Chef VS Cook: What’s in a Name?

One of the most widely argued aspects of the culinary world is the use of the words ‘chef’ and ‘cook’. While there is no clear agreement on who gets labeled with which term, there does seem to be a consensus that it doesn’t always matter. A chef and a cook are only as good as their products, so no matter the terminology success is determined by the individual.

Generally speaking, there are a few mostly agreed upon criteria that differentiate these two culinary artists.

Chefs typically:

  • Have some formal training whether it be formal education, apprenticeships, or extensive experience in the industry.
  • Are managers who oversee staff, create menus, and manage budgets.
  • Have been paid to cook or run a restaurant in some capacity.
  • Wears a chef coat.

Cooks typically:

  • Have little to no training and are self-taught.
  • Have never been paid to cook.
  • Make food for friends and family or work under a chef.
  • Wears an apron or kitchen shirt.

When you see it this way, it seems pretty clear cut. However, there are many that would argue this case. For some, the title matters for the sake of pride or marketing. For others, the title matters because of the hard work and dedication put into it. Then there are those who could care less what you call them, they let their food speak to their culinary ideals and talents.

By definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a chef is “a skilled cook who manages the kitchen.” A cook is defined as “a person who prepares food for eating.”

It seems the answer to this age-old debate is left up to professionals and consumers to decide for themselves. Does the title matter to you, why or why not? If the food sounds, looks, and tastes good, does it really matter what the person who made it is called? This instance is one of few professional examples where a designated title does not necessarily require the acquisition of specific criteria.

Posted in Chef Coats

Creating a Refreshing Summer Drink Menu

Nothing says ‘Summer’ like a cold, refreshing drink. For those hot days and nights, a well-planned drink menu can set the tone for any summer party. From backyard barbecues to outdoor weddings, some drinks just taste better in the hot months of summer.

When creating a summer drink menu, drink specials, or personalized wedding beverages there are a few points to keep in mind.

The menu should:

  • Be small, 3-4 options will do
  • Include drink descriptions and/or ingredient lists
  • Offer mocktails and cocktails

The drinks should:

  • Be light, refreshing, and cold
  • Have creative, descriptive names
  • Feature local ingredients when possible – particularly in-season produce
  • Lower costs by utilizing the same ingredient more than once and eliminate the need for a fully stocked bar

Successful summer drink menus incorporate local goods, in-season flavors, and marketing techniques to form the perfect trifecta of beverage offerings. Limiting drink options to just those that can be made with the summer menu ingredients can help cut down on costs and take pressure of bartenders.

Summer drinks often feature unique combinations of standard ingredients. For obvious reasons, popular flavors include:

  • Berries
  • Mint
  • Lemon
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Peach

Typical summer drink alcohols include tequila, vodka, and rum. For non-alcoholic drinks, lemonade, ginger soda, and club soda reign. Take any combination of these flavors and mixers, then add your own unique twist to make your summer menu stand out.

Creating a special summer drink menu is a fast and easy way to jump on the eat local bandwagon. Grab your chef coat or bartender apron, head to the farmer’s market, and get inspired by the colors and flavors of summer!

Posted in Chef Coats

Do You Eat for Sport?

Eating competitions and challenges have become a sport all their own. From devouring oversized portions of unique dishes to downing as many of one food item as possible, these events create a fun challenge for foodies around the world. Competitive eating is more than just a personal challenge, it has created a whole new marketing category for restaurants, chefs, and food manufacturers.

So, how does competitive eating fit into your business plan? There are a few key reasons these challenges keep popping up in restaurants and at festivals.

  • Participants can win everything from fame and cash prizes to free meals.
  • Restaurant-specific challenges bring in revenue when participants lose and have to foot the often hefty bill.
  • They provide a unique and often less expensive marketing strategy.

In order to make your challenge stand out:

  • Make it unique, something that doesn’t already exist.
  • Be sure it represents your menu and your culinary attitude so it can become a symbolic venture. Grab your chef coat and show them what you’re all about!
  • Use social media in creative ways to advertise your event and your company.

Large scale eating competitions often take place at festivals as a means to get people through the gates and excited to attend. For example, the Maui Onion Festival features an onion eating competition. Famous for their one-of-a-kind sweet Kula Onions, the region capitalizes on this unique food item by hosting a festival and competition.

Stand alone contests like Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest have withstood the test of time and given notoriety to its winners.

Restaurant challenges like The Stellanator at Stella’s in Bellevue, Nebraska set the stage for recruiting new customers.

If you are looking for a unique marketing strategy, competitive eating just might be the ticket. Before starting a challenge, consider the scale and your purpose. Choose a contest that makes sense for your business and is feasible in the long run in case it catches on.

Each diner has a special relationship with food. Competitive eating is just one such relationship. Give customers something to talk about year after year by hosting one of these exciting and challenging events.

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: Basic 3/4 Sleeve Chef Coat

Chef coats take a lot of heat in the kitchen! The Basic ¾ Sleeve Chef Coat by ChefWorks can stand up to the heat while looking stylish. Standard features include:

  • Poly/cotton “lite” fabric blend
  • Double breasted design
  • 5 sets of 2 parallel, cloth-covered buttons
  • Left chest patch pocket
  • Thermometer pocket
  • ¾ length sleeves that hit mid-forearm

At a cost of just over $30 each, you can save up to 17% when buying in multiples. This functional coat is available in 6 stylish colors:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Merlot
  • Orange
  • White

Sizes range from XS-XL with 2XL available for only $2 more and 3XL at $4 over the base price. Our handy size chart can help you find the perfect fit using only a chest and back measurement.

To personalize your chef coat, consider our embroidery options. Text embroidery costs an additional $9.95 and includes up to three lines of text in your choice of block or script lettering, eight locations, and over 20 thread color options. Upload your own logo for an additional $5.95 with the choice of eight coat locations.

Whether you’re looking for a modern or classic look, this coat is versatile enough to cover style ranges. The construction also performs under the heat of most any kitchen.

Posted in Chef Coats

Masculine Menu Must-Haves

When it comes to mealtime men and women are just different, generally speaking. While no two masculine types are exactly the same, there are some generalizations that can be taken from research on what foods appeal most to them.

According to Pew Research Center’s recent research, all adults today are paying more attention to healthy eating. This includes:

  • Smaller portion sizes
  • More fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh, local meats

The data also suggests men and women are equally likely to identify as vegan and vegetarian. All this information may seem contradictory to the common concept of what is ‘manly’ or masculine. However, when planning any menu, a good chef knows to take stock in the numbers.

While men and women are mostly in agreement about trying to eat healthier, it can mean very different things to each. EatingWell.com suggests men:

  • Eat more meats and breads
  • Take larger bites
  • Eat Faster
  • Have a more relaxed approach to meals
  • Need higher calorie intake
  • Place a high value on convenience with food

This information can be helpful in planning masculine menu options. Dishes that aren’t fussy looking or over-complicated, don’t take too long to cook or eat, and feel hearty are more likely to be coveted by men.

When planning a masculine menu, consider include dishes similar to:

  • Meat sandwiches
  • Simple cuts of meat
  • Stews
  • Anything with bacon
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • A side of some type of bread

While there is no tried and true menu that will appeal to all masculine folks, there is some good evidence of what this population generally enjoys eating. As always, you are wearing the chef coat so keep your restaurant’s theme, style, and values in mind when planning any meal.

Posted in Chef Coats

Can You Host A Wedding?

Traditionally, wedding ceremonies were held in houses of worship with receptions at banquet halls or private homes. Today, modern couples are looking to create a deeply personal experience for their special day. Everything from the beach to a museum is now a standard wedding venue.

One great way to expand your business and customer base is to host weddings. This may seem like a huge undertaking, but there are only a few necessities for any restaurant to be considered  a wedding venue.

The basic requirements:

  • Space for large groups
  • Restrooms or the ability to place temporary restrooms
  • Electrical capabilities for music, lighting, etc.
  • Private space
  • Easy access for guests and vendors
  • A ‘wow’ factor such as unique architecture or breathtaking views

As you can see, nearly any established business likely has the basic elements of a wedding venue. Keep in mind that today’s weddings can range from small, intimate affairs of 20 people or less all the way up to hundreds of guests. If your venue is on the smaller side, market to that type of wedding couple.

On the easier side of wedding planning, you could simply put it out there that you are open to hosting weddings. If you want to make this a tried and true part of your business, you may want to invest some time into the following:

  • Designate an event planner who can handle all event bookings. This type of personalized service will appeal to couples.
  • Create food and beverage packages with a fixed cost to make the planning process more efficient.
  • Stock up on a few standard and unique table decorations and tableware.

The most important factor to consider when deciding to advertise as a wedding venue is who your customer is. Depending upon the size, layout, and normal hours of operation for your business, you may not be able to cater to the general public in terms of weddings.

Modern weddings can take place almost anywhere and include a variety of unique elements. Capitalize on this expansive event category by analyzing how your space could accommodate weddings.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tips For Cooking With Fire

Open fire cooking has been around since man discovered fire. Today, it is becoming a hot trend at restaurants of all calibers around the world. Cooking over an open fire is arguably more than a skill, it’s an art form. While experts don’t always agree on what to cook over a fire or how to create the best cooking fire, there are a few tips most will approve of.

  1. Take a cue from the Boy Scouts of America and be prepared! Whether cooking on an indoor wood-fired grill or in some remote forest location on a campfire, preparedness makes a world of difference. Cooking with fire and in nature allows room for extraneous bits like ashes or bugs to find their way into food. Prepping as much ahead of time will help cut down on any surprises or under-equipped locations.
  2. Patience is the key to all great fire cooking. A good bed of hot coals with few flaming logs is ideal for open fire cooking. Typically, it can take 30-45 minutes just to get the fire ready for cooking.
  3. Bank those coals. If you have set yourself up for success, your fire will be contained in a vessel or prepared area. Start your small fire on one side and move coals to the other side when ready. This way you can keep adding wood to the fire to make more coals while starting to cook on the coals as they are ready on the other side.
  4. Don’t start cold. Foods starting at room temperature will cook faster and more evenly on a fire. Get your ingredients out ahead of time, about 15-20 minutes, so they have enough time to get the chill off before cooking.
  5. It’s done before it’s done. Cooking over an open fire makes it much easier to overcook foods. Fire roasted foods will stay hotter for longer after cooking so be ready to remove them from the heat just before you think they’re done. Allow some resting time to cook thoroughly.

Cooking over an open fire includes:

  • Campfire
  • Bonfire
  • Indoor grill
  • Outdoor grill
  • Fire bowl

From grilling to roasting and smoking, there is no shortage of techniques when it comes to open fire cooking. If you’re ready to get back to the roots of man and have your own culinary adventure, grab that apron and get to the grill!

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: Oxford Shoes

One of the most important element of attire for every restaurant staff member is footwear. From cooks to servers, front of the house to back, floors can get slippery and staff members do a lot of walking and standing. Purchasing the right shoes for work in this field can be the difference between comfort and serious physical concerns.

The Oxford Shoe incorporates comfort, structural support, and style with a variety of specially designed features.

  • Water resistant leather upper
  • Removable insole
  • Sweat-absorbing liner
  • Slip and oil resistant outsole
  • Extra cushioning on heel and ball of foot
  • Flexible construction for optimum movement
  • Superior grip tread design

The Oxford Women’s Work Shoe comes in standard black for $49.95 per pair. Available sizes range from 5-12 with half sizes and wide options.

The Men’s Oxford Shoe is also available in black and sells for $49.95 per pair. Sizes 7-14 are available with half size and wide options.

If you’re looking for a more formal shoe that is also functional, Oxford Shoes are a great option. The sleek design, including laces, resemble a standard oxford-style shoe. The intricate design details offer support alongside comfort.

Shoes can make or break your day in the restaurant industry. Be sure to invest in a great pair and you will also be investing in your body and career.

Posted in Uncategorized

Prom Dinner Planning

Prom goers are either loved or hated, there’s no real in between when it comes to nicely dressed teens in your restaurant. On the positive side, these kids (or their parents) are ready to drop some serious cash in the name of a night they’ll never forget. On the down side, some teens can be really self-absorbed and in large groups they can cause discomfort for other guests.

So, how can you embrace this often lucrative crowd? Start by thinking of prom goers much like a bride and groom or wedding party. Proms are much like weddings in that they:

  • Require elegant attire and create a party atmosphere
  • Typically highlight romance
  • Cost thousands of dollars
  • Are planned for months or even years in advance
  • Can include large groups for dining

Now that you have a good idea of the needs/expectations of these kinds of guests, you can plan accordingly. Planning is the key word here, because teens are often still learning how to plan for themselves. If you cover all your bases, it will make the night go much smoother.

Some ways to help make prom night dinners more successful include:

  1. Offer a group meal that includes appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert for one price that includes the gratuity. Prom goers are used to splitting costs for things like limos and dinner, so this will make it easier for each guest to know ahead of time how much they will owe.
  2. Create prom-specific menus and packages and market them clearly. Making information easy to find and inclusive of all details will eliminate many headaches later on.
  3. Treat these guests like any others, with respect. They are, after all, paying just like any other. If you start the relationship off with respect, you are more likely to see it reciprocated when the guests arrive.
  4. Plan a menu made up of familiar foods that are typically associated as upscale. Prom goers want to feel like they are getting an adult, VIP experience but may not be as adventurous or knowledgeable as adults. Show them why you wear a chef coat, but in a relatable way.
  5. Considering catering prom dinners outside of your restaurant. This will give you a chance to start developing a relationship with potential customers while eliminating the possibility of a bunch of rowdy kids driving away others.

Prom is often viewed as a rite of passage, a night teens will remember forever. Capitalize on this attitude by catering to the needs and capabilities of the crowd.

Posted in Chef Coats

Women’s Culinary Fashion

While men still dominate the culinary field, there is one sign that women chefs are on the rise – or at least garnering a little more respect. Decades ago you would not have found women’s chef coats, chef pants, or kitchen shirts. Today, women have endless options made specifically for the feminine form.

While the overall look of chef apparel is universal, there are some subtle differences often seen in clothing made specifically for women.

  • Narrower pant legs
  • Low-rise waist option
  • Varying pant lengths
  • Narrower shirt sleeves
  • More fitted form along the body

Basically, clothing made for women takes into account the general form of a woman’s body. This type of apparel can help a woman look and feel more like herself and less like a woman drowning in men’s clothing.

Traditionally, women have been more prominent in home kitchens where they often wear aprons. Over the years apron style has taken on a life of its own. In professional kitchens, aprons have also now taken shape in more feminine forms. For example, while the v-neck style is unisex, it has a more feminine flair.

As women attempt to rise in the restaurant business, they seek to be respected and revered as their male counterparts. To this end, women seek chef coats and other apparel that stay true to the traditional style that has been modernized to differentiate a woman’s body from a man’s.

Often male chefs view work apparel as a tool, nothing more or less. Female chefs see their uniform as more of a statement. Because a woman’s role in the professional kitchen has repeatedly been questioned, apparel is one way to highlight gender pride.

When looking at images of popular female chefs, there are a few common apparel choices:

  • White or lighter colors over black
  • The outfit is infused with color, many times in head gear
  • Aprons, even over a chef coat, are popular

While women have not yet attained an equal status in many areas related to the restaurant industry, the fact that there are Women’s Chef Apparel categories in stores shows growth. Not all female chefs are created equal, but having options is a universal concept.

Posted in Chef Coats