Tag: dining

“You’re Gonna Like the Way You FEEL, I Guarantee It”

I can’t remember where I found this jpeg, probably on FaceBook, but it really struck a chord. When I was at the helm of a kitchen my feeling was that every customer wants a dessert and should be given the opportunity to say “YES” and purchase something sweet. As a consumer, I still have that desire but find far too often that restaurants feed into the reasons for people to say no.

Let’s face it, we don’t need the calories or fat, and probably could live without spending the extra cash, yet a meal that doesn’t end with a dessert seems to be lacking.

There is a growing population of very talented, passionate pastry chefs who should receive the same level of respect and accolade that quality savory chef’s have come to expect, yet how much thought is really given to the importance of dessert to the guest experience and the ways of accomplishing a “guilt-free” sale.

Since a very early age, desserts have been a stress reliever for many. There is a sense that buying dessert is special and in some ways a departure from “being good”. Desserts do bring a smile to people’s face, provide a special reward for good times and a respite from the not so good times. In the hands of a gifted pastry chef, any guest should be able to enjoy this finish to a meal without guilt.

At some point restaurants made a decision that bigger is always better and developed desserts that were so over the top in calories, portion sizes and fat that they became intimidating to order.

Toning down the portion sizes, reflecting on the use of fresh fruits and nuts, incorporating fresh herbs and alternative spices in lieu of added sugar can result in exceptional end-of-meal desserts that excite and satisfy. Five-hundred calorie desserts that push the envelope of common sense do not help the guest, the server, the pastry chef or the restaurant.

Every dessert should be comprised of four different components (based on conversations with some of my favorite pastry chef friends):
Something Soft
Something Fresh
Something Crunchy and
a Complementary Sauce

Working this into a formula that strives to create 3-4 bite desserts will help to bring a smile to your guests, pride to your pastry chef, added revenue for the restaurant and a larger base for server gratuities.

Create a “stress reliever” dessert menu rather than one that creates stress for the diner. Remember, it is the total dining experience that brings people back to a restaurant. Make sure that desserts remain a part of that experience. At the end of the meal, the diner should enjoy the way they feel, not sense that they owe their body an apology.

Pastry chefs – feel free to chime in!

It is Time for Reform – Your Health is the Top Priority

The Elephant in the Closet:

So here is the reality: I praise the president for making an attempt at healthcare reform and unlike some I do not necessarily oppose what has been labeled as Obamacare. I think the greatest nation in the world should be able to make quality healthcare affordable for everyone. The real issue is that nothing has been done to address the sinful pricing structure of hospitals (some of which is driven by extraordinary cost associated with liability, bureaucratic processes, and fund distribution), the immoral pricing imposed by drug companies, and the lack of support for preventative medicine (nutrition, exercise, healthy choices).

Two cases in point: I recently had to spend a few hours in a Philadelphia Emergency room where they drew blood, had a doctor see me for less than two minutes and scheduled a CATScan that took about 5 minutes. I received a bill for $13,800 of which $75 is out of pocket for me and the balance was billed to my insurance company. The bill was not even itemized! This is immoral and should be considered illegal billing.

Another case is a friend of mine who has to take a medication every day for the rest of his life. Each pill cost $150. Fortunately for him, the majority is covered by insurance, however in both cases it is this sinful billing that continues to cause an absurd increase in healthcare costs, fraudulent misuse of funds, and healthcare costs that without government support would be out of reach for most Americans.

We should stop blaming the president and put pressure on our representatives to investigate the drug companies and immoral pricing expenses from many health care providers. Additionally, isn’t it time for another national wellness and physical fitness campaign similar to what John F. Kennedy did in his administration? We can reduce the cost of healthcare by simply addressing the need to take better care of ourselves in the first place.

As chefs and restaurateurs we have a role to play in this. I would support a national campaign for healthier menus, smaller portions, reduced use of sodium, fresh always before processed, and calorie, fat and sodium counts that are required on all menus. As a nation we are killing our people one fork full at a time and restaurants should be the voice of reason rather than the nail in the coffin.

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