Apple, Sausage and Sage Sourdough Stuffing
This rich, full-flavored stuffing from WholeFoodsMarket.com is a show stealer, whether stuffed in a turkey or baked on its own.
- 1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 11 cups)
- 1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil
- 3/4 pound fresh mild pork or chicken sausage
- 4 Braeburn, Gala or other apples, cored and diced
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread bread cubes out on two large rimmed baking sheets and bake until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up chunks with a spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add apples, celery, onion and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple and vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes more. Add to toasted bread. Stir in broth, sage, salt and pepper.
If using to stuff a turkey, cool completely before stuffing. If baking separately, heat oven to 350°F and bake in a buttered casserole dish until lightly browned and crisp on top, 50 to 60 minutes.
Per Serving:260 calories (100 from fat), 11g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 620mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 9g protein
Note: for a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and substitute vegetarian sausage or a few cups cooked shiitake mushrooms for the meat sausage.
As the Thanksgiving season swiftly approaches we want to give you the inspiration you need to make this festive holiday a hit! We’ll be sharing one recipe a day leading up to the grand celebration on the 28th to help inspire and prepare you for this season of Thanksgiving.
Let’s start with the most important component of any Thanksgiving meal: the Turkey.
According to bonappetit.com, when it comes to turkey, there’s a zillion variables to calculate: heritage breed or Butterball? Brined or dry-rubbed? Roasted or grilled–or deep-fried? However you cook your bird this Thanksgiving, New York Times National Editor Sam Sifton wants you to know these four basic truths about turkey:
Truth No. 1
Rosemary + butter + turkey fat + a little soy sauce = a great bird.
Truth No. 2
Never let ‘em see you sweat–or slice. Carve before you bring the bird out. So much easier.
Truth No. 3
In the oven, on a grill or in a fryer, the thing that matters most is how it tastes.
Truth No. 4
The party may be over, but tomorrow there will be leftovers.
If you are in need of a recipe, try this collection from Spoonful.com for some great ideas on how to cook your Holiday bird.
Have big plans for this Halloween? Check out the FDA’s Food Safety Tips to ensure you have a safe holiday.
Take these simple steps to help your children have a fun – and safe – Halloween
- Children shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating. Urge your children to wait until they get home and you have had a chance to inspect the contents of their “goody bags.”
- To help prevent children from snacking, give them a light meal or snack before they head out – don’t send them out on an empty stomach.
- Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
And follow these tips for Halloween parties
- If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween
parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise
treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider
that has not been treated will say so on the label.
- No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter.
- Before going “bobbing for apples,” an all-time favorite Halloween game, reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
- “Scare” bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include, for example, finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings. Cold temperatures help keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying. And don’t leave the food at room temperature for more than
We wish you and your family a safe holiday. Follow us on Facebook more helpful tips on how to stay safe!
In a recent report from Nation’s Restaurant News by Mark Brandau, we get an inside look into how the 2013 breast cancer awareness fundraisers have panned out.
Many restaurant companies jump into Breast Cancer Awareness Month every October to raise money for charities studying the disease, and marketers have found that the different fundraising programs create a positive cycle rather than a zero-sum competition.
For instance, Denver-based Smashburger has chosen this October to roll out its first national cause-marketing program, benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The chain will donate 40 cents from every sale of its new Raspberry Sorbet Shake, which combines Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet to produce the signature pink color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Smashburger has promised a minimum donation of $25,000 to Komen, but the brand’s senior vice president of marketing, Jeremy Morgan, said it was well on its way to clearing that threshold. He added that the buzz about breast cancer fundraising in October made this month the right time to launch a national campaign.
“We wanted to choose a reputable charity that our consumers could connect with, and Komen fit the profile pretty much perfectly,” Morgan said. “We thought about what would be the most Smashburger way to do that. A ‘breast cancer burger’ felt a little weird, but then we had an idea session with our Haagen-Dazs partners, and we came up with the Raspberry Sorbet Shake.”
The new shake was tested in several markets and performed very well, especially among Smashburger’s female guests, he said. The brand always has tried to differentiate its menu with native appeal, such as burgers with local ingredients or partnerships with local craft breweries, but the national effort around one systemwide offering has worked well, Morgan said.
With dozens of restaurant brands joining the cause to fund breast cancer research in October, the industrywide effort has helped Smashburger’s program rather than competed with it, he added.
“Whenever you do cause marketing, first and foremost it’s about how you can do the most for the charity partner,” he said. “The fact that so many other restaurants and retailers do this in October for breast cancer reinforces the cause we have. … As a marketer, you always want a differentiating program, so we thought hard about what’s the Smashburger way to do this.”
Several brands have made October their signature cause-marketing month for years, including Atlanta-based Hooters, which has partnered to raise money for cancer research with The V Foundation for the 11th consecutive year.
Through Nov. 27, Hooters will donate $1 to The V Foundation for every sale from a special drink menu that includes Montevina Pinot Grigio, Simply Naked Red Blend, a Tropical Long Island Iced Tea or a non-alcoholic strawberry lemonade. The chain will also donate 50 cents from the sale of every Hooters Girl calendar and other merchandise.
Since 2002, Hooters has donated more than $2 million to The V Foundation through the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Grant, established in honor of Hooters Girl and manager Kelly Jo Dowd, who died from breast cancer in 2007.
Similarly, Caribou Coffee has run its Amy’s Blend program for the past 18 years. The Minneapolis-based coffeehouse chain honors its first roastmaster, Amy Erickson, who died from breast cancer in 1995.
Caribou will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from its Amy’s Blend collection of products — including Amy’s Blend coffee and tea, hot and cold drink ware, and apparel and accessories — to CancerCare. For every 11-ounce bag of packaged coffee sold in grocery stores, Caribou will donate another 50 cents to CancerCare.
This year, the brand also introduced the “Caribou Knits” social-media campaign. For every post or message a fan shares on Facebook or Twitter using the #CaribouKnits hash tag, a volunteer from the brand will knit one inch of a scarf for a person in need.
Hard Rock Café’s Pinktober campaign is in its 14th year this October. The Orlando, Fla.-based chain will donate proceeds from its Strawberry Dream Milkshake, Strawberry-Basil Lemonade and Strawberry Cupcake to local and international breast cancer research foundations.
Throughout the rest of the restaurant industry, dozens of independents and chains find their own ways to give money and support to breast cancer charities, often by leveraging the nationwide pink theme of October.
A spokeswoman for Hungry Howie’s Pizza wrote that the Madison Heights, Mich.-based chain has raised more than $800,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or NBCF, in this year’s “Love, Hope & Pizza” campaign. Hungry Howie’s is making a donation for every pizza sold, every Facebook story shared, every new Facebook “like” gained, and every picture tagged with the #LOVEHOPEPIZZA hash tag.
Pizzas are being delivered in pink boxes with the NBCF logo on them, and Hungry Howie’s hopes to surpass the $1 million mark this year.
East Coast Wings & Grill also has a pink-themed promotion this year. For the fourth consecutive October, the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based brand will donate 10 percent of sales to Komen every time a customer orders pink tortilla chips and salsa, priced at $2.99. The brand also will have a “give back night” on Oct. 29, in which 10 percent of all sales systemwide will be donated.
Other chains introducing pink menu items for their cause-marketing campaigns include Fazoli’s, which will sell a Pink Lemon Ice through Nov. 3, and Tijuana Flats, which will sell a charity hot sauce in its units and allow customers to switch to a pink tortilla for their tacos for a $1 donation. Lexington, Ky.-based Fazoli’s will raise funds for the NBCF, while Orlando-based Tijuana Flats will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Las Vegas-based Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is running a “Save the Bobbie’s” campaign, in which the chain will donate 25 cents to NBCF per purchase of a signature sandwich, The Bobbie.
Are you running a promotion for the month of October that focuses on Breast Cancer Awareness? Let us know! Share your pictures and comments on our Facebook page.
National Fire Prevention Week kicks off October 6-12, 2013 with the National Fire Protection Association focusing heavily this year on “Preventing Kitchen Fires”. The National Restaurant Association discusses ways you can prevent a fire using the basic principles for restaurant fire safety.
Fire prevention 101: The basics on restaurant fire safety
Restaurants—with their open flames, hot equipment, electrical connections, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals and paper products—have all the ingredients for a fire to flame out of control. Nearly 8,000 eating and drinking establishments report a fire each year, according to 2006-2010 data tabulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Quincy, Mass. These fires caused an annual average of $246 million in direct property damage.
A fire can devastate your business, leading to lost revenues and even permanent closure. But there are steps you can take to prevent fires and minimize the damage.
• Install an automatic fire-suppression system in the kitchen. This is crucial because 57% of restaurant fires involve cooking equipment. These systems automatically dispense chemicals to suppress the flames and also have a manual switch. Activating the system automatically shuts down the fuel or electric supply to nearby cooking equipment. Have your fire-suppression system professionally inspected semiannually. The manufacturer can refer you to an authorized distributor for inspection and maintenance.
• Keep portable fire extinguishers as a backup. You’ll need Class K extinguishers for kitchen fires involving grease, fats and oils that burn at high temperatures. Class K fire extinguishers are only intended to be used after the activation of a built-in hood suppression system. Keep Class ABC extinguishers elsewhere for all other fires (paper, wood, plastic, electrical, etc.).
• Schedule regular maintenance on electrical equipment, and watch for hazards like frayed cords or wiring, cracked or broken switch plates and combustible items near power sources.
• Have your exhaust system inspected for grease buildup. The NFPA Fire Code calls for quarterly inspections of systems in high-volume operations and semiannual inspections in moderate-volume operations. Monthly inspections are required for exhaust systems serving solid-fuel cooking equipment, like wood- or charcoal-burning ovens.
Train your staff to:
• Find and use a fire extinguisher appropriately. An acronym you may find helpful is PAST – pull out the pin, aim at the base, make a sweeping motion, (be) ten feet away.
• Clean up the grease. Cleaning exhaust hoods is especially important, since grease buildup can restrict air flow. Be sure to also clean walls and work surfaces; ranges, fryers, broilers, grills and convection ovens; vents and filters.
• Never throw water on a grease fire. Water tossed into grease will cause grease to splatter, spread and likely erupt into a larger fire.
• Remove ashes from wood- and charcoal-burning ovens at least once a day. Store outside in metal containers at least 10 feet from any buildings or combustible materials.
• Make sure cigarettes are out before dumping them in a trash receptacle. Never smoke in or near storage areas.
• Store flammable liquids properly. Keep them in their original containers or puncture-resistant, tightly sealed containers. Store containers in well-ventilated areas away from supplies, food, food-preparation areas or any source of flames.
• Tidy up to avoid fire hazards. Store paper products, linens, boxes and food away from heat and cooking sources. Properly dispose of soiled rags, trash, cardboard boxes and wooden pallets at least once a day.
• Use chemical solutions properly. Use chemicals in well-ventilated areas, and never mix chemicals unless directions call for mixing. Immediately clean up chemical spills.
Be prepared: Have an emergency plan
If a fire breaks out in your restaurant, your staff must take control of the situation and lead customers to safety.
• Be prepared to power down. Train at least one worker per shift how to shut off gas and electrical power in case of emergency.
• Have an evacuation plan. Designate one staff member per shift to be evacuation manager. That person should be in charge of calling 911, determining when an evacuation is necessary and ensuring that everyone exits the restaurant safely. Ensure your staff know where the closest exits are, depending on their location in the restaurant. Remember that the front door is an emergency exit.
• Offer emergency training. Teach new employees about evacuation procedures and the usage of fire-safety equipment. Give veteran staff members a refresher course at least annually.
Follow us on Twitter for tips on how to prevent kitchen fires in your restaurant. Visit the NFPA to learn more about Fire Prevention Week and download useful resources to help prepare your staff in the event of a kitchen fire.
In a recent article from the National Restaurant Association, industry experts discuss the importance of managing your purchase controls to ensure you are keeping your costs in check. If you say you have a great distributor, it probably means that you have a great supplier’s representative handling your account. That person has most likely built his or her credibility with your organization by being available when he or she is most needed and having a strong sense of urgency to emergency situations that can arise.
That said, it would be important to understand that the success of a solid primary supplier program depends on making sure that the appropriate controls/checks and balances are put in place on the restaurant end. Those responsibilities are best not placed on the shoulders of the supplier representative, who, ultimately, is paid by the distributor.
You need to bear the onus of analyzing your own purchasing program. Here are some points to consider in structuring or restructuring your relationship with your sole or prime vendor:
- Benchmark some of your high- and low-volume items. This helps ensure that products in all price ranges are kept in line. It will help you keep tabs on costs of products that increase significantly.
- Review your quality levels on a regular basis. Does the quality level of all or part of the distributor’s inventory match well with your quality needs? Are you saving a few pennies, but accepting inferior product your guests will notice?
- Consider whether you will need a distributor’s representative taking weekly orders at your facility. Faxing or placing orders online may reduce your cost of goods even further. Eliminating the order taker in your restaurant eliminates “cost” from your distributor’s end that can be passed on to you with lower markups. Many, if not all, of the larger chains function in this manner.
- Determine if your establishment has the storage available to receive fewer deliveries. If so, reducing weekly deliveries on a prime or sole vendor program can reduce your distributor’s cost and be reflected in your delivered price as well.
- Make sure that audit privileges are included into any sole or prime vendor agreement you review. This will serve as the compliance check for you, whereas the distributor will be required to periodically produce manufacturer invoices and freight documents on selected items that can be traced to your actual invoice cost.
- Clearly understand how your distributor defines cost. Understand if there are additional charges incurred for splitting cases or for stocking proprietary products on your behalf. Require that special charges are itemized so you can determine ways to economize, like ordering more product with each delivery.
If you are looking for more ways to analyze your food cost and keep track of your inventory, check out MenuMax and the great features it has to offer. Call us today to schedule a free demo.
Following are some tips to create an effective ordering system:
1. Create an order form for each inventory category, such as meat, produce, grocery, liquor, beer, paper, cleaning supplies, etc.
2. The order form should include columns for description, ordering unit, price, supplier, weekday and weekend par level, as well as on-hand and order quantity.
3. List each item you order on the appropriate order form. Arrange food items in the following sequence: dry, refrigerated and frozen, to match the way product is arranged on the shelves.
4. Decide how often and on which days you will order each category. For example:
- Liquor, beer and wine: Monday and Thursday
- Produce and dairy: two to six times per week
- Meat and seafood: two to six times per week
- Groceries: Monday and Thursday
- Restaurant supplies and paper: Thursday
- Soft beverages: Thursday
5. Establish a weekday par and a weekend par for each item on the order sheet. A par level should be the expected usage of an item between orders without running out.
6. Split up the ordering duties between kitchen and bar.
7. Designate specific time frames for ordering. Don’t allow interruptions. Some vendors, such as produce, meat, seafood, and liquor, allow you to leave orders on voice mail or fax in the order the evening before for next-day delivery. Not all orders need to be placed during the most hectic times of the day.
8. Adjust your par levels as needed from time to time. Review the last three weeks’ sales trends as well as special events that could affect usage amounts and adjust your orders accordingly.
Looking for a way to gain control over your inventory? Check out the convenient inventory feature in MenuMax to help you better manage your inventory and keep costs in check.
This article is presented courtesy of RestaurantOwner.com, a source of operational and business resources for independent restaurant operators. For more information, visit www.RestaurantOwner.com.
Avocado is the ingredient of the year, food trend expert Nancy Kruse declared in her annual State of the Plate address at MUFSO. In a recent article from Nation’s Restaurant News, written by Bret Thorn, upcoming trends are discussed as highlighted at the 2013 MUFSO Supershow.
Kruse said Avocado, which is appearing in everything from the latest version of Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap to desserts such as the Avocado PopSorbetto at Popbar, “plays well with other ingredients” because of its mild flavor and creamy texture.
Additionally, she said, its green color suggests freshness — an essential cue in dining — and probably makes consumers feel good about themselves for eating it. Check out some grea avocado recipes here.
For guests looking for food that’s better for them, restaurants are offering “food with benefits,” such as the avocado, which has vitamins and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, she said.
Kruse noted the shift from the “subtraction model” of the past, when food was touted for having salt, fat and sugar removed from it. Now, the “addition” model touts the addition of added fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Even cruciferous vegetables — those members of the cabbage family including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Swiss chard — are showing up on menus in items such as Mellow Mushroom’s Chicken Curry Pops with Sriracha Broccoli Slaw, and California Pizza Kitchen’s Brussels + Bacon Pizza.
Kruse observed that cruciferous and other vegetables also were appearing with more regularity on breakfast menus and pointed to First Watch, which has added a broccoli and turkey frittata to its offerings.
Protein, too, is an important star on menus these days, she observed, noting that, of the three macronutrient types in the human diet — carbohydrates, fats and protein — protein was the only one that hadn’t been demonized. Now it’s being highlighted in “superfood” ingredients such as Greek yogurt and quinoa, she said.
She said some of those better-for-you items are now targeting men, such as the Power Protein Menu currently in test at Taco Bell, which features items with 20 or more grans of protein and fewer than 450 calories.
Whole grains also are appearing on more menus, especially in breads, where they’re replacing specialized items such as ciabatta and focaccia, she said.
High-protein quinoa is a breakout in the “ancient grain” category, Kruse said, noting that those items appealed to the roughly one third of Americans who said they were trying to cut down on or eliminate gluten, according to NPD. However, she noted, “My strong sense is we are at the top and starting to downslope, noting that those chains who could add [quinoa] to their menus have already done so.”
She added that, similar to the Atkins Diet fad, most customers would likely come back to gluten soon.
Kruse pointed to Sriracha sauce — now a flavor gracing chain menus across the country — as one of thee currently “cool” ingredients. Another is the pretzel — a popular sandwich carrier and an element in increasingly popular sweet-and-salty desserts, such as Dairy Queen’s chocolate-covered pretzel Blizzard.
The third cool ingredient is beer, which is being used in fondue dips, as a braising medium and in desserts, such as Red Robin’s Oktoberfest Beer Shake. Craft beer is also growing in popularity, she observed.
In a subsequent session, David Henkes, executive director of Technomics’ Adult Beverage Insights Group, said craft beer now accounts for 15 percent of total beer sales in restaurants.
Looking for menu inspiration based on these trending ingredients? Check out our Pinterest page or follow us on Facebook. Learn more about how MenuMax can help you analyze your food costs to ensure your making the best financial decisions for your restaurant.
In a recent article from Restaurant-Hospitality.com, Andre Kay discusses the importance of a mobile friendly website and how you can achieve it. Innovation in today’s economy is leading restaurants to responsive web design as a way of adapting to consumers’ digital shift.
Millions of consumers use their smartphones and tablets to search for restaurants, make buying decisions or leave reviews on social channels such as Yelp and Urbanspoon. These channels are parallel in the sense that they all link back to the restaurant’s website. However, consumers also visit websites to make reservations and view menus or reviews to anticipate what to expect from a restaurant.
Therefore, the appearance of a website is imperative to catching viewers’ attention. How does your website look on an iPhone, Google tablet or any other device? When consumers view a website using their mobile phone, they are typically in a rush and need information that’s easy to read and navigate quickly. If they can’t easily find what they are looking for (i.e. menu, reservation information, address, etc.) in a minute, they will simply exit the website and probably never come back. Even worse, they may look to your competitor who already adapted to a responsive web design.
With responsive design, your restaurant’s website will seamlessly adjust to any screen size and resolution on any mobile device. Restaurants have generally created two separate websites; one for desktop computers and one for mobile devices, but with responsive design, businesses can build a website one time that works seamlessly across thousands of different screens.
According to the International Data Corp., worldwide desktop PC shipments will fall 4.3 percent this year, while portable PCs will grow slightly (0.9 percent). The tablet market, on the other hand, will reach a new high of 190 million shipment units, 48.7 percent more than last year, while smartphones will grow 27.2 percent to 918.5 million units.
That means more consumers are viewing your website through a device other than a desktop. In essence, it is time to get serious and adjust to the consumer digital shift. Responsive design is completely optimized for search engines and social networks, which is extremely important in driving new customers through the doors.
In addition to the social and search benefits, adapting a responsive web design will give a huge edge over your competitors. Very few restaurants have adapted to the new change, so offering an optimal browsing experience will set your business apart from others.
Looking for more ways to optimize your restaurant? Call us for a free demo to see how MenuMax can help you increase profit and reduce cost at 1-877-MENUMAX.
Did you know that September is National Food Safety Month (NFSM)? According to the National Restaurant Association this year’s annual NFSM spotlights the increasing importance of food allergen awareness throughout the month of September.
Food allergies are on the rise, already affecting more than 15 million Americans. Therefore, the main topic being discussed is how to keep diners safe from serious, and sometimes fatal, food allergy reactions, as food allergies have now become a daily topic in the news cycle.
To enhance customers safety whenever they dine out, the National Restaurant Association has partnered withFood Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to create greater public awareness as well as an entirely new training program for all foodservice workers: ServSafe Allergens™ Online Course.
Check out this promotional Infographic that has been created to promote these common allergens and how to avoid cross contamination in honor of food safety month. This infographic was created by Tork, National Restaurant Association and ServSafe.
A growing number of restaurants across the nation have been offering gluten-free menus in recent years. But do they meet the first ever gluten-free definition announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Most likely, many will not, according to an article from Nation’s Restaurant News written by Anita Jones-Mueller.
After six years of deliberation, the FDA announced on Aug. 5, 2013 a new regulation and uniform standard for the term “gluten-free,” which must be met by Aug. 5, 2014.
The new definition states that the gluten-free term can only be used if the food item is “inherently gluten-free and does not contain 1) a gluten-containing grain, 2) a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour), or 3) a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.”
The 20-ppm benchmark is the key to this ruling, as it is the level that health researchers around the world agree is the safe amount of gluten that will not adversely affect those with celiac disease.
Currently, many restaurants state that their gluten-free menu is not for those with celiac disease but only for those with gluten sensitivity. They also sometimes state that they can’t guarantee there is no gluten present in the “gluten-free” meal. Generally, this means that the menu item is free of ingredients that contain gluten, but the restaurant is not taking the additional steps necessary to protect against cross contact with gluten.
Cross contact means that a non-gluten item comes in contact with, or touches, an item with gluten. Even a speck of gluten as small as the size of a grain of sand can travel through utensils, cookware, prep tables, frying oil, etc., and get into food, which can cause harm to someone with celiac disease. There is even some evidence that gluten can be spread airborne, especially by flour products.
After Aug. 5, 2014, the FDA states that “Any food product labeled ‘gluten-free’ that does not meet the criteria established in the final rule, including a food that contains 20 ppm or more gluten, would be deemed misbranded and would be subject to regulatory enforcement action.” Restaurants can take the following steps to help ensure that they do meet the criteria:
1. Get commitment from management
Beckee Moreland, director of gluten-free industry initiatives at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), recommends that management take the GREAT Kitchens course (Gluten-free Resource Education Awareness Training).
“This way, management will understand what it takes to identify potential gluten sources, develop protocols and procedures to protect against cross contact, and train the front of house and back of house staff,” explains Moreland, who is passionate for the cause because she herself has celiac disease. “Then once management makes the commitment, the restaurant can move forward with confidence because they understand the process and the need for education and training. And restaurants that follow through with their commitment will receive the benefits of a loyal following from those with celiac disease and their family and friends, as well as the bigger market of those who are gluten sensitive but don’t have celiac disease.”
2. Analyze gluten presence
Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as fresh unprocessed meats, poultry and fish; fruits and vegetables; nuts, beans and some whole grains and starches, such as potatoes, corn, quinoa and rice. However, gluten can be hidden in seasonings, sauces, flavorings and other ingredients, so you will need a gluten-free expert to provide a thorough analysis of every ingredient and food label, including all sub-recipes and purchased and prepared items.
“We work with a lot of restaurants, helping them identify menu choices that do not contain gluten. They are sometimes surprised when we tell them that a spice blend contributes gluten to an otherwise gluten-free choice. However, they do appreciate the education, so they can find a gluten-free spice substitute,” says Nicole Ring, RD, Healthy Dining’s Director of Nutrition. “It seems like a chicken breast with fresh vegetables and quinoa should be a gluten-free choice, but you have to be very cautious with marinades, sauces, dressings and other ingredients that may contain gluten.”
Generally, organizations that certify gluten-free products require the products to contain 10 ppm or less. That means that food products labeled and certified as gluten-free are rigorously tested in batches to meet the 10 ppm and thus are certified as “gluten-free.” So restaurants that purchase the certified gluten-free products can feel confident about using these products.
3. Train restaurant staff
The NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program provides five multimedia interactive modules online to effectively train restaurant personnel to develop, prepare and serve gluten-free options with confidence.
The front-of-house module includes topics such as taking orders, answering questions, approaches to serving guests with gluten-free needs, communication with back-of-house staff and prevention of mistakes. The back-of-house module includes menu development, preparation, avoiding cross contact, storage, and communication with front-of-house staff. The implementation module for management includes a downloadable manual with posters, charts and other support materials. The modules also address the specific needs of a gluten-free diner and understanding whether ingredients contain gluten.
4. Monitor adherence to protocol
Once the gluten-free items are identified and analyzed, the staff is trained and the protocols are in place, it is important to regularly monitor adherence and continue training for all new staff.
When asked whether this new FDA regulation will hinder food suppliers and restaurants when it comes to offering gluten-free products, Moreland states, “It is going to help bring more gluten-free specialty products to market. Many companies have been waiting for this ruling so that they can launch new gluten-free retail products. Soon to follow will be wholesale options, such as more variety in gluten-free breads, pastas, pizza crusts, sauces, dressings and other ingredients.”
Fires of any size can be devastating to restaurants. In a recent article from Restaurant Hospitality.com, Bob Krummert shares some tips from insurance professionals on how to prevent them from happening in your kitchen.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that an average of 5,900 restaurant fires take place in the U.S. each year.”A fire may be the quickest way to destroy a restaurant business,” says Craig Kwitoski, VP of Irvine, CA-based insurance agency SullivanCurtisMonroe. “While the day-to-day activities of running a restaurant are time-consuming, the potential consequences of a fire make it worthwhile to set aside time for preventive measures.”
The experts from SullivanCurtisMonroe’s food industries practice suggest that operators follow these five steps to keep their restaurants safe:
1. Comply with standards. FEMA found that 59 percent of restaurant fires originate in the cooking area and are often caused by deep-fat fryers.Today’s deep-fat fryers are highly efficient and use vegetable oils. Unfortunately, though, they cook at higher temperatures and retain heat longer than older fryers. In addition, the dry chemical fire suppression systems previously used are not effective with today’s fryers.
If your restaurant uses deep-fat fryers or produces grease-laden vapors, you’ll need a wet chemical fire suppression system that is UL 300 compliant. UL 300 was developed by Underwriters Laboratories specifically to protect restaurant cooking areas. To keep oil from overheating and igniting, fryers should shut off automatically when a high temperature is reached. Fryers should be located at least 16 inches away from gas stoves, char-grills or other open-flame appliances. If they are closer, an eight-inch stainless steel baffle should be installed between them.
2. Maintain your fire suppression system. Fire suppression systems should be serviced every six months. In addition, regularly check caps on discharge nozzles to ensure that openings are not clogged by grease or debris.
3. Clean your exhaust duct regularly. A buildup of grease in the exhaust system can cause a fire. Clean your exhaust duct with the following frequency:
• Monthly if you use solid fuels, such as wood or charcoal.
• Quarterly if your kitchen operates at a high volume (i.e., if the restaurant does 24-hour cooking, extensive frying, charbroiling or wok cooking).
• Semiannually if your kitchen operates at a moderate volume.
• Annually for low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps or seasonal businesses.
4. Train your employees. Show all employees where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them. Teach them how to manually activate the fire suppression system, and how to react in an emergency, based on your emergency evacuation plan.
5. Know the basics. Maintain clear, uncluttered walkways and storage areas. Use only Type K extinguishers on cooking fires. Avoid using extension cords or frayed electrical cords. Keep combustibles away from hot surfaces. Clean grills and kitchen equipment frequently. If you re-arrange equipment under the hood, have your fire protection servicing company evaluate whether you need to re-arrange the nozzles on your fire suppression system.
“It’s neither time-consuming nor expensive to practice fire prevention,” says Kwitoski. “But doing so has the potential to save your restaurant.”
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In a recent article from QSR Magazine, originally written by Blair Chancey, a list was compiled of realistic ways to save thousands of dollars as a food service operator. In part two, we’ll explore the second set of five easy ways for you to reduce costs.
The old (and costly) way to create a schedule was for a manager to sit down with a pen and paper, maybe an Excel spread sheet, and labor for hours developing a plan for the week. Online scheduling programs can put an end to that and save operators about four hours a day in labor costs. Online products like Schedulefly allow employees to submit time-off requests online so that when the manager creates the schedule only available employees are able to be selected. Because the system is completely automated online, employees can access their schedules and time changes through e-mail, text message, and Facebook.
In addition to speeding up the schedule process, Schedulefly’s technology also tallies labor costs as operators assign employees, which enables them to better manage labor costs.
Keeping a store clean is essential to keeping repeat business. But how operators achieve that cleanliness may be costing them big bucks. Purchasing ready-to-use cleaning supplies like Windex, Mop n Glo, and Clorox is considerably more expensive than using products that can be diluted. For example, Cintas’ dilution rate is 1:256, which saves on average $13.55 each time new cleaning supplies have to be purchased. In addition, JohnsonDiversey, a chemical solutions company, found that on average employees use three times the suggested amount of soap and detergent when washing dishes. Using a dosing or dispensing system can cut down on overuse and save operators up to 80 percent in freight costs.
8. Tax Credits
On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007, which gives tax credits to employers who hire specific groups of people. The quick-serve industry has a 23 percent employee eligibility rate, higher than any other restaurant or retail segment, but operators rarely take advantage of it.
The employees who enable operators to collect tax credits include crew members on federal welfare (or member of a family receiving welfare), those belonging to a tribe, and disabled veterans. Work Opportunity Tax Credits can even be used to offset the Alternative Minimum Tax, contrary to what most companies think. In addition, JobApp CEO Blake Helppie says operators often don’t know about tax credits associated with hiring individuals living in counties affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Some cost-saving tips save operators time, others save them money. KlickKitchen, however, allows operators to save both. The food sourcing Web site not only streamlines the food-ordering process, it also pits vendors against each other—bidding for operators’ business.
The technology works like this: Each online user is given a virtual clipboard that is populated by the available inventory of more than 23,000 items or manual entry. At that point, operators can either send out their food requests and let the bidding begin or instantly contact vendors to get a price quote. And because there is a paper trail on the Web site, confusion and inaccuracies are avoided.
The Web site has a $300 initial setup fee and a $1-a-day membership fee. KlickKitchen CEO Jordan Glaser estimates ROI is about 2–3 weeks.
It’s good for operators to know about ways to reduce workman’s comp insurance, but what might be even better is cutting out the claim altogether. When an employee is injured at a restaurant, 40.7 percent of the time he or she can return to work without seeking off-site care, according to Medcor, an outsourced health service.
Medcor provides a 24/7 toll-free injury triage service so the employee can speak one-on-one with a nurse. If the injury is minor, the nurse will guide the employee through first aid steps. If the employee needs additional care, the nurse will provide him or her with employer-specific information about how to receive the appropriate level of care—avoiding unnecessary ER visits or out-of-network treatment. Additional savings include reduced legal fees, improved staff productivity, and discounted fees from preferred clinics.
Let us know if these tips helped you save money and share any additional advice you may have for fellow food service operators on our Facebook page.
In a recent article from QSR Magazine, originally written by Blair Chancey, a list was compiled of realistic ways to save thousands of dollars as a food service operator. In part one, we’ll explore five simple ways that you can implement immediately to help reduce costs.
1. Workman’s Comp
One great hidden gem in an operator’s budget is workman’s compensation insurance, says Dan Simons, principal at Vucurevich-Simons Advisory Group. Although restaurateurs cannot forgo the cost all together, they can easily reduce it. Workman’s compensation is figured annually based on a forecast of the upcoming year’s labor costs. When the economy slows and crew sizes are reduced, often that insurance figure is not recalculated.
Furthermore, when insurers go to resign a business for another year, operators often do not update their labor figures. As a result, workman’s compensation insurance is often based on outdated and inflated labor figures. Savvy operators will update those figures regularly with insurance providers and receive rebates immediately rather than waiting until the end of the year.
When you talk to restaurateurs about shrink, most of them don’t even know what that is,” Simons says. “It’s a sure thing that if a restaurateur isn’t actively managing loss prevention, they’re losing money—totally 100 percent guaranteed.” According to Simons, the best way to prevent theft is to watch the back door. Operators can catch both intentional theft and waste, which Simons categorizes as unintentional theft, by simply using clear trash bags and performing trash audits. “It’s not waste, it’s theft,” he says. “We bought the product and you threw it away when it wasn’t yours to throw away.”
Employees often smuggle goods in trash bags that are taken out to the dumpsters then steal the hidden products once they are out of the building. Other popular concealers include cardboard boxes and backpacks. Simons advises operators to breakdown all boxes before they are taken to the dumpster to prevent employees using them for smuggling and to not allow employees to bring duffel bags or backpacks into work. “Trust is not a lost prevention strategy,” he says.
The general rule in the restaurant industry is that 20 percent of your menu represents 80 percent of your food budget. Ensuring that your top items aren’t cannibalizing more of your budget is essential. The first step to getting your menu spending under control is to request a velocity report from your food vendor. Have the company give you a list outlining from the most expensive to the lowest-priced items. “Those top 15 percent are the ones you need to be going over with a fine-tooth comb,” Simons says.
Operators should follow those items in terms of frequency and price all the way to the back door, where all items should be weighted. “If a driver has 10 clients that he drops off blocks of cheese to, and one owner doesn’t weigh them, you take a pound off each block, and you’re in the cheese business,” Simons says. For operators overwhelmed by the thought of weighing every food item, Simons advises to at least ensure that all meat is weighed.
In addition, MenuMax technology can help you get accurate costing for each plate and menu, custom designed for your restaurant. This is an essential tool if you are looking to get a handle on food costing and keep proper inventory.
McAlister’s Deli, known for its signature 4,000-square-foot stores, recently figured out how to save 10 percent in build-out costs by streamlining its kitchen and cutting seating. Bill McClintock, the brand’s senior vice president of development, says leaving the décor inside the restaurant was extremely important, ensuring that customers still got the same dining experience in the new smaller stores. Where he saw savings, however, was the refrigerator.
Rather than relying solely on walk-ins, McAlister’s new kitchen relies heavily on reach-in freezers, eliminating the need for multiple large walk-in coolers. Also, by cutting down on seating, operations costs like upkeep and rent are reduced. Not to mention that consumers extend the lunch daypart by coming in early or later to avoid the crowds in the smaller stores.
The most common sources of energy waste are lighting, refrigeration, and the HVAC system. Matt Kim, director of product development at Prenova, an energy-management company, says nearly half of the energy reduction can be attributed to maintaining the corporate set point. Often franchisors recommend set temperature points and franchisees waste money by deviating from those suggested temperature points. As a solution, Kim suggests not allowing employees to change the thermostat or to install a system that automatically prohibits temperature deviation.
Operators also often waste money by lighting rooms that can be lit naturally through sunlight. Installing dimmers in those rooms allows operators to maintain a constant brightness relative to how sunny it is outside. Finally, Kim recommends seeing an afterhours delivery first-hand. According to him, operators are usually surprised that walk-in refrigerator doors are propped open for hours at a time while deliveries are being made.
If you found these tips useful, don’t miss part two, when we’ll share five more immediate tips to help you reduce your operational costs, creating more profit for your restaurant.
With the recent release of the USDA’s MyPlate dietary guidelines restaurants can take advantage of the opportunity to make more money, as long as customers aren’t paying a heftier price to do so.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate push comes with a new graphic and the endorsement of Michelle Obama. It’s meant to change the way Americans eat by encouraging them to cut back on animal proteins while consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, not everyone is buying into this approach. Cenegenics, a preventive medicine institute, has come out with a competing nutritional diagram dubbed the Cenegenics Food Diamond, which lists water, healthy fats, organic lean proteins, organic hormone-free dairy products and lots of beans and legumes as key diet ingredients not addressed by the MyPlate diagram.
“MyPlate promotes a diet that says all carbohydrates are good, all fats are bad, all protein sources are nutritionally the same and all dairy is equal,” says Robert Willix, Cenegenics CMO. “It seems to support the notion that a no-fat or low-fat diet is the way to go when, in fact, that is precisely the reason 64 percent of American adults and over 30 percent of American children are overweight or morbidly obese.”
Restaurant consumers might prefer to eat the higher-end healthful items recommended by the Cenegenics people, but not many of them are willing to pay for that privilege. That’s what a new survey from market research firm NPD Group discovered as it gathered material for its “Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Go Out To Eat” report.
NPD asked survey subjects if they would be willing to pay extra for healthful items at restaurants they visited often. Seventy percent of adults said they would not, 25 percent said they would be willing to pay “somewhat more” and a mere five percent said they would pay “a lot more.”
Young adults (ages 18-24) say they are more receptive to paying more for healthful food. Forty-four percent expect healthful items to be priced similarly to less healthful ones, but 41 percent say they would be willing to pay “somewhat more.” Fifteen percent expect to pay “a lot more.”
In addition, NPD found that more full-service restaurant patrons expect to pay the same amount for healthful items as less healthful ones, while fewer quick-service patrons are willing to do so.
While your restaurant might not be able to meet the nutritional standards proposed by the Cenegenics Food Diamond, the MyPlate strategy appears to be doable for most full-service operators. Considering that the costly protein portion of a meal will be downsized when MyPlate guidelines are followed, there could be a net food cost reduction for restaurants that menu MyPlate-style meals.
We can help you prepare for this shift in nutritional standards, providing you with up-t0-date nutritional analysis and accurate food cost. Visit our website MenuMax.com or call us at 1-877-MENUMAX to learn more. To view the full article regarding the switch to the MyPlate nutrition standard, click here.