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Flavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Tasty, easy and budget friendly fall recipes to try at your next party, catered event or restaurant menu change.

Aw…the familiar flavors of apple, sweet potato, pumpkin and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are enough to make anyone settle in for a cozy evening at home. It’s clear, Tundra Restaurant Supply is obsessed with food service products, and we carry everything from baking sheets and commercial refrigerators to pint glasses and salt & pepper shakers. In our effort to bring more to the table, we’re featuring a couple of rich, flavorful recipes we thought you might like to try!

Pumpkin Cheesecake BarsFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

These cheesecake bars are quick, easy and undeniably tasty. Give them a try at your next catered event, party or to simply share with family and friends.

Crust Ingredients

  • 20 creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos are great)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch-square pan with foil so that foil overhangs sides. Mist with cooking spray.
  2. Make crust: Process cookies in food processor until ground. Pulse in butter. Press evenly into pan. Bake until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly.
  3. Make filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin, then eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, flour, spice and salt until just combined.
  4. Pour mixture into pan. Put pan on a large rimmed baking sheet; place in oven. Pour hot water into baking sheet until it’s nearly filled. Bake until cheesecake is set around edges but jiggles slightly in center, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove pan from sheet; cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.
  5. Cut into bar sized servings.
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe is courtesy of My Recipes.

Classic Sweet Potato PieFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Perfect pie recipe for beginner home chefs or on-the-go professionals!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup milk
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 3 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the filling, using an electric hand mixer, combine the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and continue to mix.
  3. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Place the pie on a rack and cool to room temperature before covering with meringue.
  5. For the meringue, using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is glossy and stiff, but not dry. With a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue onto the pie, forming peaks. Make sure the meringue touches the crust all around.
  6. Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until delicately browned.
  8. Cool, serve and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network.

Apply & Grape PieFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Use red grapes to achieve a deep purple color – great for any fall setting!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Filling:

  • 3 pounds tart, crisp apples (such as Pink Lady), peeled, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound red grapes, halved
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional as a topping)

Directions:

For crust:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and shortening; pulse just until coarse meal forms. Add 1/3 cup ice water; pulse until dough forms clumps, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into a ball; divide in half. Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into an 11″ round. Transfer to pie dish; press gently onto bottom and up sides of dish. Trim dough flush with edge of dish, leaving no overhang. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Add scraps to remaining dough disk; roll out on parchment paper to a 12″ round. Slide paper with dough onto a rimless baking sheet and chill in refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line dough in pie dish with foil or parchment paper. Fill foil with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are just beginning to turn golden, 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Return dish to oven; continue baking until crust is dark golden all over, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let crust cool completely.

For filling:

  1. Mix apples, grapes, sugar, and flour in a large saucepan; stir to coat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fruit is translucent and juices are thickened, 30-40 minutes. Let mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer fruit to crust. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator. Using a decorative cutter, make a pattern in center of dough, leaving a 2″ plain border; reserve cutouts. Invert dough over fruit in crust; peel off parchment paper. Trim dough along edge of crust, leaving no overhang. Arrange reserved dough cutouts decoratively over top crust, pressing lightly to adhere. Place pie on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake pie until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, 50 minutes-1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.

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Molecular Gastronomy: Making science, food and eating fun!

Molecular Gastronomy: Making science, food and eating fun!

Have you heard of molecular gastronomy before? No? You’re not alone, molecular gastronomy is a modern style of cooking, and practiced by scientists and chefs who take advantage of many technical innovations from scientific disciplines. Put more simply, think of mixing up drinks like Nitrogen Cooled Lemon Drop Martinis. Or whipping up Crispy Chicken Tacos with Chili Relleno Space Foam.

Dreamstaurant celebrity chef and judge, Ian Kleinman is a pioneering molecular gastronomist and owner of The Inventing Room, a unique catering and food entertainment company based in Denver, CO. His molecular gastronomy recipes include Super Cold & Creamy Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream, Floating Truffles, and Root Beer Floats with Liquid Nitrogen Whipped Ice Cream. Chef Kleinman believes food should be fun and every dining experience should have amazing food, Molecular Gastronomy: Making science, food and eating fun!drinks and service but also contain an entertainment quality that makes you think about your food and how it’s made instead of mindlessly eating it.

Borrowing tools from the science lab and ingredients from the kitchen, molecular gastronomists concoct surprise after surprise for their diners. You may wonder ‘Can I really eat this?’ or ‘Is it safe?’ The truth is the chemicals used in molecular gastronomy are all of biological origin. Even though they have been purified and some of them processed, the raw material origin is usually marine, plant, animal or microbial. These additives are also used in very, very small amounts and have been approved by EU standards. Plus the science lab equipment used just helps modern gastronomy chefs to do simple things like maintaining the temperature of the cooking water constant (water bath), cooling food at extremely low temperatures fast (liquid nitrogen) or extract flavor from food (evaporator).

Molecular Gastronomy: Making science, food and eating fun!If you’re passionate about cooking, have a creative mind but at the same time have a scientific background, molecular gastronomy is something worth experiencing.

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The Rise of Healthy Kids Meal Options

The Rise of Healthy Kids Meal OptionsRestaurants focus on developing healthy kid meal options that are more appealing to families.

Pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers and grilled cheeses are just a few kid-friendly foods available when eating out. Recently, these are the same foods that have come under scrutiny from parents and nutritional experts who worry about what kids are eating.

Chefs and restaurateurs have both business reasons and true concerns for what kids are eating, this is one of the reasons children’s nutrition was projected to be a major trend at foods service establishments during 2012.

The National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot” survey of professional chefs determined that healthful meals for young people would be the No. 4 trend in the industry this year.

The National Kids LiveWell Program works in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. The restaurants that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.

The big question that remains is: Are kids eating these healthier meals? From early research the answer is, yes. Teaching kids to eat healthy foods from a young age will help them develop healthy eating patterns for life, offering kid-friendly meals with a variety of vegetables, using proteins that are naturally lower in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals will ensure kids choose healthy foods over processed, fatty foods.

I’m a restaurant owner, how do I join the Kids LiveWell Program?

The Rise of Healthy Kids Meal Options

According to Restaurant.org: “Restaurants that join Kids LiveWell agree to offer and promote a selection of items that meet qualifying nutrition criteria based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.” Kids LiveWell Nutrition Criteria for a full meal:

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium
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Autumn’s Best Apples

Whether you went apple-picking at an orchard, the farmers’ market, or the grocery store, we have some delicious ways to showcase fresh apples! These tasty dishes are sure to please even the pickiest of guests!

Autumn’s Best ApplesApple Pie Baked in an Apple

A simple, natural blend of ingredients with a gourmet presentation.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Pie crust – homemade or pre-made

Pre-heat oven to 375° F.

Directions:

  1. Cut off the top of 4 apples off and discard. Remove the inside of each apple with a melon baller very carefully, as to not puncture the peel.
  2. Remove skin from remaining apple(s) and slice very thinly. These apple pieces will give you the additional filling needed to fill the four apples you are baking.
  3. Mix sliced apples with sugars and cinnamon in a bowl.
  4. Scoop sliced apples into hollow apples.
  5. Roll out pie crust and slice into 1/4 inch strips. You can also add a strip of pastry inside the top of the apple almost like a liner to add a little more sweetness to the pie.
  6. Cover the top of the apple in a lattice pattern with pie crust strips.
  7. Place apples in an 8” x 8” baking pan. Add just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and sliced apples are soft.
  10. Enjoy!

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt CakeAutumn’s Best Apples

A true fall classic, garnish frosting with toasted pecans for extra flavor.

Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apple Cake Batter:

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (1 1/2 lb.)

    Praline Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Directions:

  1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed in a stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.
  2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.
  3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14 cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1 inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.
  4. Bake at 350° F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely.
  5. Prepare Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly.
  6. Pour frosting immediately over cooled cake.
  7. Enjoy!

Warm Caramel Apple CakeAutumn’s Best Apples

Serve this delicious apple upside-down cake warm from the oven.

Ingredients:

Cake Batter:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (2 1/3 cups)
  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3  cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

    Cake Topping:

  • 2/3  cup Betty Crocker Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12-oz container)
  • 1/2  cup frozen (thawed) whipped topping
  • Caramel topping, if desired

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Directions:

  1. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, cook butter, whipping cream and brown sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until butter is melted. Pour into 13” x 9” pan. Sprinkle with pecans; top with sliced apples.
  2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, eggs and apple pie spice in a stand mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Carefully spoon batter over apple mixture.
  3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Loosen sides of cake from pan. Place heatproof serving platter upside down on pan; carefully turn platter and pan over. Let pan remain over cake about 1 minute so caramel can drizzle over cake. Remove pan.
  4. In small bowl, mix frosting and whipped topping. Serve warm cake topped with frosting mixture and drizzled with caramel topping.
  5. Enjoy!

Tundra Restaurant Supply stocks everything you need to create the most delicious fall dishes. From kitchen supplies to dining room supplies and cooking equipment to specialty cooking supplies eTundra.com is your one-stop shop for baking and cooking this season!

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Fall Menus, What to Expect This Season

Restaurants to highlight affordable happy hours, seasonal ingredients and vegetables!

Fall Menus, What to Expect This SeasonAs the weather begins to cool and the economy remains mild, many food service operators expect innovative side dishes and vegetable based menu options to become more popular, giving their customers the opportunity to mix and match, or share a few sides at happy hour.

While local, seasonal ingredients will continue to show up on fall menus, restaurateurs and chefs alike are focusing on food creations that allow guests to customize their experience and to eat and drink at unconventional times. Happy hour courses including charcuterie platters, cheese courses and extensive bar menu options are ideal for this crowd. Being creative is key; almost any food item can be dressed up or down and made in a small portion – making it perfect for happy hour. Mini pizzas, roasted almonds, parmesan straws and homemade salt & vinegar potato chips are just a few ideas.Fall Menus, What to Expect This Season

Football season is just around the corner and there are plenty of food promotions that go with it. Play off tail-gating classics, including anything BBQ, grilled or dippable. These types of food items make great happy hour appetizers.

Vegetables are expected to take center stage in more dishes this fall, with protein acting as supporting character. When looking at seasonal items, think about launching a micro menu around a particular fruit or vegetable. For example, launch an autumn apple-inspired menu. Apple muffins and apple streusel French toast make decadent breakfast options while savory apple herb roast chicken and grilled chicken apple salad make fantastic lunch and dinner options. Squash and zucchini are other great menu items that can be incorporated into everything from sweet breads to rich, flavorful main courses.

Fall Menus, What to Expect This SeasonShareable vegetable dishes are a way to help customers feel better about what they’re eating without making them sacrifice their protein packed main courses. At the same time, side dishes are a great way to boost check averages. Among our favorite ideas are crispy okra, pureed cauliflower, winter squash with horseradish and braised cabbage.

Fall is a busy time in the restaurant and food service business, highlighting happy hour specials and seasonal fruits and vegetables will get guests excited to dine at your establishment.

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Not Your Typical Concession Stand

Who doesn’t love a good concession stand? Whether you’re at a baseball game, fair, carnival or concert, concession stands are a must. People expect to see concession stands at events and probably salivate like Pavlov’s dog over the classic staples for hours leading up to their arrival. Hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, soft pretzels, sno-cones, cotton candy, you name it, these tasty goods are exactly what a concession stand is all about! Here are some concession stand recipes with a twist that will take your customer’s taste buds on a while ride.

Grilled Hot Dog with Mango Chutney and Red Onion Relish
Not Your Typical Concession Stand
1 (9-ounce) jar mango chutney (such as Major Grey’s), any large pieces chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard plus additional for serving
8 beef hot dogs
8 hot dog buns, opened

Directions: Mix chutney, onion, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon mustard in bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill hot dogs and buns until heated through and grill marks form, 2 to 3 minutes per side for hot dogs and about 1 minute per side for buns. Transfer buns to plate. Place 1 hot dog in each bun. Add mustard and relish; serve.

Walking Tacos
Not Your Typical Concession Stand
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 little sweet peppers or 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 Cup Salsa
1 small can tomato paste
1 Cup warm water
3 cans of beans, drained (black, pinto and red kidney)
1 can black olives sliced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and garlic salt (to taste)
1/2 Cup fresh chopped cilantro
Bags of Fritos or Doritos
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Jalapenos or green onions

Directions: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and peppers for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Drain if needed. Pour in tomatoes, salsa, and tomato paste then stir to combine. Add 1 Cup warm water to thin out slightly then add in beans, olives, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Start with a pinch and continue to add salt to your liking. Add chopped cilantro and reduce heat to low to simmer until ready to serve. When ready, open bags of Fritos or Doritos. Spoon in chili, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos. Stick a fork in it and eat!!

Mango Strawberry Snow Cones
Not Your Typical Concession Stand
Ice
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lime juiced, plus wedges for garnish

Directions: Fill a food processor with ice. Process until the ice is very fine, like snow. Add the mangoes and strawberries and pulse to blend. Pile the crushed ice into dessert glasses or dishes and squeeze over the lime juice. Garnish with lime wedges; serve immediately.

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Iced Coffee: More Expensive and Totally Worth It

Iced Coffee: More Expensive and Totally Worth It On a hot summer day in a coffee shop most customers don’t want to drink hot coffee. They want something cool and refreshing. Coffee drinkers still want their caffeine fix without the steaming hot cup of joe. This is where iced coffee comes in, it’s cold, refreshing and satisfies customers coffee needs. This popular coffee option helps businesses maintain coffee sales in the warm months.

Iced coffee season is a major shift in business for restaurant owners or coffee shop managers. Iced coffee requires separate brewing processes and different packaging materials. As a result, the iced beverage is more expensive to produce and purchase.

The additional costs can make it seem that iced coffee may not be worth offering but this is not the case. Iced coffee is widely popular and getting more popular every year. In 2009 iced coffee sales accounted for 1/5 of all American coffee consumption, according to business week magazine.

Grubstreet, a daily food news provider for New York Magazine, broke down the reasons for iced coffee being more expensive. They did this by comparing a 16-ounce cold-brewed coffee to a 14-ounce hot coffee; the ice displaces about 4 ounces in the cold beverage.

Grubstreet estimated that the iced coffee costs 25 cents to a dollar more than hot coffee to produce.  This is due to a few added expenses. First, iced coffee calls for about twice as many beans as hot coffee. According to Grubstreet this difference is about 35 cents worth for hot coffee and 62 cents worth for iced. The next hike in price for iced coffee beverages is for the plastic cup the drink is served in. On average, the paper hot coffee cups are about half the price of the plastic ones. The lids and straws that go with these cups add another cent or two to the production cost.

On top of these extra costs that roll in for iced coffee season there are also other miscellaneous items your business may need to rent or purchase like an ice machine to accommodate iced coffee production. When it’s all said and done Grubstreet estimates the added cost of making iced coffee is about 80 cents.

If you are serious about your coffee making, iced coffee is a worthy investment and is no longer limited to the hot weather months. The summertime drink has broken through its seasonal barrier. More people are drinking iced coffee in the winter. According to a survey by Dunkin’ Donuts 84% of consumers said they drank more iced coffee this winter than last. Half of people surveyed said they feel cooler and trendier when drinking iced coffee.

If your business is going to sell iced coffee it’s important to offer the highest quality, best-tasting iced coffee possible to justify extra costs. There are several methods businesses use to make iced coffee. Two of the most common methods are known as cold brew and ice brew. Both of these brewing processes end up producing an iced coffee but the process and resulting taste can be very different.

Cold brew (also known as Toddy for the machine used to prepare it) is a process where the coffee grounds are stirred into cold water and left in the refrigerator for 12 hours giving it time to blend. After 12 hours the grounds are strained from the mixture and it’s ready to serve. This method lowers the acidity of the coffee. One of the keys to cold brew is that the coffee is never heated during the process. Other methods may brew the coffee at a high temperature and then let the drink cool after. Cold brew keeps the mixture cool the entire time to improve the flavor of the blend.

Ice brew is believed by some experts to produce better tasting coffee than cold brew. This method involves brewing the coffee hot and dripping it onto ice, cooling the drink and helping capture all of the coffee flavor in the process. This is also a good method because it’s ready right after it’s brewed.

There are also some tricks that you can apply to improve the flavor of iced coffee. Muddy Dog Roasting Co. provides a list of tips for iced coffee professionals. These tips include using premium coffee beans and making iced coffee on the strong side because in most situations the mixture will be watered down. They also recommend making ice cubes out of frozen coffee which will help to keep the coffee cold while not adding extra water to the coffee drink.

Coffee is the most popular drink in the world with approximately 400 billion cups consumed every year. Don’t limit your potential coffee sales by not offering iced coffee.  This menu item will help you maintain some of your coffee sales even when it is too hot for a hot beverage and still be popular when the heat is gone.

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Local Produce: A Fresh Marketing Approach

Fresh. Organic. High-quality.

These are a few ideas associated with local produce. They are also three reasons why your restaurant should invest in the local food movement today. Not only will you improve your ingredients but you will also communicate that your restaurant supports the surrounding community and is aware of what diners want.

Thousands of restaurants nationwide are embracing this trend and investing in local produce. According to a study from the National Restaurant Association, 90% of fine-dining establishments offer some form of local produce on their menu.

But this trend is not limited to upscale restaurants. The NRA also reported that 63% of casual dining, 56% of family-owned restaurants, 45% fast-casual chains and 28% fast food restaurants have all invested in local produce. Two examples of restaurants that already use local produce are Chipotle and McDonald’s.

Here are some of the reasons a local produce campaign will market your company to customers.

Support of the Local Community

This is very simple; investing in local farming shows you are part of the community. This may be the most beneficial marketing point for investing in local produce. People like to support their local community and when they see a company doing the same they will return the favor and help support that company. Communities tend to take care of a company they can call their own and investing in local produce will make your restaurant one of those companies.

High-Quality Ingredients

Using local produce also means using high-quality ingredients. The quality of industrial farmed produce suffers because it is mass-produced. Locally grown food is sustainable and isn’t exposed to the pesticides, hormones and harmful farming practices factory farms frequently use.

Some factory farms do not rotate their crops, like sustainable farms do, but instead they will continue growing on the same land repeatedly without giving the land a break. This practice reduces the nutrients and minerals the crops contain. Another example of harmful industrial practices is rBGH, an artificial growth hormone that is used in milk production on some factory farms. If you are buying your produce locally from a farm practicing sustainable methods it will be higher quality and your customers will appreciate this.

Giving the Public What they Want

Bon Appétit Management Company, a large food service provider that makes $350 million worth of food purchases per year, recently demanded a food and farm bill that would change harmful farming practices and improve food quality. The company supply’s kitchens in 31 states and made it clear that they would no longer buy from farms that did not meet their food standards.

Bon Appétit  is not alone in their demand for higher quality food.  American diners are becoming more interested in the quality of their food and knowing where it is coming from. In a national poll last year 78% of people said they believe making healthy food more affordable and accessible should be one of the main objectives in the new farm bill.

These are just a few of the advantages to supplying fresh local produce in your restaurant. Diners will appreciate and respond to your investment in sustainable produce. So make a bold statement today to improve your brand image along with your ingredients and buy locally.

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Simplify Your Life: Reduce Your Restaurant Menu Items

Simplify Your Life: Reduce Your Restaurant Menu ItemsIn these times of economic uncertainty, it is easy to get lost in trying to do many things all at once. A good example is restaurateurs trying to manage their inventories, their staff, their operations, their books, their sales, their marketing… do you know anybody like that? I thought so.  You need to simplify your life and focus on just a few basic core competences to make your restaurant the best it can be to stand out from your competitors.

So let’s start with your menu: do you have many menu items? If so, perhaps you should think about reducing the number of dishes that you offer.

Frequently restaurateurs think that having many choices is better for their customers, when the opposite is often true. The best restaurants in the world have limited selections with all around excellent offerings.

With large menu choices, the quality is often uneven since it is almost impossible to equally master all the dishes. It also becomes a nightmare to manage the inventory, probably your servers struggle to remember all the dishes (and components), and your customers get often confused with so many choices.

Perhaps you should take a hard look at your menu and reduce the items to just your basic signature dishes. Not only you will avoid that your clients order menu items that are less than exceptional, but fewer dishes mean that they will be easier to remember (making them; thus, memorable) the next time that your clients come over for lunch or dinner.

Having a short and exquisite menu allows your kitchen to focus on providing exceptional quality, reduces your inventory (and perhaps you can even get a volume discount since you will be ordering more of the same items), and makes it easier for your servers and your clients to remember.

There are other secondary advantages such as less programming in your computer or point of sale, better track of what items are selling the best, easier to create the paper menus (with larger font), etc., but the essential point is that your restaurant will be associated in your customer’s mind to a few exceptional dishes. And this is what you want.

If you agree with me, I would suggest that you meet with your Chef (or cook) and go over your menu, eliminating dishes that are less than great until you focus on a few appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. Cut down everything else.

Believe me when I tell you that people, your customers, will love to go to your restaurant to eat just a few great dishes. The best restaurants in the wold are famous for one or two dishes that they cook to perfection. No need to reinvent the wheel and try to please everybody.

It is better to have faithful clients that come to your place continually looking for your signature dishes, than trying to please everybody by increasing the number of dishes that you offer, just to have everybody leaving your place with just an OK experience. The world is full of mediocre restaurants; you don’t want to belong to this category. You want to make yours exceptional.

This is the only way to stand out from your competitors.

Jose L. Riesco is a restaurant marketing and consulting expert who has just published a book: Restaurant Marketing Strategies (available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com).  His site www.myrestaurantmarketing.com, contains lots of free restaurant marketing information and ideas to help you improve your restaurant marketing.

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Menu Engineering: Combo Meals Make Customers Think Value

Menu Engineering: Combo Meals Make Customers Think ValueNo matter what kind of restaurant you run, from fast casual to fine dining, combo meals can help your customer make a choice that makes them feel like they’re getting a deal, even if the combo costs exactly the same as the a la carte menu.

This is backed up by a study conducted last year by a professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and discussed in Fast Casual magazine.  The study concluded that customers preferred combo meals regardless of portion size or actual savings versus ordering each item separately.

Part of the combo meal’s popularity is that it’s easier to order than choosing a bunch of a la carte items separately.  Even so, customers who participated in the study said definitively that they thought they were getting a deal when they ordered a combo, even when this turned out to not be the case.

For restaurateurs this information probably confirms something that most knew already.  But that doesn’t mean menus can’t be re-engineered using the combo concept to boost margins, sales, and customer satisfaction.

That’s because large national chains like Applebee’s have taken the combo concept beyond the days of “I’ll have a number 3 please.”  These chains present a series of menu items in a la carte format and let customers build their own combos.  The menu items are undoubtedly high margin winners, and customers love the ability to customize their combo selection.

If you’re an independent restaurateur with no combos on the menu, or even if you already have a more traditional combo section, consider changing up the menu for the new year by taking some of your most popular entrees and apps and placing them on a mix-and-match combo offer.

You don’t have to mark them down all that much (or at all), and combined with a marketing campaign promoting your very own value menu, you just might drum up some business in an otherwise slow January.

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