Posted on May 17, 2013 by Keith
For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, let’s start with a movie. Oh sure, there have been plenty of foodie movies over the years (Big Night is my favorite) but I want to start with the 1982 Michael Keaton classic Night Shift. I know – not really a foodie movie but in it Keaton offers up a food-oriented line that I thought of yesterday:
What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, WITH the tunafish? Or… hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED ‘em mayonnaise! Oh this is great.
What prompted the thought was someone mentioning that they’d recently tried smoked salmon vodka. My immediate response probably mirrored yours: YECH! Then I thought about it for a second. How often have you gone to a nice wedding or similar function and there’s been chilled vodka put out alongside the platter of salmon? The two really do go together when you step back and think about it. Or take the idea of making doughnuts in a muffin tin. They’re not muffins and they’re certainly not doughnuts but is there a way to get the texture and flavor of a donut in the easier to make form of a muffin? There is, and someone figured out exactly how. Which is the business point.
Tuna and mayonnaise, salmon and vodka – normal combinations presented in a different way of thinking (I’d tweak the tuna notion a bit but he’s on the right track). Often in business we’re presented with ideas that seem ridiculous on the first pass but when you stop thinking “bad idea” and start thinking “interesting notion – what does it need to be a great idea” you just might end up with a better mousetrap.
Pushing ourselves to think differently is the only way we grow our businesses People get bored quickly these days and if you’re not innovating you get left behind. While I’m not sure that smoked salmon vodka is going to be my drink of choice, the thinking behind it is very much what I like to order up. You?
Filed under: food, Helpful Hints | Tagged: business, business thinking, Food, Foodie, innovation, Strategic management | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2013 by Keith
It’s Foodie Friday and on a Friday many weeks ago I wrote about how I generally have a disdain for single purpose kitchen tools, especially those that are solutions in search of a problem. I used an avocado slicer as an example but one could just as easily place things like dehydrators or those margarita machines I see everywhere on the list. The tasks those tools accomplish – the problems they solve – are easily solved just as well by existing tools – an oven or a blender in the two aforementioned cases.
I figured in the interest of fairness to all the really useful singe purpose tools I should be fair and balanced (to coin a phrase) and admit that I do use certain single purpose tools on a regular basis. Melon ballers, for example. Oh, I know I could just chop the fruit into nice little chunks, but melon balls are so elegant. Besides, while I suppose one could tourne melon slices with a paring knife the way one tournes a carrot to make it rounder, the melon baller is a faster, better solution to a real problem (even if it isn’t on the order of most serious problems). The fact that you can core apples with it as well is a bonus! Stick blenders are another one of my favorites. Yes, one could use the stand blender but if you’ve ever scalded yourself transferring hot stuff into a blender you know why a stick blender is a smart solution.
As usual, there’s a business point. I was talking the other day with a potential client about a business he’s in the midst of starting. As he went on about it I asked about the problem he’s solving and why his solution is better than others who are attacking it. That’s a question one can’t ask often enough even about an existing business. It gets the business to the point of differentiation – we’re solving it less expensively, we’re solving it faster, we’re solving it with a more user-friendly environment – that becomes the platform for almost everything else we do in the business.
Great single-use tools found a cooking problem and solved them in a real way. Bad single-use tools just take up a lot of space and are easily replaced, The same can be said about bad businesses. What are consumers saying about yours?
Filed under: Consulting, food | Tagged: business, business thinking, cooking, Food, Foodie, Immersion blender, Strategic management | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 3, 2013 by Keith
It’s Foodie Friday Fun time again, thank goodness. Today I want to write about a dining issue we had here and how it made a great business point.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My family has very diverse meal preferences. We have a vegan, a vegetarian, one who won’t eat eggs if they’re discernible (but loves meat), and an omnivore (that would be me!). Even though two of the four are not usually around for dinner, finding dishes that the vegetarian and I can share is a challenge. I avoid most pasta these days but since we both love Italian food I thought eggplant parmesan might be a good choice. That’s when I was told that eggplant is on the “slimy foods I don’t like” list.
My solution was to alter the preparation method. Even though I was taught the dish in the traditional way (slice the eggplant and fry it first), I changed it up. I salted the eggplant, which is not unusual, but I did so to condense it a bit, not to make it less bitter (which I think is a myth). I breaded it and let it dry on wire racks before baking the slices in a minuscule amount of oil. They came out of the oven looking as if they’d been fried as usual. From there it was just sauce, a couple of kinds of cheese, and a little more oven time. She loved it – and it’s now a favorite meal although it takes a lot of time to make.
That’s what cooking – and business – is all about. You listen to your customers and try new methods to adjust the product or service to their needs. What I heard when she said “slimy” was “greasy” and “oily.” That comes from the frying and isn’t inherent in the eggplant. What happened when we removed that impediment? Total bliss. That’s what we need to do as businesspeople as well. Listen carefully and hear what people mean, which may be different from what they say.
I’ve made adjustments to many other dishes – kale and white bean stew to which I add the sausage (definitely NOT vegetarian!) later. Using flax seeds and water to replace eggs for thickening (and it’s vegan!). My job at mealtime is to keep my family happy and fed and I’m willing to think differently and to work a little harder on the meal to do so. Your job is to keep your customers in that same state. Are you prepared to change your thinking to do that?
Filed under: food, Helpful Hints | Tagged: business, business thinking, Cook, cooking, Eggplant, Food, Foodie, Home | Leave a Comment »