When you visit any establishment, you are looking for an experience, most businesses exist to provide something other than the norm. Hotels offer a comfortable night's rest away when away from home, it is for this reason that you will sometimes book a stay at some hotel even when you have a family member or friend in the same city, because you are looking for the experience of being comfortable, maybe alone, in a warm bed with soft sheets, plush pillows and possibly the freedom of breakfast made by someone else in the morning. When customers visit restaurants, they want something other than the norm. Would you return to a restaurant serving the exact same quality of food you cook for yourself at home? Probably not. One of the joys of visiting a restaurant is the pleasure of indulging because the food probably there is not the norm for you.
There are so many ways you can impress customers; Ambience, service, even price, but if we want to focus on the food, then one of the things you need to be looking at is your ingredient, and specifically today, we are discussing tweaking your ingredients to stand out.
One of the dark sides of being a chef is that you rarely get an invitation for dinner from friends. Most of my friends say the same thing: "I can't invite you for dinner because I don't want you to judge my food" OR "I had dinner at yours and it was phenomenal, mine is not going to even compare, so why bother?". Is this because I have culinary gadgets at home that allow me to make certain dishes most people might find difficult to do at home? OF COURSE YES. But in cases where I am making a simple dish with the same ingredients easily available to most, what gives me the edge is how I tweak my ingredients. My chicken comes out much better because I brined it, my coleslaw is simply delicious because I used pickled vegetables, my spiced dishes are much tastier because I use fresh seeds, and roast and grind them during cooking to bring out natural oils.
Simply utilising some simple techniques with your ingredients, will lift them, and leave your customers wondering why something that looks so simple tastes amazing. An example is a simple act of blanching vegetables in hot water, then finishing them with butter on a pan, and topping with some fleur de sel.
Here are some examples you could try with your business:
Try Buying smoked spices
Use fresh spice seeds (coriander, cumin, fennel) and dry roast them and grind in a mortar for a better flavour
Use whole black peppers and grinders for a stronger and more aromatic black pepper experience
Research and experiment with different types of salt
Here are some of the most used techniques by Michelin restaurant, try a few to kick up flavours
Smoked (Spices, proteins, and herbs)
Sauce (have you considered a pea sauce to go with battered fish, rather than mushy peas?)
Roasted (spices, seeds such as sesame)
Pickled (onions, carrots, cabbage)
Sorbet (consider a fruit sorbet than just fresh fruits)
Confit (A more gentle way to cook)
Remember, always plan ahead, know what you want to do with your ingredients ahead of time, some of these techniques mentioned above need time, others like fermentation need a LOT MORE TIME.