Quick Six with... Ireland-native Gráinne O'Keefe— Chef, Culinary Director & Restauranteur

Quick Six with... Ireland-native Gráinne O'Keefe— Chef, Culinary Director & Restauranteur

If you’ve visited Dublin in recent years and have eaten at the star-studded The Merrion hotel, or Michelin-recognized restaurants like Pichet and Bastible, chances are you’ve tasted some of Gráinne O'Keefe’s food as she worked herself up the kitchen ranks.

For O’Keefe, becoming a chef was always the plan.

“I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a chef. From watching cooking shows and reading books, I was sure that it would be what I did as a career...” said the now twenty-something chef who enrolled in culinary school at the age of 17. “...I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I'd rather work 80 hours a week doing something that I love, than work 40 hours a week doing something that I hated.”

Not only is the Ireland-native a head chef (for Clanbrassil House in Dublin), but she’s also a culinary director and a restaurateur for two separate fast casual concepts that recently opened in Dublin and London this year.

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The Main Dish: Houston-Based Restaurants Respond to Hurricane Harvey, How to Adopt Japanese Flavors, and Other Highlights

In the age of information overload, refinement is key. That was the thought behind The Main Dish — a quick compilation of the most bookmark-worthy links from the Foodable Network. Aside from our usual daily content, every Sunday, The Main Dish will serve a fresh batch of handpicked pieces of the most appetizing lists & literature that you may have missed.

Japanese food

Getting Past the Labor Crunch Affecting the Restaurant Industry

Forget why it happened — or continues to happen — but there is a very real shortage of kitchen labor. You can have a shimmering five-star Yelp rating, a filled dining room, and the best craft beer list around, but without staff to make food and make drinks, you are nowhere. Throwing your hands up in meaningless desperation because ‘there aren’t people out there!’ is less than productive. Instead, get real about plugging employment holes.

12-Year Local Brand Urbane Cafe Thinks There's Room for Growth in Fast Casual

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, host Paul Barron talks to Tom Holt of Urbane Cafe about why he decided to take on a full made-from-scratch menu in Ventura, California 12 years ago. In 2003, Holt was a professional motocross racer and couldn’t find a healthy fast casual in Ventura. He took that as inspiration to create his own. And thus, Urbane Cafe was born. Everything at Urbane is made from scratch from the bread and the sauces to the dressings. 

How to Adopt the Flavors of Japan

Guests are increasingly adventurous with the help of social media, which is educating and luring guests to establishments that are offering delightful new flavors. These flavors comfort, intrigue, and perhaps confuse a little–all at the same time. Adopting the flavors of Japan, even when used in non-traditional ways, is a way to offer guests an authentic flavor that satisfies and doesn’t have to add much to existing food costs. 

 

Hurricane Harvey.jpeg

Everytable: The Oasis Found in U.S. Food Deserts

Foodable met up with some of the great minds in hospitality at this year’s HUB conference in Southern California. On this episode of On Foodable Weekly we hear how CEO Sam Polk started Everytable and how the company stays profitable. Everytable creates healthy grab-and-go meals and sells them for cheaper than the price of local fast food. The goal is that everyone, even those in food deserts, can afford to feed their families nourishing meals.

How Houston Restaurants are Giving Back to the Local Community Post-Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane season is upon us and as another beast of a storm comes tumbling our way, Texas is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. People’s houses, businesses, and even lives has been destroyed in a matter of days. But out of the bad comes the good. In these times of hardship, we really see America’s charitable spirit. Millions have been donated and there have been so many volunteers after the storm that they are being turned away.

The First Step To A Better Restaurant

Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do. You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today. Actually, right now. It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards. While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. 

Is Your Menu Too Aggressive for Your Market?

Is Your Menu Too Aggressive for Your Market?

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

Take out your menu and look at it. Go on, do it…no one is watching. Take it all in. How do you feel about your menu? Are you happy with it? The real question is: Are your guests happy with it?

Menu creation is easy. Anyone can pick out some items, put them on a menu, and try to sell them. The true art comes when you try to make a profit from that. Sometimes that is not as easy as some believe it is.

The answers are in the questions you ask yourself about your menu. If you want better results, then ask better questions. The truth is liberating, however, at first you’ll be more pissed off. It’s okay, emotions get people motivated. You just need trust the process.

So, let’s get a little uncomfortable. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself while you have your menu in front of you.

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Winter Ingredient Focus: California Dates

Winter Ingredient Focus: California Dates

By Brian Murphy, Foodable Contributor

Winter presents challenges with customers, procurement, and menu originality. Sure, warm, comforting dishes are a standby, but how else can an establishment add an ingredient to completely change flavor profiles and add interest? Look no further than the California date. Delicious, complex, sweet, and in season. This underutilized fruit is a sweet flavor bomb that is begging to be used in a multitude of applications.

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Menu Inspiration: Flavors of Baja California Hit the U.S. Market

Menu Inspiration: Flavors of Baja California Hit the U.S. Market

By Brian Murphy, Foodable Industry Expert

Baja California offers a unique combination that is flooding the Southern California market and beyond: Mediterranean climate and a mixture of regional cooks, ingredients, and recipes from different states throughout Mexico. 

Travel into Baja only needs to last about two minutes before being engulfed in the aroma of mesquite charcoal and seared meats, and that means one thing: street tacos. Almost as prevalent, albeit a little more regional, are seafood vendors offering fresh seafood served alongside a tall or short stack of tostadas. These items are versatile, cost-effective, and delicious. They also happen to be exactly what many diners are after.

Tortillas: Authenticate Your Vehicle

The beautiful thing about tacos and tostadas is their simplicity. They each have a key component that acts as the vessel to deliver a protein and/or vegetables: the tortilla. The quality of the tortilla is incredibly important and should be considered before the menu is changed to offer street tacos on Taco Tuesday. 

Careful thought behind the tortillas for tacos is crucial for a variety of reasons. Taking some grilled chicken that is already being utilized elsewhere on the menu and throwing it on any tortilla a bulk supplier can provide is an option, but it will only yield average results, no matter what goes on top. To get to the next level (for both taste and menu pricing), tortillas should be procured from a more authentic source or be made in house. 

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