Kitchen Resources | Videos
- Recipe: Party Meatballs
Serve these meatballs as a delicious appetizer!
1 14oz can jellied cranberry sauce
1 12oz bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1 2lb bag frozen meatballs, precooked
Directions: Combine sauces in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Add meatballs. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.
Slow cooker: Place meatballs in slow cooker. Combine sauces and pour over meatballs. Cover and cook 4 hours on high.
Makes: 30 appetizer servings
- Recipes: New Orleans Gumbo
Spice up your winter soup menu with this recipe for New Orleans Gumbo!
New Orleans Gumbo
5 cups Deluxe Pulled Chicken
2 Cans Vanee Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cans Ham Shanks in Natural Juices
1 1/2 Cups Celery, copped
1 Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 Cups Green Peppers, diced
1 1/2 Pounds Smoked Sausage, sliced
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Yellow Onions, diced
Salt, Ground Black Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for approxinately 20-30 minutes or until a dark consistency is obtained. Add the onions, celery, green peppers, and garlic, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the smoked sausage, chicken broth, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and simmer for 50-60 minutes. Gently stir in the chicken and ham shanks, and let cook for approximately 5 minutes.
Serving Size: 12 oz.
Makes 32 servings
- Operator’s Edge: Improving Sales and Guest Satisfaction Starts on the Tabletop
Improving Sales and Guest Satisfaction Starts on the Tabletop
First impressions matter — and the trouble is you only get one shot at it. That’s why your tabletop is prime real estate to showcase your restaurant’s personality, attention to detail and dedication to quality. Taking a close look at what your tabletop choices say about your establishment can help you grow sales, improve guest satisfaction and increase repeat traffic.
Small Menus, Big Sales
Those table tents and smaller menus do an effective job of communicating to your guests that there’s something new and special they ought to pay attention to. They say there’s something exclusive available, something new and exciting that couldn’t fit on the regular menu.
Optimizing what you promote on those menus can have a big impact on sales. Consider high-margin items, seasonal selections or other limited-availability choices. But be careful because too many menus on the table can get confusing or frustrating to guests. Be selective in your choices to ensure what’s on your specials menu is really special.
Brands Communicate Quality
There are certain brands that are synonymous with specific products. Aligning yourself with those brands is a good way to let your guests know you’re not willing to cut corners to save a little money here and there. Having second-tier brands front and center can leave a bad impression with your diners, but by displaying names they recognize from their own homes you can boost confidence.
Guests Like Customization Options Within Reach
You’ve likely seen it in guests’ attitudes and behaviors, but customization is big with diners especially when it comes to burgers and sandwiches. Having condiments available on the tabletop allows guests to make their selection exactly the way they want it. Diners may not want to ask for, or wait for condiments, so having the top choices within reach goes a long way in improving guest satisfaction. There may be some trepidation in keeping mayonnaise on the tabletop even though it’s America’s most popular condiment, but the top brands don’t require refrigeration and come in super convenient squeeze bottles.
Think Table First
When you’re looking for ways to optimize your guests’ dining experience, start at the table and work your way out. Since you’re likely so close to your operation, employ secret diners or trusted friends to give you their honest opinion of how you’re performing on everything from the tabletop presentation to service to food quality. You may be surprised what you learn!
Content courtesy of Unilever Foodsolutions
- Operator’s Edge: Five of the Most Common Restaurant Menu Mistakes
Five of the Most Common Restaurant Menu Mistakes
It’s hard to deny: Americans love dining out. According to a 2013 Dining Trend’s Survey, 47% of Americans’ meals are prepared outside of the home (58% if you live in New York City). This is great news for restaurant owners and operators, and restaurant industry growth is projected to continue to rise.
As more and more restaurants hit the scene, getting your menu just right is more important than ever. Here are five common restaurant menu mistakes to avoid (and if you’re already making them, to fix!):
1. The menu is too eclectic or too trendy.
While variety is the spice of life, it’s not surprising that putting together a menu comprised of “a little bit of this” and “a little bit of that” ranks among the most common restaurant menu mistakes operators make. Why? Many assume that offering an eclectic selection of dishes will attract more customers. But this menu strategy can often backfire.
The more eclectic the menu, the more difficult it will be for customers to discern what the restaurant “is” and what it is trying to be. Trying to have too broad of an appeal can do more damage than good. What’s more, establishing a niche by becoming known for a particular type of dish or cuisine will prove difficult, if not impossible. The same rings true for super trendy menus. Food trends can come and go very quickly and when a trend goes out of fashion, many customers move on to the next food fad.
2. The menu features too many dishes.
We’ve all been there: sitting at a restaurant with a mammoth menu, attempting to make a decision while our blood sugar levels plummet and we plead with the waiter for just one more minute to decide.
Huge menus lead to customer confusion and a much longer ordering process, contributing to slower table turn and reducing the instances of repeat business.
Operationally, the more menu items you offer, the more extensive your ingredient inventory becomes. While a good inventory management system (hopefully integrated into your restaurant point of sale system) will help to minimize out-of-stocks, the potential for ingredient shortages and menu-item outages increases with the number of dishes on the menu.
So, too, do food production problems that stem not only from these outages, but also from forcing kitchen staff to scramble to prepare smaller quantities of multiple items rather than larger quantities of fewer items. Food quality also suffers with a super-size menu. Kitchen staff cannot gain experience preparing a reasonable number of dishes well or devote equal attention to a myriad of items at the same time.
3. The menu contains too few dishes.
While touting an excessive number of dishes is clearly a bad idea, the same can be said of offering too few options. Such an error ranks high on the chart of restaurant menu mistakes because it limits the potential of the menu to attract a sufficiently large customer base. Menus that are too small decrease customer frequency if there aren’t enough items to entice them to come back.
4. The menu is outdated.
Some dishes are classic and timeless, while others come and go (see mistake #1). If your menu hasn’t changed since Ronald Reagan was in office (or within the past year for that matter), it’s definitely time to revisit and review. Food price fluctuations warrant regular pricing analysis to ensure you’re not losing your margins. So even if the dishes themselves haven’t changed in the past twenty years, your prices need to be regularly updated to reflect market value. Furthermore, every item on your menu should be popular. Get rid of poor-performing menu items to make room for something else.
5. The items on the menu are too complicated.
Not many people want a meal that warrants a 15-minute explanation or that comes with instructions on how to eat it. Offering a menu full of complex menu items can be confusing and unappealing to your patrons and can be extremely stressful for your kitchen staff. Too many complicated dishes on your menu can cause inconsistency issues with ingredients, availability and overall food quality.
Of course there are always exceptions to any rule, but if you find that your restaurant sales have been stagnant or dwindling, checking your menu for these common mistakes (and fixing accordingly) is a great place to start. To take the pressure off of how to manage menus, ingredients, and inventory consistently and accurately, consider investing in a restaurant point of sale system with these integrated management features.
- Upgrade Your Plate Presentation
Watch as our Produce Specialist, Ken Wilkins, shows you a couple of low-cost ideas for a more beautiful plate presentation!