Food Allergies: A Responsible Approach

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None of these are a good way to end a meal.

I have one hard and fast rule when it comes to waiting tables.  No one dies on my watch.  I have had several guests leave the restaurant in an ambulance, but none of them have died.  It is a simple thing, but it helps me sleep better at night.  I may not be changing the world with this rule, but I cannot imagine the guilt of breaking it.

This is why I am particularly careful about food allergies.  Knowledge of food allergies is the most basic tool  a server has to prevent guests from facing life-threatening reactions in their restaurants.  This is too often treated lightly.  I once heard a surgeon say that the only minor surgery is the one someone else is having.  The same can be said of food allergies.  While it may not seem important to every guest, the difference between a peanut and a tree nut can be the difference between an enjoyable meal and a trip to the emergency room for some of your guests.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Dr Strange Salmon

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An AquAdvantage Salmon and traditional salmon of the same age.

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Genetically Modified Salmon

Earlier this week I posted a link to a story regarding the AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon.  In the days since, I have become fascinated by this concept.  I have consumed dozens of articles on the topic and several related topics.  I have also read the companies literature on the topic and reviewed the data they sent to the FDA.  I have come to a very specific conclusion on this issue.  Everyone needs to take a deep breathe and look at the big picture.

The AquAdvantage Salmon is for all intensive purposes an Atlantic Salmon.  As you might recall from a previous post on salmon, all commercial Atlantic Salmon is farm raised since it was fished to near extinction in the Atlantic.  The AquAdvatage Salmon has two major differences.  They introduced the growth hormone of the much larger Coho Salmon and a cool water tolerance gene found in the eelpout.  These modifications allow the salmon to grow to market size in half the time.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

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Like I would pass up an opportunity to post this picture

I am trying to fight through the worst bout of writer’s block I have had since I started writing this blog.  I started at least three different posts yesterday that ended up in the recycle bin.  In my last post I promised to get back to some server related posts, but my brain has forced me to break that promise.  In the meantime I have been holding this one back for just such an occasion.

An article recently came to my attention that I am surprised none of my fellow bloggers jumped on.  The Food Network recently did a survey of chefs around the country.  They wrote up the results in an article titled “25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.”  For the most part I think it was a balanced and informative article.  There are probably a number of points that most diners are not aware of.  I recommend the article for those of you who have not put in time working in a restaurant.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It

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Some people really love their ranch

When Escoffier defined his five mother sauces, he did so based on a proud culinary tradition that dated back to Careme and others.  These were flexible sauces that stood the test of time.  Fortunately, he could not predict how boring the average consumer would become.  In most modern chain restaurants the mother sauces would be redefined as marinara, alfredo, ketchup, gravy, and ranch.  It is said that if you stand perfectly still above Escoffier’s gravesite, you can actually feel him spinning.

Of these sauces the newest and most commonly used is ranch dressing.  It became America’s favorite salad dressing in 1992.  It has since only gained popularity as a dipping sauce and suspected beverage (“the lady at table 24 wants another side of ranch, what is she doing, drinking the stuff?”).  Ranch’s rise to the top is a modern day success story.  The reason behind it will change the way you look at food.

Read the full story at Foodie Knowledge

Seafood During Pregnancy

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If you sell seafood at your restaurant, you will inevitably come in contact with pregnant women concerned whether or not it is safe.  During pregnancy the only thing you get more than designer baby clothes that the child won’t be able to appreciate is advice on what not to eat.  Seafood is confusing to expectant mothers because it’s health benefits are touted as frequently as it is warned against.  The key for servers is being able understand what the warnings are about and what seafood to caution against.  Being able to concisely explain to expectant mothers what is and is not safe is relatively easy once you understand the reason for the warnings.

Seafood contains a great number of benefits for both mother and child.  Seafood contains DHA a type of Omega-3 acid that actually helps with a child’s brain development.  Seafood can also be high in calcium, iron, and vitamin D.  It has also been linked to delaying premature births.  For mothers, seafood is low in fat, but high in protein.  The Omega-3s in seafood have even been shown to reduce post partum depression.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

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I only chose this picture because I heard she was an economist

Yesterday’s post on extra charges for the various items a guest requests caused me to ponder on a larger scale.  It is remarkably common to hear guests say, “I could buy that steak/wine/etc at the store for half that much.”  This is the same principle as walking into a car dealership and demanding a price based on the total price of the steel, glass, and plastic contained in the car.  In both cases, the price of production goes far beyond the cost of the raw materials.  Next week, I will be addressing in detail the difference between the actual cost of an item as simple as a burger and also the actual price of production.  When the cost of labor and overhead is factored in, a burger is far less profitable than the average consumer would imagine.

First, it is necessary to establish as a premise that food is a commodity.  A meal is comprised of many components each of which has a finite supply.  There are only so many acres of wheat or corn being produced.  There are also only so much beef, poultry, pork, and seafood being brought to market.  This means that supply is more of less the same and therefore demand is what determines the price restaurants pay.  The commodity we are all most familiar with is oil.  When demand for oil rises worldwide the price rises as well.  This is followed shortly by a rise in the price of gasoline.  We as consumers understand why this affects gas prices, but rarely do we relate it to restaurants.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Fun Crab Facts and Jokes

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They say you gotta give the people what they want.  In this case it seems to be crabs.  The number of searches I have seen this week that landed on my crab post is overwhelming.  So I decided to revisit my favorite decapods.  The previous post was a bit more scientific and specific.  Today, I want to talk some of the more trivial and fun facts you can share with your tables about crabs.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

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Regular readers of this blog may have realized already that I hate getting stumped by my guests.  I have spent thousands of hours researching food to prevent this from happening.  Last night I was asked a question so simple I should have known the answer.  They asked me what makes vinegar “balsamic.”  One theory was that it was aged in balsa wood while another was that it was made of a particular grape.  After the shift, I researched until I could find an answer.  This post is dedicated to the guests at table 68.

Before I get to the answer though, I wanted to address olive oil as well.  It’s like salt and pepper.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Simon and Garfunkel.  You can have them separately, but they are so much better together.  So today I wanted to explore some facts about both.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

The Index

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This index was created in order to make this blog easier to navigate and allow you to get the most out of the information contained within.  Several of these topics overlap.  If you were sent here by a search engine or from another post and have not been able to find the information you were looking for please leave a comment.  I am always looking for new topics and want to make this as comprehensive a source as possible.

The best way to keep up with this blog is to subscribe on the homepage or join the Facebook Fan Page to receive noticed when it is updated.

Section One: The Rules Of Serving

The Rules: Rules 1-10

The Rules of Serving: Rules One and Two

The Rules of Serving: Rule Three

The Rules of Serving: Rule Four

The Rules of Serving: Rule Five

The Rules of Serving: Rule Six

Section Two: Selling As A Server

I Make A Mean Cherry Limeade

Using Words That Sell

The Most Important Phrase You Are Not Using

Selling Away and Selling Up

How To Sell More Desserts

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part One)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Two)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Three)

Wine Descriptions That Sell

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

How To Sell The Bottle

Section Three: Skills Of A Server

Three Ways to Describe Dishes

Budgeting for Servers

Foil To-Go: The Swan

Foil To Go: The Shark

Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

Five Simple Tricks

Five More Simple Tricks

Fruit Flies

How To Serve A Bottle Of Wine

Job Hunting: The Do’s and Don’ts

Spotting The Complaint

The Mistake and The Letter

Coupons, Discounts, and How to Deal

Making Tips on To-Go Orders

Extras and Upcharges

Memorizing Orders

How To Memorize Orders

Resumes For Servers

Making a Difference

What I Use

Server Safety Tips

Section Four: Food and Wine

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part One)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Two)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Three)

Foodie Friday: Types of Crab

Foodie Friday: Salmon Basics

Foodie Fridays: Salmon Species

Foodie Friday: Health and Environmental Impacts of Farm Raised Salmon

Foodie Friday: Fact or Fiction

Pasta Name Origins

Cherry Limeade Recipe

Five Great Food Stories

Understanding French Sauces (Part One)

Understanding French Sauces (Part Two)

Espresso Drinks

How Wild Fish Is Caught

Introducing: The Designated Drinker

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Fun Crab Facts and Jokes

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

Cost vs Profit

Seafood During Pregnancy

Regional Barbeque Styles

Designated Drinker: Harry’s Bar Bellini

Wine Apps for your Phone

A Food Critic Intervention

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It

Dr Strange Salmon

Searches Answered

Lobster Facts and Trivia

The Stumpers

Prosciutto, Pancetta, and Serrano

Section Five: Motivating and Leading Servers

The Epiphany

Why Contests Don’t Work

How Money Motivates

What Motivates Servers: Autonomy

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

What Motivates Servers: Purpose

Sergeants and Generals

Ways To Motivate Servers

Management Mentality Mistakes

Love and Greed

Set Schedules As A Manager

Making a Difference

The Keys To Leadership

Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

Leadership: Empowering Others

Leadership: Leading by Example

Leadership: Improving Others


Section Six: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Manager’s Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Guest Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Owner’s Perspective

Cost vs Profit

Independent vs Corporate Restaurant Priorities

Section Seven: A Bit Of Humor

Servers Vs Dentists

How To Flirt With Your Server

I Make Mistakes Too

Top Ten Songs About Waitresses

Retiring Jokes

The Evolution of Free Bread

The Card

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

Awkward Moments

Story Time: Injuries

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

Aspirational Dining Defined

Aspirational Dining in a Recession

On A Good Night

Top 10 Songs About Dancing

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

David Goes To Dentist

Section Eight: Weird Restaurant Stories

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/21

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/28

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/4

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/11

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/18

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/25

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/2

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/9

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/16

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/23

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/30

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

Section Nine: Server Issues

Fighting For The Server Wage

Refuting Emmer’s Myths

A Few More Thoughts On Emmer

Remembering Labor on Labor Day

Monday Morning Recap

The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

The Advantages of Set Schedules

Set Schedules As A Manager

Five Stories Worth Reading

10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

Serving Sober

Tipping On To Go Orders

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part One

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part Two

Recommended Reading 11/1

Section Ten: About This Blog

By Way Of Introduction

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

A Bit of Publicity and the Response

Clip Show: Starting a Blog

It’s A Brave New World

100th Post Extravaganza

First 100 Posts Recap

Best of KC 2010

Plaza Art Fair

Calling All Experts

Thank You!

October Review

Cherry Limeade Recipe

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A brief break between shifts on a double today.  I have worked exceptionally little over the last two weeks.  This of course meant that it was too hot for anyone to sit on the patio this afternoon for my patio shift.  A piece of Sockeye Salmon over a mushroom risotto with a white wine sauce topped with marinated diced tomatoes made it worth my while.  This reminds me that I need to write up my post on rule six.  Expect rules five and six in the coming days.

The other task I accomplished is sitting down with Kansas City’s most vivacious mixologist and cocktail critic to create a simple cherry limeade recipe.  I have written about my cherry limeade line and why it is such powerful tool to read your tables.  I have also discussed the number of search engine hits I get looking for a cherry limeade recipe.  Today, I decided to finally reveal the recipe to the drink that still officially appears on my restaurants menu as “The Hayden.”

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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