Consistency and versatility are key to a successful dining experience. You need to deliver a consistent product to keep diners happy and turn them into repeat customers, while at the same time, being flexible and able to adapt with the changing times. You know, like incorporating those gluten-free items you’ve been meaning to add to your menu.
Watch Chef Samer Khatib, owner of Alijandro’s Kitchen in Toronto, discuss the importance of maintaining consistency.
Imagine if you went to your favorite Italian restaurant expecting the chicken parm you’ve been ordering for years, but your taste buds are met with disappointment. The tomato sauce is bland, the mozzarella of your dreams is replaced with sparse shreds of provolone, and the chicken is dry. A change in consistency may be the cause.
You may not think your customers will notice when a new chef or line cook is hired, but if someone is let down by a dish they routinely order, they may start searching for other places to dine. Inevitably, employees come and go, but how can you ensure consistency so customers don’t notice the change?
1. Standardized Recipes and Staff Training
Whether you visit Applebee’s in New York or Ohio, you’ll be served the same baby back ribs every time. There’s a reason diners feel comforted at any location of a chain restaurant; the same quality can be expected for each meal thanks to standardized recipes. While it may be more work up front, it saves time, aids in faster employee training, and reduces margin for error.
This is crucial for both front and back of house employees. Staff training must stay as consistent as the recipes. Employees—no matter how many years on the job—must adhere to the same standard procedures. To achieve this, have new hires shadow experienced employees or designate a trainer for each facet of the operation.
2. Consistent Ingredients
One of the biggest challenges is trying to achieve the same flavor impact in every recipe when the quality of ingredients vary. Perhaps switching from one tomato product to another is the cause of that bland-tasting tomato sauce. Fresh produce also varies—caramelized onions one day may taste different the next. Products like Knorr® Professional Intense Flavors can help to achieve taste you can rely on.
Smoke can be one of the most difficult flavors to achieve consistently, due to the delicate process of smoking over hardwood. As most operations don’t have space for specialty equipment, Knorr® Intense Flavors Deep Smoke provides a dependable smoke flavor, balanced with caramelized onions and roasted garlic.
You want to get the most out of every dollar spent in your operation; that’s why being adaptable is so important. Keeping up with the trends attracts new customers and keeps your current customers excited to come back. Your best-selling burger offerings don’t necessarily need to change, but updating your classic burger to feature gochujang mayo and spicy pickle slaw is a simple way to add buzz to your menu.
3. Limited Time Offerings
LTOs are the best way to test how your customers react to of the moment ingredients. Diners are more likely to experiment with new flavors when they are incorporated into something already familiar. Go crazy with your tacos, grilled cheeses, salads and burgers. Fuse global flavors into your classic dishes. There are no boundaries.
4. Menu Options that Appeal to All Diners
Specific food preferences are at an all-time high. Diners are requesting more vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Along with the rise of food allergies, this puts operators in a tough spot. Although you can’t be everything to everyone, you can attract a wider audience by having broader options. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to order an Impossible Burger, in fact, most aren’t. The added bonus of these dishes? Higher profit margin.
5. Maximizing Ingredients in Multiple Applications
Use your ingredients to your advantage and incorporate them into multiple dishes. Take the sun-dried tomatoes on your Mediterranean salad and turn them into a pesto, or use them in an Italian vinaigrette. Getting the most out of your ingredients saves space and keeps costs lower.
With the delicate blend of consistency and variety achieved, you'll be running a smooth operation and appeal to new diners with the confidence to turn them into repeat customers.
Knorr® Professional Intense Flavors Citrus Fresh is a versatile ingredient that can be utilized in sweet and savory dishes alike. With the added benefit of trendy yuzu, Citrus Fresh adds a zesty flavor to cheesecakes and mousse, and a tangy, floral aroma to ceviches and tacos.
Chef Dana Cohen
As a finalist on Season 10 of Hell's Kitchen on FOX (and returning for Hell’s Kitchen All Stars!), Dana Cohen gained the hard-earned respect of acclaimed Chef Gordon Ramsay and was dubbed the "Scallop Queen" for her seafood mastery.
A New Jersey native, Chef Dana grew up surrounded by family, friends and plenty of good food. She quickly learned a meal is more than just food; it is at the heart of many fond memories. As a young girl with a sophisticated palate, Dana could often be found in the kitchen at home experimenting with new recipes or down at her grandparents’ farm helping create a feast for the holidays.
At 16, Chef Dana was hired as a hostess at the local Italian restaurant in her hometown of River Vale. Determined to follow her passion, she begged her way into the kitchen and quickly proved she could handle the stress, pressure and long hours that are part of the job. There she became an integral member of the kitchen team and fell in love with the culinary world.
Chef Dana attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, which led to an externship at The Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. During her time there, she was inspired by the fresh produce picked daily from the garden and local seafood caught just offshore. This is where she developed her cooking style, with a flair for transforming local and seasonal ingredients into simple yet memorable dishes.
As a chef instructor at the Viking Cooking School, Chef Dana explored her passion for sharing her love of food and cooking. There she taught a wide range of hands-on classes and cuisines to aspiring home chefs. Her most notable "student" was New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Determined to find the best local dishes wherever she travels, Chef Dana is a firm believer that great food enhances any experience, from casual get-togethers to major life events. As an avid sports fan, it's not uncommon to find her with a football in one hand and tongs in the other as she shows off her tailgate cooking skills with friends.
Chef Dana advocates a healthy, active lifestyle and enjoys running, working out, and playing tennis. Her favorite dishes are often inspired by whatever catches her eye while strolling through the farmers' market and are then shared over a glass of wine and some laughs with good friends.
Foodservice Trend You’re Most Excited For:
Less is more. Chefs will focus on the quality of ingredients they are using rather than quantity of dishes on the menu and ingredients used within a dish. I am hoping to see more locally, sustainably raised meats and produce, and a widespread acceptance of the "farm to table" movement.
Biggest Concern for the Restaurant Industry:
I think kitchen labor is a big problem that will continue to grow. Rising labor costs and the challenge to find skilled, reliable staff.
Favorite UFS Product and Why:
When you say to yourself, "There's something missing!", Chicken liquid concentrated base is always the answer.