eTundra Categories

Archive | August, 2013

Elk Meatloaf Recipe

Elk Meatloaf RecipeWith cold winter months around the corner, I’m starting to crave comforts foods like Colorado green chili, tortilla soup, and meatloaf.  However, it’s still in the 90’s outside, so a warm bowl of soup still doesn’t suit the palate just yet, but that doesn’t exclude meatloaf!  I know, meatloaf got a bad rap when someone decided to dirty it up with huge chunks of veggies and super market meat that was as far away from fresh as it gets.  Kids across the country have grown up never knowing that meatloaf can actually be good.

You have to start with fresh ingredients, and then look for the taste you want in your meatloaf.  My mom made hers taste like pizza, throwing in tomato sauce, cheese, fennel, Italian seasoning, and other yummy herbs that typically go into Italian dishes.  I like her recipe, but I once came across a simple recipe that called for eggs, stuffing and barbeque sauce.  That was it, and the recipe was really good, but I knew it could be better.  By taking that same concept, but adding in additional flavors we liked – always add onion and garlic, always – I finally found a recipe that was (as my family says) heaven in your mouth!  Like little drops of meatloaf heaven dancing on your taste buds, you’ll re-think your childhood hatred for that meat in a loaf.

I swear that the secret is the barbecue sauce and fresh/organic ground meat.  We are a family of hunters, so we always have a lot of ground elk and venison on-hand, but you could just as easily get the ground meat from your local organic market.  The recipe below makes a rather large loaf (2 pounds of meat), but when I’m feeding my family of 4, I want to make sure I plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches the next day.  Even then, sometimes they just keep eating until it’s gone!

Elk Meatloaf

Ingredients

         Mix for Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds of ground elk (could use venison and beef too)
  • 8 ounces of multi-grain crackers, finely crushed
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (if your steak seasoning has plenty of salt in it, then cut this out)
  • 1 teaspoon steak or burger seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs

        Toppings

  • 6 slices of thinly sliced bacon
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the meatloaf (except for the egg) in a large bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then pour on top of the meatloaf mix.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil, or line it with parchment paper so you don’t have to clean the mess up afterwards.  This step is important, because with the next step you’re getting dirty and you need to prep before that stage.
  5. Take your rings off and get to mixing all of the meatloaf mix together. Squish, squish.
  6. Pour all of the ingredients out on the baking sheet, and form into a loaf.  I like to form it so the slices are the size of sandwich bread – always thinking ahead.
  7. Place the bacon over the top of the meatloaf.  With this, I either cut the bacon in half so it fits right, or I’ll tuck long ends under the loaf.  If you’re on an anti-bacon diet, then cut this out, but I’m telling you, you’ll be missing out on some great flavoring.
  8. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes.  Or if you have a meat thermometer, cook until it reads an internal temperature of 160⁰F.
  9. 10 minutes before the meatloaf is done, mix together the remaining ingredients – barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce – and heat on oven until it starts bubbling.  Turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  10. When the meatloaf is done, pour the sauce over the top, and let it rest for 5 minutes before digging in.

Enjoy!

Continue Reading

Kitchen Tricks: How to Cut a Pineapple [Video]

Pineapple is a versatile, delicious and healthy fruit, but to someone unprepared to cope with its tough spines, rind and core, it can be daunting to prepare. Use this trick, demonstrated by Chris Tavano, to quickly remove the rind and core; without the need of a specialty pineapple slicer!

Special thanks to Bar Lilly at The Broker Inn.

 

List of Products Used

 

Video Transcription

Chris: 

Welcome back for another episode of Knife Know-How here with Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply in the kitchen of Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn in Boulder CO. The next video we’re going to show you is how to do is how to peel, segment, core and slice a pineapple from beginning to finish.

All right, so here we’ve got this nice pineapple; we’re going to tear it down with this Mercer Genesis forged 7″ santoku knife made out of high carbon stainless steel. First thing you’re going to want to do is to chop off the top; don’t necessarily throw it away, depending on it’s condition and presentation you can always keep that for centerpieces and whatnot. We’re going to cut off the bottom so it has a nice place to stand on, and from here what we’re going to do is to peel it. The biggest thing about peeling is you want to be sure you get far enough back in the flesh to be sure that none of these spines are still sticking out. So again, like segmenting an orange a little bit, just go slice by slice, getting far enough back to get all these pines off. Again from here, you don’t necessarily want to throw that away; it would be great for compost, great for vinaigrettes, whatever you want to do with that. As you see, we have a nice round core in the center, or somewhat round. Just like bell peppers, or anything else with a core, an easy way to do that is to just segment right around the core to start with. It should come off nice and smooth. If it’s actually difficult that means you’re probably going into the core itself. A nd there’s the core, it’s really tough can’t really cut through that nearly as well.

And from here we can focus on nice, pretty knife cuts. We can make little cubes, little juliennes, keep it all nice and stacked up, makes it a lot easier to work with with your knife. Depending on how ripe it is you can use all sorts of different cutting techniques to get in here and make the smallest or biggest cubes that you deem appropriate with your fruit. Keeping consistent all the way throughout. And there’s some nice fresh cubed pineapple, beginning to end!

And that’s another video of knife know how here with Chris Tavano at Tundra restaurant supply from the kitchen of Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn in Boulder, CO.

Here’s to better mise en place!

Before taking action from the content or resources published here, we request that you visit and review our terms of use.

 

Continue Reading

The Good & Bad of Commercial Grade Equipment & Supplies in Your Home

The Good & Bad of Commercial Grade Equipment & Supplies in Your Home

Question: Is there really a difference between restaurant grade products and products that I can get at other online and local stores?

Answer: It’s kind of hard to answer that question, because the answer is, it depends.

The Bad

It depends on what you’re shopping for, because a commercial oven has many different features than a standard home oven would have.  A commercial oven is meant to be used 12+ hours a day, constantly making meals for the masses.  These ovens don’t have all of the same safety features that you’d expect in your home oven (like the knobs are much easier for little hands to turn, which is dangerous), and they use a lot more power than a residential oven.  Your home exhaust would have to be switched over to commercial grade ventilation, and the flooring would have to be updated to handle the weight of these large pieces of equipment.  Commercial ovens are also not insulated, meaning, they can’t be installed between home cupboards and against normal residential walls.  In fact, the majority of commercial equipment needs special walling and plenty of space on the sides so that there is enough ventilation.

Same goes for commercial grade refrigerators, they use a lot more energy than home refrigerators and only come with the refrigerator section – no built in freezer (you’d have to buy that separately).

And finally, if you’re planning on installing commercial equipment in your home, you need to know that warranty is officially void.  Warranties are not upheld once equipment is installed in residential kitchens.  And any future maintenance and repairs that you can’t do yourself usually calls for a specialized tech that has commercial-equipment-repair-know-how… meaning repairs could be costlier than normal repair techs would charge.

The Good

But, if you’re up for making these changes and are well educated about what a commercial kitchen means for your home, you’re good to go (call our sales team if you need any help).  These large appliances are able to hold a lot more food, cook more meals and look awesome in a residential kitchen.  Not to mention, they’ll likely be the last purchase of its kind for you, because there’s no way your wear-and-tear on them will match what a restaurant does to them!  They’re basically indestructible in a home; well worth the price.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for supplies like a blender or knives, commercial grade will blow your mind!  Seriously, talk about indestructible, have you seen the Blendtec blender do its magic…

These blenders are made for the food service industry, and are strong enough to last a lifetime in residential kitchens.  Seriously, you’ll be handing them down to your kids.

A knife is a knife?  I think not.  The difference is that the steel and metal used in most knifes don’t even come close to the German and Japanese steel used in commercial knives.  They stay sharp longer, and will make you fall in love with chopping and dicing.  Yes, I said love, the majority of our staff can go on for hours about their favorite kitchen knife (and most talk about their sets of knives).

Also, a lot of restaurant supplies come in bulk.  So you may be buying a lot at once, but because of the bulk price, you save a lot of money!

And anyone that’s ever worked in a commercial kitchen will swear by commercial grade plastic wrap.  I personally have a box at home, and it has lasted me forever!  But the best part is that this stuff sticks to anything!  Not like the stuff you get at the grocery store that usually caves in if you put anything on it, this stuff is likely to cling itself to you if you don’t get it on the dish fast enough – seriously, I’m a bit obsessed with the commercial grade plastic wrap.

These are just a few items that we’ve fallen in love with in our homes, but let us know what other commercial grade products you swear by in your home.

Continue Reading

Teen Walks 10 Miles in the Snow to Interview for Minimum Wage Job

Teen Walks 10 Miles in the Snow to Interview for Minimum Wage Job

Photo Credit: AP/Indianapolis Star, Bill McCleery

Let’s face it, it’s tough this day in age to find hardworking teenagers. Doesn’t it seem like teens are more interested in money and materialistic things, but less motivated to work than ever before? Apparently it’s true!  According to a new study on the attitudes and values of high school seniors from the 1970s to now, there’s a growing gap between teens’ desire to work hard and own nice things.

Well, that’s not the case for Jhaqueil Reagan, an unemployed Indianapolis teen. This 18 year old boy walked nearly 10 miles in slush and snow to a minimum wage paying job interview at a thrift store, because he didn’t have enough cash for bus fare.  About half way through the journey he spotted restaurant owner, Art Bouvier who was laying rock salt on the sidewalk after an ice storm earlier that day. Jhaqueil approached Mr. Bouvier asking how far it was to 10th & Sherman. He said “Buddy that’s probably six, seven miles. You’d be better off on a bus especially in this weather.” Jhaqueil just replied, “Okay, thank you,” and kept walking.

Later, when Mr. Bouvier was driving with his wife, he spotted the boy still walking. Astonished, he pulled over and asked him if he needed a ride. Jhaqueil graciously got in the car and proceeded to tell the couple that he was going to a job interview, but didn’t have any money for bus fare. He had already walked 3 miles before seeing Mr. Bouvier.

Mr. Bouvier was shocked. He could not believe a teen was walking 10 miles through slush and snow to a minimum wage paying job interview. He told Jhaqueil that he would double his salary if he worked for him at his restaurant, Papa Roux instead. Jhaqueil accepted and started work the following week.

It’s not every day you find young workers with ambition and motivation like Jhaqueil. In fact, Jhaqueil’s story touched Mr. Bouvier so much that he took it to social media. He posted the story on his Facebook page. Not long after, the story had over 15K likes and 4K shares. Messages of support were pouring in from around the globe.

Fox 59 reported that Jhaqueil’s mother died two years ago and he was looking for a job to support his brothers and sisters. He had to drop out of high school and recently got his GED.

He also told WRTV-TV that he is looking for an apartment closer to his new workplace so he didn’t have to walk as far. However, he will have quite a bit of time to find an apartment because the IndyGo, the Indianapolis Public Transportation authority, provided him with a year’s supply of bus passes!

This is such a great story and the fact that Mr. Bouvier recognized Jhaqueil’s work ethic and dedication gives me butterflies. Papa Roux’s is extremely lucky to have Jhaqueil on their team.

Continue Reading

Survive the Apocalypse with Proper Shelving [Video]

We live in an increasingly dangerous world. Oil prices are skyrocketing, international diplomatic relations are breaking down, and the global economy is teetering on the brink of ruin. Proper preparation for the pending apocalypse, while once mocked, is growing in relevance and necessity. As people around the world are beginning to take seriously the threat of social collapse, stockpiling food and supplies has grown from a fringe hobby to an almost mandatory, and certainly recommended, practice. However, after the apocalypse has arrived, you want to be sure that the survival equipment that you’ve prepared is the top of the line in quality and durability; with no possibility of a visit from a repair technician or a trip to the UPS store to return your essential piece of gear for a warranty replacement, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the longevity of their survival tools, and through that, themselves as well.

Recently, Tundra came into possession of several pieces of video footage shot by the survivor of a recent near-apocalyptic incident. Though this particular event was eventually contained, we can see how the lone survivor copes with life after social collapse, with the help of some well-chosen and quality equipment.

Though we hope not to be forced into a situation like this ourselves, preparation is crucial: never cut corners in selecting the supplies that will ensure your survival! Equipment such as Camshelving, as we have seen, is strong, durable and versatile: perfect for scenarios such as this, and many others!

Special thanks to Courtney Ramey of Verde Food Truck…wherever she may be.

Before taking action from the content or resources published here, we request that you visit and review our terms of use.

 

Video Transcript:

Been on the move, been on the move for about three months now. I just found this camera. It’s got a little bit of battery left in it. Trying to stay on the move, keep things mobile. All I have is my backpack here, the clothes on my back, a little bit of bread here. I just found this shelf sitting here a little bit ago. It’s really come in handy for all of my necessary … They’re coming. (sounds of  steps, hissing) I think they’re coming. I think they found me. I’ve got to go. I’ve gotten away from them once, I can do it again. Got to grab my backpack, my bread. Oh, forgot the shelf.

All right, so I just got to my new location, got everything I need. I got away safe. Only problem is, is I’m in this, like, really crazy rocky terrain, but luckily, I have this shelf. It was just so easy to move it up a couple notches, so, bam, bam. Got my bread, got my backpack. I think I’m going to go to sleep. Really sturdy shelf, by the way. Okay. 

All right, guys, been here for a couple weeks, batteries running pretty low in the camera. I don’t have much time to talk, but I must say that this shelving unit’s been really amazing. I just got back from the creek, washed this guy off. Really easy to clean as you can see. Still sitting on it. Made it into a couch, actually. So, yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to say. This is it, about to post up, go to bed, hopefully someone finds this. Have a great life. Cheers. (crunching sound) Ow.

Continue Reading

State Fair Must-Haves to Keep Serving Up Good Eats

When you’re organizing a State Fair there are plenty of things you need to have on hand beyond just food and crowds. But we didn’t want to just give you a long list of concession items; instead, we took this great example from Buzzfeed, and gave it our own spin.

1. You’ll need extra janitorial supplies, because you know there’s going to be a mess.  There’s always a mess.

2. You’ll also need plenty of paper towels, napkins, and disposable plates, so hopefully people can maintain their own messes – don’t forget the trash bags to uphold trash levels!

3. To compete for the most extreme State Fair eats, you’ll definitely have to stock up on the right merchandisers and supplies – chocolate covered corn dogs anyone?

4. And fried foods, yeah, you need to be prepared for your next fried food concoction too. Donut hamburgers… may be good?

5. You’re in the middle of State Fair week and something breaks.  This is the time for breaks, because the closest supplier is miles away.  Don’t be jealous that your neighbor thought ahead and made sure he had all the extra parts needed to make quick repairs.

6. Tables? Chairs? Drapes? Booth Equipment?  Why rent when you can buy it and reuse it every year (shh, it also saves you more money this way).

7. Step right up!  Velvet rope isn’t just for corralling the crowds, it also adds a little pizazz to your booth.

Continue Reading

Convenience Over Quality: Does Age Make All The Difference?

When it comes to fine dining, a casual lunch, or a midnight snack, does the age of certain foods make all the difference?

The discussion surrounding fresh-from-the-ground ingredients and finely-aged wine, appetizers, and entrees is an ongoing one. As ridiculous as it sounds, choosing your side may ostracize you from certain high-brow circles, but deciding to hyperdecant a wine and also enjoy dry aged beef is a personal choice.

That said, knowing what’s on the table when it comes to your options is always a good idea, so here are three instances in which a food or drink’s age can play with the palate:

1. Decanting & Aerating vs. Hyperdecanting Wine

The tricks to enjoying wine are almost as varied as the grapes used in different vintages. Wafting delicate aromas and letting subtle flavors tickle the tongue are common practice, but possibly the most important piece of the wine puzzle is letting the liquid breathe – a process known as decanting.

Technically speaking, decanting is simply pouring a liquid from one container to another, with the purpose of leaving unwanted sediment in the original container. This also allows for aeration and softening of an otherwise bitter or lingering taste.

Pouring wine from a newly-uncorked bottle into a decanter and letting it oxidize for a few hours before service is the traditional method of decanting. In addition to decanting, the process of forcefully pouring wine into a decanter (aeration) quickens the effect.  Decanters for wine and spirits come in a range of designs and sizes, and many boast features that are supposed to improve the evolution from bottle to glass. No matter the size or style, traditional decanters are meant to hold a wine for an extended period of time, while it naturally aerates and softens, and purists wouldn’t have it any other way.

The extreme way of letting a wine breathe, and a fairly new concept, is a method known as hyperdecanting. Hyperdecanting is the process of oxidizing a wine using an immersion or kitchen blender, and it’s turning more than a few heads for its unflinching rebellion to wine etiquette. What’s essentially decanting on steroids, hyperdecanting takes the hours-long process of aeration from traditional decanting and condenses it into quick bursts of bubbles. Infusing a fresh-poured wine with so much oxygen is like pushing the hand on a clock forward, and skeptics of hyperdecanting are often surprised at how well the method works to open up flavors and subdue a bitter bite.

Here’s a video of a wine connoisseur newly converted to the hyperdecanting method:

2. Wet vs. Dry Aging Beef

Fresh-from-the-floor beef is often called “green” in the same sense that fresh-from-the-tree firewood is green. It’s alive, tough, and not quite primed for its purpose. That’s why beef is softened up, broken down, and prepped for your plate through a process called aging. Aging beef allows natural microbes and enzymes to go to work on the meat’s connective tissue and muscle. This, in turn, makes the beef more tender and flavorful. Depending on how you’d like the end result to turn out, dry aging or wet aging beef really boils down to personal preference.

When it comes to beef, dry aging is the traditional method. If you’ve ever seen an entire side of a cow hanging by hooks in a cooler you’re looking at meat being dry aged.  Dry aging calls for beef to be left in a refrigerated area with a constant air flow to help control bacteria, and a temperature ranging from 36 degrees to freezing is considered best practice. If temperature is too high your meat will spoil, and if it’s too low your meat will freeze. While dry aging, a side of beef’s juices start to evaporate, and the more juices lost the more “beefy” the meat becomes as the same amount of muscle fiber now has less water. Keeping humidity up, somewhere around 85 percent, is a good way to save those tasty juices long before you seal them in on a skillet. The weight loss that occurs during the dry aging process is also part of the reason it’s so expensive per pound, and the longer beef is left to age the higher the risk of spoilage and continued weight loss.

On the flip side, wet aging beef retains most (if not all) of the juices from a cut of beef. Unfortunately, what you retain in weight you lose in portion size. The process of wet aging can’t accommodate an entire side of beef, and smaller cuts are vacuum sealed instead. Vacuum sealing/wet aging a piece of beef doesn’t allow it to breathe or dehydrate, as with dry aging, and breaking down in its own blood and juices has been said to cause a stronger, more sour flavor. As unappealing as that sounds, at least 90 percent of all beef bought by Americans has been wet aged, so once again, it’s all about choice and preference. Wet aged beef is less expensive, and the process is faster than traditional dry aging. As with many things, convenience over quality tends to be the argument.

That said, while dry aging is preferred for something like ribs, the method can’t accommodate certain cuts of beef like skirt and chuck steaks. Deciding what works best for your home or restaurant is key.

3. Raw vs. Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables

Simply put, time takes its toll on fresh fruits and vegetables quickly. Leave an apple sitting on a warm countertop for even an afternoon and the fruit starts to look a little worse, and reaching into a week-old produce bag of once-fresh lettuce leafs is anything but satisfying. What’s worse, some fruits and vegetables actually make others ripen faster when paired together; almost as if they’re fighting against you in a war on freshness. As an alternative to constantly buying fresh produce many consumers choose to dehydrate nature’s candy to make it last longer and serve specific purposes. To make an informed decision knowing how the dehydration process affects a food’s nutrients and calorie count is important.

Dehydration is the technique of removing moisture from foods, and when done correctly dehydrating fruits and vegetables can make them last for months and even years. In fact, USA Emergency Supply claims they opened up cans of food 15-30 years old and were pleasantly surprised by the results. Much like wine, the ways to dehydrate foods vary depending on your preference. Sun drying, oven drying, and using a professional dehydrator are all popular methods.

During the dehydration process temperatures are warm enough to remove moisture, but not cook or burn the food. As with dry aging beef, air circulation and humidity are important to preventing a stagnant environment where microorganisms can thrive. If humidity is too high and temperature is too low, you’re essentially ripening fruits and vegetables faster without the benefits of dehydration. If humidity is too low and temperature is too high the outside layer of the food will harden and prevent the inside from drying properly. Sufficiently dried fruits and vegetables should be hard and brittle.

Unfortunately, the heat needed to dry produce also saps some of the nutritional value from your farm-fresh favorites. Vitamins A and C are especially heat sensitive, and you lose a substantial amount (anywhere from 20-50%), simply by dehydration. As counter-intuitive as it may be to the organic mindset, chemical treatments like sulfur dioxide have been used before dehydrating to protect Vitamin A and C, but the treatment destroys Vitamin B1. There are also more natural pre-treatments such as hot water blanching or dipping foods in citrus juice. It seems no matter the method of your pre-treatment you’re going to lose some nutritional value during the dehydration process, and just how much is dependent on the type of produce.

One thing you won’t lose when dehydrating fruits and vegetables is calorie count. The number of calories present in one apple is the same number of calories present in one dehydrated apple, and the same goes for vegetables. With that in mind, measurement makes all the difference, and depending on how you portion your produce you could be doubling or even tripling your caloric intake. For example, one cup of fresh grapes has around 100 calories, while a dried cup of the same grapes (raisins) has over 400 calories. That’s a significant difference! This is great for athletes or outdoor enthusiasts who burn a lot of calories and need to replenish on the go, but it’s bad for the weight watcher who just ate three cups of raisins in one sitting.

Continue Reading

Kitchen Tricks: How to Cut Cherry Tomatoes [Video]

Cherry or grape tomatoes make great additions to salads, pastas, or sandwiches. However, dicing them individually can be very time consuming. Spend more time enjoying your food and less time preparing it as Chris Tavano shows you how to cut all your tomatoes at once – like a chef!

Special thanks to Bar Lilly at The Broker Inn.

 

List of Products Used

 

Video Transcription

Chris: Welcome back to another episode of Knife Know-How with Chris Tavano from Tundra Restaurant Supply. Again, were here in the kitchen of Bar Lilly in the Broker Inn in Boulder Colorado. Next trick I’m going to show you is how to slice a bunch of grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in a short amount of time to maximize your day.

All right, I‘m going to show you how to cruise through slicing some grape or cherry tomatoes in half really quickly using our Mercer Millennia series high carbon steel 11″ slicing knife with a granton edge. So just get all your cherry or grape tomatoes; drop them out on your cutting board; get them all to lay nice and flat and pretty compact together. And from there, you just want to get any kind of flat surface; a plate, it doesn’t matter, I’ve just got a plastic one here. Apply a little bit of firm pressure so that way they hold in place. Then you get your slicing knife approximately half way, and you just zip right on through to the other side. And then from there, we’ve got all of our grape tomatoes quickly diced in half.

And that’s another video of Knife Know-How, here with Chris Tavano at Tundra Restaurant Supply from the kitchen of Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn in Boulder, Colorado.

Here’s to better mise en place!

Before taking action from the content or resources published here, we request that you visit and review our terms of use.

Continue Reading

Snapchat Could be the Next Best FREE Marketing Tool

Snapchat Could be the Next Best FREE Marketing ToolSnapchat is a new way to share moments with friends, family, and, most recently, consumers. Snap a funny picture (or take a short video), add a caption, and send it to one or multiple people. They’ll receive it, giggle (hopefully), and then the snap is gone… forever. You can show the image or video for up to 10 seconds before it self-destructs.

It’s a pretty basic concept, but if executed correctly it could be a great marketing tool for restaurants. In fact, Taco Bell has become the first major brand to pursue the latest social media phenomenon.

In May, Taco Bell tweeted that fans should add them on Snapchat.

Snapchat Could be the Next Best FREE Marketing Tool
Snapchat Could be the Next Best FREE Marketing ToolWhat was the secret announcement they so desperately wanted to share via Snapchat you ask? It was an announcement that Taco Bell was reintroducing the Beefy Crunch Burrito.

Snapchat Could be the Next Best FREE Marketing Tool
According to Mashable
, Taco Bell’s Director of Social & Digital Marketing, Tressie Lieberman said the brand was blown away by the response it had gotten on Snapchat. “People are obsessed with Beefy Crunch Burrito so Snapchat seemed like the right platform to make the announcement,” she says. “Sharing that story on Snapchat is a fun way to connect with the fans that we are thrilled to have. It’s all about treating them like personal friends and not consumers.”

Yes, it is difficult to market a message when you only have 10 seconds, but brands need to get creative.

Here are 5 Ideas for Marketing with Snapchat

  1. Follow Taco Bell’s lead and use it to share exclusive sneak peeks – If you’re announcing a new menu item, chef, location, etc., SnapChat your fans so they’re the first to know!
  2. Showcase contests and promotions – Have a giveaway, concert, or benefit coming up soon? Create excitement, buzz about the event by snapping your fans!
  3. Share exclusive content - As with other social media sites, you can use Snapchat to improve your brand image, and engage customers by showing them what goes on behind the scenes. Remember, snaps are supposed to be funny and quirky!
  4. Release coupon codes and special offers - Send image-based offers to fans. In some instances, you can encourage fans to redeem these offers using screenshots saved on their mobile phones.
  5. Encourage customer-generated images – This is another way to build brand loyalty. Customer-generated images have the capacity to greatly improve brand advocacy. Invite guests to snap images of themselves at your restaurant(s), your events, or at home eating take-out. You can then engage with them about their experience.

Snapchatters are sharing over 200 million snaps every day, so the social media platform is really taking off, but there is one caveat.  Technically, the image/video could be screenshot before it disappears, meaning it can be re-shared without you intentionally wanting it to be.  However, as a brand, I’d hope that you weren’t sharing anything dirty on any social channel… especially as a restaurant (dirty + restaurant never seem to go together that well).

Continue Reading

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners

Yes, your child is cute.  Especially when it comes to how cute they are as they run around a restaurant, throw their food on the ground, sloppily smear food all over the table and their mouths, scream at the top of their lungs, and impatiently wait for their meals.  Yes, the entire restaurant is sharing in all of the cuteness that is your child.

And how awesome are you to choose a restaurant that is the completely opposite of kid friendly.  In fact, the menu would probably be more appealing on mommy and daddy date night than it would on family night.  And it’s 9pm, so I’m sure your kids are going to just sit down and patiently wait for their late night meal, all without being irritable; especially, because you forgot to bring them any sort of entertainment as they wait their cute little faces off.

Oh you, you deserve the parent of the year award.  The rest of us will just find one of those restaurants that don’t allow kids anymore.

Behavior Expectations for Kids in Restaurants

If you’re one of those parents that’s up in arms about the recent child ban in restaurants, then you aren’t going to like this post (I should have probably led with this sentence, but the cuteness of your child took over).  Not because I’m going to tell you I’m pro- or anti-kids in restaurants, but I’m going to be honest with why restaurants have gotten to the point to enforce a child ban.

It’s because you need to teach your children dinner table manners before you start venturing out into restaurant dining.

Yes, it’s your fault.  But, you can help your child be a better diner, which will save other restaurant patrons a lot of stress while dining out, and to be honest, you as well.  I’m a parent of two little boys, and I know what dining at a restaurant with children is about.  I know how it can get stressful and how they can make messes, but I also know that there are things that I can do to help them not be a restaurants worse nightmare.

It starts at home.

If your child doesn’t know how to properly use a napkin, including keeping it in their lap or tucked into their shirt, you should stick with a restaurant that you know is kid friendly.  They need to know that milk-mustaches may be fun at home, but not when dining out; that is, unless you’re cool with seeing a grown man show off his milk mustache while dining out – awkward, right?

Have your child ask to be excused from the table.  They shouldn’t be getting up and down throughout the meal.  It’s a time to sit and enjoy each other’s company.  If they are still too young to sit through an entire meal, then just keep working on it.  I have my children ask to be excused, which helps them remember that staying seated is important.

Expand their palate.  Yes, hotdogs and chicken nuggets are kid staples, but if you are going to venture out to a restaurant that you know doesn’t have things like this on the menu, then they need to be willing to try what is available.  For example, The Kitchen Next Door, in Boulder, Colorado, is happy to be kid friendly, but they don’t bother with changing their menu just to suite kids’ palates.  Instead, they offer fun, new things like kale chips, marinated beans, slow roast pork sliders, and beet burger sliders.  If your child would turn their nose up to different foods like this, try introducing new foods at home first.

In the restaurant.

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners Pick a restaurant that’s perfect for your child.  If you know they won’t eat anything on the menu, that it’s too late to take them out, or they aren’t behaved enough to not drive other diners crazy, pick another restaurant.  I know you may be craving a certain menu item at a particular restaurant, but you need to be willing to know what restaurants are for date night and what restaurants are for kids dining night.  My husband and I love our local sushi restaurant, but we wouldn’t take our kids in there just yet.  We don’t feel that it’s a good fit for our kids, but hat’s okay though, there are plenty of other restaurants I can take them to, and we can expand their palates for sushi, at home (the bonus with sushi is that it’s also fun to make at home with the kiddos).

And to even think about walking into a nice restaurant late at night, already brings on feelings of anxiety.  Kids are tired, hungry, and irritable late at night.  They’d be much more suited for a quick drive through or dine-in option at that point (think Noodles & Co, Chipotle, Mod Market, etc.).

When you do decide to dine out, bring something for them to do while they wait for their food.  Not all restaurants are going to have things to entertain your child, so take some of that responsibility on.  In this day and age, the majority of parents have smartphones and tablets that will pacify any child, but there are plenty of other fun things that you can bring along to help pass the time.

If your child doesn’t like anything on the menu, odds are you picked the wrong restaurant.  However, it’s nice when kids are willing to try new things.  When we go to a Mexican restaurant, my youngest has no idea what half of the menu items are, but I explain what is in the dish and he’s always sold when I mention cheese; he’s actually tried a lot of things that he ends up loving.

This one’s a given to me, but I’ve seen so many parents just leave messes lying about.  Clean up your messes.  Accidents happen, crumbs fall, and mouths get messy.  I know.  But if you aren’t willing to clean up (or at least help clean up) your own messes, don’t expect someone else to; that’s just rude.

It’s nice to give a helping hand.  Seriously, stacking the dishes, collecting the silverware, and pushing it off to one area of the table is just polite.  I used to waitress and loved when families came in and did this.  It made it totally worth it to serve their table.  I do the same thing when we eat out – almost obsessively – and our servers LOVE it!

If your children can’t keep quiet just yet, pick a restaurant that you don’t have to worry about them being too loud.  I swear by sports restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, because they have the perfect mix for all of us!  The noise level is always up, so we don’t have to be particularly quiet, and there’s a game on the screen that keeps us all happy.

And finally, set realistic expectations for your child.  If you know they aren’t a good diner at home just yet, don’t expect them to be good diners at a restaurant.  Nothing is worse than a child misbehaving, and frustration levels climbing because he/she won’t listen.  If you know your child will be okay at a restaurant, remind them of their manners before entering, and if they mess up, that’s okay but talk with them about it afterwards.

What Weird Things Do Your Kids Eat?

As I wrote this, I started to think of all sorts of foods that my kids eat that are likely not seen as normal to most; at least, I know I wasn’t eating these things when I was younger.  Here are a few things that our kids beg to eat again and again…

  • Raw Oysters.  Yes, I know they’re pricey, but they are so darn good!  We started by getting a plate for my husband and I for an appetizer, and after the boys tried one, they were sold!  So, now we have to get a much larger plate of them.
  • Kale Chips.  If you haven’t tried these for yourself, you’ve been missing out!  They are super yummy, and, surprisingly, the kids love them!
  • Brussels Sprouts.  I don’t know if this is a weird one, but when I grew up, I thought it was odd that I was the only one of my friends that didn’t turn their noses up at these little cabbage greens.  I suppose that’s why I think it’s odd that both of my boys love Brussels sprouts too!
  • Sushi.  It’s kind of hard for them to roll the sushi, but they have no problem putting all of the ingredients together to make their own roll.
  • Salads.  Instead of putting all of the salad together in one big bowl, I separate each item into smaller bowls so they can pick what vegetable and/or fruit they want to eat.  Even if it doesn’t include lettuce, each of my boys has their own favorite pick that they choose – it makes dinner time fun and healthy!

Continue Reading