Boost Value and Cut Costs with Speed Scratch Menu Items

Boost Value and Cut Costs with Speed Scratch Menu Items

You’ve no doubt heard these industry buzzwords lately: fresh, scratch-made, consistent. But creating an entire menu from scratch daily can be incredibly difficult, not to mention the stress it places on your kitchen and staff. Sourcing, storing, and measuring individual ingredients for each dish takes time and space, costing you money.

So, many businesses fall into the trap of cutting corners thinking it will save them money.

But, if there is anything we can learn from successful business owners like Shake Shack or Lemonade, it’s that cutting corners is a short-term solution. Truly successful businesses take pride in providing truly high-quality food, and revel in the success.

But consider a new buzzword: Speed scratch. Speed scratch dishes are scratch made items that have been aided and possibly enhanced by the addition of pre-measured and tailored seasonings, which allow a scratch-made product to be made quicker than measuring, sourcing and storing a bunch of ingredients.

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Elevating Comfort Food: Give Your Customers What They Want

Elevating Comfort Food: Give Your Customers What They Want

Consumers today are constantly looking for the next big thing.

They are looking for new technologies, new experiences and new ways to explore flavor. But while millennials are pushing forward in this age of exploration, a majority of customers are exploring their palates in more modest ways.

Instead of searching for cricket flour or “bleeding” vegan burgers, most consumers are simply looking to inject some excitement into their current staples. For example, truffles.

Truffles and truffle oil have captivated the appetites of people for more than a thousand years. In the mid-1800’s over 2,000 tons of truffles appeared throughout Europe. But after World War I, much of the rural lands were destroyed and the growth of truffles plummeted. By the 1960’s we were producing less than 400 tons.

Still a rare delicacy, in recent years truffles have been reserved for the wealthy. Today, truffles can set an operator back over $1500 per pound, eating up budgets.

But consumers today are craving the elegance associated with the gourmet ingredient. They are looking for ways to experience the truffle taste without having to pay the exorbitant truffle price, which is putting pressure on operators.

Working the flavor into your menu is easier than you’d think. In response to consumer demands, menu incidence of truffles has increased 4.2% over just the last year. Fast casuals have taken on the ingredient most heavily with a 10% increase in use in the segment. Fine dining and quick service establishments both report increases in use between 5 and 7 percent.

So how can you begin working the item quickly and easily into your menu?

Kicking up Comfort Food

The potato may be the most versatile vegetable available. Mashed, hashed and crinkle-cut, all forms of the starchy tuber are delicious and have held their popularity for decades. While it seems there will never be a shortage of inventive formats for the potato, the flavor profile of potatoes seem to have stayed largely unchanged.

Potatoes pair well with delicious, salty fats like butter and cheese or fried in oil. Truffles, on the other hand, provide an earthy, umami flavor not typically experienced with traditional fats.

Enter Idahoan. Idahoan’s products are made with 100% real potatoes every time, dehydrated using an innovative process that better preserves the natural potato taste and texture. By incorporating real black truffle, Idahoan has created a flavor combination that provides a light yet exquisite taste experience, giving customers, and operators, exactly what they’ve been searching for. And it’s paying off.

Growth in the Spud Segment

The total growth across the industry for the mashed potato category is +2.1% year-over-year according to a Technomic Volumetric Assessment of the Foodservice Potato Market published in December of 2017. Idahoan Foodservice’s mashed potato growth is +3.5% year-over-year, giving the brand a noticeable step up.

The choice of Black Truffle is important: Black truffles deliver a delicate, more refined flavored than that of white truffles, which makes them a perfect complement to the delightfully pleasing taste of Idahoan mashed potatoes.

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Sides Moving to the Front of the Menu

Sides Moving to the Front of the Menu

Side dishes. Even the name sends a message: they’re there to complement the main dish, the Robin to the main dish’s Batman. And because of their historical second-class status, it’s easy to overlook side dishes or think of them as nice additions to a meal, but ones you could do without if it came down to it.

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How The Organic Coup is Cleaning Fast Food, One Chicken at a Time

While some consumers may believe fast food is a fast track to unhealthy eating, The Organic Coup hatched a new idea when it comes to chicken. This brand became the first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant, confirmed by their certifying agency, CCOF.

"We were shocked to find out we were first," founder Erica Welton said.

This concept was inspired by the team's years of working at Costco Wholesale, and the push for social change in foodservice became the foundation of the business. The name began as a typo for the word "coop," but "coup" was also fitting: coup is defined as a takeover, and that's exactly what this restaurant is doing — taking over the fast food industry with a new, organic attitude, proving that fast food has the potential to be good food.

"We want to serve the highest-quality product at a fair price," Welton said. "I'm also a mom of two young boys. [I'm] very passionate about what goes into my kids' food. Chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and as a food buyer for Costco, learning more and more about what is getting put into our food — it was scary."

The Menu

Organic efforts could become complex, but The Organic Coup's operation is simple.

"We are not going to be a restaurant that has 50 items on the menu," Welton said.

The Coup Signature Sandwich is made up of chicken sourced locally from Mary's Free Range Organic Air-Chilled Chicken. The breasts are soaked in buttermilk, hand-breaded, and fried in coconut oil — honestly, the most expensive oil they could choose, but it is low in cholesterol and high in vitamin A. The menu also consists of a wrap and a bowl, and all buns are toasted and wraps are steamed to order. 

The restaurant also offers unique sauces, from spicy BBQ ranch, sesame ginger, mustard Vinaigrette, and more. Guests with a sweet tooth can also nibble on their organic popcorn, drizzled in caramel and with either white or dark chocolate. 

The Philosophy

More than about making fast food good food, The Organic Coup is about being good to the environment, too. Their chicken is air-chilled, a tactic used in Europe and Canada. Unlike the water chlorine bath method used in the United States, air-chilled facilities save 30,000 gallons of water every day.

The tables at the restaurant also have a touch of sustainability, as they are made from reclaimed wood (and were even built by Welton's father. All the restaurant's cleaning supplies and pest control are also organic certified. And to continue the education of their staff, The Organic Coup has a wall dedicated to going back to the basics, emphasizing the importance of non-GMO and hormone use.

"You know, I think it's very difficult to cheat Mother Nature, and in the end, there is always a price to pay. To disrupt such an old mentality on the way food was being brought to people just seemed like a lot of fun," Welton said.

Power to the chicken! Want to learn more about how this restaurant is rewriting fast food? Watch the full episode now.

"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

Which restaurant reigns supreme? Find out in "Top Dish," a multi-part mini-series where the top three Canadian restaurants go head-to-head for the title of best dish. Restaurants and their chefs, one in Montreal, one in Vancouver, and one in Toronto, will fire up their pans and show off why their talent, style, and concept make them No. 1.

How It's Scored

The scoring system for "Top Dish" begins by determining the top restaurant in each city through our proprietary Foodable Labs data, but to shake things up, we've enlisted the top local food influencers to put their taste buds to the test as critics. Each critic's responsibility is to taste the chef's featured dish (sign us up!) and give a serving of the truth — what is their honest, on-camera critique? (Not in front of the chefs, of course. Unless they're watching this now...)

Our critics are asked to privately rate different elements of the dish and experience to determine an overall score. The overall scores for each restaurant are revealed at the end of "Top Dish." But what goes behind each of the scores? Three things: the critic's scorecard (which includes selection, tableware, plating, ingredients, and more on a scale of 1 to 10), food sentiment score, and service sentiment score, the latter two tracked by Foodable Labs. In total, the highest score a restaurant can earn is 270 points.

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