It’s Foodie Friday, and my mind is turning to steak. While I enjoy grilling steaks as much as the next person, most of our efforts here at Rancho Deluxe can’t compare to the product put out by a good steakhouse. It got me thinking about why that is, and it turns out there are some really good business points one can take away.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At first I attributed the biggest difference to the meat itself. After all, high-end steak places serve nothing but prime meat, and generally, it’s been aged. As with any business, NOTHING can take the place of top-shelf raw materials. You can’t make a great product out of inferior ingredients. So on a special occasion, I splurged on an aged piece of Prime porterhouse thinking I now had the ability to replicate that great steak at home. While it was very good, it was definitely NOT the same.
Then there is the cooking method. Top steak places might use a broiler that is heated to 1,000 degrees or more. While I do have a high-end broiler in my oven, I don’t think it gets quite that hot. A charcoal grill can get quite hot using lump (not briquette) charcoal, but it’s a different experience than most steakhouses. Still, it came close in terms of providing enough heat to do the job.
So now I had the equivalent ingredients and a similar cooking tool but it just wasn’t the same. Putting aside that I was doing the cooking and not just being served, I realized that there was one more huge difference: practice. Steakhouses cook 1,000 steaks a week or more. If I do 24 in a year it’s a lot. But it’s a good business point.
There is no substitute for practice, and the more times we do things – presentations, analyses, whatever – the better we become at them. That’s noticeable to the recipient. Having great raw materials – that includes people – and a great methodology coupled with the right tools to do the job and a LOT of practice can produce a great steak. That formula’s also capable of producing greatness in your business if you’ll let it. Will you?
It’s Foodie Friday and I want to blog a bit about skirt steak.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’m a big fan of it and have been for a very long time. So long, in fact, that I remember when it was hard to find because it was so inexpensive and so underused that most butchers put it in with the trimmings from other cuts to make ground beef. Then again, many of them took the skirt steak home for supper which is how it came to be known as a butcher’s cut. Other steaks of which you might be aware – the hanger steak, the tri-tip, and flap meat (which they sell as sirloin tip here) used to be hard to find and very inexpensive.
Then the fajita craze hit. Skirt steak – the best cut of meat for fajitas – became more in demand. What was once a downright cheap, delicious protein became as expensive as all but the high-end steaks such as porterhouse and rib eye. While it remains so, one other thing has happened. There are two parts to the part of the steer that’s skirt steak (the plate). One (the outside plate) was rarely sold since it’s chewier and less tasty. With the increase in demand, suddenly stores would have sales of skirt that was the lesser cut, confusing consumers and offering a lesser experience. Consumers moved on.
It’s happened with fish too, as we can see with the monkfish. Once a “trash fish” and known as the poor man’s lobster, it grew popular because it was tasty and inexpensive. That led to it becoming very expensive and overfished. In some cases, other fish were sold as monk that weren’t. Consumers moved on.
The business point is pretty simple. People are drawn to high-quality, low-cost products, whether they’re proteins or electronics or services. The ebb and flow of the market will make some price increases happen and demand will support that up to a point. What the market won’t support is a changed, lesser product or a price point that makes other products viable options. I’d rather eat a porterhouse that’s on sale for what it costs for skirt, as an example.
We need to be cognizant of why people came to our products in the first place and not undercut those fundamental reasons. That’s business suicide. Thoughts?
Filed under Consulting, food
Image via Wikipedia
Back to Friday and so back to food. When we go on the annual golf trip, my group likes to cook. There are plenty of restaurants in Myrtle Beach. The food they serve is another matter (with, of course, a couple of exceptions). So we cook; sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes out on a grill.
This year, we found ourselves in a situation where we had to share a large grill with another group. Actually, I don’t know that I’d call them a group – they were four young guys from Canada who had ventured south to play some golf. They’d purchased themselves some steaks and when we found them they were trying to figure out how to cook them. Clueless would have been an upgrade – they were totally lost. Naturally, we insisted on cooking them for them, excellent international hosts that we are (and no one wanted to see them starve) and in the process teach them how to do it for themselves the next time. Of course, there was a business point that came to mind as well. So how about a quick grilling discussion for the holiday weekend and maybe that point too?
The keys in my mind to grilling a great steak are preparation, the proper environment, lots of attention, and doing nothing. Yep, just like business and I’ll explain that. The preparation is to season the meat before you cook it. I generally will apply salt 15-30 minutes ahead and make sure the meat is at room temp before cooking. You need to set yourself up to succeed with the right environment. The environment I like is a two zone fire – one really hot area to sear and one area a bit less hot to do the grilling. Lots of attention is obvious – things happen quickly on a hot fire so you can’t walk away and have a beer unless you want to eat charcoal. But doing nothing is important too. You can’t keep flipping the meat or inserting a thermometer to see if it’s done. You need to trust your preparation and that you’ve provided a good environment. You must be attentive but balance that with giving things enough space for them to come together.
Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good management philosophy too? It sure does to me. Enjoy your holiday!