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Is the Restaurant Business a good Investment?

This is a question my fiancée, Greg and I have discussed at length over the past several years.  Our personal goal is to open a place one day that serves as both a bistro and a fresh market.  Food has always been important to us, as well as community, and we hope to play to those strengths one day.  At the moment however, our lives keep us busy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have an endgame in mind.  Unfortunately, with the global economic crisis over the past few years, investment in potential restaurants has fallen off lately.

So is it good business to open a restaurant?  As with anything, you should always evaluate the pros and cons first.  Restaurants are expensive- they are costly and hard to maintain.  Permit inspectors, health inspectors, and even food critics come to judge your work, to see if you meet their standards.  Not to mention the cost of food, the cost of power, expensive equipment, and the ability to pay your employees, just to get your restaurant operational.  Then, after all that, you’ve got to market, advertise, and create a menu that everyone enjoys enough for you to be able to sell.  Above all else, you’ve got to be able to make good food- a trick not every person is capable of mastering.  Have you ever seen ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, or ‘Restaurant Nightmares’?  Any one of those people can tell you how difficult it is to make it in the restaurant business.

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Food for Thought: a look at Fusion-style restaurants

Even though humans have been cooking for several thousand years, we have yet to master the skill.  They call it food sciences, after all, and in science, there is always something new to discover.  Cooking involves very complex chemical reactions, and we are always reinventing food based around what we can recreate and manipulate.  You could say that cooking is alchemy, just with organisms, instead of elements.

As a result, our tastes are always evolving.  There are always new flavor combinations to be discovered, even amongst all the classic dishes you know and love.  To that end, a recent trend has been developing in the restaurant world, where chefs have taken the knowledge they have gained throughout their travels, and culminated that into entirely new and unique dishes.  This is called fusion, and it stretches across all food styles, and techniques.  This trend has created a huge surge in food popularity, as well as interest in the hospitality field.  All the newest restaurants, and the highest Michelin stars employ fusion cooking- taking interesting, exotic flavors, and combining them with a traditional dish, to create something completely different.

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Health and Hazards in the Restaurant Industry

It is rarely considered, but when pointed out, becomes shockingly obvious.  As a culture, we cannot abide a dirty, unsanitary kitchen.  That is why there is considerable demand for food and health inspectors in this country.  The last thing anyone wants is food poisoning, nor does anyone want to touch dirty glasses or silverware.  Which is shocking, when you stop to think about how often you wash your hands in a day.

When I was in college the first time around, I had a job as a restaurant employee for several years.  I can tell you from experience, you’ll never see a manager more paranoid than when he or she is being inspected.  That is because maintaining a healthy and safe environment within a restaurant is a big deal.  You have various foods coming in close contact with one another, not to mention the close proximity of cleaning supplies, and the near constant volume and influx of people.  This can potentially create a breeding ground for all manner of disease and bacteria- which is why people are so particular about the health standards of the restaurant industry.

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Sharpen And Care For Your Kitchen Knives. They’ll Take Care Of You

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Running a restaurant isn’t easy, and as any chef knows you’ve got to have the right tools. Today I wanted to talk about kitchen knives. Because a quality kitchen knife is an essential tool in any restaurant, and you need to take care of them.

To the inexperienced a kitchen knife is just a knife. They have a handle to hold and a metal blade and youuse them to chop food. To a chef they are anything but.

There are enormous differences between a high quality kitchen knife and your average supermarket knife. You may not see those differences on the surface unless you look a little, but they are there and they are very important.

In my view any chef should seriously consider a Japanese kitchen knife. The Japanese have been making high quality blades for centuries, just look at Samurai swords. The Japanese know how to make a good knife.

My personal favorite are Global knives. They are made in Japan to extremely exacting standards using a particular stainless steel that is designed purely for Global.

Like many Japanese knives they have a much finer angle of bevel. Commonly American kitchen knives have an angle around 20 degrees. Japanese kitchen knives have a bevel angle around 15 degrees, or even less. This means that they will hold an extremely fine edge, however this will be at the expense of the longevity of your edge. Global knives should be sharpened at an angle of 10 – 15 degrees, which is very fine.

So you need to attend to your knives regularly. By “attend to” I don’t mean sharpening. You should in fact be honing your knife very regularly, every day, and this will actually reduce the need for knife sharpening. As well as a knife sharpener you will need at least one if not more quality sharpening steels.

From time to time, however, you will still need to sharpen your knife and to do this you need a high quality knife sharpener. The best knife sharpeners for Global knives are Global waterstones, which work extremely well.

High quality kitchen knives of any brand are extremely expensive, and are an investment. Whilst you should pay well over $100 for a single high quality kitchen knife it should last you for many years and will repay the initial investment in spades.

Not only will your knife be a useful kitchen tool for many years it will also be a delight to use. High quality knives are precision designed.

For instance Global knives are specifically designed so that they sit well in your hand with perfect weighted balance.

So if you’re running a restaurant you need to invest in some high quality tools, despite the cost. One of the tools you need, which are used over and over every single day, are a set of high quality kitchen knives, preferably Japanese kitchen knives.

Global are my favorite however there are others so make your own selection. But be prepared to spend some serious money on your knives and your knife sharpeners, you won’t regret it. And your knives will love you for it, over and over again.