I don’t know about you, but I could eat out at restaurants
for three squares a day, every day. Of course I can’t, but I’d love to. Partly
because, many years ago, I worked my way through school as a waiter and learned
a lot about food, but mainly because I love great chow served up fresh. And
it’s so tempting to eat out, especially since making meals from scratch at
home—i.e. with fresh, non-frozen ingredients—during the week isn’t exactly easy
for us. (See my other blog
about that!) It’s been even harder since the bistro on the corner of my street
opened its patio for the season. Seeing all those delicious plates as I trudge
past en route to my half-empty kitchen is so disheartening.
Every Friday evening in summertime, depending on the
weather, we treat ourselves and eat in or get take-out from the corner. It’s
the highlight of my week.
I recently talked with Tommy, the bistro’s general manager,
about the importance of providing his customers (most importantly, me) with
yummy grub made from the freshest ingredients. Do customers really notice?
“You’d better believe it,” says Tommy. “These days,
restaurant patrons know more about food in general. They make healthier
choices, and typically scout out menus online and decide what they’re having
before they’ve even left home.” Consequently, the bistro sources local, in many
cases organic, fare. Having super-fresh ingredients on hand has made Tommy
alter the organization of prep food in the kitchen.
“We’ve been using Rubbermaid products for years, especially for
catering—nothing is more helpful when it comes to storing food for shipping.
But now we use Premier Containers to store ingredients we know will be needed throughout
the course of a shift.” (Who knew that my favorite containers at home could
also be used for catering?)
At Tommy’s bistro, it’s very important that the
accessibility and stacking order of the containers is kept consistent. And not
just for the sake of expedience: one of the line cooks, Paddy, has been
steadily losing his vision because of a degenerative eye condition. He’s been
doing great, working by memory. But every employee—kitchen and wait staff—must
vigilantly replace the containers they use for prepping a dish in the exact
same spot, otherwise Paddy’s system is thrown off.
It’s so far, so good, for them. (And for me, so tasty.)