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Equipping the Vegetarian Kitchen

by kenzie on October 15, 2014

Have you decided to go the vegetarian route? Your kitchen equipment may need some updating to help you whip up vegetarian gourmet meals. The equipment will make it easy for you to prepare raw vegetable and fruit meals. The key is in investing in some quality kitchenware that will also be environment friendly and long-lasting.

The good news is that you may already have some of the tools listed here. Below are some staples that should be found in a vegetarian kitchen:

-          A good, heavy-duty blender. This comes in handy in transforming fruits and vegetables into purees, smoothies, sauces or spreads. A good blender is an excellent investment as it will last longer and will provide better consistency and creaminess.

-          Juicer. If you do decide to buy a juicer, it is best to go for a masticating juicer. This is the more expensive version of the juicer (as compared to a centrifugal juicer), but it makes more use of the fruit and vegetable fibers and can also juice items such as herbs, wheat grass or leafy greens. Also check the speed of the juicer – it must be fast enough to squeeze the juice out of fruits and vegetables but not too fast to destroy their healthy enzymes.

-          Food processor. Another must-have in the vegetarian kitchen, the food processor minimizes prep work involved in grating, slicing and chopping. It will make help you quickly prepare chopped garlic (for your pesto sauce), or evenly sliced tomatoes for that delicious salsa. You can also use the food processor to make easy work of preparing coleslaw, pie crusts, patés and vegetable pastes.

-          Vegetable peelers. Have a set of peelers handy. As a vegetarian, you will always need to peel a vegetable or fruit.

-          Tofu kit. How about making your own tofu from scratch? A tofu kit will produce fresh batches of this vegetarian staple. You only need to have your supply of fresh soy milk or soy beans.

-          Ceramic knives. Very sharp and precise, ceramic knives also do not cause oxidization as you slice and dice.

-          Salad spinner. Get those leafy greens high and dry with an easy grip salad spinner. The greens are good to go and ready to toss with your favorite vegetarian dressing.

-          Wok. If you must cook your vegetables (for variation), get a wok that will require a minimal amount of cooking – just enough to deliver a smoky taste and crunch, but not long enough to destroy the vegetables vitamins and nutrients.

-          Citrus juicer. For a refreshing pick-me-up or to add to morning smoothies, get a citrus juicer for those oranges, lemons or limes.

-          Dehydrator. This is an ideal investment for those on a raw food diet. A dehydrator can provide fruits and vegetables with interesting textures and crispness, without destroying their health-giving enzymes. Ideally, the food should not be processed with temperatures higher than 118F. Some food you can prepare using a dehydrator are fruit or vegetable chips, veggie burgers, crackers, fruit roll ups or fruit leathers, raw food cookies and raw bread. You can also use the dehydrator to dry herbs straight from your garden.

-          Spiralizer. Transform those carrots, potato, beets, zucchini and a wide range of vegetables (and even fruits!) into ultra-healthy noodles with a spiralizer. Aside from vegetable “pasta”, you can also make stringed veggie fries.

-          Mortar and pestle. This works well for hand-making flour from brown rice or for grinding flax seeds. You can also use it to grind spices for pastes or rubs.

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Reducing Restaurant Costs to Promote Longevity

by kenzie on October 8, 2014

Having a healthy bottom line is important for a restaurant’s longevity. With today’s highly competitive food industry, restaurants can do well to protect their profits in order to stay in the game. One effective way to do this is by cost savings. Shaving on the operational, supplies and equipment expenses need to be done prudently. You want to save, but not at the expense of quality and safety. Doing so will just cost your restaurant more in the long run.

However, there are still ways by which you can tighten your belts without your customers feeling the pinch. Sometimes, you can do so by becoming more efficient and prudent in the use of equipment and supplies or getting good deals from dealers of wholesale restaurant supplies.

Here are some ways you can save:

-          Cut down on food waste. Review purchasing, inventory and storage to see areas of unnecessary food waste. Institute systems and procedures that limit pilferage and preventable food spoilage. For instance, you can install CCTV cameras in key areas such as the delivery dock or the storage area to prevent employees from stealing your inventory. You can also use the first-in, first-out principle with food items, as well as use vacuum sealed packs to keep food from spoiling more quickly.

-          Choose vendors who can be partners. Establish a solid relationship with your vendors. Doing so will help you seal good deals as you both strive to keep a mutually beneficial business relationship. These deals can include discounts, freebies or more lenient paying terms.

-          Choose the right kitchen equipment. Kitchen equipment should be bought with your menu items in mind. What operations do you need to do? For instance, if your menu will involve a lot of baking, roasting, poaching or grilling, why not get a combi-oven that can do these operations efficiently?

-          Run an efficient kitchen. You can make use of devices and kitchenware that can cut down on manual labor (and thus, cut down on manpower costs). This includes food processors, slicers, dicers and peelers. Carefully study the processes involved in preparing your menu items to help your kitchen staff  move more efficiently. Train them staff to practice portion control and following the recipe to a T – winging it or doing it “by eye” may mean that they are doling out more than the budgeted portion.

-          Make your customers your partner in saving costs. With today’s heightened awareness of the need to conserve, you can encourage your customers to save on utility costs by turning off the light or using only the necessary number of table napkins.

-          Improve kitchen safety. Anti-fatigue mats, knife guards, good lighting in the kitchen and other such safety devices are good investments. The less accidents you have, the less possibility of expensive repairs and less compensation paid to injured customers or employees.

-          Invest in energy or water-saving equipment. Yes, this may be a bit more expensive at the onset, but you can significantly lower your costs. Some examples would be kitchen equipment with a high energy star rating, water-saving toilers or motion-sensor lights. Using energy star equipment may also make your restaurant eligible for tax benefits that may be offered in your state.

-          Improve employee longevity. Provide a good working environment for your employees and invest in training and human resource development program. Your people will be one of your most important resources in the success of your restaurant business. Minimize employee turnover and you can also minimize hiring and training costs.

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Adding Buffet Capabilities To Your Catering Business

October 1, 2014

As a caterer, you should be able to provide your clients with the dining style they prefer. This can mean plated meals served by your waiters or buffet meals that allow guests the indulgence of choosing what they want from the party spread. Buffets are actually very popular, not just for events (such as weddings), […]

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Table Top Ideas for Your Restaurant

September 22, 2014

Dining out is not just about the food. People go to restaurants with their dates, colleagues or families for the “dining out experience”.  The ambiance your restaurant provides is very much part of the package in a diner’s experience. One quick and cost-effective way to set the atmosphere is through an effective table-top design. Some […]

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Melamine Dinnerware: A Combination of Beauty and Functionality

September 15, 2014

For fine dining restaurants, elegant chinaware is, without question, the natural choice. However, for cafeterias, fast foods or high-volume casual restaurants, expensive chinaware is just not practical. The rigors that the plates go through in a high-volume operation will mean a shorter life span for traditional chinaware. However, restaurants are also concerned not just about […]

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Going Green in A Restaurant’s Operations and the Bottom Line

September 8, 2014

Does being eco-friendly also mean more profits for a restaurant? We would like to stress that being kind to the environment is a profit in itself and is something that every one of us should be involved with. However, if you do it right, running a “green restaurant” can actually mean hefty savings. Plus, you […]

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Adding a Smoothie Bar to Your Café or Restaurant

September 1, 2014

Smoothie bars provide an excellent opportunity for restaurants and cafes who are thinking of adding to their range of food offerings. In fact, as people are becoming more health-conscious, we can find standalone fresh juice and smoothie bars popping up and thriving. Smoothies provide a good mark-up which makes them an excellent profit center. This […]

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Saving on Your Restaurant Equipment Purchases

August 25, 2014

Starting a restaurant business can be both exciting and scary. It is exciting as you see your ideas take shape and as you slowly accumulate the restaurant equipment and supplies you need. It can also be scary in that completing the required equipment will be no small feat. For one, buying equipment for a restaurant […]

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Let’s Get Grilling: Essential Gear for Your Grilling Enthusiasts

August 18, 2014

Who can say no to food just off the grill? This starts with the “unhealthy” juicy steaks and burgers to more healthy fare – grilled lean meat, fish or vegetables. Grill restaurants can also grill ribs, pizzas or fish steaks. If you plan to get serve grilled food for your restaurant or simply want to […]

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Displaying Your Bakery Items to Full Advantage

August 11, 2014

Get more sales for your baked goods by displaying your baked goods in all their mouth-watering splendor. You don’t simply put these baked items on the menu, display them where they can capture the customers’ attention and get them to buy on impulse.  (Never mind that they have already resolved to stay on their diet […]

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