8 Helpful Kitchen and Culinary Tips for Foodservice Pros

Chef Rob Corliss, a 3x James Beard House guest chef and culinary consulting company owner, provides foodservice professionals with helpful kitchen and culinary tips.

ATE's passionate daily goal: connecting people to their food, environment & wellness.
ATE’s passionate daily goal: connecting people to their food, environment & wellness.

The search for predicted food trends, kitchen shortcuts and new sales strategies correlates with the beginning of a New Year. Foodservice professionals never slow down, especially not during the holidays. Now it’s March and possibly you’re ready to start working on efficiency, new recipes, and boosting check averages. We asked Chef Rob Corliss, a 3x James Beard House guest chef, to provide our readers with helpful kitchen and culinary tips.

Tip #1 – Maximize efficiency by organizing dry food storage by categories – menu categories or 5 tastes categories (salt, sour, sweet, bitter, umami) labeling shelves, grouping similar items together, storing goods in the same location every time, storing most used goods in the most accessible area and following FIFO. For safety, place heaviest goods on lowest shelves.

Tip #2 – Versatility coupled by heat with flavor is the real story behind the mega-success of sriracha. Consumers crave bold flavor with complexity and the American palate demands more than just heat. Leverage these attributes and look for savory-sweet-spicy sauces to be the next big thing!

Tip #3 – A focused slimmed down menu, strategically developed and executed, can address and deliver on the growing consumer demand for variety. The key is to creatively optimize SKU’s/flavors across menu categories, creating bold and diversified menu offerings. Incorporating seasonal flavors and/or LTO’s is another menu strategy to bring perpetual “new news.”

Tip #4 – The key to reducing food costs takes a multi-faceted approach and constant attention. Track and address your cost of goods, food storage, inventory management, prep levels, waste & proper food costing. Optimize menu positioning and pricing by evaluating the stars, dogs and workhorses on your menu, then drive sales!

Tip #5 – Health and indulgence can strategically coexist on a menu, as life is about balance and so is menu development. Consumers now expect it! They are driving the trend towards health/wellness to be elevated to deliver quality, authentic, craveable on-trend flavors. Independents and the fast-casual segment are leading this innovation.

Tip #6 – Trends ebb and flow, but classic comfort foods are always in style because they strike a deeper, nostalgic emotional connection with consumers. Menuing a comfort food as is for retro appeal or staying relevant with an updated regional, global or healthy twist can be a recipe for success.

Tip #7 – The guest experience, value and consistent food quality are integral tools for driving check averages. Additional tactics are bundling, educating FOH staff, training on upselling, competitive pricing structures, menu verbiage, variety with menu price points, maximize and feature beverages, leveraging trends and using seasonal LTOs to generate traffic.

Tip #8 – FLAVOR is what everyone craves! Craveability = understanding + executing the art & science of flavor. Flavor = complementary appeal (visual impact of food, actual & expected temperature, texture contrasts, opposing attractions, emotional connections) + aroma (80% of flavor) + taste (balancing sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami).

Corliss has over 20 years of experience across multi-disciplines that include running world class resort hotels, launching new restaurant concepts, working in top foodservice marketing agencies and currently owning his own culinary consulting company, ATE – All Things Epicurean http://www.7ate9.biz.

It has always been a vivid source of imagination, growth, inquisitiveness and nourishment over a 20+ year career. ATE is the culmination of Rob’s creative spirit, love and appreciation of the culinary arts and the romance of “all things epicurean.”
Rob’s passion in life (aside from his family) is the culinary arts.

Healthier Choices with Flavorwise™

It’s not just about doing the right thing, it is about embracing it! Meaning we all know that eating healthy is the right choice for our bodies but unless we do it, it’s just talk. As foodservice professionals, we want to walk that walk with our customers and our customers’ customers.

Foothill Farms® Flavorwise™ products were created to help reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant menus. Many products are gluten-free. We want to help our customers meet school and healthcare nutritional guidelines as well as support restaurants that desire a lighter menu. Currently, there are 29 products that house the green Flavorwise™ flag.

According to a recent study by The Port Washington, a N.Y.-based market research firm, menu innovation and older consumers’ increased spending are among the top 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014.

29 products house the green Flavorwise™ flag.
Reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant and K-12 menus.

Our country’s aging population is not cooking. They are going out for meals which translates to our responsibility to meet their dietary restrictions or special diets. Many seniors are watching their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, as well as overall fat content and calories. Paying attention to the trends, restaurants can attract repeat business by posting nutritional information (calories, sodium, fat) on their menus or by offering a special “healthful” menu section for those conscious of their diet.

“Consumers’ interest in healthful meal options is tied to the health needs of boomers and older individuals, the growth in ethnic groups accustomed to fresh food preparation, and greater awareness of the need for and benefits of healthful eating among younger patrons. As an example, NPD found a growing number of consumers who prefer gluten-free foods, not because of required dietary restrictions, but because of the benefits of overall more healthful eating.” (Ruggless, 2013)

Expanding our sauces, seasonings, salad dressings, and gravies within the Flavorwise™ label allows foodservice operators to explore healthier versions of their current menus without sacrificing taste or having to leave Foothill Farms® for a different brand. We’ve got “healthy” covered! For more information on Flavorwise™, please contact your foodservice broker or contact us.

Ruggless, R. (2013, December 16). 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014. Retrieved from Nation’s Restaurant News: http://nrn.com/food-trends/10-trends-shaping-restaurant-industry-2014?page=1

It All Starts Dry! Versatility Is Where You See The Difference

Tacos and Rice

FOODSERVICE SCENARIO

The first of the month is approaching and it’s time to place orders and reorders. You’ve seen what is working and you know what isn’t. The menu can be tweaked but with menu changes comes new products to purchase. Your foodservice broker introduces you to a dry mix product that correlates to your menu change. WAIT! Did you say “DRY MIX”?

YES WE DID! NO NEED TO FEAR CHANGE…IT ALL STARTS DRY!

One of the benefits of using a dry mix is that customers receive a mixture of the basic ingredients rather than having to purchase each one of them individually and possibly, mince and dice multiple ingredients before ever starting to cook. Dehydrating vegetables and blending fresh, dry seasonings along with smart packaging, opens the door to a world of menu VERSATILITY. This is where the possibilities become endless! For example, a container of Chipotle Flavor Taco Seasoning Mix isn’t just for making the obvious; it can easily be combined with cream cheese, mayonnaise, rice, ranch dressing or brownie mix (yes BROWNIE mix) to make many culinary concoctions. In fact, one package of dry mix can be used for as many as 50 servings and in at least 10 different recipes.

Another strong attribute of dry mix is the capability to adjust the strength of the flavors or alter the thickness of the sauce or gravy. When the mix starts dry, you can make the product according to package directions or slowly add liquid until the desired thickness or flavor is reached. This closely resembles “cooking from scratch”. Although, cooking from scratch exudes craftsmanship, it also means additional prep time and expense.

There is a trendy, culinary term that backs the concept of dry mix called “speed scratch”. Speed scratch is loosely defined as the process in which a chef utilizes a prepared mix in replacement of individual basic ingredients and then adds a handful of additional ingredients to make the creation signature and to finish the dish – FAST!

Versatility isn’t just a matter of menu expansion or culinary art, it also helps restaurants and foodservice providers make more profitable meals. How? Dry mix is lighter and less bulky than RTU products, which translates to “more for your money”. It also allows more flexibility for food storage since refrigeration is not required.

Dry mix lends itself more to menu versatility, higher profits, less storage worries and more time for doing what you LOVE to do!