In the Northeast, temperatures have dipped below zero for more days than anyone cares to record. The
Soon, we will all be suffering from increased produce prices because of the frigidity that has blanketed the frosted eastern part of the country.
This of course will only add to the after holiday suffering we are all facing because of the seasonal over-indulging in sweets, cookies, pies, cakes, breads, parfaits, and puddings.
And although winter is waning and spring is not that far away, it is diet season for all of us. This is a perplexing predicament as salads are probably not the meal of choice for those living in below zero weather. Yet belts, pants, and jeans will be reminding us to lose weight.
The first time I faced this dilemma Chef David Wetzel came to my rescue. Wetzel was a huge proponent of Salad Nicoise. Basically a combination salad, the classic Nicoise arrives un-tossed with ingredients slightly mingled on the plate inviting individual choices and selections.
Wetzel’s key to winter salad success was to offer a selection of salads styled after the Nicoise that could easily be substituted for a winter eve entr?e while using a broiled chicken breast, a thinly cut London Broil, pork tenderloin or a champagne poached salmon filet as the one ingredient to warm the soul. Wetzel would also offer the salad as an entree for two – a plate large enough to split for a little less than double the price. He saved prep time, plate time, and alleviated kitchen staff during those slow nights by offering this double entree, single plate favorite.
Although Wetzel didn’t play calorie counter while developing his creations, he was knowledgeable of the lettuce fluff, the multi amount of slices one can get out of an egg, and the beauty of a layered tomato, a thinly sliced radish, and a flurry of capers to dress the plate.
While many entrees on the Chez Foley menu hovered around the $19.00 range, one of Wetzel’s salads would fly off the menu in the $13.00 neighborhood. The profit margin on his salads was much higher than the entr?e items that took more ingredients, manpower, and energy to prepare.
So in a time when people are thinking about thinning down, and business may be slow than we expected, entr?e combination salads may be the perfect enticement to encourage people to diet in style.
Use table tents to announce the upcoming special menu additions and begin to feature a trilogy of selections each night. The broiled chicken breast and the salmon filet will be your most popular salads and the additions that go with them can be any reasonably priced vegetable.
Have your chef develop a house-made low calorie dressing and you will see your food cost decrease, your profit margin increase, and your popularity with post holiday dieters soar.
Many look at the diet season as a customer deterrent, when in fact it is a breath of fresh air for those owners willing to publicize their new combination salad menu.