Mother's Day Restaurant Checklist

American consumers will spend approximately $3.1 billion dollars to treat their mothers to a special meal out on Mother’s Day this year. When over half of the country’s mothers (54.7% to be exact) are being taken out to eat in a single day, restauranteurs must pay special attention to keep their establishments running smoothly. With large volumes of customers expecting to have a special experience, the last thing you want to do is run out of essential supplies. We’ve compiled a list of essential items to stock up on so that you and your guests will have the best Mother’s Day possible.

Buffet Supplies

Mother’s Day brunch is a special tradition for many American families. A breakfast or brunch buffet with specialty menu items can be a great way to serve the masses of customers coming through the door. Stocking up on extra buffet supplies, like those listed below, is always a good idea when you are expecting a crowd.

Disposables

Disposables can be lifesaving on high volume holidays, especially if you run a casual eatery. Avoid an overflowing dishwasher with our disposable cutlery, or simply send guests home with their leftovers in a disposable take-out box. And, because disposables are great for any time of the year, there’s no need to worry about ordering too much!

Front-of-House

Families take their mothers to your establishment because they know that you can make their day special. Tabletop items are great for providing that unique touch that customers are looking for. By stocking up on these items, you can avoid running out of necessities during busy times of the day, ensuring that you can turn tables over to new guests as quickly as possible.

Posted in: Holidays | By Brandon Lesko

Going Green for Earth Day

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has brought about a global environmental movement, raising public awareness on important issues including pollution, deforestation, and the growing need for clean energy. With April 22nd rapidly approaching, you may be wondering what you as a restaurant owner can do to help.With these five simple tips, you can get your restaurant in line with the green movement, feel better about your footprint, and advertise to customers that your restaurant cares about the earth.

Composting

1. Try Composting

When organic waste rots in landfills, it produces methane gas, a contributor to ozone depletion and global warming. Composting allows organic waste to be safely turned into fertile soil that can be used for a variety of purposes, including landscaping, farming, and gardening. By composting your restaurant’s waste in house or using an external service, you will save on trash pickups while simultaneously helping to save the ozone layer.

2. Streamline Kitchen Operations

There are a variety of ways to reduce waste in restaurant kitchens. Try giving your kitchen a waste audit, and assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Get in touch with your suppliers and make sure that you’re getting the exact amount of fresh food that you need. If you notice a particular dish is constantly being returned to the kitchen uneaten, try reducing the portion size. When it comes to going green in your restaurant, a good place to start is in the kitchen.

Conserve Energy

3. Conserve Energy

Energy conservation can make a huge difference in both your environmental footprint and your cost of operations. Restaurant kitchens use large, energy-burning appliances all day long, and while some of that is unavoidable, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of wasted energy in your establishment. From more drastic measures, like replacing your appliances with energy efficient products, to easy fixes, like turning off lights when a room isn’t being used, these changes can make a big difference.

4. Use Eco-Friendly Disposables

In casual and take-out establishments, disposable paper, plastic, and foam products are used daily. To keep the environmental damage to a minimum without changing your entire business model, try using biodegradable paper products like these eco-friendly cold cups, straws, and take-out containers. Unlike the changes you make in the kitchen, customers will come in contact with your environmental efforts firsthand, making this a great opportunity to market to your eco-conscious customers.

5. Add Some Local Flavor

Local Food

By using local sources either seasonally or year round, you will help your community, the environment, and maybe even your wallet. If your food comes from your backyard, it takes less energy to get to you than if it comes from halfway across the country. Establish a relationship with farmers and suppliers in your area and see the difference you can make!

Earth Day isn’t about one person saving the world singlehandedly. It’s about global collaboration in an effort to keep the land we live in as clean and healthy as possible. As a restaurant owner, there are so many opportunities to make a difference. Try implementing any number of these tips in honor of Earth Day and combine both the benefits of marketing yourself as an eco-friendly restaurant, with the positive feeling of helping to preserve the planet we all share.

Posted in: | By Sabrina Bomberger

Celebrate National Cooking Month with Five Underrated Cooking Methods

Here at WebstaurantStore, it's no secret that we take our cooking seriously. Whether we're in a kitchen or out around a firepit, there's nothing like making our favorite foods with fresh ingredients. That's why — with Spring finally here — we're celebrating National Cooking Month with some of the least-used cooking methods. From creative takes on classic ideas to exotic techniques from other cultures, these are just a few of the most fun ways to celebrate a month of food!

Indirect Grilling

Indirect Grilling

Indirect grilling is the slow-roasting, long-term alternative to traditional grilling that heats food from the sides. The biggest advantage is that indirect grilling prepares your foods especially well for smoking and marinades.

You can indirectly grill food in a number of ways, including setting up a charcoal pit or using your own cooking range. For a pit, slide the coals to one side, hang the food from nearby hooks, and light the fire from the side. To use your own range, simply turn on one side of your burners and place your food close to the flame, but not overtop.

What to Make

Indirect grilling can cook the same foods as traditional grilling. Beer can chicken, salmon steaks, bacon, and kebabs are some of the more popular choices, as they respond especially well to slow-cooking and smoking.

Thermal Cooking

Designed to maximize heat retention and minimize fuel use, thermal cooking is one of the most affordable alternatives to traditional food preparation. Simply bring your food up to temperature, place it inside the cooker, seal the lid, and wait.

The biggest advantage of thermal cooking is its near-zero fuel usage, saving money at the cost of long cook times. Thermal cookers are also versatile by the nature of their design, allowing users to bake confections and other delicacies, and they're conveniently portable.

What to Make

Thermal cookers work especially well with pastas, proteins, and vegetables. In addition, you can bake muffins, cupcakes, and other small confections.

Sous Vide

Sous Vide

Sous vide is one of the slowest cooking methods, but it's also one of the most consistent. This cooking technique works by vacuum sealing ingredients into bags, placing them in a water bath, and activating a heated circulator. The circulator heats the water to cooking temperatures and holds it there to fully cook your food. As a bonus, the water and sealed bags make it impossible to burn, scorch, or overcook ingredients.

Because sous vide can take days to fully cook food, it is frequently used to prepare ingredients far in advance. It's also great for cooking meats to a succulent, medium-rare quality and saturating vegetables with moisture to keep them tender.

What to Make

If you're preparing food for a large party, you can cook and hold all of your ingredients in one location until serving. For steak enthusiasts, sous vide is also one of the best ways to prepare a tender, flavorful, and moist filet mignon.

Chaunk

Chaunk

Chaunk — also known by baghaar, popu, and other names — fuses cooking oils and spices to produce strong, aromatic flavors. The spices are often used whole or minced to obtain the best-tasting results, while the oil coats and soaks into the food itself.

Chaunk revolves around frying spices in oil. Simply add cooking oil to a fry pan, bring it to simmer, and add the spices you want to use, like garlic, cumin, ginger, or curry . In moments, you have rich, flavorful oil for your foods.

What to Make

You can prepare a variety of foods using chaunk, though curry is one of the most common. Because the most frequently-used spices in this method are some of the strongest, chaunk is a great way to add heavy flavors without using high-calorie ingredients.

Hängi

Hängi

Hängi is a combination of grilling and steaming that yields piping-hot, tender, and moist entrees rich with flavor. Because food can be exposed to 24 hours of consistent heat, some vegetables can even develop unique flavors, textures, and aftertastes.

Cooking with hängi includes digging a shallow hole, firing stones to white-hot temperatures, encasing your food in soaked cloth, and placing the cloth on the grill. The hot stones slowly grill your foods to help them retain their natural flavors, and the soaked cloth prevents foods from drying out. Altogether, you grill and steam food at the same time for unique, full-flavored results.

What to Make

Hängi can cook anything that you would also prepare on a grill, including kebabs, steaks, burgers, fish, and more, and it can also be used to steam clams and other seafood. The only real limit is your imagination.


Tell us your favorite cooking methods via Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus with the hashtag #nationalcookingmonth!

Posted in: Holidays | By Christopher Zook

Vegementary: Accommodating Vegetarians with Soy Products

Vegementary: of or relating to a fundamental understanding of vegetables and other foods suitable for vegetarians

April is National Soyfoods Month, so this is the perfect time to introduce soy to your menu for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores who require a low-meat diet. We consume soy in many products like granola bars, trail mixes, and dairy-free foods, but we don't often think of it as an entrée. Here is an introduction to soy, why it's such a powerful legume, and how you can use it to create protein-packed meals for diners.

What Is Soy?

Soy is a vegetable that produces bean pods, and its beans are rich in protein, fiber, isoflavones, amino acids, lecithin, and phospholipid. Scientific research states that a soy-heavy diet may decrease cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins, lower blood pressure, and reduce menopausal symptoms.

People who require a low-cholesterol diet, have milk or peanut allergies, or are vegetarians often rely on soy as a nutritious and delicious supplement to their diet. As a bonus for food service professionals, soybeans are also a sustainable source of protein that is often more cost-efficient than meat.

Products

Soy products

Some of the most common soy products include:

  • Soy flour: ground soybeans, similar to texture of wheat flour
  • Tofu: soybean curd, cheese-like, soft to firm texture, mild flavor
  • Tempeh: cooked soybean cakes, firm texture, mushroom flavor
  • Soy nut butter: ground roasted soybeans, similar to taste and texture of peanut butter
  • Miso: fermented soybean paste, flavor varies and can be sweet or salty
  • Soy dairy-free products: includes yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and ice cream
  • Soymilk: made from soaked and ground soybeans, similar to milk in texture and flavor
  • Edamame: cooked and seasoned green soybeans before they've dried
  • Soy sauce: dark, salty liquid used for flavoring in Asian cuisine

Soy On the Menu

By including soy in your menu, not only will you be supporting sustainable protein sources, but you'll also have a new target market! It's easy to use soy foods to provide protein-rich meals for vegetarians and people on limited meat diets with so many soy products available. Consider using soy in some of the ways suggested below to introduce flavorful, meatless dishes to your menu.

  1. Bake breads, pitas, and desserts using soy flour. Because it's similar to wheat flour, you can use it in any other cooking or baking application to add more protein.
  2. Vegetarian sandwich

  3. Create stir-fry dishes, burgers, and kebabs with diced or fried tofu, and give customers a protein boost by blending silky tofu into dips and smoothies.
  4. Tempeh is great for burgers, kebabs, and stir-fry dishes, as well. Substitute ground meat with crumbled tempeh to make tacos or vegan chili.
  5. Use soy nut butter to replace peanut butter in sandwiches, cookies, or peanut sauces.
  6. Make soup with miso. There are several kinds of miso with different flavors, so experiment with them by adding them to noodles, rice, salad dressings, or other condiments.
  7. Offer edamame as a side or an entrée by itself. Add other ingredients like corn, chickpeas, black beans, onions, and peppers to your cooked soybeans for a highly nutritious meal.

Get creative with meat substitutions, and don't be afraid to use spices to flavor your soy dishes. If you're looking for more recipe inspiration, soy has been a staple of Asian cuisine for centuries, so that's a good place to start looking!

Posted in: Features | By Melissa Walters
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