The Changing Of The Seasons Comes A Changing Of The Menus
With the changing of the seasons comes a changing of the menus. It takes a lot of hard work to create unique menus every few months. As springtime approaches I always start to feel the pressure of running a farm to table restaurant. Produce becomes scarce in the beginning spring. In New York that means working with beets, potatoes, and the occasional tunnel greens. Some of the other items that I would like to add to the menu like spring greens and strawberries will have to wait until later in the year when they are available.
Personally the pressure and daily grind keeps me on my toes, especially with the menu changes and kitchen management. It can sometimes adversely affect my personal life, but I am lucky to have someone in my life who understands. The level of cooking I am doing requires 12- 15 hours days in an average week without working on the menu. I sacrifice for what I do and for where I want to go. The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason. Some days all I want to do is cook, it’s my passion. Other days I have to spend glued to a computer screen managing the business(running costs, budgets, scheduling, and more).
Planning for new menus is always a hectic and stressful around my restaurant kitchen. I’m short on time and more demanding of my employees. Re-creating a new menu every three months allows me to add 5 to 6 original dishes while keeping my best sellers. After running this kitchen for a few years now you would assume that I’ve streamlined a quicker system. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m constantly pushing my culinary boundaries. Endless possible dish combinations constantly swirl in my head . As executive chef all my employees depend upon me and I want to do my best for them. That’s why I expend so much energy and dedication in my craft. There’s no limit to the lengths I will go to make sure of my employees and the restaurant’s success. Genius without education is like silver stuck in the mine.
The greatest hurdle for me as a chef was the realizing that you need a vision for your menu. You’re endlessly pushing yourself, adjusting flavors and ingredients until the mixture is not only precise, but has readily available local ingredients. This often leads to irritating setbacks and issues that I try not to let get under my skin. I’m lucky enough to have an outstanding team in place around me that I can always depend on. A kitchen is not a one man band, but a grand orchestra that is impossible to conduct by yourself. Teamwork is essential and everyone has a part to play. Nothing makes me prouder than my team’s ability to take my ideas and run with them. Helping me to better execute the dishes and test cooking processes. Another major aspect of menu development is taste testing the new dishes. I taste everything myself even the small stuff like salad dressing, breads, and new sauces. A refined palate and general idea of what kind of tastes your customers enjoy for is essential. A plates aesthetic value only provides so much, you’re there for a culinary experience and a delicious meal. We may judge with our eyes, but ultimately approve or disapprove with our taste buds.
Placing the finishing touches on a menu is the last step of the process. That means double checking everything from menu descriptions to ingredients and one last taste test. I do my best to assure every dish both new and old go out perfectly. Much like this post, everything on Heavenly Eating I review over and over. The last thing I want is to serve a dish that is not creative enough or wrong for the Northstar array. Every chef’s biggest fear is to serving a dish one and done dish that your customers wouldn’t want to eat again. With drastic menu changes every 3 months my purpose is to make you salivate over everything. Personally my goal is to get you in the door and my food in your belly at least three times. I pour my heart and soul into every dish. When all is said and done. I take a step back and distance myself from the food to truly appreciate what my team, I have accomplished. The radiant smiles and satisfied stomachs are what I live for. Though it can be stressful as hell sometimes, that is at the root of why I still love it so much. All the gratification I need for the long hours and creative grind is knowing what I put on that table is a plate full of happiness, a slice of Heavenly Eating. From all of us at Heavenly Eating, keep cooking.
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