Tag Archives: Food industry

Trimmings

Let’s think about the stuff we trim off and often toss this Foodie Friday. You know what I mean – the ends of carrots and celery and other veggies you cut away. Often I’ll trim off some excess fat from a roast or a chicken before I cook it. If you’ve ever watched your local butcher in action, he or she trims off quite a bit from the primal cuts as they’re prepping them for sale as smaller packages.

One thing you’ll learn if you speak with older cooks, especially those who lived through hard times, is that you throw nothing away. Trimmings can be used for stock. What do you think goes into commercial sausages or hot dogs? Trimmings! Heck, even the availability of the much-in-demand McRib sandwich is partially based on the availability of pork trimmings which are used to make the pork patties (you didn’t honestly think those were deboned ribs, did you?).

One product I eat from time to time is marinated chicken thighs. Well, at least they look like boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I think they’re really chicken trimmings held together by meat glue of some sort. They’re tasty and inexpensive and a good use by a food processor of trimmings. You can call it frankenmeat; I call it delicious.

You eat more trimmings than you probably have thought about. The surimi in your California Roll is fish trimmings. Ever had a chicken nugget? The point isn’t to gross you out. I want you to remember that trimmings have a valuable role to play in the food world. It turns out they do in the business world as well.

You might have been in a business situation where someone decides to “trim the fat.” I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve worked in organizations where, over time, there was bloat. Situations and markets change but organizations often lag behind, especially when trimming is going to involve cutting people or budgets or both. We’re also in a time where automation and virtualization have dramatically changed things. This issue isn’t whether to trim. The question is what to do with the trimmings?

I’m a fan of making stock out of them. No, I don’t mean to boil the people. Instead, set them up as outside consultants. Free them to get other work while allowing them to support you with the knowledge they’ve accumulated while working for you. If a stock is the essence of something, using former employees is too, especially when they’re improved by working for others and bringing that knowledge to bear for you.

Maybe trim back offices. Not people, just the people you house every day. As we’ve all found out over the last six months, working remotely can be every bit as productive as working in an office and the organization’s expenses are reduced when it gives up the office space.

Trim technology. Does anyone have their own servers anymore? I used to be a tech executive and the pace that tech moves these days makes it impossible for any fairly large organization to keep up. I’m a fan of working with outsourced organizations that can focus on doing on tech and keeping the mothership – their clients – current and on track.

Trimming is a necessary part of food preparation. It is in business too. In either case, the trimming can and should be put to good use.

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Don’t Go It Alone

Another Foodie Friday in the midst of the pandemic. For me, it’s impossible to think about food on Friday without thinking of some of my friends in the food business who have been adversely impacted over the last six months. Heck, for my friend Craig who runs our favorite watering hole, the loss of our weekly bar bill alone is significant!

Here in North Carolina, restaurants, foodservice, and lodging is a $23.5 billion industry. More than 482,300 people are employed in the foodservice industry in the state – about 11 percent of the state’s workforce. When the governor shut bars and restaurants down, the impact was felt by those of us who couldn’t drink or dine out but that was nothing like how it hit those who provided that food and drink. I’m sure the situation is comparable to where you live.

Restaurants are back open here, albeit with reduced capacity. Bars are too although many of them are only serving outside. It’s better for the proprietors and staff but some of the jobs haven’t come back and many restaurants have closed up for good.

You wouldn’t think this would be a great time to look at opening a food business, would you? Well, you’d be wrong. As reported by QSR:

Quick-service chains had recovered to just a 13 percent decline year-over-year. Certain counter-service franchises have recently even reported positive year-over-year sales during the pandemic. After experiencing an initial hit on sales, A&W Restaurants announced sales were up by double digits, Papa Johns has noted a 24 percent increase in North American sales and Popeyes has boasted that sales are up by the “very high 20s” percent.

In other words, even in one of the worst-hit industries in the midst of a horrible economic time, there are opportunities. Would I invest in a full-service sit-down restaurant? Of course not. But if the business was predicated on carryout and was part of a franchise system, I very much might. I say that because franchise organizations have the infrastructure in place to help the system survive. A good franchisor can develop and implement systems – online ordering, contactless delivery, etc. – that give franchisees the ability to cope with the challenges. As an individual restaurant or any business, that’s more difficult and often requires capital that the individual unit might not have.

It’s something to think about even if you have no interest in owning a food business. Many other business sectors such as hair and nail salons, gyms, travel businesses, after-school programs have been hit hard over the last six months and yet I’m aware of dozens of franchise brands in these sectors that have modified how they do business. Their franchisees are doing well despite the pandemic. Going it alone is hard even in good times. Working as part of a proven system is especially valuable in bad times.

The ability to adapt is key for any business and never more so than now, don’t you think? Even in a crisis, there is an opportunity! And if you’re interested in learning more about franchise opportunities, you can reach me here.

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Wing It On

It’s Foodie Friday which means that tomorrow and Sunday are football days. Yes, I’m aware that games are played on damn near every night now, but traditionalist that I am, Saturday is for college and Sunday is for the NFL.

Of course, any serious fan has to watch with a beverage and some sort of snack food. I try to avoid snacks that come premade and prefer to make them myself. Dips are big (I’ve got a bacon cheese dip that’s become the go-to) as are poppers (cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon – are you starting to see a pattern?). It’s not a Michigan game without weenies (pigs in a blanket or whatever you call them) but the real snacking centerpiece is a fresh pile of chicken wings.

I sometimes wonder if chickens had wings before the 1960s. Other than using them in stock, I think cooks mostly discarded them. In the mid-1960s, a bar in Buffalo began selling the first of what we now consider to be the prototypical wing – unbreaded, fried, and dosed in hot sauce, maybe with butter, maybe not. Since then, entire restaurant chains have been founded on chicken wings and it’s hard to find a bar that doesn’t serve them.

My local favorite wing place offers many different types. Their garlic-Parmesan wings are killer. They are but one of a dozen types they serve, ranging from mild to fiery, doused in a sauce to dry-rubbed, and Korean-flavored, teriyaki, and other global flavors. Which of course got me thinking.

The underlying wing is the same (I don’t classify “boneless” wings, which are really strips of breast meat, as wings). Even the preparation is pretty ubiquitous. They must be very dry (use baking soda in the seasoning and air dry them for a bit before cooking). They can be fried in hot oil or baked in a hot oven with either regular heat or convection. Still, the product is basically the same until the final sauce is added.

That should be a reminder to each of us in business. Success in my mind is less dependent on coming up with new, wonderful products than it is on our ability to provide a sauce that’s better than anyone else can provide. Some of it involves customer service but it’s also your unique flavor. If everyone is doing butter and hot sauce, there’s no reason why you can’t as well since your customers probably expect that. But which hot sauce? Sure, you could be lazy and buy the pre-made “wing” sauce from your supplier, but since others are doing that too you’ve now made your wings a commodity – anyone can serve the same flavor.

We try to make the garlic-Parmesan wings here at home. The wings are every bit as crispy as the bar’s but we don’t quite get their flavor. I guess that’s why we keep going back. What are you doing to have people come back for your unique flavor?

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