Spring Menus Have Sprung

Spring Menus Have Sprung

It is officially Spring! And while many parts of the country are still working on warming up (Apologies to everyone in the Northeast right now) chefs are ramping up their menus with fresh and bright menu items sure to draw in a wave of hungry foodies.

Spring makes us feel renewed. The sun begins its return, flowers are blooming, and treasured ingredients like white asparagus, morel mushrooms and snow peas are coming back in season. And customers are finally coming out of their winter hibernation looking for something fresh to clear up the heavy bread bowls and hearty meals that had sustained them during the winter.  

We decided to reach out to chefs around the country and put together a short list of some of the best spring menu items across the nation to jump-start your creativity. Thank you, everyone, for your awesome submissions! 

Our criteria for selecting the best dishes are as follows:

  1. Ingredients - Are they fresh and seasonal?
  2. Visual appeal - Does the picture make me travel the distance to get this dish?
  3. Creativity - Is it unique or made to be new?

Ok, Here we go!

#3 Holla Duck 

Chef Oscar Cabezas - Telefèric Barcelona - Walnut Creek, California 

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Give Customers What They Want With These Clean-Label Dessert Recipes

Give Customers What They Want With These Clean-Label Dessert Recipes

Welcome to Foodable’s Smart Kitchen where chefs share innovative ideas around the challenges you work with every day. In this episode, Agnes and Chef Adrianne are cleaning up your customers' favorite desserts.

Customers are demanding clean ingredients and transparency in everything they eat from entrees to indulgent desserts. Many concepts are taking, cheesecake, a classic customer favorite, and adding fruit flavors to take the traditional plate to the next level. But while apple and cheesecake are a winning pair, ensuring consistent quality and flavor can be a strife for multi-unit operators. In this episode, see how Chef Adrianne makes adding fresh and clean fruit flavors to your dessert menu easy and cost-efficient.

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How To Better Profit From Crafted Cocktails

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Crafted cocktails are not a new invention, but from the days of the good old “Harvey Wallbanger” to today’s gastronomy driven “Old Fashioned,” they have evolved to complex, costly, and labor-intensive items.

“What is a crafted cocktail?,” you may ask. First off, nothing pre-made out of the bottle mixes—Fresh, fresh, oh did we mention you need freshness in your drink? That would consist of using real fruit juice made to order or prepared the day of. Please keep lime-in-the-bottle out of the bar and remember to use fine liqueurs with no artificial flavors and opt for natural flavored syrups. Fine spirits stay away from the well brands. You just can’t make it work, this is not the way to save or cut costs on the main showpiece.

So, many barmen and women think they should just stay behind the bar, but this is wrong. Today’s crafted cocktails are full of exciting ingredients from spices to fresh herbs, and use co-kitchen ingredients like pork fat, tomatoes, and fruit and vegetable scraps.

Here are some tips to keep it crafty and profitable:

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  1. Pick fine spirits for your cocktail. A little goes a long way here. A one ounce fine whisky pour in a cocktail will standout versus a two ounce well whisky. People ordering crafted cocktails are becoming more knowledgeable and will seek a small batch liquor when selecting. Yes, a fine liquor will cost more than a well brand, but lower pours will aid your costs.

  2. Batch make some of the more labor intensive items like fresh juices, and syrups during prep. They should be stored in glass not plastic. This will save labor and timing and you can control your usage throughout the day. You can also calculate your yields from your raw ingredients.

  3. Know your COSTS! Use measuring tools like jiggers to calculate costs. Set a cost goal that you are comfortable with and gives the customer value. Many times, owners are surprised to find out their cocktail list is costing them 40 percent just in products.  Know before you pour.

Formula:

Total cost of ingredients divided by the sale price equals the cocktail cost percentage per menu item. 

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  1. Keep all cocktail production under three minutes each. This has been one of the biggest speed bumps for many bar programs. Time is money, and customers don’t want to wait until their meter is out. How to make a crafted cocktail within a reasonable time? Train bar staff and know what items can be prepped beforehand and still be fresh within the given shift. You can pick off mint leaves and precut some garnishment. People still want to see the whole process, but if the bartender is making cocktails for a table away from the bar, this will not matter, as the taste and level of freshness will be the same; so saving the show for the bar top is not short changing anyone.

  2. The kitchen has a wealth of free ingredients you can use to make syrups and garnishments from just scraps. Ask the chef what he is throwing out—peels, herb, stems and more. Michelin star restaurant, Providence, in Hollywood uses many kitchen scraps in their cocktail program daily, and bar manager Kim Stodel had no previous cooking knowledge but has learned from on-staff chefs how to best utilize ingredients. It would also be great to include your chefs on your cocktail creations, as they will give you insight on which free kitchen scraps you may be able to exploit.

  3. Ask your supplier what crafted spirit specials they have. Many times you can work out a deal for case discounts and/or refunds if you just place the liquor brand name on your cocktail list. We have more small batch spirit companies than ever, and they are thirsty for business and willing to give a break in cost for a spot on your list and sales. ASK ASK and ASK and you will find a fitting brand willing to invest in lowering spirit costs. Spirit companies are willing to do joint promotions, which will also aid you in costs. Ask for package deals being offered with other items, like ginger beer. Also remember that many times your sales rep will be forgetful in offering, so you have to keep asking every week.

  4. Changing up the menu and keeping it seasonal will also keep costs down, as many of the fresh items, such as citrus and herbs, will rise in costs as they fade out of season. Use the seasons as your guide for refreshing your cocktail menu; it’s a great way to keep your cocktail menu from going stale.

When creating crafted cocktails, the end goal is to make a refreshing beverage that will leave a lasting memory on your guest.  So many bar programs end up with a list of ingredients longer than a French cookbook; don’t get caught up in making it complicated, and just keep the glass full of value and quality.
 

“Angeleno” Food Cart Brings Traditional LA Tacos to Philly

Los Angeles-native Vanessa Jerolmack has been making traditional Mexican tacos all her life, but it wasn't until she moved to Philadelphia that she thought to open up a shop dishing out the craveable bites. Now, on a lot on Baltimore Avenue, Taco Angeleno serves customers fully customizable tacos, burritos and quesadillas with an array of options, even catering to the vegan crowd.

“We make a homemade seitan here, and that's from my vegan days,” Jerolmack explains. “Like, I wanted something meaty tasting that I could eat with all the normal toppings that the other people with a meat taco were eating.”

Using a commercial kitchen ten blocks away, Taco Angeleno preps all its ingredients before bringing them to the food cart to be served. Customizable toppings like Salvadorian curtido, and staples like onions, cilantro, and lime take the tacos to the next level.

Being an outdoor restaurant, Taco Angeleno is only open from May through October to avoid the cold and rainy Philadelphia weather, but you can visit Taco Angeleno year-round by watching the episode above!

 
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