Fruitcake season is here, and with it, a golden opportunity for your restaurant to feature far out fruitcakes and attract the masses of holiday consumers to your eatery. While no one knows exactly how the dense, candied, nutty, sweet, and booze-soaked dessert became associated with the Christmas tradition, the fact is that customers wait all year long to indulge in the traditional treat. At the same time, they are ready and eager to sink their teeth into new and updated recipe.
From Fruitcake Classics to Flavorful Twists
Typically eaten by the slice and popularly given away as holiday gifts, new flavorful twists on the age-old dessert include recipes for fruitcake cookies, bars, mini-bites, shortbread, and even fruitcake waffles and donuts! Decadent no matter how they are prepared, let’s learn more about the culinary science and art of making magnificent fruitcakes. To do so, take off your apron, take a load off your feet, and prepare to take a journey into the past as we indulge in some fascinating fruitcake history…
History of Fruitcakes Across the Ages
Did you know that the modern-day fruitcake has been making the global rounds for millennium? Food historians have determined that the placing of cake loaves on the tombs of loved ones was customary as far back as ancient Egypt, over 3,000 years ago (perhaps as nourishment for the afterlife). But it was not until ancient Roman times that the fruitcake became popular and really took off. Touted for its portability and long shelf life – and hence frequently brought to the battlefields by Roman soldiers – the first fruitcakes were made of a pomegranate-pine nut-barley mash that was molded into a ring-shaped dessert.
Similarly, during the Middle Ages, fruited breads were widespread among Crusaders travelling the world and featured the addition of preserved fruits, spices, and honey.
Continue reading Holiday Fruitcakes for Your Restaurant Menu
Attention all foodservice providers: Did you know that over 53% of baby boomers plan to significantly reduce their sugar intake this year and are committed to selecting products and menu items with no sugar added? Moreover, did you know that baby boomers have more purchasing power than any other age group in the U.S.? The demographic (aka “the 50-plus crowd”, born 1946-1964) also eats out more and travels more than any other generation.
This may surprise you, given that the millennial population has captured much of the limelight in recent food industry news. However, while the latter are considered the industry’s future big spenders, it is baby boomers who still constitute the largest group of buyers – and when it comes to food choices, health concerns are a major factor in their decisions. Specifically, according to C+R Research and nationwide surveys, baby boomers are most likely to “respond positively to health related products” and especially prefer foods that are free from sugar, fat, and sodium.
Continue reading How to Cater to Your (Sugar-Reducing) Baby Boomer Customers
Chicken Still Rules the Catering Roost
While the latest and greatest trends must always be at the top of your catering menu, and your finger must remain firmly on the pulse of what trend-happy customers are looking for, one can never overlook the trend that seems to never go out of style: getting back to basics. Every few years the pendulum swings back around and basics like chicken – the All-American favorite – come back to top the list of trends to be on the lookout for. Right now, basic chicken recipes such as rotisserie and fried chicken are returning to the forefront of the catering world, so you can’t afford to overlook what has always been right in front of your eyes.
Chicken Remains Popular
The chicken industry in the United States is one of the most successful sectors in agriculture, with no signs of slowing down. Americans consume more than 80 pounds of chicken per person annually. Today’s chickens are healthy and wholesome – and affordable for just about everyone.
There are many varieties of chicken, including free range chicken, organic chicken, and conventional chicken; the difference between them is based on the basis of their breeding. While free-range chicken is allowed to roam freely in the pasture; conventional chicken (at the heart of ongoing controversy), is kept in cages and not allowed to move freely. Conventional chicken is also injected with hormones to fasten its growth and to make it unnaturally big. These are considerations when choosing chickens to feed a crowd (though your customers may dictate what kinds of chicken to use).
Continue reading Entice Your Guests with Rotisserie or Fried Chicken
The Breakfast Trend Goes Global
Buffets, in general, and breakfast buffets, in particular, are hugely popular at catered events, and the trend seems to be gaining steam. However, because there is no rest for the weary, and because caterers can never rest on their laurels, smart caterers are always looking for ways to increase the intrigue and allure of their menu offerings. Enter the internationally inspired breakfast – the hottest trend in catered affairs.
A New Twist to an Old Stand-By
While pancakes and waffles never go out of style, and omelet stations are still an integral part of breakfast buffets, the savvy caterer is now going beyond the U.S. borders and incorporating foreign flavors and international dishes in their breakfast menus. According to the National Restaurants Association, 68% of the American Culinary Federation Chefs surveyed chose ethnic-style breakfast food as one of the hottest trends of 2018.
Continue reading Discover the International Breakfast Food Trend
How to Minimize Food Waste in Commercial Kitchens
Food waste has long been an unfortunate byproduct of commercial kitchens – including both restaurant and catering kitchens. According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), every year, roughly 40 million tons of wasted food is sent to landfills in the United States. At the same time, record numbers of Americans – about one in six – are receiving government food assistance. In the United States, organizations like the FWRA are taking on the challenges of food waste with the dual goal of shrinking our environmental footprint and addressing hunger in America. So, what can you do to reduce waste in your commercial kitchen? Read on.
What is Food Waste?
The sources of food waste are varied and many. Food waste is generated by consumers and the food-service industry (restaurants and catering companies, for instance), but it can also be a byproduct of manufacturing operations. Food waste is food that can be used again but that is instead sent to landfills. This food is thrown out because it looks weird and inedible; it was not eaten during a meal; or, it is unused and beginning to rot. Food waste amounts to the equivalent of about 20 pounds of wasted food per person per month in the U.S.; and in monetary terms, that’s about $1,000 of food waste per year per four-person family.
Continue reading How to Eliminate Food Waste in the Commercial Kitchen
Fabulous Outdoor Party Lighting Ideas
Although winter is upon us and the idea of an outdoor event makes us shiver, spring and summer are just around the corner. In fact, as a successful caterer, you are probably used to booking parties at least six months in advance, which means you (hopefully) have reservations galore for the spring and summer of 2018. Therefore, it’s time to start planning outdoor evening events – the kind of parties that put everyone in a relaxed, festive mood. With the right lighting, your outdoor event can be an unforgettable smash hit, with minimal effort.
Lighting: The Main Ingredient to a Successful Outdoor Event
Great food, friends and relatives are the main ingredients for a fantastic party, but ambiance also factors into success. While an indoor event requires painstaking décor, an outdoor summer party just about creates its own atmosphere. Nonetheless, it’s possible to boost the “wow” factor of an outdoor event with just a little effort and creativity. With the right lighting you can make an event magical – and truly a night to remember.
Continue reading Use These Outdoor Party Lighting Ideas to Create a Memorable Event
Attracting New Customers vs. Nurturing Loyalty
Once your restaurant is up and running – after the first marketing push, through the launch, and on into steady business – the focus of your advertising should constantly be changing. Whereas once every customer was a new customer, now you are welcoming regulars: repeat customers for whom your restaurant is a home away from home. The question is, at this enviable point, do you continue to invest in trying to attract new customers, or do you focus on maintaining your loyal diners. Or both.
New Customers First
According to LoyalMarketing.com, in an article entitled, “Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention,” it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, yet customer acquisition is still the primary focus of most businesses in general, and restaurants in particular. Loyal customers, and their repeat business, are the cornerstone of long-term success because it is so expensive to find new customers. Nonetheless, if expansion and growth are a goal – and of course they are – new business must be a top priority. To continue to grow your business you’re going to need more people frequenting your restaurant – and lots of them. Although you want to maintain a relationship with your existing customers, it will always be important to bring in fresh business in the form of new customers.
Continue reading How to Balance Customer Retention with Customer Loyalty
How to Choose Restaurant Seating
Although you may think that it’s your food that keeps customers in their seats, it’s not just that. Sometimes, it really is the seats! Many factors have to combine to create a restaurant that diners find appealing and that they keep returning to. And while your chairs, barstools, sofas or other seating options may not be your #1 priority, it can make or break your customers’ dining experience. Seating is worth a second look.
Things to Consider When Choose Seating
Planning the layout and seating capacity of a restaurant dining room involves more than just setting some tables and chairs out in a room. To start with, for safety reasons, you must comply with occupancy limits set by state or local fire codes. In addition, you want to make your restaurant’s patrons comfortable.
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Restaurant Health Department Inspections
Restaurant owners generally view a visit from the health inspector as an inconvenience – or worse – as opposed to an opportunity to learn. Most restaurant owners dread health inspections; however, as we previously discussed, preparing for these inspections means that there is no reason to fear the inspector’s visit. Proper food storage, careful personal hygiene, meticulous attention to cleanliness, ongoing training, and self-inspections are all part of the “before.” Now, we’ll talk about how you should act during, and after, the health-inspection process.
Frequency of Health Inspections
The more complex the food-service operation, the more often the health department will visit. A restaurant where meat and fish are prepared and served could be visited two or three times a year, whereas a coffee house or a small bakery will require inspections just once annually. However, other factors can affect the frequency of an inspector’s visit. If, for instance, you regularly receive low inspection scores, you can expect to be inspected up to four times a year. Similarly, if someone reports your establishment for a foodborne illness, or for substandard operating procedures, the health department is authorized to come out and inspect based on that complaint.
Continue reading Know How to Handle Restaurant Health Inspections
How to Work with Health Inspectors
How you interact with health inspectors can go a long way to securing the health of your customers and the reliability of your license to do business. If, as a restaurant owner or caterer, you view your local health inspector as a nemesis, the time has come for you to rethink this position. Health inspectors are not your enemy; if anything, they are your partners, and the goal is to work together to prevent foodborne illness and ensure your customers’ wellbeing.
Why Restaurant Inspections Are Important
Health inspections are not designed to cause stress to restaurant owners and caterers; rather, their goal is to ensure safety for your customers. According to Food Services of America, more than half of all foodborne illnesses are acquired from eating at restaurants. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that half of all produce has chemical contamination. Faced with these challenges, it makes sense that the food in restaurants and catering facilities should be stored, thawed, and cooked according to strict regulations, and that the kitchen, freezers, and storage areas kept sanitary and sterile.
Continue reading Train Staff to Always be Ready for a Health Inspection