Spice Up Your Life!
Most of my recent posts have been around the more business-y side of food service — the financial, marketing, and non-food aspects. However, the food you serve matters, too. (Duh, right?) Whatever type of food or cuisine you serve at your restaurant, something needs to set you apart from your competition — customers might come in because of your marketing or your perceived value, might be enamored with your wonderful service, but if the food isn’t special, they probably won’t leave all that satisfied. And while many restaurants (and their customers) are familiar with buzz-words and options like grass-fed, free-range, organic, and the like, there are plenty of other ways to set your food apart.
An important one? — spices. Given our reputation as a cultural melting pot, America’s no stranger to spices, and today the expansion of spice options continues. New, exotically spiced, ethnic cuisines are joining the American standards of Chinese, Mexican, and Italian; with the increasing popularity of Indian, Thai, Japanese, Creole/Cajun, and Mediterranean cuisines, the average American’s palate for unique flavors and spices is growing. These options are readily available — and popular — in metropolitan areas, but American consumers living in less urban areas have less exposure to newly popular cuisines and their accordant spice offerings. Unsurprisingly, then, the average American is still rather unadventurous when it comes to using unusual or new spices in his or her own cooking.
Still, ethnic cuisine’s doing incredibly well in restaurants, both fast food and fine dining oriented. And while you don’t have to start learning to cook foreign dishes just to find success in food service, it’s useful to note that those who dine out are willing to try new, different foods; with the popularity of cooking magazines and food-related television programming, there’s more and more familiarity and interest in different options. While people might not be comfortable trying these things in their own kitchens, chances are they’re willing to step out a little bit at a restaurant. So, moral of the story: don’t be afraid to spice things up! Your customers are more willing than you might think to test their palate on a global offering of spices and cuisines, and that might be just what it takes to set you apart from the rest.
I’ll be back with another post on Friday. Until then, leave a comment below or contact us here.