Sunday, September 25, 2011

New layout

I have been toying with different layouts for my blog lately as I have recieved some good feedback from others so I would love everyone's opinion on my latest one.  I think this one is a keeper.  Either way, I just want honest feedback.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Something to think about

Something I was just thinking about.  In America, we have some of the easiest and most plentiful access to healthy food..... but we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic.

With one in six people starving in the world I can't help but feel a bit guilty that many of us are gluttons.  Those starving people would most likely do anything for just a simple bowl of rice, or even a piece of fruit, just some nourishment to subdue their starvation but what do we do? Not only do many of us gorge, many of us eat the worst things imaginable.  Processed foods, (I am included), friggin' "Lunchables" those ready to eat packages of those disgusting sausages and cheese. 

Keep that in mind next time you go to a buffet and create a Mount Everest of food

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How chefs determine what to charge for food

One question I have often been asked regarding high end restaurants is, "why is the food soo expensive?"

First, please note that what you are often charge in these nice places is necessary, so to help you "non-foodies" understand, I did a simple costing for you.

What is shown below is a basic yield test for whole beef tenderloin.  Beef tenderloin is what chateuabriand and filet mignon come from

A yield test is something all chefs must do for most all foodstuffs to ensure they are managing their costs and charging guests correctly.  In lamens terms, a yield test figures out the waste a particular item has.

Beef tenderloing
Start weight (uncleaned)              11.81 lbs at   $11.67 per pound
Cleaned weight                           6.57 lbs
Yield:                                         divide 6.57/11.81=  55%
100% divided by 55% =             1.81 (this is your yield factor)
Original cost X yield factor         $11.67 X 1.81
New cost per pound (waste factored in)     $21.12
$21.12 / 16 ounces =                  $1.32 per ounce
Filet mignon 8oz- $1.32 X 8=      $10.56-cost for one filet only

The industry standard food cost is around 33%. That means for every dollar you make, you can spend .33 on food.  The food cost will vary depending on the establishmen but that is the generallty accepted number
In other words, if something costs me $1.00, than I need to charge 3X the amount to make money

So how much do we charge for our filet?  Remember, that $10.56 is just the cost of the filet, NOT the selling price ( the price you would see on the menu)

To figure a 33% food cost divide 100% by 33%=3.03

Take the cost of the filet- $10.56 X 3.03 = $31.99 (selling price for the menu)

So, based on that costing, if I just want to serve a filet mignon on a plate with no vegetables, no starch, no sauce, no garnish, I need to charge $31.99 to make money.

What I would do most of the time, (unless I am in a place where food cost isn't a concern) is pair an expensive item, like filet or rack of lamb with inexpensive sides to offset the cost

There are some that argue you can have high food cost items and the lower food cost items will offset the cost.  For example a rack of lamb may have a 39% food cost and a bowl of gazpacho may have a 8% food cost but I like all my costs to be in line.

I will do more postings of this nature to help you all understand the restaurant and chef world a bit more


Monday, September 12, 2011

The MSG conundrum part 4

Introduction to America

The U.S. Military started adding MSG to its rations after WWII when it realized the Japanese rations tasted better. When food is processed you will lose some flavor; precooking, freezing and canning are not exactly flavor enhancers. That's where MSG comes in; it increases flavor and palatability in foods.

From there, MSG made its way into American homes in 1947 in the form of an all purpose seasoning called Accent. From that point on, America saw the processed food industry boom and MSG was put into everything from baby food to many of the processed foods.

Once this MSG scare took hold of the American public, it created enough of a fear to prompt food companies to remove MSG from many of their processed food items and even advertise "No MSG" on the packaging. What many unsuspecting consumers don't know is that companies are still putting MSG in their processed foods but under different names. Names such as: hydrolyzed protein, malted barley, autolyzed yeast, glutacyl, glutamic acid, sodium caseinate, natural smoke flavor, natural flavors-and there are many more. Those items are not MSG specifically, but they are still synthetically produced glutamates so it is basically the same thing.

One thing that puzzles me is this: If MSG was introduced in the late '40's and this fear of MSG didn't start until the late '60's, why wasn't there any MSG scare or CRS for the almost two decades in between? Were we distracted? By what, the invention of television?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The MSG conundrum part 3

History of MSG

Different cultures have enhanced the flavor of their food in different ways throughout time using their own form of "MSG". The ancient Romans used a sauce called garum that was obtained from fermenting fish in saltwater, Asians have fish sauce, in the U.K. they have Marmite, in the USA we have Accent and of course there is Worchestershire and soy sauce. The one thing all these flavor enhancers have in common is that they are all forms of glutamate.

In Japan the way they naturally acquire their "MSG" is from soaking a piece of kombu (dried seaweed) in hot water. This is the basis of dashi, the soup stock the Japanese love, and it was that flavor that a professor from the Tokyo Imperial University named Kikunae Ikeda was enamored with and sought out to isolate it in the early 1900's.

Ikeda felt there was a taste that was missing from the four accepted primary tastes of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. A savory taste associated with that Japanese broth he loved so much, meat, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. He called that fifth taste "umami", which translated means, "savory". He discovered, that dashi possessed the same chemical properties as glutamic acid and glutamate causes the taste sensation called "umami."

From there Ikeda then went on to create and patent monosodium glutamate and marketed it as a table condiment called Ajinomoto which translated means "the essence of taste."

Umami is a taste that has been recognized in the East since its recognition a century ago but not so in the West. It wasn't until the past twenty years when umami has been accepted as the fifth basic taste here in the West and chefs as of late have been working on ways to optimize the "umami" effect in their food.

If you have ever wondered why a cheeseburger, pepperoni pizza or spaghetti bolognaise are some of the most popular dishes in many parts of the world, than it shouldn't be a surprise to know they are basically a glutamate fest.

Spaghetti bolognaise

Tomato=glutamate, beef=glutamate, cheese=glutamate

Pepperoni pizza

Tomato=glutamate, pepperoni=glutamate, cheese=glutamate


Beef=glutamate, cheese=glutamate, tomato (either sliced or as ketchup)=glutamate and if the burger bun has malted barley in it=more glutamate

It is no wonder why glutamate makes food taste good because it stimulates receptors telling your brain "yummy, this is good." Umami taste buds respond to glutamate in the same way sweet ones respond to sugar. That's why adding some parmesan cheese on pasta or soy sauce to an Asian dish it gives it a flavor boost.