And some you shouldn’t…
If the media hype is to be believed, every restaurant (except for yours) is growing their own greens, rearing their own chickens and lambs, baking their own bread, churning their own ice cream and distilling their own alcohol. The competition is fierce for provenance and the calls for ‘housemade’ are louder than ever. Is it possible to make everything from scratch in your kitchen? Of course it is. But does it make economical sense? Probably not.
Here we separate the wheat from the chaff (don’t worry we’re not making you mill your own flour) and explain the three foods you should be making in house. And the others, that require extra time, money, expertise and equipment that you can probably give a miss.
Mayo, Salad Dressings, Sauces
Mayonnaise is just eggs, oil and vinegar when it comes down to it. You have all the ingredients ready and it doesn’t take much to make a large batch. Considering you are probably going to be mixing other flavours into it anyway – garlic, chipotle, herb – why not do the whole thing from scratch. This also saves shelf space (and money!).
Once you have mayo this paves the way for your range of housemade sauces and dressings that will make all of your meals really stand out. Truly picky diners will be able to taste a bottled dressing from the next table over, so take the extra time to make your own.
If you have a small menu making your pasta in house is feasible and potentially a big point of difference from the guys down the road. Flour, eggs, water and a bit of preparation is all it takes. When done correctly, house made pasta will bring guests back (and they’ll bring friends).
We’ve all seen those pre-made cakes in café counters – the same in every café on this side of the city. Sure, they may taste great but once a customer has seen them every day while getting their 2pm coffee they are unlikely to get excited by the prospect of finishing their meal with it. Dessert needs to be special and nothing is more special than a house made cake, pudding or panna cotta. Something that customers are unlikely to make at home like crème brûlée is relatively easy to perfect, but will add the next level to your dessert menu.
Compare the above to items like bread, burger buns or charcuterie. These items take speciality knowledge, equipment and more importantly time and kitchen space. The resources of time and space are hard to come by in foodservice so before deciding which items to bring in house consider what you may need and only add those that will bring the allure of the words ‘housemade’ but not drive your chefs mad in preparation