2010 November: Simple Ideas

2010 November: Simple IdeasMushroom Madness

Americans love mushrooms on pizza, but they can be delicate and have a relatively short shelf life. Portobello mushrooms add a dense, hearty flavor to pizzas, and they can carry their own as a topping. When shopping, choose ones that are fi rm and dark-brown with no blemishes. When cooked, they turn black –– be sure to trim the stem and use them thinly sliced. Portobellos also make a hearty addition to salads –– they pair especially well with steak!

Surprise!

Health inspectors don’t care if you’re not prepared for their visit. Your best bet? Train your staff to clean as you go. That includes brushing debris and keeping spills off the make line, keeping the kitchen floor free of debris, stacking pans and screens neatly and emptying garbage regularly.

Create a monthly (or bi-monthly) chore cleaning walk-in coolers, dusting shelving, cleaning corners and washing the ovens, hoods, walls, lights and trash cans. These can all be done during slow periods. Finally, keep a vigilant eye for those pesky deductions –– they’re usually an easy fix but can bring a score down quickly. These include improperly stored chemicals, employee drinks on the prep table, improperly labeled containers and incorrectly calibrated meat thermometers.

Finally, if you’re leaving all this to your employees, consider conducting your own surprise inspection. You’ll be able to see who’s on the ball –– and who’s playing dangerously on your home field.

Perfect Peppers

Bell peppers look and taste great as a pizza topping, but if you want to add a gourmet touch to your menu, consider taking one easy step –– sautéing them. It’s easy! Simply place chopped or sliced peppers in a warm pan with olive oil and garlic and cook until soft and limp. You can also blanch peppers in boiling water for two to three minutes. Drain, cool and toss with olive oil. These methods lend a different flavor profile to dishes rather than raw peppers. Give it a try!

Simple Sweets

Americans love their sweets, and a recent NRA survey found that 56 percent of dinner patrons and 30 percent of lunch patrons order dessert in restaurants with per-person checks of more than $25. Since pizzerias check averages often fall below that, pushing desserts can be difficult. One easy way to boost check averages is to add cookies to your menu. You’ve already got an oven –– train your employees to suggest warm, fresh baked cookies when customers place their orders. Stick to one or two varieties (chocolate chip is the top selling snack food in America!), utilize your pizza ovens and watch profit margins soar.

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