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10 Easy Ways to Use Kale

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What used to be nothing more than a garnish on your local restaurant’s salad bar, kale has exploded in popularity in recent years and is now found on dinner plates everywhere. It’s not just in restaurants; even health conscious home cooks are in on the trend.

Because it’s packed with nutrients, many people like to eat it as much as they can, which can get boring after a while. Luckily, there are many uses for this versatile leafy green, so if you’re looking for a new way to get a boost of nutrition, you’ll love these inventive uses.

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Trend Alert: Online Ordering

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The restaurant industry has changed a lot over the years. With more and more people dining out instead of cooking at home, fast casual restaurants have become more popular, even taking place of many sit down restaurants for a lot of regular diners.

These restaurants offer food that is a step up from fast food burgers, and it’s served quickly, and often it’s less expensive that sitting down at your typical chain restaurant where a waiter serves you, which usually adds the cost of tipping. Instead, they can walk in, see everything being served, stand in line and have their food in minutes, either to take out, or eat in. You won’t find a lot of fuss in the way of pressed white chef’s jackets or a quiet atmosphere; rather these are more suited to a busy weeknight meal.

With technology advancing at a rapid rate, these types of eateries are coming up with new and faster ways for customers to get their food. Online ordering, which allows customers to place an order for their food before they arrive, is a new trend in casual dining, and with mobile apps allowing diners to order even on the go, it’s a trend that’s not going anywhere any time soon.

If you’re new to the restaurant industry, or just don’t keep up with the latest trends, you may be wondering if this is something your business can benefit from. Read on to learn all about it, and whether it’s right for you.

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Creating the Perfect Seasonal Menu: How to Do it Right

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There’s a reason that local, seasonal eating has become all the rage in recent years. Food is fresher, travels fewer miles to get to your plate, and tastes better. If you’ve ever compared a grocery store tomato bought in January with one grown in a home garden, then you understand the difference.

Seasonal eating has been something that started with home cooks buying at farmer’s markets, but the movement is moving into the restaurant world in full force. Restaurant owners and chefs everywhere are embracing seasonal menus to get diners focused on quality and nutrition in their doors.

Before you embark on such a project, you need to know what to do, and also what not to do to make it work correctly. It will require much more thought and work than creating a permanent menu, but it keeps your menu fresh and interesting when updated several times a year instead of once every few years.

Before you embark on such a project, it helps to know what it entails, and how to implement it in a way that both you and your customers can appreciate. Read on to learn everything you need to know about making the best seasonal menu you can.

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Labor Day SALE! 10% Off Your Entire Order

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Take advantage of Chef Works Labor Day Sale happening now through September 1, 2014. This is the perfect time to buy that new cool vent chef coat you have been eyeing, add an urban mix to your chef wear with Chef Works denim aprons, or even pick up a chef coat for your son or daughter to get them excited about learning to cook.

Chef Works offers professional, trendy, high quality attire for your restaurant staff, from kitchen staff to front of house.

Click here for more information and terms and conditions.

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10 Differences Between Cooking at Home and in a Restaurant

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If you’re a good cook at home, and often have guests over or cook for others, you have undoubtedly had someone tell you that you should open your own restaurant. It’s a compliment, sure, but if you hear it enough, you may be tempted to actually want to do it. How hard can it be? Cooking is cooking, right?

Not so fast. While it is true that certain principles of home cooking are similar to professional cooking, for the most part, it’s vastly different. If you’ve never worked in a restaurant, it’s difficult to see, especially if you have a hobby of recreating your favorite restaurant meals at home.

Before you head out and open your own place thinking it will be similar to cooking at home, read on. You may change your mind before you get to the end.

1. The Equipment is Different

Besides the fact that professional tools and appliances are designed to be in use non-stop for hours every single day, they work differently. This is because in a restaurant, you want efficiency. Food needs to be prepared quickly and consistently over and over. For this reason, ovens are hotter, pots are heavier, and that commercial deep fryer heats up in seconds instead of minutes. These are all conveniences that you’ll learn to appreciate, but it takes some getting used to. You’ll also quickly notice that almost everything is much larger than you’re used to at home.

2. The Food is Different

While many restaurants use fresh food, it’s not uncommon to find commercial products that are just made to make restaurant cooking easier. You may go in thinking that you’ll make everything from scratch, but when a vendor shows you a bag of soup that doesn’t taste that much different than your version for a quarter of the price and a tenth of the time to prepare, you may start to think differently.

3. Professionals Don’t Use Recipes

You won’t find a professional chef tediously measuring ingredients in measuring spoons and cups unless he’s baking a cake. For the most part, chefs rely on formulas and ratios, which allow them to easily scale recipes to make more without the hassle of dividing minuscule amounts of a spice or oil. It takes memorization to get it right, and if you head into a kitchen with recipes on paper, other professionals will think you look silly.

4. You Won’t Find Any Gadgets in a Commercial Kitchen

A professional chef knows that almost any dish can be cooked well with nothing more than a sharp knife and some pots and pans.

For this reason, you won’t find a quesadilla maker, fancy onion chopper, or anything as seen on TV. They know these things are difficult to store, don’t last, and just make cooking more difficult.

You may find a waffle iron in a kitchen that cooks a lot of breakfasts, but outside of standard multi-use tools, that’s probably it. You also won’t find every item in every kitchen. Most professional kitchens are small spaces and need room for a lot of people to move around in, so you’ll only find items that are used for the restaurants menu.

5. Cooking at Home is More Laid Back

If you think you’re going to lazily stir your sauce, or sit down and relax while you wait for your timer to go off, you won’t have fun in a commercial kitchen.

Especially on busy nights, professional kitchens are always a hustle and bustle of activity. Workers will be walking by you holding scalding hot pans over your head, all while trying to do two other things at the same time. There’s always something to be done in the kitchen at a restaurant, whether it’s chopping for the next shift, cleaning out the fridge, or even washing dishes in the downtime.

A professional kitchen is hot, uncomfortable, and at times, ridiculously cramped. Busy cooks can be downright mean when they can’t get what they want, which can stress anyone out.

6. The Health Department Won’t Bother You at Home

Home kitchens aren’t subject to the rigorous and sometimes downright tedious inspections that commercial kitchens are, and for good reason. At home, you’re cooking for a couple people. Making a recipe with expired products may make you or your spouse sick, which is bad, but at a restaurant, one bad egg mixed in with a couple dozen good ones can send tens of people to the hospital.

7. Presentation Matters in a Restaurant

When you make something at home, you probably just dish some out on a plate, not worrying about splatters. You place your piece of meat on the side of your vegetables, because you don’t care what it looks like as long as it tastes good.

Restaurant diners are different. They’re paying money for their food, sometimes big bucks, and they want it to look good, and taste good, which can be a difficult balance to achieve with certain foods. You need to think about how you’re going to plate that dish when you create your menu, and it needs to be in a way that can be done fast without the need for excessive cleanup. Splashing soup in a bowl, or plopping a brown piece of meat on a brown plate is unacceptable in most places, and your diners will let you know by not coming back.

8. You’re Not Cooking in Your Bath Robe

You probably don’t think about what you’re going to wear when you make dinner for your family, but in a professional kitchen, what you’re wearing can keep you from getting burned, cut, or worse. To a non-professional, that tall chef’s hat, heavy chef’s jacket, or steel toed shoes may seem like overkill, but professionals know that even though it’s hot, they’d rather wear it than not.

Restaurant kitchens are hot, they move fast, and there’s always a chance someone will bump into you sending a hot dish tumbling to the floor. Professional clothing protects you from injury, as well as keeps things sanitary.

9. Professionals Use More Butter and Salt

When cooking at home, you have different priorities than in a restaurant. You may want your meal to be healthy, or you may just want something that comes together quickly on a busy night. In a restaurant kitchen, only one thing is important, and that is that the food tastes as good as possible. There are two secret ingredients that help achieve this: Butter and salt. If you’ve ever had a restaurant meal in which you couldn’t figure out why it was so good, the answer is probably because of excessive amounts of one or both of these ingredients.

10. Cooking for 100 is Not the Same as Cooking for 4

Perhaps the biggest misconception about restaurant cooking is that scaling a recipe is easy. Want to make a recipe that serves 2 serve 100? Simply multiply every ingredient by 50 and you should be safe.

Not so fast. Not every recipe scales well, especially with such a large difference in servings; in fact most recipes don’t. Many dishes simply taste better when made in smaller quantities as well. It’s difficult to understand unless you’ve tried to do it, but it rarely works out like you’d think.

Working in a restaurant is a noble profession, but it’s not the same as cooking at home. Even if you are a great home cook, you may find yourself lost when faced with professional equipment, commercial food products, and the stressful environment. While it shouldn’t discourage you from opening your own restaurant, it is something you should think about before taking the plunge.

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Understanding the Needs of Different Customer Types

As a restaurant owner or server, you will be faced with varying customer types. To be successful, it is important to accommodate everyone, from young children to vegetarians, to special needs. Read on to learn how you can make sure you are providing the best experience for your customers, by understanding the needs of different customer types.

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The Simplest Tools Are the Most Important: Cutlery

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Whether you are an amateur or professional chef, you probably know that chopping and dicing is one of the most important tasks when it comes to cooking. How to get the job done may be up for debate in some circles, but most professionals agree that good knives are the key to impressive cooking skills.

Read on to learn why such a simple tool is so important, as well as how to choose, store, and care for your knives.

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Making Cooking Fun For Kids

cw kidFor many parents, cooking is a chore; something that has to be done every day to feed your family whether you feel like it or not. You know your kids have to eat, but it can be difficult after a long day to force yourself to cook meals from scratch, even if you want to.

There are many reasons to teach your kids how to cook from a young age, but getting them excited to learn can be difficult. Read on to learn not only why you should get your kids excited about cooking, but how to do it while having fun.

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Why Your Staff Needs to Know Your Menu Well and How to Ensure That They Do

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If you’ve never owned a restaurant, you may think that the only thing that is important for success is that your guests rave about the food. While having well prepared, delicious food is an important factor, it’s not all that matters.

Having a well trained, professionally dressed staff that knows your menu inside and out is important as well. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant and asked your server what their favorite item on the menu is and gotten a blank stare in return, then you know how off putting it is. If someone that works there isn’t excited about the food, why should someone who’s paying to eat there be?

For this reason, and many more, it’s important to make sure that your staff knows your menu well enough to describe each dish, and make each guest want to try everything. It’s not as easy as it sounds, however, so not only will you find out why your staff needs to know your menu, you’ll also learn how to make sure they do to.

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10 Things To Know Before Hiring Wait Staff

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You’ve made your dream of opening a restaurant: Congratulations! The hard part is out of the way.

Or is it? Unfortunately, opening the doors is only half the battle. It will get easier as you learn the ropes and understand the business, but some things never seem to be easy. One of those is hiring, especially wait staff.

If you think having great food is the only important part of owning a restaurant, then maybe you rethink your choice (kidding, of course!)  All jokes aside, customer service is important to most customers, and it can make the difference between someone becoming a regular or never coming back. If you could wait on everyone yourself, you could be assured that every customer was treated exactly how you want, but you can’t, so you have to hire people that will. This is not as easy as it sounds. Before you hire the first person that hands you an application, read the following tips to avoid common mistakes when it comes to hiring wait staff for your restaurant.

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