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Ana Doaga

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Homestyle Freshly-Cut Potato Chips

potato chips

 

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes

4 tbsp of your favorite Gourmet Fries Seasoning flavor

vegetable oil for frying

Instructions:

Peel the potatoes, clean them and start slicing them. As you slice, place the potato slices in a bowl of cold water. Play with the thickness of each slice to identify your favorite, some like them more crispy, while others enjoy a little smoothness. Add seasoning 3 tbsp of Gourmet Fries Seasoning to the water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again.

Peel the potatoes, clean them and start slicing them. As you slice, place the potato slices in a bowl of cold water. Play with the thickness of each slice to identify your favorite, some like them more crispy, while others enjoy a little smoothness. Add seasoning 3 tbsp of Gourmet Fries Seasoning to the water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again.

Heat oil in the deep-fryer to 365 degrees and fry the potato slices one batch at a time. Once they are starting to get a goldish look, remove them and drain them on paper towels. Season them with what was left of the Gourmet Fries Seasoning flavor.

 

 

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Ana Doaga

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Salt and Vinegar Wings Recipe

salt and vinegar wings

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

- 3 lbs chicken wings

- 2 tbsp of Salt and Vinegar Gourmet Fries Seasoning

- 1 tbsp of Garlic Pepper Gourmet Fries Seasoning

- 1 tsp sugar

- vegetable oil for frying

- ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping 

Instructions:

Fill a large cooking pot halfway with the oil and heat on medium heat, until it reaches 375 degrees. While the oil is heating, mix 1 tbs of Salt and Vinegar Gourmet Fries Seasoning, one tbs of Garlic Pepper Gourmet Fries Seasoning and 1 tsp of sugar to create a dry rub for your meat. Toss the wings through the mix, making sure it is equally spread all over. Fry the wings for  7-9 minutes, until they are crispy and have a perfect, golden skin. Drain them on a plate with paper towels. While they are still hot, toss the wings in a bowl and sprinkle what you have left of the Salt and Vinegar Gourmet Fries Seasoning. 

Serve with ranch or blue cheese and homestyle freshly-cut potato chips. Enjoy!

 

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Ana Doaga

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The 7 Food Photography Tips You Need To Know

Photo credit: Marco Derksen. Source: Flickr. License: Creative Commons.

Photo credit: Marco Derksen. Source: Flickr. License: Creative Commons.

Nowadays, with the consistent uprise of food blogs and visual social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, consumers have developed a keen taste for food photography, which they judge very harshly. In a time when foodies take artistic pictures of every dish they see and have learned the tricks of the trade, chefs need to keep up with them and ensure that what they post online looks appealing, professional and Internet-worthy. So, even if you contract a professional photographer, or decide to take some shots yourself, here are the things you need to know:

1. Lighting is everything

Unless you are a skilled photographer, you should always opt for natural lighting when you take pictures of your food. So be sure to never use a flash and to choose well-lit rooms. This way, your food has no weird hues, no shadows or unaesthetic creases.

2. Don’t be afraid to play with angles

Depending on the type of plating you are dealing with, your food might look better from above, from the customer’s perspective or from a closer angle, which lets show colors and textures. Try them all and choose your favorite.

3. Don’t cook food entirely

When you prepare something especially for photography, make sure it’s not entirely cooked, as this will keep colors more vibrant and make food look fresh and tasty. Ensure all vegetables are “al dente” and that meat is rare.

4. Be fast

Some foods that contain ice cream or sauces only looks good for a couple of seconds, after they are taken out of the kitchen, so make sure that, by the time they arrive, you finish your setup and decide on the framing. Once it is in front of you, move quickly, to ensure you catch the right textures at the right time.

5. Don’t forget the props

Some chefs and photographers focus so much on the actual food, that they totally forget to use background to their advantage. Make sure your scenery is complete by using nice accent pieces which complement the decor – napkins, silverware, glasses can help you emphasize a dish’s colors or composition. Find the setup that best suits your food and restaurant style.

6. Go with your instinct

Sometimes, your dish might look great in the kitchen, but, when shot on camera, you might feel that something is missing. Don’t be afraid to get creative and add color to it, by using some herbs, garnishes or spices that make sense and actually go well with your food.

7. Understand that some dishes are just not made for photography

Sometimes, a dish in your menu might be a delicious crowd pleaser, but it might just not look good in photos, because of the plate it needs to be served in, its ingredients etc. Understand that not everything can become a visual masterpiece and focus on the meals that are really worth photographing.Follow these steps and your photos will definitely draw more customers in! Still, don’t forget that, once you get people into your restaurant, you need to deliver, so make sure you always respect your plating and make foods look as close to the ones in your shooting as possible.

Follow these steps and your photos will definitely draw more customers in! Still, don’t forget that, once you get people into your restaurant, you need to deliver, so make sure you always respect your plating and make foods look as close to the ones in your shooting as possible.

(Photo Source: Flickr)

 

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Ana Doaga

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Restaurant 101: Why understaffing is a HUGE faux-pas

Photo: Lars Plougmann. Source: Flickr. License: Creative Commons.

Photo: Lars Plougmann. Source: Flickr. License: Creative Commons. 

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your restaurant costs, cutting down on the number of employees might look like a good idea, but, trust our word, it is hardly a solution for your problems. Understaffing is one of the causes which bring a venue from hero to zero in no time, as it affects both its internal flow and customer satisfaction.

We asked restaurant managers, owners and chefs what the consequences of understaffing really are and made a list, so you know what chances to take:

1. What happens when your front of the house is running low on people?

- What’s easier to notice when you don’t have enough people on the floor is that servers receive a higher workload than they can handle, as they need to wait on more tables. In this case, guests don’t receive the attention they should, and the overall service is slow and sloppy.

- Another thing you should take into account is that, when waiters are too swamped with work, food orders arrive late. So, even though your kitchen might be on time, if a server doesn’t take the food to the table immediately after it was finished, both the plating and taste will be affected. So, if you believe that your delicious food will compensate for bad service, think again!

- A high workload and longer shifts contributes to employee fatigue and burnout, which means that your staff will make less of an impression on your customers and that they will not go that extra mile to solve problems, upsell or just provide a great experience that is worth sharing. People come to restaurants not only for the food, but for the environment that you create. Take that out of the equation and your sales will surely drop!

- The worse your restaurant services are, the smaller your waiters’ tips become. This will affect their morale, their motivation and their service standards.

- Understaffing makes people focus so much on what they need to do, that it usually breaks up teams. This means that your work dynamic will not be the same, servers will help each other less and that work will become a drag for everyone.

- Having too few waiters will usually make a restaurant owner want to help out and wait on tables, which is one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make. Rolling up your sleeves and joining your team out of the blue will only make you look desperate and unprofessional.

- Last, but not least, not having enough people means being exposed and left with no backup plan if anyone quits or calls in sick – which, in this case, will happen sooner rather than later. This means that any average night can turn into a preposterous disaster, which will affect everything from your staff morale, to your online reviews.

2. What happens when your back of the house is understaffed?

- Ticket times increase, which delays everything. This not only means that your guests are dissatisfied, but it also means that the time spent at a table increases, which, of course, affects your restaurant rotation. Think of all the money you are wasting by keeping tables busy for a longer period of time.

- The quality of the food drops both in what taste and plating are concerned. This totally scares off your customers and makes them generate negative word-of-mouth. 

- Orders are forgotten or sent to the table incomplete or unfinished. The higher the pressure, the more chances there are that cooks will put out uncooked food, omit garnishes, sauces etc. Things usually go unnoticed when there’s nobody in the kitchen to double-check each plate. 

- Hygiene issues arise. When your staff is too busy trying to deal with orders, cleanliness becomes less of a priority, which means that any health inspection is a disaster about to happen.

With these is mind, next time you want to cut down on staff, don’t forget to weigh in your apparent wins (paying less salaries) and your potential loses. If this doesn’t make you look for alternatives, nothing will!

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Ana Doaga

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8 Tips to Doing Plating Right

Photo credit: Michael Stern. Source Flicker. License: Creative Commons.

Photo credit: Michael Stern. Source Flicker. License: Creative Commons.

To keep up with today’s customers, you need to be aware that you’re cooking for foodies and Instagramers, for people who watch cooking shows and follow step-by-step recipes on blogs and Youtube. This means that everyone’s standards have gone up and that they are all looking for delicious food which is beautifully presented. Once your dishes attract customers visually, half of your job is done and you can bet that they will always remember what your food looks like. No wonder that our advice for you is to make your food as appealing as possible, so that, every time guests see a plate, they feel the need to order that dish.

So, if you want to step up your plating game and are in need of some quick fixes, here are our top pieces of advice:

  1. First of all, always consider your audience and restaurant style. Are you a fine dining chef or a casual dining one? Think of what your guests’ expectations are and make sure you always match and exceed them.

  2. Pay attention to accessories. Choose simple plates, with no colors and patterns if you think your food will have a personality of itself and more complex designs for simpler meals. Pay attention to the silverware you use and ensure it matches your food and restaurant style.

  3. Mix at least 3 colors in your plate. This gives you enough visual diversity to create an interesting composition.

  4. Start in the middle, but don’t create perfect symmetries. Design your dish from the center of the plate and get creative. This will help it look organized, yet creative.

  5. Use mini dishes such as ramekins and mini-casseroles, as these add style to any plate.

  6. Use pincers when you place your ingredients and ensure you respect the position of each ingredient. At the end of the day, consistency is what sets a great chef apart from a good one.

  7. Use the proper utensils. From pastry cutters, to molds, pipettes, brushes and piping bags, they all help you create and recreate perfect designs for your dish.

  8. Decorate your plate with herbs, edible flowers, sauces and zests, to ensure they are not only tasty, but colorful and fresh.

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Ana Doaga

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Everything you need to know on Marketing Flavored French Fries

restaurant marketing

If you’ve tried our Gourmet Fries Seasoning on French fries, then you managed to create 7 mouth-watering dishes which will surely delight your guests! That’s fabulous, but now the question is what do you do from here? Having a good product is not enough, you need to market it in a way which encourages people to try it and have it generate word-of-mouth. To give you a hand, we, at Chef’s Fun Foods, have made a list of the top ideas to implement, so you ensure you drive more French fries sales and boost your awareness using our simple add-ons.  

  1. Create a new French fries menu (different from the a la carte) which you advertise separately as a limited time offer. Make your customers understand that they will not be available forever, to induce a sense of pressure – try them now, or you might not find them later. Teach your waiters to recommend them. After a month, assess sales and see which were your most popular flavors. Choose the top or, if the sales were similar, introduce them all into the a la carte menu.

  2. Use flavored French fries to spice up the games. Include seasoned fries in your house recommendations for football nights. They will not only be a good surprise for your customers who enjoy a good snack, but also drive beverage sales. So season the fries and bring on the beer!

  3. Make flavored French fries side dishes for new products that you want to have people try. Combine them with a new sandwich or slider, with your house burger or with that delicious steak cut. This will surely spark curiosity and give people yet another reason to try the new combo.

  4. Create fries assortments which you may sell as apps. Combine flavors to give people a taste of your bestselling choices. Invent enticing names such as “the tasty Frenchy platter”.

  5. Promote your fries lines on social media! Create a Facebook competition where you have users vote on their favorite flavors. Join the #flavoredfries!

  6. Use them as covers. Welcome guests with a small sample of your flavored fries in small tin buckets. This way, they will have the chance to taste the incredibly surprising products and it won’t take long until they start ordering and recommending them.

  7. Offer on the house samples for bigger parties. Bring them with the main dish, or as an app for tables of 4+ people, who order at least two courses (a main dish and an app / dessert).

  8. Create a happy hour offer which includes your delicious flavored fries. Once your customers try it, they will surely get hooked on the taste!

We’d love to hear your success stories, so we invite you to share your flavored French fries marketing tips in the comments section below!

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Ana Doaga

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Train Your Waiting Staff to do Suggestive Selling (II)

suggestive selling for restaurants

When it comes to growing your restaurant business, suggestive selling really does the trick. That is why we have decided to bring you some more advice on how to make it work in your favor. So, if you already read and started implementing Train Your Waiting Staff to do Suggestive Selling I, make sure you teach your associates the following:

  1. Encourage guests to add take-out to their order. If your guests had a lovely evening, but they are too full for dessert, have your waiters say something like “Would you like to try our signature raspberry cheesecake? Our guests love its smoothness and fine taste. We could add it as a to-go order, so you may enjoy it later, at home”.

  2. Teach your waiters to be specific. It is always more efficient to ask a customer whether they want to start off their dinner with a glass of your Pinot Grigio than with a glass of wine. It makes the suggestion more convincing.

  3. Help you waiters do suggestive selling by creating some house items. Things like The Chef’s Special or Today’s Special always draw attention, so ensure that you use this method to activate the products which have higher margins and which will charm the customers.

  4. Don’t be afraid to organize competitions. If you have a new product or if you want to introduce a new flavor of French fries, consider offering a prize to the server which sells more. When it stimulates people, competition is beneficial. All you have to do is ensure that your restaurant managers have their eyes on the staff, to prevent waiters from becoming too eager.

  5. Ensure your staff tests the menu. I cannot stress enough the importance of having your waiters actually taste the dishes you have in the menu. This way, you ensure they know exactly what they are recommending to the client and that they may describe the products with passion and enthusiasm. If there are items they don’t like, make them understand that their tastes might not always match the clients’ and that they should understand what each dish has to offer. At Chef’s Fun Foods, we encourage our clients to have their staff test any new menu addition and this is why, this month, we are offering free samples with any order.

To ensure that your waiters do suggestive selling the right way, train them, but always make them feel empowered. Having the opportunity to talk to customers their own way and describe their favorite dishes, without feeling forced, will make them more convincing and genuine which will benefit your restaurant.

 

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Gourmet Fries Seasoning, Uncategorized

Top reasons why flavored fries are the next big thing

deluxe_friesFlavored French fries are, indeed, a treat – we’ve tasted them ourselves, we’ve shown them off to fairs and hospitality events, we’ve sent packages all across the US and the world to chefs who couldn’t wait to get their hands on them. And, now, after studying everyone’s feedback and seeing how venues benefit from using our products, we can firmly say that, yes, flavored fries are the next big thing! So, dear chefs, hold on to hats and let us walk you through our top reasons for ordering your first batch of Gourmet Fries Seasoning.

  1. Everyone already loves potato chips that taste like barbecue sauce, ketchup, sour cream and onion etc. Imagine doing the same for fries! Adding popular flavors to fries will lead to developing products which guests will anxiously try.
  2. Our line of fries seasonings is made of add-on spices which don’t require high investments in product and that don’t take up freezer space. This means that you can introduce new side dishes into your menu without compromising on efficiency or affecting your kitchen flow. Moreover, you don’t need to hire another person to prepare the new side dishes.
  3. They are good for marketing, as they add variety to your already existing menu. You already have fries in the menu, so why not spice it up with flavors like Cheesy Cheddar, Flame Grilled BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, Ketchup, Salt & Garlic Pepper, Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion and Wild Buffalo? This way, you get to create a whole new fries menu which will surely grab your customers’ attention. Even more, if you are feeling really creative, you can play with the flavors and create fries starters, sharing platters etc.
  4. They are a great way to generate word-of-mouth. Guests enjoy indulging in the crispy, bite-sized treats and can’t stop talking about the new, fun tastes. Flavored fries will surely make you the talk of the town both offline and online, on social media. Join the #flavoredfries map!
  5. They generate profits. Each serving of flavored fries costs you $0.03 to make. If you sale each side with an extra of $0.50 compared to the average one, you will enjoy a $0.47 profit / serving. For every 100 portions of fries served, you gain $47. Take into account your average sales, how much will you make per month?
  6. Our studies show that creating a flavored fries menu increases fries sales by 28%. The reason is simple: people order more side-dishes to try all the flavors, they recommend it to others, as well, and they return to your venue for these mouth-watering treats.
  7. They drive beverage sales. Choose them as a house snack on game evenings, and you’ll keep the beer coming all night.
  8. They make a good differentiator. Most casual dining and quick service restaurants have similar menus, which makes it hard for guests to pick a favorite. They often choose based on proximity, parking spaces etc. Flavored French fries will surely make you stand out from the crowd.
  9. Unlike dips, ketchup, vinegar etc., which make potatoes soggy, the Gourmet Fries Seasoning line keeps your fries crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside.

10. One serving of Gourmet Fries Seasonings is less expensive than one serving of ketchup. 

Gourmet Fries Seasoning vs. Ketchup

Gourmet Fries Seasoning vs. Ketchup

Related articles: Top 5 tips to perfect French fries

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Train Your Waiting Staff to do Suggestive Selling I

Waiter restaurant

Fine dining restaurant waiter recommends wine to guests

Having your staff on your side is the key criteria when it comes to doing good restaurant business, as their conduct and engagement have a great impact on the customer experience and your profits, as well. Front-line employees are the ones your guests meet, the ones they take recommendations from and ask for advice. With this in mind, ensuring that they understand the benefits of suggestive selling and that they are well-trained in such techniques is a must. So, to help you increase your incomes, your profits and the levels of customer satisfaction, we have made a list of the top methods you should use to bring your human resources and your business to the next level.

  1. First of all, make your staff understand why suggestive selling is important. Your waiters must know that it does not only help them increase the company’s profit and margins, but also impact customer satisfaction, as well as their own tips. Suggestive selling is not a bad thing, you don’t take advantage of customers and force them to order more items. What you do, instead, is ensure that they order dishes which complement one another, ensuring they have a good experience and enjoy what they pay for. It is a form of advising customers, while having in mind their best interest, as well as the restaurant’s: if the venue generates good profits, they afford to keep the quality standards high and treat guests to the experience they come in for.

  2. Teach your waiters not to be pushy. Good things always happen at the right moments, so encourage your servers to “read” their customers and see whether they are open to suggestions. A businessman who has his eyes in his phone might be less interested in hearing recommendations than one who is having a business dinner with a partner and wants to ensure they get to enjoy a quality meal. On the other hand, a person who looks at the menu longer, might be less certain of what to get and consequently, more open to suggestions. Either way, suggestive selling should remain subtle and polite. Don’t overdo it, by recommending more than 2 items, if the customer has not asked for your advice.

  3. As in everything, relevancy is key. Waiters need to know the menu, the dishes’ ingredients and have proper training regarding how they can be mixed. Apart from that, it is very important that they have information on how to pair wines and food. At the end of the day, suggestive selling should be beneficial to the customers; otherwise, for a couple of extra dollars, you risk losing them.

  4. Focus on the product’s benefits. Asking guests if they want an appetizer is one thing, but recommending them to try your deliciously savoury bruschetta, served with warm goat cheese as a starter, until their steaks cook is another thing. When they sell, servers should always entice customers with their descriptions.

  5. Teach waiters that price isn’t everything. Your staff must understand that the value of the check isn’t everything that’s important. Margins are also relevant metrics that we cannot ignore, as they impact profits. To ensure they deliver the best results, waiters should know the dishes’ profitability and try to direct the customers towards products in the same range, but with higher margins. For example, if you know that your seasoned fries cost $0.50 more than average fries, but that each side of seasoned brings you  +$0.47 compared to average fries, why not have your customer test the mouth-watering salt and vinegar flavor?

Our tips on suggesting selling don’t end here, though! Stay tuned and we will get back with part II.

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The 5 tips that will take your fries to the next level

Delicious Crispy Smooth French Fries

Delicious Crispy Smooth French Fries

French fries are known as restaurant bestsellers and crowd pleasers. Kids like them, teenagers enjoy them, grown-ups can’t get their hands off them. Mouth-watering fries, which are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside always stand out.They make your customers come back and they make people talk. No wonder there’s no better form of advertising than this!

Of course, each chef has its own secrets to obtaining their perfect French fries. Can you imagine combining them to create your own recipe? We can, so we sat down with some of our potato loving clients who work in the hospitality industry and gathered the most popular tips and tricks that turn product into fried delights. Here is our list:

1. Choose the right potatoes

High levels of starch make potatoes crumble, as they become very soft. This is why, if you want crispy French fries which don’t stick, you should try potatoes which are low in starch, like Red Bliss or New Potatoes. Older potatoes tend to get drier, because they lose starch, as well, so, if you have any around, they’re a good starting point.

2. Remove the starch

No matter the potato type you choose, removing the starch will enhance your recipe. The best way to do this is to peel and cut the product, rinse it and, then, soak it in cold or ice water. You need to change the water occasionally, as it will turn white, because of the starch eliminated. This procedure takes a half an hour for Red Bliss and New Potatoes and up to a couple of hours for all the others.

3. Boil the Potatoes

If you want to go that extra mile in removing the starch, try also blanching the potatoes. Boil them in a mixture of water and salt for about 6-7 minutes. As starch is being eliminated, you will see the water get cloudy. Remove them from the water, put them on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture and, then, move them to the fridge, to ensure they get cooled off and that the cooking process stops. It is only after that you can fry them! Blanching potatoes ensures that they are creamy on the inside.

4. Double Fry Them

If you don’t want to try the boiling water trick, you may try double-frying them. Put them in oil at about 325 degrees -use a thermometer to ensure you have the right temperature- and let them cook for about 20 minutes. After they’re done, get them out, let them cool, and, only after, place them in the fryer. Now the oil must be heated at 375 degrees. This way, when you get them out, they will be gold and crispy on the outside.

5. Season Them

Now that your fries have the perfect texture, take their taste to new levels! Sprinkle the Chef’s Fun Foods Gourmet Fries Seasoning and, in just seconds, your potatoes will be all flavoured up and ready to go. Choose between Wild Buffalo, Garlic Parmesan, Flame Grilled BBQ, Cheesy Cheddar, Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion, Salt & Garlic Pepper, and Ketchup.

Sounds interesting so far? Try these tips and tricks and develop your signature French fries recipe which will surely make your customers come back for more. Moreover, if you are really proud of the results and want to share them with us, add your recipe and / or photos in the description below.