Culinary Cues

CHEFS – WHAT DOES YOUR MENU REPRESENT?

Culinary Cues

Consider this – the menu is the most important component of a successful restaurant and once designed it can, and should, impact every other aspect of the business.

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The Breakfast Cook – Tough, Dependable, Organized, and Fast

Culinary Cues

There are cooks and there are cooks – each has his or her list of responsibilities, required skills, and bag of tricks. Just because you are listed on a schedule as a cook does not necessarily mean that you are adept at filling every position under that designation.

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THE COOK’S INTELLECT

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Anyone who has tied on an apron in a professional kitchen understands the physical nature of the work. We know about the aching muscles, the throbbing feet, the faltering knees, and the heat – did I mention the heat?

IN CHALLENGING TIMES DON’T MAKE CLASSIC BUSINESS MISTAKES REMEMBER THE TOP ELEVEN

Culinary Cues

Difficult times in business can never be addressed with complacency. This is the time to double your efforts rather than allow yourself to get caught up in the malaise. There is always opportunity beyond business survival for those who commit to moving forward.

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THE FUTURE OF THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS

Culinary Cues

Numerous people have asked me, over the past few months, what I think about the future of restaurants in America. Of course, this is a question without scientific studies to back up an answer – this is pure speculation.

WHAT RESTAURANTS HAVE LEARNED DURING THE PANDEMIC

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SUCCESSFUL CHEFS – WHAT CAREER KILLERS TO AVOID

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Rest assured, at some point restaurants will rise up again, clubs and hotels will measure success based on occupancy and food service activity, and the position of “chef” will be center stage in driving sales and measuring profitability.

TEAM COMPETITIVENESS IN THE KITCHEN

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Create a Team Built to Win.

A CHEF’S 2020 LAMENT

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. They say that hindsight is 2020 – that being so, there is plenty for us to reflect on and determine how we might have done things differently. The fact is, we can’t go back, but we can look forward. At this point we are all hoping that 2020 will just fade from our memories.

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A SOMBER DAY – WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE SOUL OF AMERICA

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Never Forget. Nineteen years later – what does 9/11 continue to mean to America and the world? This is a day that must give us pause, a day of unthinkable horror that will always be remembered by anyone born before 2001.

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CHEFS – FINE TUNE THOSE SENSES

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The kitchen sensual army. There are many things that differentiate cooks and chefs, but none more important to the customer experience and the reputation of the restaurant than mastery of the senses.

A LETTER TO CULINARY SCHOOL GRADUATES

Culinary Cues

First and foremost – congratulations on earning your degree or certificate. This is an accomplishment that over the course of your lifetime will reward you tenfold. Know that the degree or certificate is more than an acknowledgement of the skills and knowledge that you have gained – it represents your level commitment and discipline that will serve you well.

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A KITCHEN’S ELEGANT LAST IMPRESSIONS

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As a chef, I have long admired the craft of the Patissier and Boulanger. Chefs readily admit that the skill set of a dedicated pastry chef or bread baker is quite different from that of the savory chef.

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DON’T JUST RE-ARRANGE – CHANGE THAT RESTAURANT

Culinary Cues

Take a breath, hold on and think it through, turn on a dime, change or be changed, now is the time, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t forget what got you to this point, the past is the past – move on, the conflicting words of advice are swirling around us and restaurateurs and chefs are caught in the middle like a ship without a rudder.

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STRENGTH, GRACE, AND DIGNITY

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I am in the process of reading Chef Dominique Crenn’s autobiography: Rebel Chef. I have long been a fan of her style and passion for expressive cooking, but it is these three words that solidified, in my mind, how a chef should run his or her kitchen: Strength, Grace, and Dignity.

A COOK WITHOUT A KITCHEN

Culinary Cues

They say we’re back. The kitchen lights are back on, deliveries arrive, the battery of ranges is fired up, and cooks (some of us) are welcomed back. Somehow, it just doesn’t feel right. After four months of idle time – time without a schedule, time without a chance to do what cooks normally do – this kitchen just seems vacant.

OUR DAILY BREATH: WHAT RESTAURANTS MEAN TO SOCIETY

Culinary Cues

Cooking for others is one of the oldest professions known to humanity. Since fire was first discovered – we have enjoyed and developed the skills to cook, eventually season, and finally plate prepared food to please other people. Cooking is one of the most admired and appreciated skill that allows the cook to express his or her history, traditions, ethnicity, and skill while engaging guests in a story.

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OUR DAILY BREATH: POST COVID KITCHENS – GET READY

Culinary Cues

Restaurants will get the green light at some point. When the data demonstrates that the virus is somewhat under control – whether that is the end of May or later, we all know in our hearts and minds that things will be different. Guests will not likely flock back to our operations, there will still be a considerable amount of trepidation, especially since pre-vaccine life will still include the threat of virus transmission.

IN BUSINESS – BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER

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There are lessons to be learned that are often overlooked. Growth seems to be one of those markers that define a successful business, yet there is ample evidence that growth can be a deterrent to success. How so?

OUR DAILY BREATH: IDEATION AND SCENARIO PLANNING

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Part of ideation is dealing with the challenges faced today as well as those to come. We may not be able to predict the future, but effective managers are always sifting through the “what if” scenarios and building a strategy for dealing with them. As we are seeing so vividly right now – when we fail to plan for the possibilities we will always wind up chasing the problems rather than moving past them.

WHY RUNNING A CLUB KITCHEN MIGHT BE THE TOUGHEST AND MOST SATISFYING CHEF POSITION OUT THERE

Culinary Cues

The tasks of the chef are fairly universal: planning menus, putting your signature on each dish, hiring and training staff, ordering product and building vendor relationships, controlling costs and adhering to budgets, maintaining a clean and safe kitchen environment, etc. So, wouldn’t it be safe to say that if you can manage a kitchen – you can manage any kitchen? The answer is emphatically – no. Sometimes the difference is the shear scale of the operation.

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WHY IS A PARTICULAR CHEF’S FOOD SO MUCH BETTER THAN ANOTHER’S?

Culinary Cues

Every chef has experienced it and as a result he or she will relate to the content of this article. There are times, possibly many times, when you question your own skill – whether in cooking or presenting food, or even with the operation of a kitchen.

OUR DAILY BREATH: PROFESSIONAL COOKS – DON’T DISMAY – KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

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Too much idle time leads to reflection and analysis. What am I doing” is a question that some will ask: “What am I capable of”, is of equal concern. If you have been cooking at a professional level, if you have always been driven towards doing things right and have shunned mediocrity, and if you have approached your job in the kitchen with passion and commitment, then answering these questions can be straight forward. “I I have spent years in the kitchen and now I am without a job.

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CHEFS: BUILD A TEAM – KEEP A TEAM

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There is no issue more pressing, and no task more important than building a kitchen team and establishing a culture of retention. Yes, I do mean a culture of retention.

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OUR DAILY BREATH: CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS – DON’T WASTE THIS TIME

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Desperation has sunk in for those of us in the restaurant business. We know that closure is a reality for at least 30 more days and likely longer than that. The only adjustment that can be made is the heartbreaking decision to furlough employees or consider permanent closure of operations. Some try and paint a brighter picture by projecting that as soon as the quarantine is lifted – people will return in droves to their previous lifestyle and fill those empty restaurant seats.

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OUR DAILY BREATH: CHEFS & OPERATORS – KEEPING YOUR TEAM TOGETHER

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This is another time when we can rely on what we know about human nature and what keeps people whole: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I once again turn to the wisdom of Abraham Maslow as a guide through this difficult time, a crisis unparalleled in modern times. Those of us in the restaurant industry are in shock at the speed and severity of destruction to the core of our businesses. Everyone seems to be gasping for breath and starved for direction.

OUR DAILY BREATH: AFTER COVID-19 RESTAURANT CONCEPT IDEATION

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If you are a chef or restaurant owner I would like you to begin today with a significant question: “If I had to build this restaurant concept all over again, knowing what I know now, what would it look like – how would it be different? You may never have a better chance to ask and answer this question than right now. This is the beginning of IDEATION and the purpose of the process. There have been many days when you have probably said to yourself – “I should have done that differently.”

OUR DAILY BREATH: CHANGE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

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There is so much angst and uncertainty among the restaurant community right now. Should we reopen when the green light is given? What precautions need to be in place to protect our staff and customers? How will we survive if we are required to live with 25% or 50% of normal capacity? Will customers return, or will they shy away from any contact with groups of people? The common realization is that things will be different and we need to change.

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A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

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President – I will state up front that I am not one of your supporters and never have been, but as history has demonstrated time and again – during a time of significant crisis our country looks to and stands behind our leader as he or she makes decisions of life and death and stands to carry the nation through and beyond the calamity of the moment. We did this with Roosevelt during WWII and the Great Depression, Bush through the first Iraq crisis, George W.

OUR DAILY BREATH: CHEFS – REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF “WOW”

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There is so much to think about, so many decisions to make, and so much angst about what the future holds. Building a well thought out strategy for starting up the restaurant engine after we move forward is paramount and will, in the process of thinking it through, give every chef and restaurateur a spark of excitement to lean on.

OUR DAILY BREATH: HOW WILL WE RE-CREATE THE CULTURE OF DINING OUT?

Culinary Cues

There are few things in life that vividly define the culture associated with a group of people more than dining out. Food is connected to nearly every aspect of life, family, and the art of living. A culture is a collection of life essentials including art, drama, literature, religion, music, food preparation and traditions, history, language, politics, etc. and as such – collectively define all levels of civility.

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OUR DAILY BREATH: HEY AMERICA – THIS IS WHY RESTAURANTS ARE IMPORTANT

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It seems that we have reached a point where acceptable casualties is a consideration in so many decisions. Whether it is the environment, the postal service, senior citizens, global partnerships, healthcare, or restaurants – there is a tendency to set aside or forget just how important these businesses, global responsibilities, and people truly are to our existence.

KITCHENS CELEBRATE DIFFERENCE

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It has always been my experience that kitchens are the great equalizer. Sure, I know that the environment of a kitchen can sometimes be tough and abrasive, it’s hot, humid, noisy, stressful, fast paced, and somewhat unforgiving, but….all all that being said – the kitchen is a place where who you are and what you believe in is far less important than what you do and how well you do it.

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RESTAURANT SURVIVAL MOVING FORWARD

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We have never seen anything like this. Everyone in the restaurant industry is petrified beyond today – they immediately think about how impossible it might be to dig themselves out of the hole being created. I have communicated with many who are crushed with fear, a sense of loss, and helplessness after telling employees that they can’t keep them on and there is no indication of when things might return to normalcy.

OUR DAILY BREATH: SO WHY DO CHEFS OWN RESTAURANTS?

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Yesterday, I read an emotional, well-written, soul-crushing article by Gabrielle Hamilton – chef/owner of Prune Restaurant in New York City. She spoke from the heart of her “all-in” commitment to her restaurant and staff over the past 20 years while addressing the countless challenges that face independent restaurateurs across the country.

OUR DAILY BREATH: HOW CHEFS ADAPT TO A SHUT DOWN A touch of levity (or is it) when we need it

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As previously stated – you can take the chef out of the kitchen, but you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef. This time of displacement is tough on everyone. We feel the difficulty financially, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually – it is an all-encompassing challenge of a magnitude that we haven’t felt in this country since the World Wars and Great Depression. Each of us deals, or tries to deal, with this situation in our own unique way.

WHAT IS THE INTENT OF EDUCATION?

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As the country continues to come to grips with the ravages of a pandemic and the trail of chaos and long-term destruction that it leaves behind, we will need to think very clearly about how a country deals with diminishing funds to support our lifestyle and establishing priorities moving forward.

CHEFS FACING THE CHALLENGE OF CREATIVITY VERSUS BUSINESS DECISIONS

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You know that every chef has wrestled with this – should the menu reflect a personal philosophy to move the bar or stick with time-tested standards? Chefs are, for all intents and purposes, inherently creative people who are always looking for a way to express that creativity and place their signature on the plate. That is in our DNA, we can’t really help ourselves. Without the avenue for creative expression we feel the weight of complacency.

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OUR DAILY BREATH: CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS – IT’S A NEW DAY TOMORROW

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The restaurant industry has been plagued with problems for decades – this international crisis has brought everything to a head. How many times have restaurateurs and chefs proclaimed that they couldn’t simply stop their current model and re-invent themselves? The challenges of today would always put a halt to significant movement towards long-term problem solving. Well, we now have the time.

OUR DAILY BREATH: A TIME TO BRING BACK TRADITIONS & EMBRACE OPPORTUNITIES

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We have lots of time on our hands. Once we learn to take a breath and put the brakes on typically intense lifestyles, always on the go, always more to do than there is time, constantly putting aside interface time with friends and family, and relying on technology for our entertainment – we might just be able to find solace in life. Here are some thoughts: [] CHALLENGE YOUR PERSONAL COOKING.