February 5, 2013 |

2010 October: Ask Chef Jeff

By Jeffrey Freehof

2010 October: Ask Chef JeffQ: We tried to make our own breaded mozzarella sticks to fry, but the cheese starts to ooze out of the breading before they are even done. We went back to buying them until we can figure out what we are doing wrong. Any advice?



A: Unlike chicken, veal and eggplant, which need a standard breading (fl our, egg wash and then bread crumbs), cheese products need a second coat of bread crumbs to prevent the problem you mentioned from happening. Once you have breaded your cheese with the standard breading procedure, simply freeze the breaded product for about 15 minutes for the breading to adhere to the cheese. Then dip them in the egg wash again and into the breading for the second time. This will give you that extra coating you need so the cheese won’t leak out while frying!

I took over my pizza shop a year ago and haven’t changed too much. I’m getting ready to redo the menus. I’ve continued until now to keep coupons on the menus, but people just come in and ask for a takeout menu and then use the coupon, never paying regular price. Will it hurt me to eliminate the coupons?

I think it will continue to hurt you to keep the coupons on the menus. Take them off, but replace them with great daily specials or discounted family combo meals (combining pizza, drinks and a salad, for example). Find a different venue to offer coupons, like direct mail or door hangers.

I always get nervous when customers want us to turn high chairs upside-down to put their baby carriers on. How do I get away from this?

I simply posted something I found on the Internet stating how dangerous it is, and stated that it’s not allowed. To appease your guests, buy a baby carrier stand. They look like short tray stands and are not that expensive.

A boyfriend of an employee who just got fired came in screaming at me in front of staff and customers about how unfair it was that she got fired. It was a little scary. How should I have handled that?

Well, we all know that there are a lot of great people out there, and when things like this occur, we realize that there are a number of crazy folks, too. The best thing to always do in a situation like this is to stay calm. I’ve been through this type of interaction more than once, unfortunately. Sometimes it’s the employee that goes out blazing, thinking that their brilliant tirade is going to drag all of your customers away from your business. Find a way to calmly get them out the door, even if you need to invite them to finish the conversation outside. Always apologize to customers afterwards, explaining that to always put the customer first, sometimes staff members who don’t want to follow rules or policies need to get eliminated. ?

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.