Foodie Friday, and today the topic is caul fat. “Never heard of it” you say?
Caul fat is one of those ingredients that is rarely used by the home cook and sort of falls into the “secret ingredient” category along with duck fat. It’s the web of fatty membrane that encases the internal organs of various animals. Pork caul fat is the one most cooks prefer but cooks use that of cows and sheep as well.
The cook wraps whatever he’s cooking in the fat before cooking it and it adds moisture and flavor. Most of the time, you see caul fat being used as natural sausage casings in crepinettes (fegatelli for my Italian friends) or to wrap items that lack a great deal of their own fat such as game birds. It’s also used as an outer shell of sorts for patés when they’re being cooked.
What does this have to do with business? I think good managers are like caul fat. They bring things to the business that aren’t always readily apparent unless you dig down into the recipe. It may be how they set the tone for the business. It may be how they hold the team together, much as caul fat holds the sausage patties that are crepinettes together. Caul fat is one of those ingredients for which you have to search. You probably won’t find it in your supermarket. Great managers are the same way, and like caul fat, when you first come across a great manager you might be surprised by it.
Secret ingredients are what make any dish really memorable. After all, if every restaurant cooked the same dish the same way, why would we try new places? Those ingredients are things that help a dish, a restaurant, or your business stand out in a crowd. Caul fat’s why one cook’s roasted chicken breast is moist and flavorful and another’s, who cooked it the same time at the same temp with most of the same seasonings turned out a dry, flavorless product. Great managers are a secret ingredient which, like caul fat, make a huge difference in the finished product even if it’s not clear who that fabulous final product came to be. They make the difference between a good business and a great business. That’s my take – what’s yours?