Flutterby™! : Food Product Design

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Food Product Design

2006-01-11 14:56:12.808382+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

This is a fascinating little magazine: Food Product Design, all about food from a commercial standpoint. Take an overview of onions:

Onion flavors marry well with potatoes. One way to take advantage of this mutual attraction is to add onions to hash browns. Call them by their proper French name -- Lyonnaise potatoes -- and you can double the price.

Onion appetizers take the spotlight from time to time. For example, consider the deep-fried onion "flower." OK, maybe this is a bit overdone, but anything that turns a $0.10 onion into a $6.00 appetizer deserves admiration. ...

Or the kicker from this recipe for roasted peppers stuffed with tuna:

A traditional Italian appetizer or snack, roasted bell peppers stuffed with tuna fish, would work well as a foodservice or deli-counter product during the summer months.

I doubt they'll give me a free subscription, and I'm not ready to pay the $129 or so it costs to get a paid one, but it looks well worth reading on-line.

[ related topics: Food Sociology ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 17:31:51.329314+00 by: other_todd

I see you never worked in a place that got restaurant business periodicals. I used to swipe copies from the boss's office and read them at the cash register during slow periods when I was a cashier at a diner. There aren't many but they all show, shall we say, a certain singlemindedness.

The major one is probably Restaurant Business (http://www.restaurantbiz.com/). There are a couple of others of note.

Part of me wants to be appalled at the blatant approach to commoditization and marketing of foodstuffs in these magazines (and the websites don't even show you the ads!) The other part of me says, well, a restaurant that doesn't watch its bottom line compulsively soon ceases to be a viable restaurant.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 19:49:03.92309+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've got a friend who's a professional chef that we used to go out to dinner with a lot, and initially I was surprised that she'd generally order something with really simple prep. I kind of knew intellectually that, to someone with the skills to do all of the fancy stuff, the super fine cuts of meat are what has value when dining out, but it was your comment that made it click in a deeper way.

Now I understand that the labor and intellectual property component of the restaurant economics doesn't have nearly the value to her that the sourcing component does.

I'm not a big meat eater, so the sourcing component of a restaurant means less to me, and as I learn more about how commercial kitchens are run the labor component is declining, so nowadays when we go out to eat it's either about recipes and techniques I'm not yet aware of, or entertainment.


#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 20:35:29.776392+00 by: Dan Lyke

So, speaking of hash browns and onions, whenever I add onions to hash browns (at least cooked crispy ones), the onions burn long before the potatoes get crispy. What's the trick?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 10:48:15.986012+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Guessing: Add the onions in later. Less heat. In a lot of cooking, you'll only cook a small amount in at the beginning for some flavor, and add the rest in later. Chili's a good example, I like to add another round of onions, 'maters and peppers about 20 minutes before serving.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 15:04:42.224279+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, but with hash browns, if you want that "crispy on both sides" texture there's no good way to incorporate the onions after the cooking has started.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 17:06:27.356489+00 by: meuon

Aahh.. You like a patty. I like em scattered. :) - That's what is fun about cooking, some MANY different ways to enjoy good food.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 17:58:20.22652+00 by: other_todd

I suspect it's still a matter of timing. I have only watched line cooks in a place where we served our hash browns loose. If you wanted a patty we directed you to Waffle House :)

It sounds to me like you're going to have to precook the potatoes in some way before mixing them with the onions and forming the patty, although I'm not clear on the exactly how.

Dan, the sourcing component is (or should be) always paramount. You might want to check out the Threadgill's cookbook that Eddie Wilson (Proprietor) wrote. It has good recipes, true, but his comments between the recipes are the best part. His mother ran a nursery school and had to feed a whole bunch of kids (including her own) on very little money, and while he wants to give his customers the best, he is also acutely aware of the economics. It's a fascinating look at running a restaurant from the other end, including telling comments about what customers will and won't eat, what makes money and what doesn't.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 18:20:40.078593+00 by: Dan Lyke

Doing a hash brown patty right takes 13-14 minutes, so it's not exactly something you can do in all kitchens, especially not a short-order breakfast place. But breakfast potatoes of any sort are hard; on the post sunday morning hike breakfasts we've got several places where everything else is spectacular and the potatoes get left on the plate.

For the most part, yeah, you've got to do them in two stages, a steaming or a boiling first, then time on the grill. Crispy with a pre-cooking stage seems kind of hard to me, I'll have to see if a blanch, drain (actually wring dry), then 3-4 minutes on the griddle with onions mixed in will develop that crispness...

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 18:23:43.324016+00 by: Dan Lyke

Seems like the cookbook isn't available via that link, but may become available from the Threadgill's web page.