Health Canada’s position on the food service Industry is one that I agree with whole heartedly. And that’s a lot, coming from me. Health Canada has been a source of comedic errors throughout the last 60yrs!!! Oops!! I’m giving away my age, right? Didn’t want to do that anyway. I’m aware of the huge undertaking that both the government & private sector are engaging in trying to streamline. And I certainly understand how much work will be required to change people’s perception of food & food service. To promote Freshness & quality we need to keep away from readymade products, Soup base, gravy based products high in sodium high in sugar, starchy products high in gluten. Gone are the days of pasta & tomato sauce as a cheap menu Item to fill the void. (A quote from a friend that has resonated with me for awhile) “Hurray” to a bold new world or should I say a bold new old world the turn around to a much simpler & healthier way of cooking & consumption is an old standard. So why did it go away? How did it go away? For the last 30 yrs owners & managers alike have been obsessed with decreasing food costs & labour costs serving frozen, liquid or powdered products. So what happened? Well, people happened, fast forward 30yrs. everyone got educated Food shows ,Master Chef, Diners Drive-in & Dives Iron Chef….they got Food Savvy they started to care what they put in their bodies. We all know how easy it is to make a good nutritious stock/broth.. Water, protein (chicken parts) a Mirepoix of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, with a bouquet of thyme, bay leaves, peppercorn, a touch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce, strain & then filter… The end result, a nice simple chicken broth. (You can make a Chicken stock with same ingredients by browning the bones & adding tomato paste). Easy Peasy!!! But all that took, time & people to man the recipe while it cooked & reduced. And voila, the birth of instant, powdered, frozen liquid was born!! Now people want Less sodium, less unpronounceable ingredients, less artificial food enhancers, just a simple low sodium product! However having point that out the food service industry has gotten savvy as well, there are some very wonderful cost efficient products out there that deliver the same if not better, without compromising quality or food cost. Where this might have the biggest impact is in the distribution of time management & storage. It is extremely labour efficient & can be made very quickly with little or no supervision. However if you have the Chicken, then let’s scratch cook please! But if you are time constricted or in the middle of service & you have to augment your quantities, it’s a very nice alternative to have. Note* not all unpronounceable ingredients are bad! These could be all natural. Not all starches are bad. In fact what I’m saying is that everything in moderation can be beneficial.Of course common sense dictates that no matter how moderate your consumption of potato chips, cookies or pop, those Items could never be beneficial. With the help of Management, Clients & Employees we must try to create well balanced nutritional menu’s that are imaginative. Creating theme days so that we can bring front & center a plethora of flavours spices & colors. I want to invigorate everyone’s taste buds I want them to be adventurous. My mandate to use less sugar less sodium, less Floured products, less Artificial products & less Frozen products. I’m not saying this transformation is going to be easy.
This form of cooking requires a strong culinary back ground it requires health food management expertise. Proper Item identification & dating because more often than not you will be dealing with a lot more perishables. How long does a beef stock or Chicken broth last in the fridge? Like most everything else 3 days seems to be the magic # so what do we do? It would be too time consuming to do these recipes daily so they would have to be made in bulk & frozen. However if the client just wants to make his employees happy & doesn’t concern himself with food or labour cost, well then all is fair in love & war. (Seriously, who wants to break even or even lose money producing & distributing a food product or otherwise??? The shiniest examples are the big Co. Shopify, Google, Facebook, Ikea even Costco on a smaller scale. just to mention a few. These multi-million dollar Co. Have decided to forgo food & labour instead they have opted to keep their employees/customers Happy, Healthy & on the premises. Increase productivity increasing customer spending in doing so they had to learn how to cater to their special needs. Over 63% of our growing population have some form of allergies that range from Dairy to the popular Gluten. I think for these Co. It’s become a necessary evil to sell a healthier way of eating however they always leave themselves a little bit of wiggle room that means that we will still be able to serve bacon & sausages which are excessively high in sodium & preservatives. Muffins & pastries that are so high in oils, bad fats, sugar & bleached white flour not to mention the caloric intake. Not to mention the gravy’s soups dessert as well as the salad dressings!!! Is that not hypocritical of us? Is that not what we are trying to streamline & eliminate? “So what then”? What’s our alternative? Porridge fruits oats???? Leaves???? Or, do we remove these Items from the menu completely? I think not you would have a revolt. So we have to introduce healthy alternatives as well as “It tastes so good” “But not so good for you” Foods!!! I made an observation. At the Heart Institute they have no deep fryers good for them for leading the healthy train…..Simultaneously, directly outside the Civic doors there is this large food truck whose main source of fare is French Fries!!! & they kill it every day (oh by the way killing it means they sell a ton load of Fries!!!!! Huh! Well the people that are going to eat healthy are going to eat healthy the people that have to eat healthy will eat healthy that leaves 75% of the people that have a choice. Honestly what do you think they’re going to do? You lose 75% of your customer base 2 to 3 days a week if not more. So instead of $1500 sales per day you have $1000 sales per day. Now unless your brother is the one that owns the chip truck, you’re throwing away $500 daily. The point that I’m trying to make is that people want to eat these foods & they will go out of their way to get them. So why not provide it? The Ministry of Health has also loosen restrictions on importing prepared foods in hospitals government agencies & affiliate agencies it allows 4% of its healthy food choices to be catered in. What happened to on site fresh food? Well we learn that nothing is an absolute!! Nothing is black & white! Sometimes this fresh organic dairy free gluten meat free recipes are not cost, labour or product efficient. When making a cake do we sub sugar for a natural product like Stevia? For those of you that have, I guarantee it does not taste very good & affects the texture of the cake…
Oh by the way I’m talking about a cheese cake.
In closing I make this final observation the hypocrisy in this business is never ending we are constantly fighting a battle between food & Labour costs constantly sacrificing one or the other or in some cases both. There is a fine line that is being drawn if you want fresh then you have to hire better qualified people. The CCFC along with institutions like Algonquin, George brown, Humber are trying to do just that however what defines & separates the CCFC from other institution is that
1- we are non-profit.
2- we have free mentorship
3- we incorporate every one of our Jr’s in the process.
4- we have no restrictions.
5- our class room is every restaurant in the city. In this ever changing world of “New technology” & self cooking ovens. We have a duty to teach “Old World” cooking as well as new techniques to our Jr’s. We have to stress that reduction techniques are the way to thicken & flavour our sauces/stews/soups without roux or starches. Slow & low the way to cook/breakdown & flavour our proteins & tougher cuts of meat. We have to make our CCFC Jr’s food & tech savvy, so they can procure better paying jobs!!! Point of information starting the 2nd week of June Capital BBQ one of our Corporate Sponsor’s & the CCFC will be doing demos & cooking competition’s. This will give you exposure on how to deal with the public how to create an execute recipes but most of all to get you ready to compete next year at the National federation reunion in Niagara Falls If you’re interested please contact me.