kraken.

The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes

Before it dives back into the darkness, The Kraken is celebrating its newly released Gold Spiced Rum by giving consumers an opportunity to win a Golden Hour experience in the Dominican Republic.To enter The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the home of The Kraken Rum, scan the QR code or visit for more information.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Purchasing a product will not improve your chances of winning. Must be documented resident of the U.S. or D.C., age 21 or older as of date of entry. Registration begins at 12:00am ET on February 1, 2023 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 30, 2023. To enter, and for complete official rules including eligibility, prize description and approximate retail value, scan the QR code using your mobile device’s camera or directly visit Winner selected in random drawing. Odds of winning are based on the total number of eligible entries received. No alcoholic beverage is part of any prize award. Void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. SPONSOR: Proximo Spirits, Inc., 3 Second Street, Suite 1101, Jersey City, NJ 07302.  

To learn more about The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum and the rest of the Kraken’s keep, visit and follow The Kraken Rum on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

1 Taste-tests were conducted in April 2022 by TasteMakers Research Group in a blind study.

About The Kraken® Rum

AS IT IS TOLD, The Kraken Rum is an imported rum from the Caribbean blended with secret spices. Named for the sea beast of myth and legend, The Kraken Rum is bold, rich, and smooth. The Kraken Rum portfolio includes The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, made from unique Caribbean black spiced rum with a lingering spicy finish, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum with a toasted oak and vanilla finish that’s smooth and tasteful, and ready-to-drink The Kraken Rum canned cocktails in flavors: Rum Punch, Cola and Ginger Beer. AS THEY SAY, “To not respect the power of the Kraken is to not respect the sea.” So, drink with respect.

The Kraken® Gold Spiced Rum. Rum with Natural Flavors and Caramel Color. 35% Alc./Vol. (70 proof). ©2023 Kraken Rum Co., Jersey City, NJ, Like the deepest sea, The Kraken® should be treated with great respect and responsibility.

Captain Morgan® is a registered trademark of Diageo North America, Inc. and referred to for product identification. Pirates of the Caribbean® is a registered trademark of Disney Enterprises, Inc. and referred to for Rich Lee’s background experience with the film franchise.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from the Kraken Rum, Proximo Spirits, or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: The Kraken Rum

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KRG Hospitality now Serving Midwest Region

KRG Hospitality adds Midwest Region

Marina City Towers in Chicago, Illinois


Toronto-based hospitality industry consulting firm with offices throughout Canada and the USA now serving the Midwest through Chicago office.

CHICAGO, IL (March 17, 2023)—Today, KRG Hospitality announces the addition of the Midwest region of the US to their North American service area. The team will operate out of an office in Chicago, Illinois. However, the agency will serve Midwest markets outside of Chicago as well.

KRG is excited to announce their presence in the region and their ability to serve clients effectively. The agency will offer the full suite of their proven hospitality solutions, including: hourly consulting and coaching; complete feasibility studies, fully customized concept plans; in-depth, focused business plans; project support and management; food and/or drink menu development and consulting; and personalized F&B education.

“I was born in Chicago and first entered the hospitality industry in the Northwest Suburbs. I got my first taste of nightlife in Chicago’s incredible bar and nightclub scene,” says David Klemt, partner and director of business development of KRG Hospitality. “Those experiences shaped my entire hospitality career trajectory. It will be an honor to serve the great people of the Midwest and bring their hospitality visions to life.”

“2023 is turning into quite the growth year for KRG, with the addition of team members Kim Richardson and Jared Boller, and now an exciting new market,” says Doug Radkey, KRG Hospitality founder, president, and project manager. “We see great opportunity in the Midwest, not only in Chicago, but many of the surrounding regions. The food, beverage, and hotel scene is incredibly strong, and we’re open to the challenge of not only helping launch new hospitality brands but helping transform existing brands scale and be successful in the new era ahead.”

KRG is ready to work with clients of all experience levels in the Midwest. The consulting agency’s suite of solutions serve new operators looking to open their first concept and veterans seeking a rebrand or expansion. From independent pizzerias and QSRs to multi-unit regional chains and boutique hotels, and everything in between, the KRG team is eager to take client visions and transform them into brick-and-mortar realities.

To schedule an introductory call to learn how the KRG Hospitality team serves clients, please follow this link.

About KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality is a storied and respected agency with proven success over the past decade, delivering exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad since 2009. Specializing in startups, KRG is known for originality and innovation, rejecting cookie-cutter approaches to client projects. The agency provides clients with a clear framework tailored to their specific projects, helping to realize their vision for a scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent business. Learn more at Connect with KRG Hospitality and the Bar Hacks podcast on social: KRG Twitter, Bar Hacks Twitter, KRG Media Twitter, KRG LinkedIn.

Image: Tobias Brunner from Pixabay

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Slice Releases 2023 “Slice of the Union”

Indie Pizzeria App Slice Releases 2023 Report

by David Klemt

Wood-fired pizza on paddle

The annual Slice of the Union report from independent pizzeria ordering app Slice offers excellent insight into the indie pizza space.

Per the company’s website, Slice serves all 50 states and works with 19,000 pizzerias. For context, that’s a network of pizzerias more than double in size in comparison to Domino’s.

In my opinion, then, the company is well-positioned to deliver data regarding the indie pizzeria space.

Additionally, Slice says they save independent operators money. To date, Slice claims partners have saved more than $265 million in fees that would have gone to third-party delivery services.

In part, that’s due to a 2021 innovation by the company. At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas in August of 2021, Slice unveiled fixed-price, tiered packages for partners.


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Essentially, Slice intends to help local, indie pizzerias boost their reach, discoverability, and revenue. The company’s mission is “empowering independent pizzerias.” In part, Slice accomplishes their mission to “Keep Local Thriving” by offering indie pizzeria operators access to technology and services that rival the big pizza chains.

Below you’ll find some of the insights from the 2023 Slice of the Union that most stand out to me. To review the report in its entirety yourself, please click here. Not only is it an informative read, it’s actually fun.

Ordering Occasion

Kicking things off, ordering occasions. As all operators should know, many guests seek out particular cuisine, drinks, or venues dependent upon their dining or drinking occasion.

In the 2023 Slice of the Union, Slice takes a look at a couple occasions that motivate people to order pizza: sports and awards shows.

Now, it’s no surprise that people order pizza to enjoy while watching sports. So, since that’s common knowledge, Slice goes deeper and identifies the top sports leagues:

  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Baseball
  4. Hockey

No mention of my two favorites, F1 and MotoGP, but at least hockey makes the cut. (My Vegas side says, “Go Knights!” but my born-in-Chicago side says, “Go ‘Hawks!”)

When we look at awards shows, the top spot may be somewhat of a surprise:

  1. People’s Choice Awards
  2. Tony Awards
  3. Emmy Awards
  4. Golden Globes
  5. The Oscars

Interestingly, the Grammys only manage an honorable mention. And there’s something poetic about pizza being the “people’s choice” for the People’s Choice.

Another bit of compelling data. Slice says that most people buckle and give up on their New Year’s resolution to keep away from pizza on January 13.

What’s in a Name?

There are certainly some creative pizzeria names out there.

However, Slice identifies not just some of the most common names but how many pizzerias use them:

  1. Joe: 206 pizzerias
  2. Sal: 206 pizzerias
  3. Tony: 114 pizzerias
  4. Johnny: 56 pizzerias
  5. Ray: 43 pizzerias
  6. Nino: 21 pizzerias

Flavors on the Rise

Wondering what the top topping is? What Slice sees as the pizza trends to watch?

Well, Slice has the answers to those questions (and more) in their annual report.

Pepperoni, as Slice says, “is a classic.” So, it wouldn’t provide much insight to just say, “Hey, pepperoni is popular.” Operators who offer pepperoni—and why wouldn’t they?—are already aware of its ubiquity.

Instead, Slice identifies the topping that’s showing the most growth. Per Slice, mushrooms has shown up on 8.9 percent more pizzas. Also, ranch dressing showed up on 9.7 percent more pizza orders in 2022.

Now, which trends may gain more significant footholds in the pizza space this year? Slice identifies two in their report:

  • Roman-style pizza
  • Pickle pizza

A Roman-style pizza is thin crust and pushes the toppings out all the way to the edges. A pickle pizza features—shocker—pickles heavily. According to Slice, this style of pizza normally includes a garlic sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Again, you’ll want to check this report out for yourself as there’s much more useful information. Click here to read it now.

Image: Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash

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SevenRooms Email Marketing Integration

SevenRooms Introduces Email Marketing Integration

by David Klemt

Public red and blue mailbox

Today, SevenRooms announces a new marketing innovation that integrates with the platform’s Automated Email feature: Email Marketing.

This is more evidence of SevenRooms’ continued growth. The company began 2023 by adding their first-ever chief marketing officer. Just two months later, SevenRooms announced a new investor: Enlightened Hospitality Investments, spearheaded by Danny Meyer.

Additionally, offering this new tool to operators makes clear the platform’s intent to truly be an all-in-one operations solution. Email Marketing, for example, can replace third-party email services. Streamlining marketing makes it simpler for operators and their teams to ensure they keep guests engaged with their venue and brand.

And, of course, including effective tools within a single platform can lead to reduced costs and the relief of pain points. When systems are difficult to use, some operators are less inclined to want to actually use them. That’s a waste of valuable resources.

Combined with Automated Emails, SevenRooms Email Marketing gives more control over marketing to operators. Not only are emails triggered based on various tags, the emails can be customized fully. And, to ensure marketing runs smoothly for everyone, operators will have access to templates if customization isn’t necessarily in their wheelhouse.

You’ll find the SevenRooms Email Marketing press release in its entirety below.


New Email Marketing Tool Provides Key Data Insights and Revenue Potential for SevenRooms Clients

NEW YORK (March 14, 2023)—SevenRooms, a global guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, has announced a new solution and expansion of its marketing suite for hospitality operators worldwide: Email Marketing. The product will work in conjunction with SevenRooms’ Automated Emails, a set of personalized, trigger-based emails sent to customers on behalf of the operator, to continue to engage guests once they’ve visited a venue.

Email Marketing enables SevenRooms customers to send one-time, customized marketing emails directly within the SevenRooms platform to give operators more control over the way they use their guest data. Having ownership of this guest data allows operators to build their brand through direct touchpoints with guests to drive loyalty and repeat visits. It also provides detailed insights into email performance with metrics that matter to their business, including showing the reservations, covers and revenue attributed to each email.

Email Marketing supports operators with a solution that is connected throughout a restaurant’s tech stack and removes the need to use third-party email service providers that create additional work for staff trying to manage email preferences across multiple systems. It is directly linked to the SevenRooms CRM and operating system giving operators full control over their messaging and who receives it by using Auto-tags or Client tags to segment marketing audiences. Additionally, operators using Email Marketing have the ability to create either fully customized emails with an easy-to-use visual editor or utilize curated templates.

The new product also enhances the experience for guests of SevenRooms customers by allowing them to stay in touch or up-to-date with their favorite venues, receive targeted messages and promotions, or simply control the venues from which they receive marketing. Leveraging Email Marketing, restaurants can use their guest data to tee up relevant, customized emails. For example, sending guests who have purchased wine at least five times an invite to a dinner with their sommelier, or excluding guests with shellfish allergies from an email about their annual clambake.

“SevenRooms Email Marketing product provides restaurants with functionality that simply does not exist in the email marketing platforms that restaurants traditionally use,” said Allison Page, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at SevenRooms. “We enable restaurant marketers to leverage their robust SevenRooms guest database to quickly and easily build targeted campaign segments, eliminating the need to manually export and import mailing lists between systems. While other email service providers promise revenue, SevenRooms can prove it with accurate data on the revenue generated by each campaign to truly measure email marketing performance.”

“The combination of SevenRooms’ Email Marketing and Automated Emails makes guests feel very connected with us,” said Alyssa Fenu, Sales & Marketing Manager at Mango’s Tropical Café. “Being able to choose who our emails are going to — a specific customer segment or broadcasting to our whole database — makes the process a lot simpler. And it’s super easy to understand how many people opened our emails, how many people actually made a reservation, and how much money we’re making because it’s all in one place.”

For more information about SevenRooms and its services, please visit

About SevenRooms

SevenRooms is a guest experience and retention platform that helps hospitality operators create exceptional experiences that drive revenue and repeat business. Trusted by thousands of hospitality operators around the world, SevenRooms powers tens of millions of guest experiences each month across both on- and off-premises. From neighborhood restaurants and bars to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is transforming the industry by empowering operators to take back control of their businesses to build direct guest relationships, deliver exceptional experiences and drive more visits and orders, more often. The full suite of products includes reservation, waitlist and table management, online ordering, mobile order & pay, review aggregation and marketing automation. Founded in 2011 and venture-backed by Amazon, Comcast Ventures, PSG and Highgate Ventures, SevenRooms has dining, hotel F&B, nightlife and entertainment clients globally, including: MGM Resorts International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts, Jumeirah Group, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bloomin’ Brands, Giordano’s, LDV Hospitality, Zuma, Australian Venue Company, Altamarea Group, AELTC, The Wolseley Hospitality Group, Dishoom, Live Nation and Topgolf.

Image: Brett Garwood on Unsplash

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Do Goals Have an Expiration Date?

Do Goals Expire?

by Jennifer Radkey

Hourglass against red background

A compelling question came up in a recent coaching call with a client: When is the last time you took inventory of your goals?

Like many other people, my client is a goal-setter, and not just small goals but big life goals. These goals follow all of the “rules” of goal setting: they are clearly written, attainable, and measurable.

Some of the goals are achieved and checked off the list and new goals have been made. And yet there is still a feeling of dissatisfaction.

So where is this feeling coming from?

We are always changing and adapting to the world around us. We are changed by life circumstances. We’re influenced by the places we visit and the people we meet. We grow, and over time we come to deeper understandings of what we value and want from life.

As we grow and change our goals do as well…but what do we do with our old goals? What do we do with goals that are no longer applicable to our life?

Do goals expire?

The answer is yes. Goals can expire. What you wanted for your life when you were 16 is most likely not what you want for your life now. The career goals you set in your early 20s probably do not apply to you in your 30s. The goals geared towards interests you had in your 30s may not apply in your 40s, etc.

This doesn’t just apply to personal goals, either.

If you own a business, the goals you have for your business can expire as well. It’s why business plans need to be revisited yearly.

The goals you had when you first opened may have changed in the year(s) since. A business can be likened to a living, breathing entity. It grows and adapts and interacts with the environment surrounding it.

Targets will be hit, new objectives will be identified. So, what do we do with our old goals?

If old, unmet goals are not recognized and processed, they will sit as unfinished business in the back of your mind. You may be acquiring all kinds of levels of success and achieving new goals, but if you are allowing old goals to remain without acknowledging them, it will show up in your mindset.

This can manifest as dissatisfaction, disappointment, confusion, anxiousness, a general feeling that something is “off,” or a never-ending quest for perfection.

So, what do we do with expired goals?

It’s time to sit down and take inventory of all of the goals you have for your life or business. The new and the old. The unmet and those in progress.

If you are like many of us on the path to success and self-improvement, this may be a lengthy list. Try categorizing goals to make them more approachable.

Once you have listed all of your goals it’s time to get real with them and ask yourself some questions:

  • Why was this goal unmet?
  • Why was it important, at the time, to have this goal?
  • What feelings are associated with this goal?
  • Most importantly: Does this goal serve me now?

If the goal no longer fits in your life, if it no longer serves a purpose, it is time for that goal to expire.

It’s okay to let go and move on.

Make peace with the fact that a goal can belong in a previous part of your life but does not need to be a part of your life now.

Accept that it was not completed, give yourself compassion, and move on. That goal does not need to take up space in your thoughts anymore.

If a goal still serves a purpose now and you would like to keep it, ask yourself why it is so important to you to keep that goal. Then ask yourself why it hasn’t been achieved yet.

Is this goal important enough to keep it and strategize new ways to break it down and make it achievable? If the answer is yes, great! Sit down with that goal, rewrite it, and come up with a new action plan to achieve it.

If the answer is no, let that goal expire, and let it go.

This process will take time and introspection but will provide you with overwhelming relief and a new sense of clarity.

Life is too short to hold onto expired dreams and goals! Give yourself freedom to be present and future focused, without unfinished business holding you down.

Cheers to personal and professional growth!

Image: Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Reduce Discounts, Increase Profits

Reduce Discounts, Increase Profits

by David Klemt

Scientific calculator on top of cash

There’s reason to be optimistic about generating revenue this year but operators must also be savvy if they want to boost their bottom lines.

Put another way, the growth some industry organizations and experts are predicting isn’t just going to occur. We’re optimistic about 2023 as well, but it’s going to take hard work and shrewdness.

As we know now, the National Restaurant Association is forecasting massive sales this year. In fact, the NRA projects the foodservice industry will generate $997 billion in sales. That’s nearly a trillion dollars just from the foodservice space.

Clearly, that’s a big number. It’s also $60 billion more in sales than the industry generated in 2022. That’s impressive in and of itself, surpassing the 2022 sales forecast by almost $40 billion.

Okay, so those are a lot of big numbers. Should foodservice outperform the forecast again, the industry will pass the trillion-dollar mark. And I know every owner and operator, be they independent, chain or franchisee, wants a healthy share.

However, impressive as those numbers are, they’re just that: numbers. Operators will still have to do the work to increase traffic; convert first-timers to repeat guests; and increase revenue. Fail in those tasks and there’s no reason to expect profits to rise.

It’s math, after all, not magic.

One way operators can increase revenue and profits is to offer fewer discounts. Really, this isn’t an incredible concept: If more guests pay full price, operators see more profits.

Real-world Example

Costs are up nearly across the board, and it can be tempting to offer discounts in an attempt to increase traffic. However, one group has shown over the past couple of years that discounts don’t need to be an operator’s go-to traffic- and sales-boosting tactic.

Carrols Restaurant Group is a Burger King franchisee. According to Restaurant Business, the group operates more than 1,000 Burger King restaurants. So, they operate approximately one out of every seven Burger Kings in the US.

Last quarter, Carrols managed to generate more than $14 million in free-flow cash. That’s higher performance than the group has seen in the past couple of years.

A significant factor for Carrols and Burger King is backing off of discounting. Again, this isn’t groundbreaking but it’s still noteworthy. A brand that once was reliant on discounting is now backing off that model and seeing dividends.

Of course, guest perception, the guest experience, and marketing play a role. Guests must still feel they’re getting value for the dollars they spend. They must also feel that their experience, from QSR to full-service, shows that they’re valued by the restaurant. And the marketing messaging must truly speak to a brand’s guest base and bring them through the doors to spend their money.

Premiumization over Discounts

The bottom line for an operator’s bottom line is this: If prices are continually discounted, that lower price is now the actual price. At least, a discounted price is now the normal price in the eyes of guests.

In other words, an operator who discounts all the time is training their guests to only visit and buy items when prices are lower than usual.

The superior option? Offering premium LTOs that speak to a brand’s base and tempt them to spend more. LTOs don’t need to come with discounted prices. In fact, they should be treated as premium promotions and command premium prices.

Create seasonal LTOs (in one concept’s case, inventing a fifth season), as an example, to generate buzz and increase traffic. Offer premium items at premium—but fair—prices to leverage the traffic, increase sales, and boost profits.

Another strategy that’s more effective than discounts? Building a brand with which guests resonate. Guests who relate to a brand tend to visit more often and support it with their dollars.

It’s tempting to discount. Don’t give in to temptation.

Image: Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

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The Incredible Rise of Luxury Whiskeys

There are Luxury Whiskeys. Then There are These…

by David Klemt

Closeup image of whiskey in a glass

Some investors look at whiskey as a luxury good worthy of parking their dollars, with some outperforming gold and the S&P 500 Index.

In fact, super- and ultra-premium whiskey has at times outperformed gold over the past decade. According to some reports, investments in whiskey casks performed better than gold, the S&P 500, and Bitcoin just a few years ago.

Of course, the hospitality and spirits worlds have long been reporting increased interest in luxury whiskey. Really, consumers have shown interest in premium, super-premium, and ultra-premium spirits across several categories.

In other words, it appears that the “drink better” movement continues to accelerate.

This is, of course, great news for operators. Premium and above spirits command higher prices on-premise, boosting revenue.

But there’s luxury, and then there’s luxury. There are ultra-premium spirits, and there are truly exclusive bottles. I suppose hyper-premium describes these incredibly rare expressions. After all, there are hypercars and hyperyachts, and the owners of such vehicles are the people who can afford hyper-premium spirits.

Two examples of such spirits made headlines recently, and wow—their prices are eyewatering.

The Highland Park 54 Year Old

Interested in a taste of the late ’60s? This Scotch was laid down back in 1968 by Highland Park.

And back in 2008, Highland Park master whisky maker Gordon Motion combined four refill butts and six refill hogsheads. That was also the year that Gordon Motion was named master whisky for the distillery. It seems Motion wasted no time in creating an awe-inspiring whisky for Highland Park.

Highland Park’s 54-year-old whisky is stunning, and just 225 bottles are available. This is, of course, a nod to the distillery’s big 2023 anniversary celebration. Highland Park was founded in 1798; 2023 is their 225-year anniversary.

So, what’s a 700ml, 46.9% ABV bottle of Highland Park 54 Year Old going for? Each one carries a price tag of £39,000, or nearly $47,000 USD. There is, of course, no telling what each bottle will be valued at in the future (or if they’ll appreciate, so be careful, investors).

As far as flavor profile, there are, of course, woody and peaty notes. However, there’s also camphor, pistachio, kiwi, and lychee. However, I’m sure whatever I write here will never do justice to experiencing a dram of 54 Year Old.

Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80-Years-Old

For once, I’m nearly speechless. This is the world’s oldest Scotch. And, until we learn otherwise, world’s oldest whisky.

Of particular note, this is Glenlivet liquid rested by father-and-son duo John and George Urquhart in a Gordon & MacPhail cask.

The liquid was laid down on February 3, 1940 and bottled on February 5, 2020. There are 250 decanters available, and these vessels are as stunning as the whisky they contain.

Architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE (knighted in 2017) designed the decanter and oak case. Glencairn Crystal Studio stepped up for production of the decanter. Wardour Workshops crafted the case from sustainably sourced oak.

As I stated above, Highland Park’s 54-year-old Scotch costs nearly $50,000. So, what does this Gordon & MachPhail 80-Years-Old Scotch cost?

Well, we won’t really know until October 7 of this year. That’s the date that Sotheby’s will auction off Generations 80-Years-Old Decanter #1.

The world-renowned luxury marketplace is estimating this lot will go for between $120,000 and $255,000. Although, that price could be driven higher should the auction heat up.

Some of the tasting notes from Charlie MacLean MBE include: almond oil, scented hand-soap, sandalwood, dates, salted plums, figs, dry Oloroso Sherry, and a menthol finish.

The Takeaway

I’m not suggesting that operators drop tens of thousands of dollars on hyper-premium bottles. While doing so could translate to hefty margins per ounce sold from such bottles, it’s not realistic for most restaurants and bars.

However, it’s clear that consumers are showing interest not only in learning about luxury spirits but also an inclination to splash out for a taste.

Are 50- to 80-year-old spirits extreme examples of luxury? Absolutely. Do they point to interest in more affordable examples of luxury? Again, absolutely.

Decades-old spirits are rare but not, if this makes sense, uncommon. While the two bottles above are generating headlines, there are others out in the world garnering interest. Examples are Morthlach 70-Year-Old and 75-Year-Old.

Moreover, these rare expressions generate interest in the distilleries that produced them. So, while the average guest may not be able shell out for a 50-year-old single malt, they could be persuaded to try one from that same distillery that’s half that age.

This is, of course, where storytelling comes into the guest experience. An educated, interested, and engaging front-of-house team can be a sales powerhouse.

Image: Anthony Torres on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Beverage Programming

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

We Chat with Bing’s New AI Chatbot

We Chat with Bing’s New AI Chatbot

by David Klemt

New Bing logo on floating icon

It’s only fair that after chatting with OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT we reveal our “conversation” with Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot.

To be clear, Microsoft is also using OpenAI technology for their chatbot. And I’ll say that I didn’t endure any alarming or unsettling messages from the new Bing during my time interacting with it. (Search “Bing AI off the rails” and you’ll see examples of what I mean.)

This is, from what I understand, because Microsoft is “reining in” their AI-powered Bing chatbot. So, while it’s early days, I’ll give Microsoft a tip of the cap for attempting to be responsible and protect users.

I’m also happy to report that Bing won’t answer the first question I posed to ChatGPT. Why would I be happy about that? Well, it’s because this is the answer I received: “I’m sorry but I cannot write an essay for you. That would be plagiarism and a violation of academic integrity. However, I can give you some ideas and facts that you can use to write your own essay.”

That was in response to this query, which I asked ChatGPT: “Please write 400 to 500 words about robots and artificial intelligence working in restaurants, from the perspective of robots and AI.”

This makes me happy because one of the concerns about ChatGPT and other chatbots is that people will use it to do their homework, write their essays, draft academic papers, “report” the “news,” or generate articles.

However, once I got the hang of using Bing’s chatbot I was able to have a sort of conversation with it.

Can you explain to me what the ethical implications are for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators using artificial intelligence and robots to complete tasks?

I came to the above question after a few misfires with Bing. Below, the chatbot’s answer.

“Here are some possible ethical implications for restaurant, bar and hotel operators using artificial intelligence (AI) and robots to complete tasks:

  • Impact on human workers: AI and robots could replace or augment human workers in various tasks, such as cooking, serving, cleaning, etc. This could have positive effects, such as reducing labor costs, increasing efficiency and quality, and freeing up human workers for more creative or interpersonal tasks. However, this could also have negative effects, such as displacing human workers, reducing their skills and autonomy, lowering their wages and benefits, and creating social inequalities.
  • Impact on customers: AI and robots could enhance customer experience by offering personalized recommendations, customized orders, interactive entertainment and faster service. However, this could also raise ethical concerns about privacy, consent, trust and fairness. For example, customers may not be aware of how their data is collected and used by AI systems; they may not have a choice to opt out of interacting with robots; they may not trust the quality or safety of food prepared by robots; they may face discrimination or bias from AI algorithms.
  • Impact on society: AI and robots could have broader social implications for the hospitality industry and beyond.”

Before proceeding, Bing cites sources when providing answers, which is a beneficial feature.

Are there risks that human designers and engineers will introduce bias to customer-facing artificial intelligence and robots?

“Yes, there are risks that human designers and engineers will introduce bias to customer-facing artificial intelligence and robots. Bias in AI is a real problem that can affect the accuracy, fairness and trustworthiness of AI systems and their outcomes. Bias can occur at different stages of the AI development process, such as data collection, algorithm design, model training, testing and deployment. Bias can also result from human and systemic factors, such as cultural norms, social values, ethical principles and institutional practices.

Some examples of bias in customer-facing AI and robots are:

  • Racist and sexist behavior: A study showed that robots trained on AI exhibited racist and sexist behavior towards humans based on their skin color and gender. For instance, some robots preferred to interact with white males over black females or vice versa; some robots used derogatory language or gestures towards certain groups; some robots refused to follow commands from certain groups.
  • Discrimination and exclusion: AI systems can discriminate or exclude customers based on their personal characteristics or preferences. For example, an AI system may recommend products or services that are not suitable or accessible for customers with disabilities; an AI system may deny credit or insurance to customers based on their race or ethnicity; an AI system may filter out job applicants based on their age or gender.
  • Privacy violation.”

What are some consequences of biased AI and robots?

“Some consequences of biased AI and robots are:

  • Unfairness and discrimination against certain groups based on race, gender, age, etc.
  • Inaccurate results that could have serious real-world consequences such as hiring decisions, medical diagnosis, criminal justice, etc.
  • Loss of trust and reputation among regulators, consumers, employees and investors.
  • Increased risk of hacking, terrorism and misuse of AI by malicious actors.

These are some of the reasons why we need ethical and responsible AI.”

Write me a cocktail menu using the most popular cocktails from 2022.

Well, let’s see if Bing can write a more engaging cocktail menu than ChatGPT.

“Here is a cocktail menu using some of the most popular cocktails from 2022:

  • Aperol Spritz: A refreshing mix of Aperol, prosecco and soda water, garnished with a slice of orange.
  • Espresso Martini: A smooth blend of vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso, shaken with ice and served in a chilled martini glass.
  • Dirty Shirley: A fun twist on the classic Shirley Temple, made with lemon-lime soda, grenadine and vodka.
  • Cosmopolitan: A sophisticated combination of vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and orange liqueur, shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass.
  • Negroni: A bitter-sweet balance of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, stirred with ice and served on the rocks with an orange peel.
  • Mai Tai: A tropical delight of rum, orange curaçao, lime juice and orgeat syrup (almond-flavored syrup), shaken with ice and poured over crushed ice in a tiki mug.”

Write me a cocktail menu using the most popular spirits and alcohol types of 2022.

“Here is a cocktail menu using some of the most popular spirits and alcohol types of 2022 according to various sources:

  • Martini: A classic cocktail made with gin and dry vermouth, garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. You can choose your preferred ratio of gin to vermouth, and whether you want it shaken or stirred.
  • Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Whisky Sour: A twist on the whisky sour using a Japanese single malt whisky that has been aged in Bordeaux red wine casks for a fruity and complex flavor. Mixed with lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white for a frothy and refreshing drink.
  • Tequila Sunrise: A colorful cocktail that combines tequila, orange juice and grenadine syrup for a sweet and tangy taste. Garnished with a slice of orange and a cherry.
  • Estonian Gin & Tonic: A simple but delicious cocktail that showcases the botanicals of Estonian gin, such as juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemon peel and rose petals. Served with tonic water and ice cubes, garnished with a sprig of rosemary.
  • Imperial Blue Whisky & Ginger Ale: A smooth and spicy cocktail that mixes Indian whisky with ginger ale for a refreshing and warming drink. Served with ice cubes and a slice of lime.”

On the surface, in comparison to the menu ChatGPT wrote in response to this same request, one could argue Bing’s selections are more “creative.” Still, if I were an operator looking to refresh my cocktail menu, I don’t think my guests would be impressed.

Write me an appetizer and tapas menu that includes food items from an array of cuisines.

Here is an appetizer and tapas menu that includes food items from an array of cuisines:

  • Warm Olives: A simple but flavorful dish of mixed olives marinated in olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices. Served with crusty bread for dipping.
  • Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp): A classic tapa of succulent shrimp cooked in a sizzling skillet with garlic, parsley, paprika and sherry. Served with more bread to soak up the sauce.
  • Patatas Bravas: Crispy fried potatoes topped with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. A staple of any tapas bar.
  • Salmorejo: A cold soup made from pureed tomatoes, bread, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Garnished with chopped boiled eggs and ham. A refreshing and satisfying dish from Andalusia.
  • Chopitos (Fried Baby Squid): Tender baby squid coated in flour and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Sprinkled with salt and lemon juice. A popular seafood tapa.
  • Pan con Tomate (Bread with Tomato): A simple but delicious tapa of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomato pulp. Drizzled with olive oil and salt. A great way to start any meal.
  • Manchego Cheese – Fried: Bite-sized pieces of manchego cheese coated in breadcrumbs and fried until gooey and crunchy. Served with honey or quince paste for dipping. A cheesy delight.
  • Ceviche Shrimp Cocktail: A fresh and zesty appetizer of shrimp marinated in lime juice, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and tomato. Served chilled in a martini glass or on lettuce leaves.”

Again, a bit more creative, perhaps, than ChatGPT’s response. And again, not really creative. Although, these items do work well together, I’ll give Bing that much.


I did thank Bing after that last request, and I received a response: “You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked the menu. 😊”

It may seem like artificial intelligence is becoming more advanced. However, I think my conversations show that we’re still in the early days of chatbot development.

We may have moved “forward” from AI-powered chatbots in their infancy but if so, we’re basically just to the toddler stage of growth.

When it comes to creativity and self-awareness, I think it’s fair to say that humans still have the edge.

Image: Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

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Say Hi to Your Mother Sauces for Me

Say Hi to Your Mother Sauces for Me

by Nathen Dubé

Chef pouring espagnole or brown sauce

A well-crafted sauce can elevate a dish, tying all the elements together, adding richness, texture, and colour to almost any recipe.

French cuisine in particular is renowned for its liberal use of flavorful sauces. Developed in the 19th century by French chef Auguste Escoffier, the five mother sauces are basic recipes that serve as the foundation for any number of secondary sauce variations. Each mother sauce is categorized primarily according to its unique base and thickener.

The five French mother sauces are: béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato. Historically, Chef Escoffier originally designated only four mother sauces, and mayonnaise as a cold mother sauce, with Hollandaise below that.

Interestingly, when his book was translated to English, mayonnaise was forgotten or omitted; Hollandaise was listed as the fifth mother sauce.

Beginning culinary students and experienced cooks alike commit these five sauces to memory. They learn that by tweaking their basic formulas, all manner of great sauces can be crafted.

Please meet the five mother sauces below. I explain: how each is made; their basic uses; and some secondary sauces you can make from them.

1. Béchamel

Béchamel, or white sauce, is a simple milk-based sauce made from butter, flour, and milk.

You know béchamel as the white sauce that gives chicken pot pie its texture, or as the vehicle of cheesy goodness and binding agent in delicious mac ‘n’ cheese creations. The sauce can be found in everything from scalloped potatoes and lasagne to gravy iterations.

In classical cuisine, béchamel was poured over fish, eggs, or steamed chicken. While béchamel has a generally neutral taste on its own, the classic mother sauce adds a unique creamy texture that is both hearty and comforting.

My personal favorite base recipe is Joel Robuchon’s equation of one liter of milk, 60 grams of butter, and 60 grams of flour. It works perfectly every time.

To make béchamel, start by cooking butter and flour in a saucepan until it forms a substance called a roux. The roux is responsible for thickening the sauce. To remove the floury taste, cook the roux over medium heat for a few minutes.

When the roux is ready, slowly whisk in warm milk and simmer until it forms a creamy sauce. Strain the liquid after it thickens to get rid of any sediment, then add salt and pepper. (You can add other ingredients as well, such as bay leaves, nutmeg, onion, clove, or even cheese.)

With the addition of a few extra seasonings like salt, pepper, and cloves, béchamel is complete — though it may be used as a base for many other sauces.

Béchamel sauces include:

  • Mornay: onion, cloves, Gruyère, and Parmesan cheese
  • Alfredo: garlic with heavy cream
  • Soubise: butter and caramelized onions
  • Cheddar sauce (used for mac ‘n’ cheese or nacho-style sauces): whole milk and cheddar cheese

2. Velouté

Velouté means “velvet” in French, and that is the texture you get with this original sauce.

A velouté is a simple sauce made from butter, flour, and clear stock. Chicken, turkey, and fish stock are most commonly used, but these days, although it’s not traditional, you can also find vegetarian velouté using vegetable stock.

This mother sauce is similar to béchamel in that it’s a white sauce thickened with roux. However, it uses stock for the base in place of milk. As a reminder, stock is a savory, flavorful cooking liquid created by simmering bones, herbs, and aromatic vegetables for several hours. Chicken stock is most common, but you can also use other white stocks, such as those made from veal or fish.

To make velouté, start by making a white roux with butter and flour. Next, slowly stir in warm stock and let it simmer until a creamy, light sauce forms.

When finished, velouté has a delicate, light flavor and a smooth texture. The sauce is usually served over poached or steamed fish or chicken; the light flavors of the sauce compliment the light, delicate meat. By adding wine, lemon, or other flavorings such as herbs, cooks can adjust the flavour of this mother sauce.

Some popular sauces derived from velouté include:

  • Supreme: chicken velouté with heavy cream and mushrooms
  • Venetian: chicken or fish velouté with tarragon, shallots, and parsley
  • Hungarian: chicken or veal velouté with onion, paprika, and white wine

3. Espagnole

Espagnole, otherwise known as brown sauce, is a rich, dark sauce made from roux-thickened stock, puréed tomatoes, and mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery that’s used as a base). Brown stock, which is made from beef or veal bones that have been roasted and simmered, gives espagnole a particularly rich, complex flavor.

This dark brown sauce—one of the original mother sauces—and its derivative sauces tend to be heavy and thick. They lend a signature richness to such dishes as bœuf bourguignon, lamb, duck, and veal.

Like velouté, espagnole uses roux and stock as the main ingredients. However, instead of white roux and stock, it calls for brown stock and brown roux. In this case, the flour paste (butter, flour) is cooked until the flour browns.

It’s important that cooks stir the roux while it browns so the paste does not stick and burn or scorch. You can imagine how this would ruin the finished product, of course. When the roux has finished cooking, browned mirepoix, pureed tomato, and beef or veal stock are added.

Espagnole is the base for:

  • Demi-glace: additional beef or veal stock, herbs, and spices that’s reduced to a thick, gravy-like consistency
  • Sauce Robert (or Robert Sauce): espagnole with lemon juice, dry mustard, white wine, and onions.
  • Mushroom sauce: mushrooms, shallots, sherry, and lemon juice
  • Burgundy sauce: espagnole with red wine and shallots

4. Sauce Tomate

Sauce tomate, also known as sauce tomat, or tomato sauce, bears slight resemblance to the Italian-style tomato sauce served with pasta.

Tomato sauce is arguably the most popular of the French mother sauces. It is often served on top of pastas (gnocchi, in particular) or polenta, or with grilled meats or vegetables.

Trigger warning for Italians: The original mother sauce tomate was thickened with a roux, but thankfully this is no longer the case.

The classical French tomato sauce can be (but usually is not) thickened with roux and seasoned with pork, herbs, and aromatic vegetables. However, most modern tomato sauces consist primarily of puréed tomatoes seasoned with herbs and reduced into a rich, flavorful sauce.

Marie-Antoine Carême classified sauce tomate as a mother sauce in the early 20th century. They are remarkably versatile and can be served with stewed or roasted meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, and of course, pasta dishes. You’ll even find it used as pizza sauce.

The best tomato sauces are made with fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. If you can make big batches when they’re in peak season, you’ll be able to enjoy flavorful sauce year-round.

Probably the most well-known sauces, you can make the following with sauce tomate:

  • Marinara: tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs)
  • Sauce Portugaise or Portuguese sauce: tomato sauce with garlic, onions, sugar, salt, parsley, and peeled tomatoes
  • Creole sauce: tomato sauce with white wine, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, and red bell peppers

5. Hollandaise

Like sauce tomate, this sauce was a later addition to Carême’s list. Brunch-goers will recognize hollandaise from Eggs Benedict variations. People will also know it from topping steamed asparagus or smothering a steak or lobster tail.

Both the original recipe and its derivative sauces are commonly served over eggs, vegetables, fish, or chicken. It’s worth mentioning that hollandaise is derived from mayonnaise and hasn’t always been classified as a mother sauce.

Hollandaise stands out from the other French mother sauces because it relies on the emulsification—or mixing—of egg yolks and butter in place of roux. The tangy, creamy sauce is made from butter, raw egg yolks, lemon juice, and optional flavorings like cayenne pepper or white wine vinegar.

Rookies often struggle with Hollandaise, and jokes will be made that the ingredients can sense fear and intimidation. The tendency for butter and egg yolks to resist combining—much like water and oil—coupled with the gentle heat of a bain-maire (steam bath) can cause the sauce to split or a pile of scrambled eggs to appear.

The key to making a proper hollandaise is slightly warm egg yolks, room temperature butter, and steady, constant whisking. It’s essential to add the butter to the yolks slowly and incrementally so that the ingredients remain stable and don’t separate.

Hollandaise and its derivative sauces are often served over eggs, vegetables, or lighter meats like poultry and fish. Speaking of derivatives, even though hollandaise is delicious on its own:

  • Béarnaise (beef’s perfect match): hollandaise with white wine, tarragon, and peppercorn
  • Choron: hollandaise with tarragon and tomato
  • Sauce Maltaise: hollandaise with blood orange juice
  • Sauce Mousseline: hollandaise with whipped heavy cream

There you have it—the five mother sauces. Master these and an entire world of sauce and dip creation opens up to you.

Image: Vitor Monthay on Unsplash

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