Master Chef Fritz Opens 60 Degrees Mastercrafted
In November 2013, certified Master Chef Fritz Gitschner’s new ranch-to-table restaurant, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, did a soft opening that gave locals a first look experience of the unique and contemporary restaurant.
Located in the Upper Kirby District of Houston, TX, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted creates a warm and casual atmosphere where customers enjoy amazing American dishes with a touch of other cultural cuisines.
What is one thing that patrons will find interesting about the menu? Well – a $200 Bistro Burger! It’s made from Akaushi ribeye steak topped with foie gras and shaved white truffles, and it’s served on a bun made with 24 karat gold. For all their beef based dishes, the restaurant only serves certified Akaushi Beef, touted as the healthiest and tastiest beef in the world.
Experience this exclusive upscale restaurant for yourself and be sure to try the Akaushi Beef. It’s sure to please your taste buds.
5 Restaurant Marketing Tips for Valentine’s Day
Looking for a great way to perk up sales during the slow season? Valentine’s Day is the perfect late-winter holiday for attracting new and returning guests to your restaurant. Set the mood for romance by creating a special promotion fit for lovers. Then, follow these online marketing tips to have your reserved seating booked in no time. Competition, eat your heart out.
- Create Your Promotion: Brainstorm the types of deals that have proven to draw-in customers and improve your bottom line. Consider offering a food and wine pairing special. What about designing an aphrodisiac-infused, prix fixe menu to attract local foodies? Or perhaps you want to offer a cooking demo for couples in your open kitchen during non-business hours. There’s a smorgasbord of ideas out there—the key is deciding which one works best for your audience.
- Make a Landing Page on Your Website: Diners will be doing plenty of online searches for restaurants offering Valentine’s Day promotions. Creating a web page dedicated to your special promotion will help your establishment stand out from the crowd and position your offer in front of potential diners. Showcase the reasons why your restaurant is the ideal place to dine. What accolades and reviews have you received? Were you named Most Romantic Restaurant? Were you included in a recent “Best of” list? Flaunt that here.
- Send an Email: Subscribers of your email opt-in list will be delighted to hear how they can celebrate this special occasion at your establishment. Customers who sign up to receive emails are some of your most loyal, so give them added incentive to make a reservation by offering an additional deal exclusively for them. Be sure to include a button link to your online reservations page or the number to your reservations hotline.
- Promote with Social Media: What better way to let guests know about your landing page than to share it! Social media provides ample opportunity to generate word of mouth marketing. A good rule of thumb is to share the link a few times over the coming weeks to remind guests about your special promotion. Get creative with your messaging and change it up for each post to keep readers interested.
- Create a Site Link for Your Paid Search Ad: If your restaurant is advertising with AdWords, take advantage of this crucial ad extension. Add in site links for any ads created around your brand. This way, when customers search for your restaurant, you can quickly let them know about your promotion. All you need is a bit of link text, such as Valentine’s Day Special or Best Romantic Hotspot, and the landing page URL. A description for the site link is optional, but will provide you additional opportunity to entice searchers to click.
We’ve outlined just 5 ways you can leverage your online marketing strategy to boost winter sales. What creative marketing methods will you be using to promote your restaurant’s V-Day special this year?
Q&A with Denise Landis of The Cook’s Cook
As foodies and casual diners, we usually see recipes in their final form. But what goes on behind the scenes to make them so great?
Vital to making any recipe foolproof is its meticulous testing process. Restaurant chefs and cookbook authors are responsible for testing their own recipes, a time-consuming process that calls for multiple tests for each one—which is where pro recipe tester Denise Landis comes in. For more than two decades, she’s scrutinized instructions, measured ingredients, jotted notes and cooked up some of the finest recipes.
Naturally, all that recipe testing prompted Denise to become a recipe creator and cookbook author herself. In 2005, she published Dinner for Eight: 40 Great Dinner Party Menus for Friends and Family, which shows home cooks how to prepare for group entertainment with a dinner party timeline and sample menus for every season.
As an expert in her field, Denise is often asked about what goes in to the process of testing and writing recipes. So what better way to celebrate the craft of food writing than to bring together and cultivate a community of food lovers from all levels who wish to write about food? Launching in February 2014, her groundbreaking digital magazine, The Cook’s Cook, will do just that and more.
In our interview, Denise offers us a sneak peek at life inside a recipe test kitchen and reveals the aha moment that led to her forthcoming publication, created for home cooks and professional chefs alike.
R.W. Smith: For over 20 years, you’ve tested recipes for The New York Times, cookbooks and professional chefs. Could you describe the experience of being an expert tester?
Denise Landis: I enjoy my work very much because it’s constantly surprising. I never know from day to day what I’m going to be asked to cook. Even after twenty-five years it’s still exciting. Recipes are sent to me by newspaper or magazine editors, and occasionally I am asked to test an entire cookbook manuscript. Sometimes publishers hire me, sometimes authors hire me privately. Once I receive the recipes, I read each one and make notes on questions or possible errors. I look over the ingredients to see if there is anything that should be ordered by mail or for which we might want to offer a substitute. I talk to my client if needed. I shop for ingredients, then I cook. As I cook, I make notes all along the way. I ask myself if the recipe can be organized better, if the timing is accurate, the cooking temperatures appropriate, the correct cookware specified. I check quantity—does the recipe really make 3 dozen? If soup “serves 8,” what’s the total volume and the volume of each serving? Are all the ingredients listed and in the correct measures, and are they all used? Lastly, I edit the recipe in the form required by the publication—or, if I’ve been hired privately, in the style requested by the author.
I have a large kitchen and a great deal of equipment, all intended for use by home cooks. I have every kind of cookware there is—ceramic, glass, terra cotta, black clay, stainless steel, copper, cast-iron (enameled or plain), nonstick, electric… Need some recipes tested for grilled foods? I can grill in a grill pan (I have several sizes) or on my range-top grill, or on a gas grill, or with charcoal, or in a fire pit.
My kitchen is designed like a home kitchen, but with conveniences that make it easy for me to test recipes. Large pull-out bins built into cabinets hold flour and granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar. I have an instant-boiling-water dispenser at my sink. In my pantry and freezer I have spices and seasonings from around the world—curry leaves, asafoetida, sumac, kaffir lime, every kind of paprika… All of this allows me to test recipes on short notice.
RWS: Of all the recipes you’ve evaluated, which have been the most memorable?
DL: The reasons I remember recipes is because they were very good, very strange or difficult, or, in one particular case, because an ingredient was very expensive. There have been so many great ones, I’d hardly know how to pick favorites. Many of them are in my cookbook, Dinner for Eight: 40 Great Dinner Party Menus for Friends and Family. A few of my favorites from over the years at The New York Times are Mendiant Tart (a chocolate tart), Bosnian Bread (a no-knead recipe that makes two huge loaves), Braised Short Ribs in Porcini Prune Sauce (a hearty winter dish), Curried Scallops with Tomatoes (a simple and very quick recipe with excellent flavor), Maple Glazed Meatloaf (topped with bacon!)…I could go for hours about my favorite recipes and why I love each one.
Among the strange recipes would be one consisting of tomatoes stuffed with pineapple and caramel, and poached in something sweet. There was one that combined cottage cheese, Cool Whip, and powdered lime Jell-O. And odd ice creams! Lima bean ice cream was one. Another was peanut-butter-pickle ice cream that had chunks of frozen pickles—-I gave it some to my neighbors’ children and they loved it!
Some recipes have been challenging because they’ve had to be adapted from chefs who are used to working with a kitchen staff. There was one recipe for a very complicated chicken dish that took at least three hours to make. I worried so much about whether home cooks could successfully execute all the steps, and my husband told me, “Are you kidding? Do you really think anyone is going to try to cook this?” I relaxed, because I actually thought he was right. In any case, there were never any complaints from readers.
The expensive recipe was a simple one with caviar. My husband and I have a foster daughter who was about to leave for college, and we had decided to send her to a summer program on campus. The cost of the caviar (for which I was reimbursed) was the exact price of her housing for the entire summer, and that troubled me.
RWS: In February 2014, you will be launching The Cook’s Cook, a free digital magazine for cooks, food writers and recipe testers. What inspired you to start the publication?
DL: After 25 years as a recipe tester and food writer and constantly fielding inquiries from people about how to have a career in those fields, I thought, “Why not share this information in a broad way?” I realized that there was no organization or community specifically of food writers and recipe developers and testers. I felt that one was needed for all levels of expertise, including those who aspire to write about food.
The Cook’s Cook is not meant to be a trade magazine. It’s for anyone interested in writing about food or getting their recipes into type. That includes home cooks who would like to keep a record of the recipes they have created, borrowed, or adapted, or who would like to organize or rewrite recipes they have from an earlier generation. My own adult children have books in which I have hand-written their (and my) favorite recipes. The largest and most elaborate cookbook collection in the world (and I love cookbooks) can’t begin to compare to that.
Consider the sheer number of blogs about cooking. So many people are blogging about food, but they aren’t familiar with the standard forms of writing a recipe or why they should want to utilize one of them. Many professional chefs would like to write a cookbook, but they aren’t sure how to begin. Some writers who are planning to self-publish could use tips on how to make their book more appealing or more useful or reach the perfect audience for their book. And there are people like me who are established their field and who would enjoy connecting with others who are doing the same work.
I decided that articles and instruction should be given away for free. It was obvious that it was going to require an online publication, so I decided to publish a digital magazine, free to subscribers and supported by advertising.
Here’s where to sign up for a free subscription: http://app.streamsend.com/public/9vosv1f35c/2CR/subscribe
Because so many people who cook are interested in the food of other cultures, and therefore have an interest in travel, I decided to approach my favorite tour company, Gate 1 Travel, about teaming with the magazine. The result is an agreement we have with them to offer discounts to our readers if they register for a tour using our code. We will receive a small percentage of each sale that will help us fund publication of the magazine.
RWS: The magazine includes a section on recipe writing tips. As a cookbook author and food writer yourself, what advice can you give chefs and bloggers about writing their own recipes?
DL: In brief, my advice is to be aware that food writing is much more than being a good cook or even a good writer. A recipe is a set of instructions, and the instructions need to be written in a form that other people can understand and follow.
Once you have a collection of written recipes, making them into a cookbook is not an easy task even for an experienced food writer. It usually takes a team to put together a cookbook— author, recipe tester(s), literary agent, publisher, editor, copy editor, photographer, food stylist, and more.
That there is so much to be said on the subject of food writing is why The Cook’s Cook will have a column on food and recipe writing (“The Cook Writes”), a column on recipe testing (“The Cook Tests”), and one on recipe editing (“The Cook Edits”). Each column offers instruction in three levels. The Beginner level is for readers who are unfamiliar with the subject. Intermediate is for those who are familiar with some vocabulary and technique. Professional is written for those who are already employed in the field or are currently seeking employment. Of course, anyone is welcome to read any section he or she chooses. It’s all free on The Cook’s Cook website.
RWS: Which culinary trend would you like to see turn up in your test kitchen this year?
DL: Something new introduced by The Cook’s Cook! I hope and expect that we will be trend setters, sharing the newest information about what’s developing in the world of cooking, starting with farming (and exploring the very definition of “farming”) and following everything that happens to our food from planting to plating.
Customers Retreat to New Refuge Bar & Bistro
In early October, The Refuge Bar & Bistro opened its doors and welcomed customers into a carefree world of great food and innovative cocktails. Located in Texas, The Refuge creates a retreat for customers after a long day’s work. It’s dark wood, luscious antique wallpaper, and intimate ambiance is the perfect place to enjoy a night out. For great drinks, make your way to The Refuge bar, where there’s a massive shelf filled with a variety of spirits, liqueurs, mixers, microbrews and wines. Be sure to try the Refuge Retreat—a light and airy drink with Ramazzotti amaro, Cointreau foam, rye and a hint of citrus.
If you live in the area, go relax and enjoy what The Refuge has to offer. It’s sure to be a great experience for anyone who visits.
Frisco Gun Club Restaurant Now Open
The upscale Frisco Gun Club Restaurant in Texas is now open for business! As of December 21st, VIP Club members are invited to relax by the fire and enjoy fine dining prepared by Executive Chef, Scott Romano. Whether in the dining room, the cigar lounge or at the bar, the VIP Club lounge is a perfect place for members to unwind.
The restaurant is located inside the Frisco Gun Club, which also opened in late 2013. The Club has already become one of the most luxurious, state-of-the-art indoor firearms ranges in the country. The 43,000 square foot facility includes an indoor gun range with 40 lanes, a retail shop, 100-person conference and training rooms and, of course, the private VIP Club Lounge. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for its current 2,300 members and counting.
Congratulations to Frisco Gun Club on their grand opening!
Interview: Joyce Goldstein and the California Food Revolution
A prolific food writer, award-winning cookbook author, restaurant consultant, celebrated chef…and so much more. It’s no wonder Joyce Goldstein is the Bay Area’s go-to on all things food.
In her latest writing venture, Joyce has penned her first historical text, Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness. From farmer’s markets to artisan chefs, the in-depth study documents the radical changes that occurred in the restaurant industry during the 1970s. With over 200 interviews, California Food Revolution educates us on the progressive changes that took shape in the state and reverberated throughout the industry.
We chatted with Joyce about her compelling new book and remarkable career. In our brief interview, she discusses her role in the revolution, how it’s still going strong more than 40 years later, and what the future holds for her next.
RWS: What inspired your career as a chef and food writer?
JG: If you’re in love with food, you find yourself dabbling in cooking and then getting very serious about it. I started teaching cooking in 1966, and it was because friends of mine who I cooked for asked me to teach them how to cook. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden, I started teaching four or five classes out of my house. This began to interfere with family life, so I started a small cooking school. I taught four classes in the morning and four classes at night.
I got into restaurants by accident. My son was a busboy at Chez Panisse. I came in to in to do baking for six weeks and instead stayed for three years. I fell in love with the restaurant industry.
I then opened Square One in 1984 and did that for 12 years. And I had always been writing while running Square One. I did four or five books while the restaurant was in operation. I’d write between breakfast, lunch and dinner.
RWS: You’ve penned over two dozen cookbooks to date, yet your latest book, Inside the California Food Revolution, doesn’t include a single recipe. What motivated you to make the switch from cookbooks to historical narrative?
JG: Well, I was asked by University of California Press to write that book. Since I had been involved in the food revolution from the beginning, and they knew I could write, they asked me to do it. I had to figure out how to do it because I had not written a historical book before, and writing for them is more like writing a Ph.D. thesis.
The Press felt that, since I had been in the business so long and I knew everybody and knew every aspect of this field, they knew people would take my call and be candid with me, and they were. I interviewed over 200 people and got the interviews transcribed. It took a long time to get the chronology right and figure who should go where. I first handed in a manuscript that was 700 pages long, but that was too much and we couldn’t include everybody.
I loved hearing people’s stories, and sometimes you discover people who were instrumental in making changes, but nobody ever knew they did it. So it was very important to me to get credit to all these people who were unsung heroes. And they did it the way I did it: they were passionate, self-driven and continued to do it until they got it right.
The biggest discovery for me – the artisans, the farmers, the chefs – all these people who did it were teaching themselves on the job. But because they were passionate and in love with food, they were able to do it. It’s really about dedication, perseverance and having a good palette.
RWS: These days, fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are in high demand, and sourcing these foods means restaurant owners and chefs must build strong relationships with local farmers and producers. In what ways can restaurateurs best promote these connections?
JG: Well, I think in California at first, we listed every single purveyor on the menu, which got a little tedious for the menu readers. But now we have restaurants with websites that list all of the purveyors whom they work with, and that lets the diner know, too.
Restaurants can also educate their wait staff on questions about the food – like who grew that, where did that lamb come from, who the fisher man was – and they can answer those questions. Companies can also send out newsletters about what’s in season and who’s growing what. You can’t help but learn. It’s all about education.
In California, sharing of information and education was more important than being secretive and thinking you were the only one who had something. We want everybody to do well. And also, if you share where you’re getting these things, you keep the farmers in business, who can then keep workers employed all year and also get them health insurance.
That’s the important thing – to get and send these farmers and purveyors more business. It makes people support farmer’s markets a lot more, makes them more adventurous with their own cooking, and puts pressure on supermarkets to expand their organics department.
RWS: Beyond writing, you’ve taught cooking classes, trained restaurant staff, planned kitchens, designed menus, and owned both a restaurant and culinary school. That is quite a lot in four decades! What advice would you give aspiring chefs who hope to start their own restaurants in the future?
JG: To work in a number of different places in order to see the kind of cuisine that captures your palette and your passions.
To put in your time; don’t think you’re a star because you’re out of cooking school and you’re ready to rule the world.
To eat out. To read books. To travel.
Every new experience makes you know who you are and what your interests are. And you have to be prepared to work 90-100 hours a week. You’re responsible for staff and customers, and you’re the one who really has to be there for them.
RWS: When you started Square One, which ran for 12 years, you broke the French fine-dining mold by incorporating Spanish, Mediterranean and North African foods into your cuisine. When it comes to high-end dining, what do you think the future holds?
JG: I had taught French cooking, but was more interested in broader Mediterranean foods. Square One was the first major upscale restaurant to introduce a Mediterranean menu and make ethnic food seem more valuable. We took the food very seriously, got the best ingredients we could, and tried to follow recipe traditions from those countries. We never did fusion, but I do think we introduced so many things that are now on menus.
I think there will always be a few high-end dining places in every community because people need places for ceremony and making it special, but I think mid-range restaurants will be the ones that will always be thriving. There’s probably some room also for better lower-priced restaurants that are not chains, sort of spinning off from food trucks that specialize in 2 items or 3 items, but are priced well.
Not everybody will take the time to cook and take the time to shop, so there’s really room for the mid-range restaurant if they keep quality up.
You can’t be all things to all people, and the proof is when people return. Do they come back? Maybe they come the first time to try it out, but do they come back? That’s the big question.
RWS: Many of your cookbooks target the at-home chef. Speaking of household recipes, what’s your favorite home-cooked meal?
Oh, I don’t have a home-cooked favorite meal. I’ve been cooking for a long time, and it depends on who I’m cooking for and who’s coming. My meals are tailored to who’s coming to dinner and what’s in season. But I don’t have a favorite. I like to cook everything.
RWS: So what’s next for you? Will there be more books in your future or any other endeavors?
I will be writing more; I’m not really free to talk about my next project, but I will probably do another book. I don’t know if I’ll do more cook books. I like to do things that make me learn. I like taking on big projects that are scary and will engage me all the time and help me to learn something. When I worked on California Food Revolution, I had a pad with me by the bed, in the car – it becomes an obsession.
I also write for The San Francisco Chronicle. I do interviews with chefs and get their stories. It’s a skill I have that I found when writing California Food Revolution. I’m a good interviewer and I have a skill for getting people to tell me their story.
The thing is, I love writing and I love taking on a very meaty subject, so we’ll see where the next one goes.
Cool River Cafe Offers a Special Chef’s Menu
Are you ready for some football? Cool River Cafe in Texas is. This unique and elegant restaurant offers a $10 Chef’s Menu and beer specials on Monday football game nights. Enjoy great food and service while watching the game on HD screens.
This popular dining destination in Dallas offers its guests live entertainment and welcomes private parties, catered affairs and business functions in their Ben Carpenter Room.
Along with Monday Night Football, other special events at Cool River Cafe include Happy Hour, Ladies Night, and Half Price Bottles of Wine on Sundays.
Hurry and check out Cool River Cafe before the football season ends!
Restaurant Trends 2014 Round-Up
From locally-sourced eats to culinary drinks to retro desserts, predictions abound when it comes to what will be trending in the coming year. We’ve curated a forecasting round-up to give you the inside scoop on 2014 restaurant trends, from the front of the house to the back. Check out what the latest research reveals and what industry pros are saying about this exciting new year.
(Psst! Looking to freshen up your restaurant tabletop or commercial kitchen? We’ve hand-picked a fantastic selection of products for our Top Picks 2014 Sale.)
The National Restaurant Association surveyed close to 1,300 industry chefs to determine the top food and beverage trends.
FSR showcases results from the Sterling-Rice Group survey of 100 pro chefs. See what other trends will be popping up soon enough.
Nation’s Restaurant News dishes on what’s up and coming and what’s on its way out.
Entrepreneur offers a visual look at some healthier menu trends for the new year.
Over at 4Hoteliers, Baum+Whiteman is serving up their beyond-the-menu predictions.
Restaurant Hospitality talks with industry pros to get their take on next year’s food and alcohol trends. Plus, see which trends are rising fastest.
FohBoh talks nostalgic dessert revival, the greening of restaurant concepts, and the debut of single-item menus.
The word over at Buzztime is that soda is going chic and everything else is getting pickled.
Rich Table Honored with 2014 Michelin Bib Gourmand
Rich Table, a farmhouse-inspired restaurant in San Francisco, is an honoree of the 2014 San Francisco Michelin Bib Gourmand. Selected by Michelin food inspectors, Rich Table is one of 83 establishments that made the exclusive list. Michelin’s Bib Gourmand honors restaurants serving two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). These establishments are recognized by many for superb fare at a reasonable price. The 2014 Bib Gourmand features 22 different types of cuisines from restaurants across the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Congratulations Rich Table in becoming an honoree!
See the full list of the 2014 Bib Gourmands.
La Casa Del Zorro Reopens
With much awaited anticipation, La Casa Del Zorro has re-opened its doors and is now fully operating each of its facilities. With more than 80 years of operation, the resort has been a historic treasure of scenic Anza-Borrego Desert. Located just 90 miles northeast of San Diego, it offers guests a romantic getaway and unprecedented service.
The luxury retreat boasts thousands of square feet in accommodations and amenities, from deluxe pool-side rooms to the expansive De Anza Ballroom to the renown Butterfield Room restaurant. Long-time guests and new visitors alike can enjoy the combined traditional and modern continental cuisine of Chef Kurt Hauser, who has returned to the Butterfield kitchen with a menu dedicated to reviving a true culinary experience. Deemed by many as the region’s most elegant dining locale, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On warm summer nights, guests can dine poolside in the Rose Garden Terrace or enjoy private room service in casitas.
Visit La Casa Del Zorro’s blog to read more about the grand re-opening in their post, Journey of the Fox: A Look Back