All posts by INDUSTRY STANDARD by Marsha Lynch

Put that recipe down and back away slowly

Recently I overhead a restaurant patron sigh and say, “I wish I could cook like this at home.” Well, guess what? You can!

Busy people can easily get stuck in a culinary rut, churning out the same boring repertoire of dishes at home week after week, that “ho-hum, here we go again” dinner that stares as glumly up from your plate as you do looking down at it. Here are a few easy pointers that might help elevate your home cooking to something more like what you get at your favorite restaurant.
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Servers – What do they do all day, anyway?

It looks easy, doesn’t it? I mean, they just walk up to your table and take your order. Half the time they don’t even bring your food, right? A food runner delivers your plates – and a busser picks them up after you’re done. Of course your server may help you with wine or beer pairings (and also bring the bill!) but, all told, they may spend 10 minutes or less with you. So what exactly do servers do to earn a tip?
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Keepin’ it real: our end of the deal

Since I got this writing gig, I’ve spent a lot of column inches imploring diners to support the local independent restaurant industry. I’ve asked this knowing that belts are tightening, budgets are shrinking and moths are flying out of rarely opened change purses all over the city. But what’s in it for you? What are we doing to entice you to spend your decreasing pool of entertainment dollars at our places of business?

Of course we can drop prices. Many already have. Several local fine-dining establishments have recently revamped their menus to adapt to the changing recessionary and discretionary-funds dynamic. Le Relais, Avalon and Seviche come to mind. But what else can we do for you?’
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Don’t get all your ingredients from one store

Foodie: Someone who cares about food, takes pride in the variety of his eating habits and enjoys getting quality ingredients for his home cooking. Did you know you can buy many of the products we use in the restaurant business without ever setting foot in a retail grocery store?
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Industry Standard: Behind the Kitchen Door: Part II

In my last column, we visited the restaurant kitchen that lies behind the dining room access door and found it to be bright, hot and noisy. But who’s cooking your food?

Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) simplified the elaborate and ornate kitchen brigade first popularized by Antoine Careme, one of the codifiers of French haute cuisine. The 21st century kitchen brigade has been even further distilled, personnel-wise. Who’s cooking your food? A little bit of everyone. Let’s look at the Brigade de Cuisine in the modern restaurant kitchen, shall we?
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Industry Standard: Behind the Kitchen Door: Part I

Even if you’ve never worked in a restaurant, you’ve probably found yourself contemplating the kitchen door, wondering: What exactly is back there? How many people? How roomy is it? You have a right to be curious: They’re making your food back there.

Well, follow me. But I warn you: The kitchen in a working restaurant bears little resemblance to standard, shiny FoodTV kitchens or those “set kitchens” on the latest foodie reality TV offerings. Restaurant kitchen doors mark boundaries both geographic and symbolic, and they always lead into a totally different world from the dining room, whether the latter was cool and serene, hip and trendy, or hushed and formal. That’s all behind us now; here — put this apron on.
Continue reading Industry Standard: Behind the Kitchen Door: Part I