Patricia Cobe

Senior Editor

Articles by
Patricia Cobe

Page 158

The morning daypart continues to rise and shine

Restaurant dinner checks may be shrinking along with patrons’ wallets, but morning people are putting their money where their mouths are.


A nation of nibblers

More and more Americans are patronizing restaurants differently these days, opting to make a meal of shareable appetizers, small plates, inventive bar food or coffee and a snack. According to Chicago-based market research company Technomic, only 5 percent of consumers are now eating three square meals a day.

By January, fresh, local produce is a distant memory in most parts of the country. Even warmer growing regions are not supplying much variety to fill the salad bowl. But that isn’t stopping Corey Shoemaker from creating colorful, healthy tosses of winter greens and other vegetables.

The Northborough, Massachusetts-based Bertucci’s, founded in 1981, is currently celebrating its 30th birthday with a limited-time menu that revisits comfort food classics.

Watching episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, the average viewer comes away thinking that cursing, screaming and ruthless bullying is the only way to run a successful restaurant kitchen. True, many chefs are as hellish as Gordon Ramsay appears on TV, routinely leaving their staff quaking in their clogs. But some industry veterans are embracing a kinder, gentler management style—and finding it has its place.

I've always been a big fan of Chipotle Mexican Grille's menu and business model. What's there not to like about ordering very tasty burritos and bowls custom-built before your eyes with top quality, carefully sourced ingredients? I guess the long lines are one drawback, but they don't seem to keep the faithful away.

Now that local produce is done for the season or in storage in many parts of the country, there are still tasty late fall and winter selections that can excite a chef and add color, flavor and creativity to the menu. Consider grapes, for instance.

Today’s diners see sandwiches as a healthier, fresher more affordable choice—especially in the quickservice segment.

Connie Green, who gives herself the title “head huntress,” is a professional forager and the author of The Wild Table (Viking Studio, 2010). In the wee hours of the morning, she sets out from her Napa Valley home to hunt down exotic mushrooms and other wild ingredients for picky chefs and top restaurants. We sat down with Green to find out exactly what a professional forager does.

When folks in the restaurant business are asked to name their favorite dishes, it’s not easy to narrow down the choices. But our team of passionate industry insiders dug into their collective food memories and came up with their top picks. Tacos, french fries, steaks and pig popped up on a few lists, but there were plenty of surprises, too.

September to January is peak season for winter squash—all of which share hard shells, yellow-to-orange flesh and great nutritional profiles. “The large...

The current farm-to-fork mindset is changing the way restaurants buy produce.

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