Friday, February 3, 2017

Follow the Leader?

So this morning I awoke to a facebook post of a fellow friend posting a comment of amusement per say of the restaurant dining experience being one of "follow the leader." Like this was something new. Trends, period. This industry is completely fueled by what the general public is trending and "hot" on at that moment. This business is one with so much Risk. I have said this before, One day You are "In" and the next you are "Out". There are those long standing restaurants that don't change with the times and make it. Personally I have no clue how they do it. I think there is something in constancy and people knowing what they can count on, and good food and good service go a long way. But in some ways you must evolve and change with what is going on around you.  Yes, I have been here for almost ten years. But everyday is a constant struggle. Are people gonna come in the door tonight? Are they gonna be happy with service and food? Am I staying up with what's hot right now? Am I doing as good of a job as the one down the street? People tell me all the time "coping is the best form of flattery" Honestly I hate that saying. But I guess it is true.  
So follow the leader, why yes it is! When I started this business I lent my cafe to start on the wagon of Farm to Table, back then not many were on that wagon. Now it is overloaded and the wheels are about to go flat. I say that because of every Tom, Dick, and Harry has climbed aboard. Claiming there piece of the Farm to Table fame. I struggle with this every day. It was hot but know it has become trivial. Now mind you I wont ever stop doing it because I do truly believe in it. But I have realized in the last few months that maybe I have to find a new model to trend after, or to use as a marketing ploy for the public. Because honestly farm to table no longer has the meaning it once did. Sadly everyone is saying they are but truly so many are not. 
Funny I recently had a conversation with a good farmer friend that I buy things from for Cafe. We were talking about where they go out to eat as a family. He said to me I want to go somewhere where they know my name, know what I drink, I can get really full on next to nothing. I don't want to break the bank going out to eat. I asked him where he likes to go. I was totally shocked with his responses. It was not at all what I expected. In fact couldn't have been more opposite than what I thought he would say. Since then My husband and I have had long conversations about what the average household wants out of there dining experience. I'll tell you something makes me think a lot of where to take the cafe next.
People are leaning back to the old supper club atmosphere these days, they want that comfort, that know your name experience. You watch the big cities,  Mad Men and Tikki themed dinners are all the rage. Burgers are back! Asian food still trending for the moment, Brewpubs popping up everywhere! Yes it's follow the leader, of course. If you want to stay hot, keep the lights, and pay the bills, you must find your tiny niche in this ever changing industry. 
We, as humans are fincky beings. But hey I'm ok with that. Change is good. Coping is the best form of flattery, and well hey you cant keep doing the same thing and expect different results, now can you? So kuddos to those entrepreneurs and chefs just trying to make there mark and stay afloat. I get it and my thinking cap is always on. I'm always trying to stay up with who is the leader! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Goat Cheese! Goat Meat??

We are all so familiar with that oh so creamy Chevre right? Or a wonderfully aged goat cheddar cheese!
What happens to all those goats after they are done producing milk for us to indulge in that tangy cheese. Male Goats?? Do they have a purpose other than helping to produce more female goats for milk production. 
I have to say cooking with goat is something that intrigued me, but like most of the public I was nervous and a little put off about it. Why? I have no clue. I love eating like a carnivore! Lamb is one of my all time favorites. Little sweet, little gamey. In fact I love that wild flavor of different hooved beasts. Why in the world have I not cooked with goat yet? What is stopping me? I'll be honest is our small town open to this? Is there enough people here to go out on a limb and try this? Why was I nervous about this? I have made people love beets, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and all kinds of other things they thought they disliked. Once prepared under the hands at Cafe Soeurette they changed there flavor profiles all together. 
I guess really now it took my new Sous Chef Kyle to push me along on this culinary experiment! He has worked with it numerous times in the past. He told me it's like lamb! I said "what I love lamb!"
In researching this further it is sweet like lamb, very mild game flavor, high in protein, high in iron. Very versatile to any cooking techniques. Goat is the most widely consumed red meat in the world but doesn't often make it on to the tables in the U.S. Well Cafe lovers, next weekend we bring you goat on our menu!! This goat will be coming to us from La Clare Farms. Chef Kyle and I have been working on menu ideas. We are so excited! If you love goat cheese, love goat meat too!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spring on into New Things

Well I finally think spring is upon us here in Wisconsin, although I shouldn't speak so soon I might jinx this gorgeous weather.
Spring often makes us think new beginnings & the start of something fresh! It definitely has been that way here for the last few weeks. We have had so many new changes. We integrated to a point of  sale system for our servers and myself. Huge on saving time & helping to make us more efficient.  
It was a lot of work and we still have some bugs worked out but we are loving it! We have new staff that joined us!! I couldn't be happier! I have a great new Sous Chef, Jesse in the kitchen with me. We have a few new other young people in our kitchen and some additions to the serving staff as well, gearing up for lots of business this summer.
We have been planning new events for the Summer and waiting for permit approvals and we got them! Thanks City of West Bend for supporting a fun new event we are bringing to the public!! We are so excited to bring you all "Dish Downtown"!! Check out our facebook page for more details!
Also stay tuned for new menu items coming your way next week. With my new staff & farmers market starting this weekend we are rocking out some awesome new flavor combinations!!
Jesse, has a lot of experience with homemade pastas and being 75% Sicilian well that says it all right there! So coming up real quick we will be blending his talent with pasta, with my eclectic farm fresh style to offer you some fun and tasty combinations!
We also cant wait to be bringing you a charcutiere board featuring salumi from Underground Meats in Madison. I have absolutely fell in love with these! I'm hoping to find some green Tomatoes this Saturday at market and make a green tomato chutney to accompany these salumi's.
Lemon brined Fried Chicken to make an appearance on our small plates menu paired with House pickles, honey biscuit, and buttermilk herb dressing!
Well I'm not gonna tell you everything coming up next week, you'll have to come in and see what else we have in the works!
As always thanks for supporting the café & local farms! We are so excited for this coming season! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

looking back to 1999!!

Image result for prince

They say that music sparks your memory. My husband and my lead server literally text me at about the same time today to tell me the Legend died. It's hard to believe. I just don't think there is a lot of talented artist like him out there these days, and despite his own success always helping to further someone else to make there mark in life. I always have been a huge fan of Prince. I don't know why my parents allowed this, but I remember being like 6-7 years old and having a poster of Prince in a bathtub in my play room. So I guess my love for the icon began a long time ago. I have so many memories associated with prince songs. I honestly have been sitting here for the last hour trying to think which song is my favorite, I cant decide I love them all.
Back to 1999, this is the year I decided to make a career out of the only thing I knew how to do. In 1999 I left for Culinary school in Minnesota. I starter school in November, I think, and came back to the WB to do help cook New Years dinner at the restaurant I cooked at before leaving for college. The millennium was upon us and everyone thought the shit was gonna hit the fan. I was 20 years old, hanging with my still best friend Linda, enjoying cocktails, and "1999" blaring through the restaurant! Good times.
Living in Minnesota, Prince was just a natural part of being there. Every kitchen I worked in you would here Prince, Dylan, Phish, and Disney soundtracks. What a combo! We kitchen folk are an eclectic bunch! I worked for some pretty amazing folks up there in the twin cities. At one restaurant I was treated to a Prince concert with one of the owners wives, sitting club level in the excel center. All I have to say is it was "Amazing". I remember getting to drive past Paisley Park and told that's where Prince Lives!! I had a good friend tell me Prince would occasionally open his home up and let fans come in and do small concerts. How awesome! He got to have that expierence once, So jealous.
My year of school in Minnesota, and the years after that I lived and worked there definitely molded me to what I am today. I was lucky to have worked alongside some pretty talented people and have awesome instructors in school. I will never forget those years and people!
Prince "If I was Your Girlfriend", I would be "Delirious", "Kiss" you, wear "Diamonds & Pearls" & "Die For You", but for now "Lets get Crazy", Party like it is "1999" in the "Purple Rain", cause we are all gathered here today, to get through this thing called Life!  Thanks for all the good memories your music sparks and will continue too throughout your fans lives! Thanks Minnesota for all that you had and have to offer a young chef! "Nothing Compares to You"!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sneakin a Peak!

Most restaurants, the kitchen is a mysterious place. You wonder, how are they putting all this food out with a packed dining room and in a timely manner? Do you want to pier in and watch closely as the chef and staff puts the finishing touches on your plate. Many restaurants these days have went to open kitchen concepts, which is super cool! I worked in one when I was a culinary student I hated it though. But let me explain myself. We were expected to stand there cook and prep while customers sat at a bar/counter in front of us and we were told not to speak to them even if we were spoken to. Well first off I like to talk, & second I found that totally disrespectful to what my parents taught me, if I'm spoken to, I'm to respond. Needless to say I didn't stay there long it was very akward.
So many customers have always wanted to come in and watch for a night and see what we do in there I always thought it was weird, not that they wanted to see, I just was personally was weired out that someone wanted to sit and watch my every move. I wasn't use to being on display. Well until a few years back I decided to put in a window into the world that was always behind the scene. At first it was so strange, the staff and I were so nervous. I had a new appreciation for animals at the zoo! But like the animals, now years later I don't even think about it being there. Unless the occasional customer knocks on the window and waves, or a child, here and there is held up by their parents with there face pressed upon the glass I remember then it's presences.
I was recently out for dinner this past sunday at one of my favorite restaurants and had the best seat in the house with my son and husband at the end of the bar, but mind you the kitchen is at the opposite end of the bar. One of my culinary idols who is chef and owner of the establishment was cooking that night and like that child with it's nose pressed upon the glass I stared and watched her every move feeling inspired by every toss of the pan she made and remembering I still have so much to learn in this world and so excited to get back into my kitchen! So on your next visit to the café please don't be afraid to come give the window a knock and a wave and let me know you are out there watching and enjoying your evening! I sure did this past Sunday!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A motley Crüe

My crew, well yes we are a Motley Crew!
I say this because they are all so different and diverse but yet we all blend and work together.
Last Saturday I had a couple that dined with us and the woman stated she was "just" a waitress as well. Complimented on our staff despite a few hiccups. The woman in further conversation said she always wanted to be a waitress. I said awesome! She said people think I'm crazy when I say that. I told her I didn't think that was one bit Crazy. There is a ton of money to be made, waiting on strangers. She then said she had done it all, been in the military and a laundry list of jobs. But she loves serving. Those are the kind of people we value in this industry. Those who love what they do. It takes a special person day in and day out to oblige a persons every wish and need in a manner of 2 hours!!
What still bothers me is that she classified herself as "just" a waitress. You can make a great living waitressing, in fact make a career of it. I find nothing shameful in that what so ever. I couldn't waitress. It takes a special person to be able to do wait on people. I value my servers so much, they are incredible at what they do! They are salesman and entertainers!! They have to ensure a memorable experience!
Every person that works at the café is an integral part of the daily workings of the café. I don't care if you are washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, slinging cocktails, cooking, or waiting on tables. We all need each other to make it all work like a well oiled machine.
My crew besides those that have made a career of working here are all so different and diverse backgrounds. So many different things have brought them to this industry. Or this worked with current life situations, or it is or has been a stepping stone to get them where they want to be.  Some are here cause it works with opposite schedules with spouses and raising a family, some are here part time for extra money for school. Some have degrees in accounting, women's studies, engineering, finance, some are professional "poker players"!  I've had it all people in landscaping, nursing, beauticians, massage therapists, musicians, graphic designers and farmers. I love that it has brought together people from such different backgrounds and it all works! I love my Motley Crew!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Is Dessert an after thought???

So I ask you, "Is Dessert and after thought for you?" Or are you one that always plans on indulging your sweet tooth?
Well you can bet I'm a planner, I always "plan" on dessert! I was a pastry chef for a period of time in my career. I don't necessarily enjoy making desserts but I can when I need to and I definitely enjoy eating them!  I have also passed on this art to one of my employees and taught her the ways. I think we have a solid core dessert menu. Pictured above is our Chocolate Carmel Tart! It is what it is!!! I myself can only handle 2-3 bites. But I have customers that order whole tarts to take home with them! Thick chocolate crust, thick house made caramel, and rich chocolate ganache finishes it off. You know love was put into this on the first bite!
That being said, My husband I were discussing our recent "date night out" meal last night. Everything was great at this establishment, But I asked my husband what he thought of dessert? He said ok, and then asked me. I said we only get out once a month for dinner else ware and I look forward to going all out cause it is our night to be served, enjoy, and be baby free! But dessert at a few of the most recent places have been a little disappointing. Not that they are bad, just that there was so much effort put into the amazing savory food and then we get the final course of our experience and it has been a little bit of a  let down, like dessert was just an after thought. Like these places know they have to offer it but it isn't executed to the extent of the savory dishes. My husband commented that dessert is the last thing to leave a taste in our mouth about the experience, I was like exactly!! It's like when I tell my bartenders to make sure to say goodbye to our guests, as the diners pass by to exit. The customer service and food presentation and taste shouldn't be over till those guest exit the building!!  
With this all being said it has inspired me to add a feature dessert weekly just to step it up another notch! Get your sweet tooth ready folks!!