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Kitchen | KRG Hospitality

Kitchen

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Welcome Back to the Culinary Arena

Welcome Back to the Culinary Arena: A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

by Nathen Dubé

"2024" dessert concept

The start of a new year is an exciting time in the restaurant world, offering a unique opportunity to reassess and rejuvenate your foodservice business.

From utilizing downtime effectively to setting strategic priorities, this guide is designed to help you navigate the year ahead with confidence and creativity.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a budding restaurateur, these insights will equip you with the tools to make 2024 a year of remarkable culinary experiences and business growth.

Part 1: Strategic Use of Downtime

Menu Innovation and Optimization

The start of the year is ideal for re-evaluating your menu.

Begin by analyzing customer feedback and sales data from the previous year. Identify which dishes were most popular and which underperformed. Consider removing items that aren’t selling well and focus on the dishes that your customers love.

This is also an excellent time to experiment with new flavors and culinary trends. For instance, with the growing demand for plant-based options, think about introducing a few vegan or vegetarian dishes.

Keep an eye on food trends. Are there new ingredients or cooking techniques that you can incorporate into your menu? This not only keeps your offerings fresh and exciting but also shows your commitment to culinary innovation.

Remember, a well-crafted menu is a balance between popular staples and innovative dishes. It should reflect your restaurant’s identity while also appealing to your target customer base.

Consider a seasonal menu that takes advantage of fresh, local produce, which can provide inspiration for new dishes and help reduce costs.

Staff Training and Empowerment

The quieter months are a perfect opportunity for staff training and development.

Conduct a skills audit to identify areas where your team could improve or learn new competencies. This could range from culinary skills, like mastering a new cooking technique, to soft skills, such as guest service or conflict resolution.

Training doesn’t have to be formal or expensive. You can leverage online courses, in-house mentoring, or even cross-training within your team.

For instance, front-of-house staff could benefit from basic kitchen training to better understand the dishes they are serving, while kitchen staff could learn about customer service to appreciate the end-to-end dining experience.

Team building is another key aspect. Organize activities that foster communication and collaboration. This could be something as simple as a team meal or a group outing.

A cohesive team that communicates well will provide better service, leading to happier guests and a more pleasant working environment.

Finally, empower your staff by involving them in decision-making processes. This could be in menu development, process improvements, or even marketing ideas.

When staff feel valued and part of the business, they are more likely to be motivated and committed.

Facility Revitalization

Use this quieter period to assess and upgrade your facilities.

Start with a thorough cleaning and maintenance check. This includes checking kitchen equipment, dining area furniture, and the overall infrastructure of your establishment.

Evaluate your kitchen equipment and consider if anything needs to be repaired or replaced. Upgrading to more efficient equipment can improve productivity and reduce long-term costs. For instance, investing in energy-efficient appliances not only cuts down on utility bills but is also better for the environment.

Look at your dining area from a customer’s perspective. Is the seating comfortable? Is the lighting appropriate? Small changes in décor can significantly enhance the dining experience. Consider refreshing the paint, adding new artwork, or even rearranging the layout to improve flow and ambiance.

Also, think about your back-of-house operations. Is your storage area organized? Can you improve the workflow in the kitchen? An efficient back-of-house leads to smoother service and a better customer experience.

Part 2: Setting Priorities for the Year

Elevating Customer Experience

The guest experience is paramount in the food service industry. This year, make it a priority to enhance every aspect of your guest’s journey.

From the moment they walk in, to the service they receive, to the food they enjoy, each element should contribute to a memorable experience.

Focus on training your staff to provide exceptional service. This includes being knowledgeable about the menu, attentive to guest needs, and quick to resolve any issues.

Personalized service can make a big difference. Remembering regulars’ preferences or celebrating special occasions with them can turn a one-time visit into repeat patronage.

Ambiance plays a crucial role in the dining experience. The right music, lighting, and décor can create an inviting atmosphere that complements your culinary offerings. If your budget allows, consider investing in upgrades that enhance the ambiance, such as new lighting fixtures or comfortable seating.

Implementing a feedback system is also important. Encourage customers to share their experiences, whether through comment cards, online reviews, or direct conversations. This feedback is invaluable for continuous improvement and can help you address any issues promptly.

Sustainability as a Cornerstone

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers, and incorporating sustainable practices into your business can have a significant impact. Start by assessing your current practices and identifying areas for improvement.

One key area is waste reduction. Conduct a waste audit to understand where most of your waste is coming from and develop strategies to reduce it. This could involve better inventory management to prevent overordering and spoilage, composting food waste, or finding creative ways to use leftovers.

Local sourcing is another aspect of sustainability. Building relationships with local suppliers not only supports the local economy but also reduces your carbon footprint. Local ingredients are often fresher and can inspire seasonal menus.

Also, consider the sustainability of your operations. This could involve using eco-friendly packaging, reducing energy consumption, or even installing water-saving devices.

Communicating your sustainability efforts to your customers can also enhance your brand’s image and attract environmentally conscious patrons.

Innovative and Integrated Marketing Strategies

In today’s digital age, effective marketing is crucial for any business.

Utilize social media platforms to engage with your audience. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your kitchen, showcase your signature dishes, and highlight your team. This not only promotes your offerings but also builds a connection with your guests.

Email marketing is another powerful tool. Regular newsletters can keep your guests informed about new menu items, special events, or promotions. Personalized emails on birthdays or anniversaries can make your guests feel special and encourage repeat visits.

Don’t overlook the power of community involvement. Participate in local events, collaborate with other businesses, or sponsor local sports teams. This can increase your visibility in the community and build goodwill.

Financial Health and Diversification

Keeping a close eye on your financials is crucial.

Regularly review your costs and revenues and look for ways to optimize them. This might involve renegotiating supplier contracts, adjusting menu prices, or reducing unnecessary expenses.

Consider diversifying your revenue streams. This could include offering catering services, hosting private events, or selling branded merchandise.

These additional streams can provide a buffer during slower periods and increase your overall profitability.

Conclusion

As we look forward to 2024, let’s embrace the opportunities and challenges that come our way.

By using downtime strategically, setting clear priorities, and striving for excellence continuously, we can ensure that this year is not just successful but also fulfilling.

Remember, in the dynamic world of foodservice, adaptation and innovation are key. Let’s make this year a celebration of our culinary passion, business acumen, and commitment to our guests.

Here’s to a year of delicious discoveries and unparalleled success in the culinary world!

Image: 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality operational assessments

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

HM Makes 2024 Culinary Predictions

Hotel Management Makes 2024 Culinary Predictions

by David Klemt

Tartare of mushrooms on a plate

Two weeks before we rang in 2024, Hotel Management revealed a handful of compelling culinary predictions for the new year.

Of course, time will tell if these are accurate. After all, it’s just January 5. Still, they’re all worth a look.

One in particular stands out from the rest, at least for me. You’ll find that prediction at the bottom of this article.

Alright—let’s dive in!

Streamlining Menus

Perhaps it’s a validation of the fallacy of choice. Maybe it’s that people are overwhelmed and want to make less decisions.

Either way, Hotel Management thinks operators will offer fewer choices to improve the guest experience.

That may sound nonsensical to some operators. Shrinking the menu to enhance a person’s enjoyment?

However, there’s more nuance than simply eliminating items. Indeed, Hotel Management points to focusing on local, seasonal ingredients to create curated menus.

Further, a smaller menu allows the kitchen team to innovate, develop their skills, and truly build impressive dishes.

There’s also, of course, the benefit of lowered costs. This is particularly true for operators who embrace the art of the cross-utilization of ingredients.

Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local

Sourcing and highlighting local ingredients is mainstream at this point. At least in my opinion, it has gone from fad to trend and become a staple of successful operation.

That doesn’t make it any less important, of course. In fact, it appears more important than ever.

Guests want to connect with the restaurants and bars they visit. One effective method of making this connection is to offer a true taste of location.

Utilizing local ingredients—even better if they’re unique to the area—also supports the community. Fostering connections with guests, producers and other small businesses is a win-win-win.

Shroom, Shroom

It makes sense that when some people read or hear the phrase “plant-based” they think of Impossible or Beyond.

However, plant-based dishes and menus just consist primarily of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, or fungi.

It’s that last one that Hotel Management thinks will have a moment in 2024.

Among the reasons for this prediction? Mushrooms absorb flavors easily, impart umami, and are versatile.

Oh, and a fun bit of trivia: While often categorized as vegetables, mushrooms are considered neither plant- or animal-based; they’re a type of fungus.

One brand embracing the culinary magic of mushrooms is Meati. I expect these products to become as well-known as Impossible, Beyond, Gardein, and Morningstar Farms.

This is the One

So, this is the prediction that jumped out at me: seacuterie.

As the name suggests, it’s charcuterie but with seafood. Simply put, you salt, smoke, and cure seafood, then present it as you would charcuterie.

Hotel Management provides three interesting examples of seacuterie that will likely grab your guests’ attention:

  • pastrami-style tuna loin;
  • octopus salami; and
  • swordfish ham.

I know that if I saw at least the salami and ham, I’d raise an eyebrow.

Now, it’s all well and good to identify seacuterie as a menu item with potential to grow in 2024. But what if you’re not sure where to start with it? Well, I dug into it to learn more and provide you with a real-world example.

Chef Aaron Black, chef de cuisine at PB Catch Seafood + Bar in Palm Beach, Florida, is a seacuterie pioneer. And it just so happens that PB Catch provides guests the opportunity to build their own seacuterie boards.

Guests can choose three seacuterie items for $24 and six for $45, with the option to add an additional item for $8. Selections include salmon pastrami, octopus torchon, and mero bass jerky.

If it fits with your concept, seacuterie should re-energize your regulars and tempt new guests to check out your restaurant.

Image: jevgeni mironov on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality menu development. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort. Food. Drinks.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Indispensable Egg: Simple but Powerful

The Indispensable Egg: Simple but Powerful

by Nathen Dubé

Eggs of various color in a carton

In the realm of gastronomy, eggs are indispensable, offering a unique blend of flavor and texture that is celebrated across various cuisines.

These staples of culinary tradition embody the essence of simplicity and versatility. Farm-fresh eggs, known for their rich, vibrant yolks and robust shells, elevate this simple ingredient to new heights.

This comprehensive exploration delves into the culinary excellence of farm-fresh eggs and their broader implications in the hospitality industry, from enhancing the quality of dishes to contributing to business success.

The Culinary Excellence of Farm-Fresh Eggs

The superiority of farm-fresh eggs in cooking is undeniable. Their vibrant yolks, a result of the diverse diet of free-range hens, enrich dishes with deeper flavors and a more appealing visual presentation.

In baking, these eggs contribute to finer, more consistent textures. And in sauces and dressings, their freshness is paramount, forming the foundation of many classic culinary creations.

Crafting Artisanal Dishes with Farm-Fresh Eggs

Embracing the artisanal approach, chefs use farm-fresh eggs to create dishes that showcase their natural elegance and flavor.

From perfectly poached eggs on a bed of fresh greens to innovative egg tarts, these eggs become the centerpiece of culinary craftsmanship, attracting patrons who appreciate the art of cooking.

Seasonal Menus and Farm-Fresh Eggs

Utilizing farm-fresh eggs allows chefs to design seasonal menus that reflect the changing offerings of local farms.

The subtle variations in flavor and color of the eggs throughout the year inspire creative, seasonal dishes, demonstrating a commitment to freshness and local sourcing.

Nutritional Superiority of Farm-Fresh Eggs

Beyond their culinary appeal, farm-fresh eggs offer enhanced nutritional benefits.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, they cater to health-conscious consumers, adding a valuable dimension to menus and marketing strategies in the hospitality sector.

The Business Benefits of Premium Ingredients

Incorporating farm-fresh eggs into a restaurant’s offerings is a strategic business decision. It signifies a commitment to quality and can differentiate an establishment in a competitive market.

This choice also allows for storytelling opportunities, sharing the origins of the ingredients and the relationships with local producers, building trust and a sense of community with patrons.

As Chef Brian Duffy says, operators can charge premium prices, but only if they’re being innovative. Purchasing and using fresh eggs from a local farmer is a step toward innovation and justifies charging a premium.

Ethical Considerations and Consumer Awareness

The ethical sourcing of farm-fresh eggs aligns with the growing consumer awareness and demand for transparency, and humane treatment in food production.

By choosing ethically sourced eggs, hospitality businesses can build a brand image that resonates with these values, fostering customer loyalty.

Implementing Change in the Hospitality Industry

Adopting farm-fresh eggs comes with its challenges, such as higher costs and variable supply. However, these can be mitigated through creative menu planning and pricing strategies.

Educating staff about the benefits and ethos behind using these eggs enhances the dining experience for customers.

Sustainability and the Future of Food

Choosing farm-fresh eggs is a step towards a more sustainable food system. Small-scale egg farming often employs environmentally friendly practices, contributing to a sustainable future.

This commitment to sustainability is increasingly important to consumers and can be a significant aspect of a restaurant’s brand identity.

Conclusion

Farm-fresh eggs represent more than just a culinary choice; they are a statement about quality, sustainability, and the future of food.

For chefs and restaurateurs, they offer a means to distinguish their offerings, tell a compelling story, and build a business that is both profitable and principled.

As the hospitality industry evolves, those who embrace the full potential of ingredients like farm-fresh eggs will find themselves leading a movement that values the entire journey from farm to table. This comprehensive exploration underscores the multifaceted role of farm-fresh eggs in both culinary excellence and the broader context of the hospitality industry.

Image: Kelly Neil on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

DoorDash Names 2023 Global F&B Trends

DoorDash Names 2023 Global F&B Trends

by David Klemt

Chef torching salmon sushi

As we get close to winding down 2023 and welcoming 2024, DoorDash takes a shot at identifying the global F&B trends to watch.

This is an exciting and insightful time of year for our industry. In the last quarter, different sources start publishing their data-backed F&B predictions for the year ahead.

Take, for example, Technomic’s Global, Canadian, and American trend predictions for 2023. Oh, and don’t worry—we’ll be taking a look at their predictions for 2024 soon.

Today, however, we’re checking in on DoorDash. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of third-party delivery. It’s no secret I favor direct delivery for operators.

There’s no denying, though, that third-party delivery companies have access to valuable data. From the top food and drink orders to the dayparts seeing the most delivery and pickup order growth, they can help operators see shifts in consumer behavior.

So, I’m happy to take a look at what food trends DoorDash thinks operators should watch moving forward.

Before we jump in, I’m happy that DoorDash includes this cautionary statement in their article: “Finally, always consider whether or not a trend actually fits in at your restaurant.”

At KRG Hospitality, we couldn’t agree more. Jumping on every trend, as tempting as that may be, is unwise and can do harm than good. So, while the lists below identify trends that are gaining traction currently, operators need to be discerning.

Food Trends

Let’s start with a trend multiple sources identified toward the end of 2022 that appears to still be on an upward trajectory: pickles.

Seriously, it seems that people can’t get enough pickles. Pickle pizza appears to the current darling when it comes to this food trend. Speaking of pizza, DoorDash sees square pizzas as a trend to watch.

Another trend that multiple sources have been keeping tabs on is chimichurri. According to DoorDash, this condiment is finding its way onto all manner of food item.

Other food trends that operators should be aware of are bowls (deconstruct a sandwich, burrito, etc., and you have a bowl); oyster mushrooms subbing in for meat; higher-end tinned fish; and gluten-free menu options.

To be honest, I don’t think that last one is just a trend. At this point, offering gluten-free options or entire menus is mainstream.

Now, there are two more food trends I want to address separately. One, smaller menus. This is a trend I believe most operators can and should get behind. Shrinking a menu can result in lower food and labor costs, and a happier team. Making a menu smaller can also make a restaurant more nimble and engaging as LTOs may have more impact.

And then there’s aburi sushi, which is presented after the top of the fish is torched. This gives sushi a smoky flavor and brings in a different texture element.

To be fair, I’ve expected this to take off for the past several years. Now, it appears it’s taking hold and moving from fad to trend.

TikTok Trends

Yes, we have to talk about TikTok. There’s no question that the platform is a trend-producing powerhouse.

Clearly, TikTok has an influence on food trends. If you want to know what your younger guests want to try, check TikTok. The same goes for your guests who are highly engaged with social media influencers.

Below, the trends DoorDash sees taking hold.

  • Chopped sandwiches. Do you have sandwiches on your menu? Can your guests watch as your team makes them? You may want to create a chopped version of your signature or best-selling sandwich.
  • Pasta salad summer. Apparently, this summer was the Summer of Pasta Salad. Specifically, pasta salads made with fresh ingredients, and made without ingredients like mayonnaise.
  • Cottage cheese. According to DoorDash, TikTokers are putting cottage cheese in scrambled eggs, adding it to pasta sauce, and using it to make cheese toasts. I’ve personally tried the TikTok trend of using cottage cheese to make nacho cheese sauce.

One word of caution: TikTok trends come and go in the blink of an eye. So, operators need to hop on trends that work with their restaurant or bar before they’re already out of favor. It’s a daunting task.

To review this DoorDash report in its entirety, including beverage and grocery trends, follow this link.

Image: Ivan Samkov on Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

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Mastering the Art of Knife Skills

Mastering the Art of Knife Skills: A Culinary Journey

by Nathen Dubé

Collection of various vintage knives surrounding a cutting board

In the realm of culinary arts, the knife is not merely a kitchen tool; it’s the extension of a chef’s hands, the paintbrush for a culinary masterpiece.

In the hand of a skilled chef, a knife is the instrument that transforms raw ingredients into delectable works of art.

Therefore, knife skills are the backbone of every great chef’s repertoire, and they form the cornerstone of culinary excellence.

In this exploration, we embark on a journey to unravel the significance of knife skills, the techniques that define them, and the artistry they enable in the culinary world.

The Role of Knives in Culinary Excellence

Knives are the most fundamental tools in any kitchen. They are the bridge between raw ingredients and the final dish, and their importance cannot be overstated.

Here are some key aspects of the role knives play in culinary excellence.

Precision and Consistency

Imagine a chef creating uniform, paper-thin slices of cucumber for an elegant salad. The precision required for such delicate work comes from mastering knife skills.

Consistency in slicing, dicing, and chopping ensures even cooking and a visually appealing presentation.

Efficiency

In a bustling restaurant kitchen, time is of the essence. Efficient knife skills enable chefs to prepare ingredients quickly and streamline the cooking process.

The ability to swiftly and skillfully handle a knife can make all the difference in meeting the demands of a busy service.

Safety

Knife safety is paramount in the culinary world.

Proper knife skills not only enhance efficiency but also minimize the risk of accidents. A chef with well-honed knife skills knows how to handle the blade safely, reducing the likelihood of cuts and injuries.

Artistry

Beyond their utilitarian functions, knives are tools of artistic expression in the culinary world.

A chef’s ability to craft intricate cuts and designs with a knife can elevate a dish from ordinary to extraordinary.

From garnishes to decorative vegetable carvings, knife skills allow chefs to showcase their creativity.

Essential Knife Techniques

Knife skills encompass a range of techniques, each serving a specific purpose in the kitchen.

Let’s delve into some of the fundamental knife skills that every chef should master.

1. The Pinch Grip

The pinch grip is the foundation of proper knife handling. It involves gripping the knife handle with three fingers while using the thumb and index finger to pinch the blade near the bolster.

This grip provides control and precision, allowing for accurate cuts.

2. The Rock Chop

The rock chop is a rhythmic cutting motion during which the knife’s blade rocks back and forth on the cutting board. It’s ideal for chopping herbs, garlic, and onions.

Mastering this technique involves maintaining a consistent rocking motion to achieve uniform cuts.

3. The Slice

Slicing is a technique used to create thin, even pieces of ingredients.

The key is to maintain a smooth, forward and backward motion of the knife while keeping the fingers tucked safely away from the blade.

4. The Julienne

Julienne is the art of cutting vegetables or fruits into long, thin strips, resembling matchsticks.

Achieving uniformity in julienne cuts requires precision and practice. This is a technique often used in salads and stir-fries.

5. The Dice

Dicing involves cutting ingredients into small, uniform cubes.

Chefs use this technique for creating perfectly diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. It’s a fundamental skill in many classic recipes.

6. The Chiffonade

Chiffonade is a technique for slicing leafy greens or herbs into thin, ribbon-like strips. This technique is commonly used for garnishing soups, salads, and pasta dishes.

7. The Tourne

The tourne, also known as “turned” vegetables, involves creating seven-sided, oblong shapes from root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.

This technique showcases precision and artistry.

8. The Batonnet

Batonnet cuts involve creating evenly sized, rectangular sticks from ingredients like potatoes and cucumbers.

This technique is often used for making French fries and crudités.

The Journey to Mastery

Becoming proficient in knife skills is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and a commitment to precision.

Below are a number of essential tips for aspiring chefs on their path to mastering this art.

1. Start with the Basics

Begin by mastering the fundamental techniques, such as the pinch grip, slice, and rock chop.

These skills form the building blocks for more advanced cuts.

2. Invest in Quality Knives

A chef is only as good as their tools.

Invest in high-quality knives that are well-balanced and comfortable to handle. Regularly sharpen and maintain them to ensure optimal performance.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Knife skills improve with practice.

Set aside time to hone your cutting techniques regularly. Consider using inexpensive ingredients like potatoes and carrots for practice to minimize food wastage.

4. Seek Guidance

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced chefs or culinary instructors.

Taking a knife skills class or watching instructional videos can provide valuable insights and feedback.

5. Prioritize Safety

Safety should always come first.

Pay close attention to hand placement, keep your fingers tucked away from the blade, and use a cutting board with a non-slip surface.

6. Embrace Creativity

Once you have mastered the basics, allow your creativity to flourish.

Experiment with decorative cuts and intricate garnishes to add flair to your dishes.

Knife Skills in the Professional Kitchen

In professional kitchens, the importance of knife skills is not up for debate. Chefs in high-end restaurants are expected to demonstrate exceptional precision and speed when handling knives.

Here’s how knife skills come into play in the professional culinary world.

Speed and Efficiency

In a busy restaurant kitchen, the ability to prep ingredients quickly and efficiently is essential.

Knife skills enable chefs to meet the demands of a fast-paced environment while maintaining quality.

Consistency

Consistency is crucial in ensuring that every dish leaving the kitchen meets the restaurant’s standards.

Uniform cuts, achieved through precise knife skills, contribute to consistent cooking times and presentation.

Artistry and Presentation

Fine-dining establishments often emphasize presentation as much as taste.

Knife skills allow chefs to create intricate designs and garnishes that enhance the visual appeal of each dish, turning it into a work of art.

Safety in High-stress Environments

Professional kitchens can be high-stress environments.

Chefs with excellent knife skills can handle the pressure more effectively and safely, reducing the risk of accidents.

Knife Skills for Home Cooks

While professional chefs rely on knife skills in their daily work, these skills are equally valuable for home cooks.

Whether you’re preparing a simple family meal or hosting a dinner party, below you’ll find how knife skills can elevate your home cooking.

Save Time and Effort

Efficient knife skills allow you to prep ingredients more quickly, making meal preparation a breeze even on busy weeknights.

Elevate Home Cooking

Mastering knife skills enables you to create restaurant-quality dishes at home.

You can impress your family and guests with beautifully plated meals.

Safety and Confidence

Proper knife skills at home reduce the risk of accidents and boost your confidence in the kitchen.

Experimentation and Creativity

With the right knife skills, you can experiment with different cuts and techniques, adding variety and creativity to your home-cooked meals.

Conclusion

In the world of culinary arts, knives are not just tools; they are extensions of a chef’s creativity and skill.

Knife skills are the foundation of culinary excellence, enabling chefs to transform ingredients into works of art.

Whether you aspire to be a professional chef or simply want to elevate your home cooking, mastering knife skills is a journey worth embarking on. It’s a journey of precision, creativity, and the pursuit of culinary perfection—a path that leads to the heart of the culinary world, where the artistry of knives comes to life.

As you embark on your own culinary journey, remember that every slice, chop, and dice brings you one step closer to mastering the art of knife skills—an art form that transcends the kitchen and allows you to create culinary magic with every cut.

So, sharpen your knives, practice your techniques, and let your culinary creativity flourish. The world of flavors and possibilities awaits at the tip of your blade.

Image: Sergey Kotenev on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality menu development. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort. Food. Drinks.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Science of Flavour Pairing

Unlocking Culinary Magic: The Science of Flavour Pairing

by Nathen Dubé

A red pepper resting on top of a bar of chocolate

In the world of culinary arts, there exists a fascinating and almost mystical aspect that elevates a dish from ordinary to extraordinary: flavour pairing.

The art of flavour pairing is like a symphony of tastes and aromas, orchestrated to create harmonious and memorable dining experiences. As a chef consultant, I invite you to embark on a culinary journey that delves deep into the science and creativity behind flavour pairing.

Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or a curious food enthusiast, this article will unveil the secrets of culinary magic that lie within this art and science.

The Science Behind Flavour Pairing

To truly understand the art of flavour pairing, one must first grasp the science that underpins it.

Flavour pairing isn’t just about randomly combining ingredients. Rather, it’s about exploiting the complex interactions between different compounds that create flavours.

Here’s a brief look at the science.

The Flavour Wheel

Imagine a vast wheel with hundreds of spokes, each representing a distinct flavour. This is the flavour wheel, a tool that categorizes flavours into primary, secondary, and tertiary categories.

Understanding this wheel helps chefs identify complementary flavours and build balanced profiles.

The primary flavours include sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, while the secondary flavours encompass umami, fatty, and astringent notes. Tertiary flavours delve even deeper, encompassing specific aromatic compounds found in various ingredients.

The flavour wheel serves as a roadmap for chefs, allowing them to create harmonious and balanced dishes by combining flavours from different categories.

For example, pairing a salty ingredient like prosciutto with sweet melon exploits the contrast between saltiness and sweetness for a delightful taste experience.

Chemical Compounds

Flavour compounds are the building blocks of taste and aroma. These compounds are responsible for the diverse spectrum of flavours we encounter in food.

Understanding which compounds are shared between ingredients is key to successful flavour pairing.

A well-known example of shared aroma compounds is the presence of vanillin in both vanilla beans and oak barrels used for aging wine. Vanillin is a key aroma compound responsible for the sweet and creamy notes in vanilla. When wines are aged in oak barrels, they can acquire subtle vanilla and spice undertones from the wood, creating a harmonious and recognizable flavour pairing in wines, especially in the case of oak-aged Chardonnay or red Bordeaux wines.

This shared compound, vanillin, illustrates how we can derive the same aroma compound from different sources (vanilla beans and oak barrels) and contribute to the complexity and appeal of various culinary creations, enhancing both desserts and wines.

Contrast and Harmony

Flavour pairing often revolves around the concept of contrast and harmony.

Some pairings work because they contrast flavours, creating excitement and intrigue. Others harmonize, creating a seamless and balanced taste experience.

Consider the classic contrast between sweet and sour in dishes like sweet and sour chicken. The sweetness of the sauce contrasts with the tanginess of vinegar, resulting in a harmonious yet exciting combination.

On the other hand, a harmonious pairing might involve complementary flavours that meld together seamlessly. Think of the classic combination of tomatoes and basil in a Caprese salad. The earthy, herbaceous notes of basil harmonize beautifully with the juicy sweetness of ripe tomatoes.

Umami

The fifth taste, umami, has gained prominence in recent years.

Umami is often described as a savory or meaty taste, and it can be used to elevate a wide range of dishes.

Ingredients that are rich in umami—mushrooms, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese, for example—can enhance and deepen the overall flavour of a dish.

One popular example of umami-rich flavour pairing is the combination of Parmesan cheese with ripe tomatoes. The umami in the cheese amplifies the tomato’s natural sweetness and creates a more complex and satisfying flavour profile.

Classic Flavour Pairings

Now that we’ve dipped our toes into the science of flavour pairing, let’s explore some classic pairings that have stood the test of time.

Salt and Sweet

This classic pairing is all about balance. The saltiness enhances the sweetness in dishes like salted caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels. The contrast is what makes it so delightful.

When it comes to savoury dishes, the addition of a touch of salt can elevate the overall flavour. Consider how a pinch of salt can enhance the sweetness of roasted vegetables or a perfectly seared steak.

Acid and Fat

The acidity in ingredients like lemon or vinegar can cut through the richness of fatty dishes, creating balance.

Think of a zesty vinaigrette dressing on a buttery avocado salad. The acidity brightens the dish and prevents it from feeling overly heavy.

Spicy and Cool

Combining spicy and cooling elements can create a dynamic and memorable flavour experience.

For example, a fiery hot sauce paired with a creamy yogurt dip offers a pleasing contrast of temperature and sensation. The coolness of the yogurt soothes the heat of the spice, creating a balanced and exciting flavour profile.

Savoury and Sweet

The umami-rich savoury notes of ingredients like bacon or prosciutto can beautifully complement the sweetness of fruits, as seen in dishes like melon wrapped in prosciutto.

The salty, savoury elements create a perfect counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Herbs and Citrus

The fresh, aromatic qualities of herbs like basil, cilantro, or mint can be elevated when paired with the zingy brightness of citrus fruits.

The combination of fresh herbs and citrus can add layers of flavour to salads, marinades, and cocktails.

Modern Flavour Pairing Techniques

While classic pairings are timeless, modern culinary innovation has taken flavour pairing to new heights.

Here are some cutting-edge techniques and trends to explore.

Molecular Gastronomy

This avant-garde approach to cooking employs scientific principles to create unexpected flavour combinations.

Techniques like spherification and foaming can transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary culinary creations.

For instance, the technique of spherification involves transforming liquid ingredients into tiny, flavorful spheres with a thin membrane. These spheres can burst with flavour in your mouth, creating a unique and memorable dining experience.

Imagine a burst of basil-infused olive oil encapsulated in a delicate sphere served alongside a tomato salad.

Global Fusion

As our world becomes more connected, so do our culinary influences.

Chefs are exploring fusion cuisine, merging ingredients and techniques from different cultures to create exciting and unexpected flavour pairings.

For example, Korean tacos combine the bold flavours of Korean barbecue with the convenience of a taco, resulting in a fusion dish that offers a delightful balance of sweet, spicy, and savory elements.

Experimenting with flavors, techniques and combinations both classic and new, and mastering an array of techniques will elevate any kitchen team’s skills. In turn, that team will elevate the menu, restaurant, and guest experience.

Image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Kitchen Parlance, Part One

Kitchen Parlance, Part One

by Nathen Dubé

Chef handling flaming pan in commercial kitchen

Entering a professional kitchen might seem like a whole different realm with its own governing rules, and certainly its very own language.

“Clopen?” “All day?” “Behind?” “Covers?” “Deuce,” “dying on the pass”… If these terms sound foreign and made up to you, you’re not alone!

A busy kitchen can be a hot, intense, and stressful environment. Having a full-on conversation takes up valuable time when minutes and even seconds are the difference between a perfectly cooked plate of food and trash.

When actions need to be conveyed quickly and efficiently between two parties or a full team in a loud and fast-paced environment, slang develops out of necessity. Kitchens are no different, with their use of a creative and interesting lexicon.

New owners and operators opening their own concept may find many words and phrases they hear from the kitchen and servers strange at first. This is particularly true of owners and operators who may have little to no back-of-house or serving experience.

To lend a hand to hopeful operators or those opening their doors for the first time, let’s take a look at some of the more popular kitchen terms.

Operational & Equipment Terms

First, let’s take a look at the structural element of a restaurant and how they’re referred to.

Floor

The dining room (or whatever is deemed as guest seating in your establishment) is referred to as “the floor.” When someone asks, “who is on the floor tonight?”, they’re referring to the staff—usually servers—working the floor. Managers will walk the floor to check on guests and aid in service.

Note: The bar area, although it may have counter seating and its own tables, is referred to separately from the floor.

Low Boy

An under-counter refrigerator is called a “low boy” for its below-the-waist positioning, requiring cooks to bend down low to gather ingredients. This can include freezers as well. There are a variety of door configurations, including swinging, and drawer-style. Some even have salad tops where ingredients are kept in the top, under a lid.

Walk-In

A (very) large fridge or freezer, often constructed on site. It has a big swinging door that can be opened from both sides for safety reasons. The majority of raw ingredients—plus some prep and leftovers—are stored here. If you’re wondering where the word comes from, the clue is in the name: it’s so large, you can walk into it.

The walk-in is also notorious for being where restaurant staff go to scream some stress away, as the excellent insulation creates a nice sound barrier from guests.

Mise

The word “mise,” pronounced “meez,” is a slang term for “mise en place.” Mise en place is the French term for “having everything in its place” prior to service. Cooks use “mise” to refer to their own specific set of prepared ingredients, whether in terms of having it ready or not, or even worse, missing.

On the Line

The line, and the term “on the line,” refers to the area in the kitchen where the cooking equipment is located. Of course, this where chefs do most of the cooking during service. A typical line includes a walkway where the cooks work, and a flat table space—usually at the “window” or “pass” (see below)—where they plate, on the opposite side. Not surprisingly, that opposite side is referred to as the “plating area.”

If a concept requires it, there are separate “hot” lines where the hot cooking is done, and “cold” lines, where dishes that don’t require cooking are prepared. Deep fryers, ovens, and ranges are located in the former, and salad stations are located in the latter area. In classic French terms, the garde manger cook usually prepares most dishes on a cold line.

Pass / Window

The pass or window is the area opposite the cooking line where completed orders are placed for server pick-up. Think of passing dishes from the kitchen and you’ll understand this term immediately. Sometimes it will be referred to as a “window” in restaurants that have actual windows into the kitchen line from which food is passed to servers. The pass area is typically where the heat lamps are located, meant to keep dishes warm during a busy service.

The Rail / Board

The term “rail” or “board” refers to a strip of metal mounted to the food window that holds the food tickets (orders) from the kitchen printer in place. This keeps the flow organized and is normally overseen by the chef or line supervisor.

“Calling the board” means the person in charge reads out tickets as they come in, and directs cooking traffic to the other line cooks. Doing so helps to avoid disagreements and chaos in the kitchen. This position is reserved for the highest-ranking or most-talented cook, as it requires excellent cooking and communication skills. “Clear the board or rail” means completing all orders that have come in for the time being.

Chit / Ticket

When a server enters an order into the POS system, a chit or ticket, or even “dupe” (meaning “duplicate,” from the fact that some systems use three-color paper that prints a kitchen copy, a server copy, and an expo, bar, cold line, or pasty section copy), is printed to the kitchen. That ticket is then read aloud to the cooks before being placed in queue on the rail or board. When the food on the order is complete, the copy is marked in some fashion (stamp, marker, pen) and placed under the plate in the window. The server then picks up the food and the chit is “stabbed” on to a spike.

Don’t let spiked tickets fall out of the rail or all hell can break loose and derail a service!

Two-Top / Three-Top

Dining room tables are referred to as “tops” and are identified by how many guests they can accommodate (seats). A table with two chairs is a “two-top” or “deuce.” Tables with four or six chairs are “four-tops” and “six-tops,” respectively.

Covers

Each person who enters the restaurant is a cover: they “cover” one seat. The more covers, the busier a service will be, and vice versa. These numbers are used to project future numbers, staffing requirements, and inventory required. Covers are also a point of pride for kitchen staff. The more covers, the busier the service, and if you can navigate it with few mistakes, the adrenaline rush can directly convince yourself of your own talents.

Dead Plate

A dead plate is a dish of food that’s no longer worthy of the dining room. Sitting in the window too long, incorrect preparation, or even worse, being sent back by a guest results in a dead plate. Untouched dead plates are usually given to dish washing staff or porters; those sent back by guests are tossed in the bin.

Section

A section is how the floor is divided amongst serving staff. Typically, the more talented or senior staff get a bigger section. Designating sections, with all their tables in one close area, helps servers move efficiently during busy periods and keep close tabs on guests. Managers and floor captains will oversee a few or all sections and offer help to the individual servers during busy times or for large parties.

Server Alley

The front-of-house equivalent of the kitchen hot line. This is where everything servers need to do their jobs is located. Extra napkins, spare side plates, cutlery rolls, and cleaning supplies for clearing tables can all be found here. There are usually a few POS terminals here for entering orders.

Team & Guest Terms

These next few slang words are used to talk about certain people.

Expo

“Expo” is the shortened term for “expediter,” or the position of organizing, plating, and (in some cases) garnishing food at the pass. The main responsibility is to makes sure each dish is correct before the food runner or server brings it to the table. This role can be the liaison between front of house and back of house, allowing both teams to do their jobs without having to stop and coordinate.

Busser

Part of the porter team, the busser is the person who clears dishes from a table when guests leave, and drops them in the dish-washing area. The term refers to the bus bin or large plastic tub into which the bussers put all the dishes, flatware, glasses, and debris. They might also be tasked with wiping down tables and resetting them for new guests. Sometimes, the busser will pull double duty and also wash the dishes they bring back to the kitchen.

Trail / Stage

Note: In the foodservice world, “stage” is pronounced “staahj.”

A trail is essentially a training shift during which new team member will “trail” behind a cook or server. This provides the new hire the ability to learn, get comfortable with SOPs, and mitigates any potential mistakes. However, not all establishments have the staffing to offer this scenario and will train a new hire during live action.

A stage is a longer-term trail for a designated period of time. This can be a couple of weeks, a month or two, or an entire season at destination-style dining places, like Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels. The expectation is that this is a learning experience for the cook, who is exposed to new ingredients, recipes, and techniques. An agreed upon time frame is set and the cook trades labor for education.

A Personal Note on Stage

The short-term stage commitment includes the understanding that the restaurant won’t reward you monetarily. We all know the costs of training staff. Imagine investing all that effort and having that person leave after just a month or two.

Now, I despise the term “free labor” for the kitchen or benefiting restaurant. There’s a new argument that has been surfacing over the last few years that stages should be paid internships. I have two problems with this thought process.

One, these are often highly touted restaurants that operate at an elite level, and they’re extremely busy. Having a new body takes up valuable focus and resources from somebody in that kitchen. They are willing to work with you and share all their knowledge and experience.

Often times, there isn’t a chance in hell in getting a job there, and this can be the only way to get a chance at learning from these masters of the craft. Having gained valuable career experience from stages myself, they can be a great alternative if you can’t gain employment with the venues.

Two, those who raise these arguments have no experience in doing them; think they have learned nothing from the stages they may have done; had a bad experience overall; or really have no other alternatives to the points I just mentioned.

Hot tip: If you don’t like working for free, don’t! If you the value in stage, go for it!

Campers

This is a term for people who linger at their table well after they’ve finished and paid. While all guests are welcome to make themselves at home, the problem with campers is that they can take up valuable real estate during busy periods. This is the reason for table time caps at operations that run on the reservation system. They also prevent servers from “turning” tables to serve more guests and increase their tips.

Action Terms

These are some random terms that indicate actions and requests.

Fire

The process of finishing a dish. When an order is printed out, it may have courses such as appetizer, main, and dessert. All courses might be started and cooked to 80 percent completion and then held. The main wouldn’t be fired until after the appetizer. When the person in charge of the line says, “Fire table six mains,” that means finish cooking, plate the dishes, and send them to the pass.

All Day

A very quick way for a cook to request a tally of all the dishes ordered from their section. The line lead will provide totals of each dish, instead of reading out each table’s order. For example, a cook will ask for an all-day on fryers, and the lead will call back, “Six large fry, three medium fry, two poutine, and one chicken nugget.” The cook can quickly add up what they have cooking or need to prepare to fire.

Behind

As you can imagine, in a busy, happening kitchen, there are people racing in all directions in tight spaces. One quick way to avoid collisions around hot equipment and sharp objects is to yell “behind” when passing someone or a station of people. It gives them time to either move out of the way or stay in place to avoid catastrophe.

Other variations include “hot” to indicate hot pots or pans, or the potential of getting burnt. “Sharp” means a knife, and “corner” means coming around the corner. “Behind hot” and “hot, corner” are combinations which mean exactly what you think they mean.

Flash

To reheat a dish, or an item on a plate that sat under the heat lamp too long, or if a guest has requested something cooked further. Usually under a salamander, a convection oven, or a deep fryer for fried food. I’m sure for some establishments (I started out in places where this was the norm), “flashing” means “cooking” an item to well done via microwave.

Heard / Heard That

The acknowledgement that an order has been read by the person running the pass or the line and understood by all in the kitchen. Also works for a direct order to an individual.

In the Weeds

When one station is receiving the majority of the orders at any given time, or the dining room has filled up all at once and all the orders are coming in together, this can create a downward spiral between starting to cook and plating or finishing existing dishes. This is known as being “in the weeds.” The only way to survive is to put your head down and cook your way out. I’ve experienced surviving the weeds and having it ruin an entire service. It all depends on the resilience and talent of the cooks, servers, and leaders involved.

On the Fly

The request for something that is needed quickly. Perhaps the item was missed, dropped, or incorrect, and the rest of the dishes are at the table. Whatever is needed “on the fly” takes precedence over everything else or, worst-case scenario, gets shoehorned into orders coming up.

Stretch It

Kitchen lingo for getting as many portions out of something nearing its end as possible. For example, a saucepan only has enough for four steaks but five are needed. The sauce has completed cooking and the plates are waiting. So, the kitchen needs to “stretch it” and make it work or be down five plates of food.

Waxing a Table

This means giving a table special treatment. This person or these people could be VIPs, return guests, the owner’s family and friends, or an influential food writer. Whoever the are, they’ve been identified and are given a little extra attention by staff.

86

When a menu item has completely run out, the kitchen manager will say the item has been “86ed.” It’s important for the kitchen staff to communicate this to servers as soon as possible so that no more orders are placed for the item.

Family Meal

The pre-service meal enjoyed by all staff on premises. Usually made by the staff from leftovers as a way to showcase creativity and skill.

Comp

Referring to items removed from the bill for an error or because the guest didn’t like it. A comp also comes from waxing a table, of course. It’s important to track comped items for accounting purposes. Comps can be a great way to make guests happy in a pinch. However, owners, operators, executive chefs, and lead bartenders need to be aware of how often comps are being handed out; they can be indicative of quality-control problems or employee theft.

Clopen

This is a portmanteau of “close” and “open.” The dreaded weekend brunch shift comes to mind. Working a busy late Friday or Saturday service and having to come back in the following morning to sling eggs to hungover patrons is a difficult and thankless task. In short, a team member who works back-to-back closing and opening shifts is working a clopen.

FIFO

This stands for “first in, first out,” and references inventory organization, crucial for perishable items. The new items go behind the older ones so that the items that were there first get used first, ensuring freshness and quality. I once had a chef who decided that “FIFO” stood for “fit in, or f*ck off.”

These are just some of the slang terms in the culinary lexicon used to convey quick understanding when under fire. You might also hear differences in dialect between cultures and regions. I’ve worked in both Toronto and Montréal, and there are similarities and differences between terms used in Ontario and Québec, French and English, and English and South American Spanish.

So, next time you’re out dining and you hear one of these words or phrases, you might be able to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes. Tip well, be polite, and try something new!

Image: lasse bergqvist on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality menu development. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort. Food. Drinks.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fire and Ice: Bring Your Teams Together

Fire and Ice: Bring Your Teams Together

by Jared Boller

Ice on fire inside of a Martini glass

If you want to elevate your concept you need to ensure the front- and back-of-house teams are working with each other, not against one another.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy rivalry and competition, of course. But the key word there is “healthy.” Both teams are crucial to your success, even if they seem like polar opposites.

Analogies are one of the singular greatest educational selling points when you have a group of people in front of you. Not only do they help you get your point across, they also help you to make a topic relatable to the listening novice.

In hospitality there are numerous ways to use analogies as teaching tools. When it comes to mixology or bartending, I like to use fire and ice to represent the kitchen and the bar.

I take this approach because the bar (ice) is the friendly counterpart to the fast and furious kitchen (fire). If you follow my train of thought, you’ll see why I preferthis approach: ultimately, we’re speaking about temperature and its importance in both spaces.

Consider the art of crafting cocktails. You and your bar team should understand dilution and melting rates the same way you know how important temperatures are to steaks. Nine times out of ten, individuals at the table have a personal preference regarding the temperature of their steak.

Guests don’t hesitate to relay this information to the server. Next, the chef and their brigade uses fire and cooking times to ensure each state is cooked properly. Not only that, the mastery of their craft leads to each steak coming out at the same time, cooked to each guest’s preference.

This process is the same for the bar. Stirred, shaken, egg-white cocktails… Bartenders must master their craft to ensure they understand the different types and uses of ice (or no ice) when building drinks. Moreover, they need to use that knowledge to ensure each drink for a table or group comes out at the same time, with the appropriate level of coldness.

In the end, when drinks hit the pass or server’s station, we want drink orders to be delivered as quickly as possible because they’re on the clock. The ice in the drinks start to melt. Hot food begins to get cold. We’re fighting time.

Understanding temperatures and times relates directly to the guest experience. We can tell how well-oiled and skillful front- and back-of-house teams are by watching drinks and dishes hit tables.

Fire

According to Anthropologist Richard Wrangham, who wrote the book Catching fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, people started cooking over open fire more than two million years ago.

Wrangham states that cooking was first seen as “simply chunking a raw hunk of something into flames and watching it sizzle.” Modern chefs may not agree with this style but we are able to see that early human “cooks” came to a few realizations regarding their use of fire. Their food was healthier, tastier, and they may have had more revitalized immune systems.

Obviously, the evolution of modern cooking techniques have advanced through tools, techniques, and vessels over the years. However, regardless of how much innovation we introduce to our kitchens, we’re still using fire and heat to cook our food.

Unless they’re expecting a salad, sushi, or another amazing raw or cold food, guests anticipate their food will be hot or warm upon arriving in front of them. Great chefs take control of their kitchens, techniques, and tools. Their masters of temperature. They have a nearly supernatural understanding of timing.

It’s always a site to behold when someone is masterful in the kitchen. A seemingly endless number of pots and pans raging on burners. Infinite elements of dishes flowing in and out of ovens. Chaos to the novice’s eyes but in reality, flawlessly composed dishes arriving at perfect temperatures.

Ice

We can trace the use of ice in drinks as far back as ancient Egypt. Icy drinks are also well documented by first-century Roman society; emperors, it’s claimed, enjoyed “chilled” cocktails via glacier runoff extracted from the mountains.

Emperors, according to some historians, would store giant blocks of ice in cool cellars, garnishing their tipples with shards of ice. This was both a decadent display of their elite status, and evidence that humans have long appreciated a cold, refreshing drink.

It wasn’t until early 1800s Boston that humankind really began to master ice. A young entrepreneur, Frederic “The Ice King” Tudor, pursued an idea with his brother and launched the ice or frozen water trade. Over the course of just a few decades, the New England-based trade was able to ship ice worldwide.

The Wenham Lake Ice Company, established in the 1840s, harvested giant blocks from the eponymous lake and stored them in a network of ice houses, accessed by a small railroad system. Once a luxury, ice was on its way to going mainstream. Everyone was coming to the realization that drinks tasted better with a bit of dilution and colder temperatures.

Eventually, ice production led to ice harvesting innovations. For example, Clinebell machines that use cold plates to 300-pound, crystal-clear blocks. Along with being clear, the ice blocks are super dense to reduce dilution rates significantly. From glaciers to “harvesting” ice from lakes to full-on factory production, our obsession with ice has led to technological innovation.

Interestingly, however, early 19th century methods of ice extraction are once again in vogue. A cadre of passionate bartenders who view ice as a premium ingredient in and of itself are hand carving ice cubes, spheres, and spears for perfectly curated Negronis or Old-fashioneds.

Takeaway

The bottom line is, temperature is important to anyone working in hospitality. Kitchen and bar teams need to work together to create the best possible products.

Some people think of food or drinks when asked to consider the best restaurants and bars in the world. However, those are products. What sets the best concepts apart is the teams they’ve each built and nurtured.

It’s the passion of each team member and their consideration of the fine details that makes a restaurant or bar notable. So, when we think about fire and ice, we can consider this idea the ultimate geekery in regard to our profession.

Take it from me: When the front of the house and back of the house collaborate, then they’re in sync with one another and nail the small details, they transform first-time guests to repeat brand evangelists.

They may not understand why their experience was so incredible but they’ll become outspoken ambassadors.

Image: Alexander Startsev on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Mixology Training with Jared Boller

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Art of the Preparation

The Art of the Preparation

by David Klemt

Overhead view of chef slicing and chopping ingredients

Chef Brian Duffy‘s take on preparation and its overall impact on the guest experience extends to every aspect of operations.

In one sentence during his 2023 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago cooking demo, Chef Duffy sums up the power of the proper mindset.

“The art of the preparation creates the experience,” says Chef Duffy.

Now, he was preparing plant-based shrimp from New Wave Foods at the time. After preparing a pan, the revered chef was readying a pound of FABI Award-winning New Wave Shrimp for Duffified Shrimp Fried Rice.

 

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A post shared by Chef Brian Duffy (@chefbriduff)

When making this dish, Chef Duffy chops roughly half the New Wave Shrimp in half. He does so to enhance the dish’s texture, and therefore the guest experience. Additionally, Chef Duffy likes to toast basmati rice before adding it to the pan with the shrimp and vegetables.

Again, Chef Duffy shared his view on the guest experience when cutting animal-alternative shrimp (the product is made with sustainable seaweed and mung bean).

Preparation

Okay, so what does slicing or chopping shrimp have to do with the guest experience? It’s the attention to what others may consider a tiny detail. In fact, some may deem important details “optional.”

Whether front-of-house, back-of-house, or back office, everyone’s mindset matters. How one views their role and how they approach their responsibilities impacts every element of a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or hotel’s success.

Choosing to halve half the shrimp because it will deliver a better experience speaks volumes. It’s a commitment to perfect the “small” details so every guest walks away wanting to return.

If an operator wants to know if they have a chef or an executive chef, this is one way to tell. Is the chef teaching their brigade? Guiding them? Implementing policies around preparation? Or are they just punching the clock, making sure the rest of the team shows up, and sending out food that’s “good enough”?

Operators can apply versions of those questions to every role in the house, including their own. Is their pride in preparing every element of service and operation? Or is the team just muddling through each shift?

There are no Small Details

Interestingly, most guests likely won’t ever be aware of every detail operators and their teams get right. However, they will feel every choice each team member makes. They may not know precisely what goes right, but they take home with them that their visit was exceptional.

Pulling the threads tighter separates operators and their brands from one another. Guests can get a bite and a drink anywhere. They reward outstanding service and experiences with their time and money.

It’s a simple equation to understand: Operators want to create an army of loyal guests, guests expect exceptional experiences. The operators who deliver on guest expectations are rewarded with loyalty.

Chef Duffy isn’t “just” slicing shrimp. He’s not “just” toasting rice. Chef’s not “just” making “the world’s most perfect dippy egg.” In reality, he’s ensuring every decision he, his teams, and his clients make enhance the guest experience exponentially.

There are no small details. There are no small decisions. The art of the preparation, as Chef Duffy says, creates the experience. Indeed, preparation also separates the mediocre from the exceptional.

Image: Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Mindset Coaching

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our engaging and informative May book selections will take your front and back of house to the next level, and help develop your leadership skills.

To review the book recommendations from April 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Contagious You: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want

This is one of three books KRG Hospitality’s Jennifer Radkey read in February. It’s the sequel to a book titled Contagious Culture, which we featured last month.

From Amazon: “For anyone who’s sought to create change, or felt sucked into the drama and chaos of a toxic work environment, this book will advance the notion that everyone at an organization is a leader—for good or for bad—and that leaders have tremendous power to influence those who follow their example. The quality of our leadership is based upon our intentions, energy, and presence. By emphasizing authorship, self-care, and response-ability (not responsibility) as leadership skills and therefore cultural amplifiers, Contagious You shows you how to walk the path of more effective leadership while navigating the road blocks in your way. Whether these road blocks are working with negative co-workers with secret agendas and unrealistic expectations, or just the general ‘busyness’ of life and its excessive demands, this book will take you on a journey to create more space, more courageous leadership, and stronger collaboration to influence others and create the impact you desire.”

Grab this book today: click here.

Chef’s PSA: Culinary Leadership Fundamentals

If Chef’s PSA sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s a series of four books. We included another book in the series, How Not to be the Biggest Idiot in the Kitchen, last December in our last book roundup of 2022.

Culinary Leadership Fundamentals is intended to prepare chefs to lead a brigade. It’s one thing to know how to prepare food; it’s another to know how to be the leader in the kitchen. Of course, this book is also full of valuable information for owners and operators. After all, they should know how their chef is approaching their role.

From Amazon: “When you become a Chef for the first time you may be put in a position where you know how to cook but not how to lead and manage. This book will teach you everything you need to know to become a Chef Leader in the kitchen. From how to manage costs, build a team, market yourself and overcome adversity. This is the book every Chef needs if they want a competitive edge in running a successful kitchen.”

Pick it up today!

Southern Cooking, Global Flavors

Chef Kenny Gilbert’s journey through the culinary world is epic. By the age of seven he had shown such an interest in the art of BBQ that his father bought him his first grill, a small Weber. After high school he moved from his hometown to Cleveland to attend the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. After graduation, Chef Gilbert entered into an apprenticeship at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, in Florida. By age 23, Chef Gilbert earned the role of Chef de Cuisine. He has also opened restaurants and led the culinary programs at restaurants and hotel properties not only throughout Florida but also Colorado, Georgia, throughout the Caribbean, France, Japan, and Spain. Oh, and there was Chef Gilbert’s Top Chef season seven appearance, plus the development of his own line of spices and rubs.

His newly released book features 100 recipes that put international spins on southern classics. Pick up Southern Cooking, Global Flavors today!

The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts

We’ve addressed the need to compliment your cocktail menu with a dedicated ice program. This book, available now for pre-order, is from world-renowned cocktail and spirits writer Camper English. Not only does it include easy-to-follow instructions for you and your bar team to elevate your cocktail program, from full-proof to zero-ABV drinks. The Ice Book, then, is aptly titled—it’s everything you need to introduce a memorable drinking experience.

From Amazon: “In The Ice Book, internationally renowned cocktail icepert Camper English details how to use directional freezing to make perfectly pure ice in a home freezer, carve it up into giant diamonds and other shapes, and embed it with garnishes, including edible orchids and olives. You’ll learn how to create a frozen bowl for Negroni punch, serve a Manhattan inside an ice sphere, and infuse cubes with colors and flavors to create cranberry cobblers, a color-changing Gin and Tonic, and other awesome drinks.”

The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails

Long-time subscribers to KRG Hospitality’s newsletters and readers of our articles know that I love a controversial take on cocktails. Take, for instance, the origin of the Margarita. Well, the opening sentence from the description for The Book of Cocktail Ratios certainly got my attention.

From Amazon: “Did you know that a Gimlet, a Daiquiri, and a Bee’s Knees are the same cocktail? As are a Cosmopolitan, a Margarita, and a Sidecar. When hosting a party wouldn’t you enjoy saying to your guests, ‘Would you care for a Boulevardier, perhaps, or a Negroni?’ These, too, are the same cocktail, substituting one ingredient for another. Or if you’d like to be able to shake up a batch of whiskey sours for a party of eight in fewer than two minutes, then read on.

As Michael Ruhlman explains, our most popular cocktails are really ratios—proportions of one ingredient relative to the others. Organized around five of our best-known, beloved, classic families of cocktails, each category follows a simple ratio from which myriad variations can be built: The Manhattan, The Gimlet, The Margarita, The Negroni, and the most debated cocktail ever, The Martini.”

This book should provide you and your bar team with a totally different perspective when it comes to drink ratios. Pre-order your copy today!

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality advanced bar education

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