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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7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

Every drop counts! Beverages arguably play a larger role in the industry today than they ever did before! 

You could try and make everyone happy by offering dozens of options at your restaurant, cafe, or bar, but we all know that’s likely not going to happen. An establishment needs to carefully consider their beverage menu, whether alcohol-focused or not, and offer one that is balanced, targeted, and one that fits their concept.

Many operators continue to face a challenge, however, when it comes to developing an effective beverage strategy. As with its food counter-part, consumers are more educated today about beer, cocktails, wine, coffees, sodas, and even a variety of waters. They understand retail prices and flavor profiles because they’ve become (or think they’ve become) a barista, mixologist, and/or wine & beer connoisseur at home. When they’re dining out or visiting a bar now, they crave something that’s ‘differentiated.’ 

How can restaurants, cafes, and bars take advantage of this segment and develop a memorable, consistent, and profitable beverage strategy that creates differentiation? Here are some tips to review when creating or re-engineering your next beverage menu. 

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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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BRIO Revamps Menu to be More Modern and Introduces Small Plates

BRIO Revamps Menu to be More Modern and Introduces Small Plates

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The polish casual dining chain, BRIO Tuscan Grille has just launched a brand new menu. The modern menu of food and drinks features 13 new entrees; small plates for either two, three or four; and a renewed beverage selection. 

The focus of the menu is still on Tuscan classics, but with a fresh, modern approach to the traditional dishes featuring chef-inspired ingredients. 

Brio borrows from the fast-casual space by encouraging customization for guests “to ensure that their cuisine of choice perfectly suits their palate.” The brand’s new menu also appeals to the health-conscious consumer with more low-calorie and gluten-free options. 

With the launch of this menu, the chain has emphasized the introduction of their small plate selections. These items are meant to be shared and can be ordered in different portion- sizes depending on the table size. Some of the available small plates include the Mezza Beef Carpaccio and the White Bean Dip. 

"By incorporating a creative, modern twist into many of our dishes, continuing to serve our classic favorites, and adding more opportunities for sharing, we are pleased to evolve the guest experience, while staying true to the essence of Tuscan dining," said Alison Peters, BRIO culinary director & chef in a press release. "The new menu continues to embody our philosophy: 'to eat well, is to live well.'"

Other new items include the Brûléed Parmesan Crème appetizer, Shrimp Risotto & Broiled Maine Lobster Tail, Pan Roasted Tilapia, Espresso Rubbed Ribeye, Roasted Tomato Basil Fettuccine, the chef specialty Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and the White Bean & Escarole Ragout as a side.

The menu design itself has undergone a facelift with a sleek, contemporary look that “exudes elegant simplicity, while being easier to read.”

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8 Ways to Get Customers to Eat Their Vegetables

8 Ways to Get Customers to Eat Their Vegetables

By Jim Berman, Foodable Industry Expert

Baby Boomers insist on a healthier slant. Gen X-ers feel more connected to their food. And Millennials just want whatever they want. As such, chefs are digging into vegetables with gusto and reckless abandon. Perceived as healthy with playful takes on flavor and an interesting medium of which the kitchen can explore, vegetables are really starting to matter. Beet carpaccio was once an anomaly. All-vegetable menus were reserved for the eclectic, granola eating, hemp wearing hippy crew that proliferated after California spa cuisine washed across the country emanating from Alice Waters and the likes of the nouvelle movement. Avocado toast was panned as an overpriced, New York joke. Vegetable is again hip. Very hip. Not just hipster, either. Cauliflower steaks are virtually one step away from Lone Star’s menu. Gramercy Tavern is touting vegetable creations that rival appeal much like the seared scallops do in the proliferating gastro pub or even in the local sports’ bar. Vegetables are appealing on all levels, carry lower food cost, and can often showcase culinary craftsmanship. So how does the jump happen to get them from the oft-relegated sidelines to the center of the plate? Beef is always expensive. Seafood? The same. Dirt crops are grounded in a modicum of price stability, especially when figuring seasonality. Produce is that unique commodity that is best consumed when prices are lower. There is a reason why strawberries are so expensive in, say, January

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