Monthly Archives: May 2014

Food Trends are Toast!

oil painting of peanut butter on toast

Peanut Butter on Toast No. 3
5″ x 7″, oil on board
by Rosemary Lucy Consentino

Publications from San Francisco to London have called it so it must be true: the next big thing is toast. Artisanal toast. Since it’s selling at $3 to $4 per slice, it might just be the next big thing to boost your profit margin.

Think of toast as a vehicle for other delicious things and the possibilities become endless. Slice it Texas-sized or extra-thin and top it with freshly-churned butter, grandma’s homemade preserves, local honey, soft cheese and savory herbs. Cinnamon and sugar. Nutella.

Italy has been doing bruschetta and crostini topped with everything from tomatoes to prosciutto for thousands of years.

Of course, there’s an endless variety of breads for toasting! Basic white bread. Sprouted bread. Whole grain bread. Sweet cake-like breads. Breakfast breads with dried fruit already baked in. Toast is an American comfort food in its simplest form and it fits current consumer passions for handcrafted and highly-nutritious eats. Plus it’s portable and easy for snacking.

As a hip new menu item, toast has gotten a lot of criticism but, in reality, toast fits into every time of day and goes with everything from espresso to dinner. It’s easy to make and an easy investment. Even the smallest food service business can find the budget and counter space for a vertical toaster or toaster oven. When every guest acknowledges the greatness of toast, upgrade to a conveyor toaster that can toast dozens of slices in no time at all.

Brainstorming Ways to Bring in Families

Adults and kids share a meal at a local diner.

Parents spend where their kids will eat.

Recent research from the NPD Group reports that families with children younger than 13 seriously cut back their dining out habits when the economy crashed in 2008. Full-service restaurants were the segment that took the biggest hit, and supper was the meal that took the greatest loss.

These families, like most of us, started pinching pennies when finances got shaky, but now that the economy is in recovery, and spending is on its way back up, a quarter of those same families are still holding back. How can FSRs reclaim this valuable demographic?

Children are big decision-makers when it comes to dining. Figure out how to match what they are looking for (Fun? Avoidance of broccoli? More cheesy pizza?) with what the parents are looking for (Value! Nutrition!) and you have a recipe that will keep them coming back for more!

  • Turn slow weeknights into Mother-Son/Daddy-Daughter date nights and offer one free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
  • Turn Saturday or Sunday evenings into an opportunity for Mom & Dad to celebrate their kids by offering a free double-sized dessert with the purchase of an adult meal and a kids’ meal.
  • Turn Friday nights into date night for grownups and offer free dessert to share while the kids are with a babysitter. Make sure you remind them about your great kids’ menu so they will come back with the kids on a weeknight!
  • Create a tween menu (11 to 13 year olds) with food that’s cooler than the kiddie menu, but in portions that are a bit smaller than the adult menu.

Keep brainstorming with food ideas, service concepts, special offers, or entertainment ideas and spend the summer experimenting with ways to bring families out to dine with you!

Let’s Get Serious About Tea

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BS 6008:1980 specifies the appropriate dimensions for tea pots and bowls.

The English are experts on tea and they feel such a responsibility for it that, in 1980, the British Standards Institute issued a 6-page paper on the results of some extremely important tea-related research.

The paper, British Standard BS 6008:1980, was later adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (the member body of Ireland dissenting) as International Standard ISO 3103:1980 “Tea — Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests.” The entire document can be downloaded from the ISO for a little less than $45.00 and, while there are some key tips the lay person can apply to brewing tea at home, the method was really created for use in taste-testing by tea producers who require flavor consistency across blends, harvests, etc.

But don’t think the English are any less serious about brewing tea at home! Anyone who is serious about tea—and that must be everyone who drinks tea—respects the way it’s been done for centuries and, first, must master a traditional English black tea, like an Earl Grey loose leaf.

Steps for Brewing Black Tea

  1. Put fresh, cold, filtered water into a tea kettle and heat on the stove top—NEVER a microwave!
  2. Pre-heat your teapot with hot water.
  3. Add 1 tsp. of loose leaf tea to the teapot (or about 1 bag) for each cup.
  4. Add one extra teaspoon of tea (or 1 extra bag) “for the pot!”
  5. As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, pour it into the teapot, cover, and steep according to taste (3 to 5 minutes is standard).
  6. Pre-heat your tea cups with hot water.
  7. If you take your tea with milk, add a splash to your cup and then pour in the tea.
  8. If desired, add 1 lump or 2 of sugar (or 1 or 2 sugar cubes).

Once this method has been mastered, move on to green teas, white teas, or herbal teas. Each requires different handling, but brewing charts are available on the websites of nearly every major tea manufacturer.