If in the last week you, your chef, or one of his team have not gone to a local farmers’ market to buy produce, have not gone to a garden, whether your own or a friends, to pick herbs, heirlooms, or harvest a portion of the bumper crop of zucchini you’re missing one of the greatest pleasures of owning a restaurant. You are in charge of your product ad it is easy to add quality ingredients without emptying your bank account on every plate.
Worse, if you have not considered planting a window box, a pale, a bucket or a patio planter with fresh herbs in or near your restaurant, you are ancient. Whether you realize it or not, you have fallen behind the curve of new culinarians that are making their mark on the palates of customers who dine in their eateries on a regular basis.
Now, if you happen to have a chain restaurant and are reading this, you are exonerated. However, if you are a single unit operator or a multi unit group, able to count all locations on more than two hands, you need to pay attention- to those around you.
Don’t think that I am a sign carrying member of “the slow food movement”. I am not. Although I respect the effort, I don’t believe that we need to be labeled slow foodies or fast foodies. We simply need to enjoy what we do and do it better each day while providing our customers a full presentation of artwork on the plate. Adding enjoyment as an ingredient certainly makes the dish better.
Let’s be reasonable, the joys we, as restaurateurs experience, are often minimal, in the world we strive to live. A simple task- harvesting our on tomatoes, cutting basil from a garden, snipping mint from a window box, or plucking squash flowers from those zucchini vines can often add more joy to the day- both for yourself, and your customer- than you would imagine.
Whenever I am home during the summer, my Saturday evening ritual includes dinner at Sea Thai Bistro in
Much of that is due to the fact that the Executive Chef shares his passion, not only with his staff, but with the customers. On a recent Saturday evening, Qunpamornchai presented an Heirloom tomato appetizer with Sesame crusted organic cream cheese, with just a hint of basil. The dish was filled with flavor. The presentation was perfect- just the amount of roasted red pepper coulis supporting the Heirloom’s bursting flavor.
The most impressive ingredient to the dish was the chef’s passion. He had picked the tomatoes that morning. Their freshness could not be questioned or compromised and the pride he took in the appetizer’s creation, from picking product, designing the ultimate artistic stack of presentation, and the addition of the roasted red pepper coulis, is what the business is all about.
Honestly, when we head to our offices after a busy weekend, punch the adding machine, or calculator, realize that we almost made a profit, isn’t the actual reward the pleasure, enjoyment and pride we feel when we accomplish the goal of making customers’ happy?
Go out and pick a fresh tomato today. Add some basil, a bit of olive oil, a few sprigs of basil, and maybe, just for a flavorful aroma, a few twists of mint. You’ll feel better. You might even put the fresh creation on the menu.
It will make you a star with your customers. And in the end, the calculator will become your friend.