Keeping Your Bistro Kitchen Compliant With Food Handling Regulations

Restaurants of all sizes are regulated by the government to ensure that they are meeting minimum safety requirements. Your bistro is subject to spot checks where an agent will come into your bistro to watch how you and your employees work. In order to avoid hefty fines, or even being closed down, you should be running a clean and compliant kitchen every single day.

Food Delivery, Storage, Preparation and Service

The way the food is handled in your kitchen not only affects how it looks and tastes, it could make a person very ill. One of the key points in kitchen management is ensuring that at each step through your bistro’s kitchen, the food is being handling properly.

Delivery: Upon delivery, you should always be on the lookout for signs of contamination. Check that cans are not damaged and that fresh protein products like meat, fish and eggs are being transported at the right temperature. Once you sign  for that delivery the food is your, potentially with a ton of unwanted bacteria.

Fresh produce also needs to be looked over carefully. Check for signs of spoilage and even insect infestations. Some of the biggest food recalls in North America have been the result of tainted fruits and vegetables. These always need to be washed thoroughly before preparation to make sure that they do not carry any harmful bacteria.

Storage: Arrange your walk-ins to keep raw proteins away from any ready to eat foods. Practice rotation so that no food goes out of date, and keep your dry goods away from any sources of water.

Preparation: The biggest problem found in preparation of food is with cross contamination. This is when the same knife is used to cut bread after it just sliced raw meat, or an employee does not wash their hands after sneezing. Make sure your employees are well schooled on all of the proper procedures needed to avoid cross contamination.

Service: This is another opportunity for cross contamination. Your wait staff should be properly trained on the service of food and the importance of not touching it, or the eating portion of the plate.

Human Contact

There are a number of safety items your kitchen should have to help prevent cross contamination from your cooks. One of course is latex gloves. Gloves should be worn at all times during the preparation of food, and changed often. Even though gloves are being used, cooks should be trained to wash their hands often, especially after using the bathroom, smoking and eating.

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Hair nets and beard guards should also be worn by your employees in the kitchen. Even a chef who uses a beard trimmer regularly could lose a piece of chin hair into the soup. All cooks need to prevent this by covering their carefully trimmed beards and hair at all times. Even if they use something to strengthen and hold the beard in place like a balm or an oil showcased here, you can never be too careful and must take proper precautions.

Food safety is not just about avoiding stiff fines. Contaminated food can cause your bistro patrons to get sick and that is never good for your image. Avoid losing your reputation by practicing safe food handling procedures at every stop through your bistro.

 

Is Your Bistro Romance Ready for Valentine’s Day?

The intimacy of a bistro makes it a popular spot for Valentine’s Day dates. You should take full advantage of these types of special events to highlight your bistro and its delicious menu. Make sure you are ready to make a big impact on this big night, and you can attract a whole new group of loyal customers.

Decorations

Go over the top. Hearts hanging from the ceilings, balloons floating in the air and red and white table ware. The idea is romance, so fresh flowers are a must. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to decorating your bistro for Valentine’s Day.

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The Menu

Your menu should be a reflection of your day to day offerings, only kicked up a notch. Think luxury foods like lobster and steak with creamy sauces and fancy sides. Appetizers should be meant for sharing, like oysters or shrimp cocktails and you must have a decadent chocolate dessert. Also consider the wine list if you have a liquor license. Make sure you have plenty of bottles on hand with carafes available to serve them by the bottle.

Tone Down the Lighting

Create a romantic atmosphere by dimming the lights and using candles instead. A nice essential oil based candle can not only set the mood with depressed lighting, it can infuse your restaurant with a romantic scent. Choose an essential oil that is not over bearing so as not to ruin the taste of the food. You can also forego the candles in case you already have those as part of your decor. Invest in a few diffusers and set them up in the corners to send the essential oil mist softly around the room.

Free Gifts

Treat your guests on this special day with a free rose before they leave, or better yet, a coupon for their next visit. You want to make a lasting impression on your customers so that they will continue to come back all year.

Your Staff

The staff at your bistro may not be used to the high volume of customers that a holiday like this can bring. Prepare them ahead of time by giving them tools to succeed. Waiters should have plenty of pens and a wine opener on hand. Bring in extra staff if needed and talk to them about the importance this day will have on future business. You may get reluctance from some of the staff about working a holiday, but try to sweeten the deal with incentives like a special employee meal before the doors open.

The most important thing is to have fun with the day. Smile brightly and greet the customers warmly. Your bistro is a reflection of you, and with the right atmosphere you can build a loyal following.

The Batman of Bistros: Ultrasound Technician By Day, Awesome Bistro Chef By Night

We love to hear incredible stories about bistro owners and their passion for food. A bistro is not like your typical restaurant, and the owners nothing at all the same. Some restaurant owners are happy in their work, but a bistro owner is downright passionate about it.

So when we heard about this great new bistro that had opened near Niagara and the interesting story behind his passion, we just had to run down and take a taste for ourselves.

Stan and his wife Julie are your typical 30 something year old couple who were grinding it out day by day at normal jobs. Julie is a school teacher, while Stan studied to become an ultrasound technician and has been working in private practice since graduation. A salary for an ultrasound technician is a good one, which is what makes people so curious about their next move – not quite $100,000 but not that far off.

Since the couple was afforded every evening and weekend together at home, they had begun a routine of cooking up new dishes. Over time, their skills progressed to where even their 2 kids were impressed. Both didn’t think much of it, until a friend mentioned a small restaurant for sale, and how Stan and Julie’s food would fit right in with the neighborhood.

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Fast forward 9 months, and S & J’s Bistro is a raving success. The menu is limited comfort food the way a bistro should be and the atmosphere warm and cozy. The couple has worked out an arrangement to be closed on Monday and Tuesday, offering only dinner Wednesday thru Friday and breakfast and lunch on the weekends.

This arrangement has let them both keep the jobs they love, but more importantly, it has helped to build a very steady flow of business. With the change ups in menus, people are always interested to see what’s cooking at their S & J’s. They use a ton of local produce and since they have achieved so much success in short time, are looking into other local farms to get meat and eggs from.

The days can be long at times, but they have figured out ways to cope with that.

This really highlights what is so special about the bistro business. There are no expectations above great homey food and a great atmosphere. The couple has kept the menu small to make ideal use of the small kitchen space, but works endlessly to ensure that each item is always cooked to perfection.

Check it out for your self to see just how incredible this couple has done at making a dream a reality. The trip will be well worth your time.

Turning Your Love For Cooking into a Money Making Bistro

For most people, the love to cook comes from watching your elders cook around you. It is not just the taste of that French Onion soup, but that feeling of coming together, putting ingredients together and making a delicious dish. Bistros are sort of the same way, with their small size and cozy atmosphere, people are able to bring that love of cooking to life, in an environment similar to what they grew up in.

That is how my passion for cooking began, and later my passion for owning a small restaurant to share my dishes in. First I was that typical home chef, recreating grandma’s famous sauces and poring over recipe books for fresh ideas. My family loved being my guinea pigs and would give me honest feedback on how not only the food tasted, but how it made them feel.

My dogs loved my cooking adventures as well. Too much in fact as I started to trip over them as I danced around the small kitchen at home. Here’s a tip for you if you are a home chef with dogs: buy a wireless fence system or get a petsafe stay and play. First off, it’s not really hygienic to have dogs around while you cook, and secondly, they will get so tired out by running around outside that they will forget they wanted a bite of your steak.

With the dogs safely out of my kitchen and sealed into the backyard with the wireless fence (I bought the best from K9FenceReviews.com), I was free to begin creating a menu. I know, a bit of the carriage before the horse here, but before I began scouting locations and looking for loans, I wanted to make sure that my food would sell. The wife and kids loved it, but you know, they are a bit biased.

To create my menu and went back to my dad’s French Onion soup and grandma’s sauces and tried to remember what made them so special. For one thing, they always used fresh local ingredients. If Grandma saw canned sauce in the cupboard she would throw it out!

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The second thing was the time they took. Cooking in my house was an all day affair. Everything was slow roasted and simmered so that each bite held the flavor of every ingredient that was lovingly added. This was the same effect I wanted with my food, and took to creating a crock pot type menu, with saucy rich foods full of flavor.

Today my menu is a big hit in my bistro. By taking what I loved about cooking and making it work inside of a small restaurant, I am now the proud owner of a very successful little bistro where people line up to get a taste of my dad’s French Onion Soup.

Bring Your Toothbrush! How To Spend All Day On Your Food Truck

Did you know that we are about to start a small side project on our site that talks about other types of restaurants? We call it Bistro Buddies!

We thought we’d get started in the food truck space, as it’s SO popular right now! And, a lot of these things will be applicable to your Bistro as well, so dig in!

Food Truck 101

tacotrucksflossThere are a number of food truck owners and workers who are literally jailed inside their grub-mobile from before breakfast to well after lunch and beyond. Being inside of these tight quarters for that long can really take their toll if you aren’t careful.

Here’s a couple of tips of how to keep it together and keep the truck rolling even when you just want to get the heck out:

Love Who You Work With

Alright, well that may be a stretch, but you should be able to tolerate them at least. It is impossible to stay that close to someone for that long when you can’t stand them. Small arguments will pop up from time to time, which should be squashed as quickly as possible. If there is a real personality clash, it may just be time to start looking for a new truck to dole out food from.

Wear Cozy Shoes

Sore feet means sharp tongue. Alright, so I just made that up, but you know it’s true. When your feet hurt everything hurts and you turn into a crabby food server. Flat shoes with plenty of support are a must have when you are going to be on the food truck all day.

Dress in Layers

You’re going to feel hot, than you’ll be cold. And then you will get hot again. Dress in layers so that you can add or take off as the temperature changes.

Keep a Brush on Board

Admit it, you eat while working. A little bite here, another snack there. This picking shows on your breath. Keep an electric tooth brush (we like the Braun line), toothpaste and floss on board the truck at all times so that your onion breath isn’t scaring away the customers (need savings? Check out the best prices on www.waterflosserhq.com).

Wash Your Face

Washing your face every couple of hours will help you feel refreshed and look better. There is a lot of grease in the air on that truck and you should be washing it off as often as possible.

Stretch

During those slow times do some easy stretches to keep your blood moving. Rotate your torso, pull your arms behind your back and pull your knees up to your stomach. This gets the metabolism going to give you the energy you need to keep on cooking.

Play Games

Keep things interesting during the day. Make bets with your co-worker on how many of type of sandwich you are going to sell. Or how many customers say a certain funny phrase. This type of game just involves a quick hash tag on a paper so it shouldn’t take away from your work.

You have a long day in front of you inside of tight quarters. Start your mornings off with a positive outlook and follow the above steps, and you should still being feeling fine at quitting time.

Does Your Bistro Have the Right Equipment To Profit?

kitchen31A large restaurant kitchen is stock piled with tons of heavy equipment. From grills and ovens to massive dishwashing machines, these kitchens are set up to serve a large variety of food to hundreds of people a day.

A bistro on the other hand has the luxury of being more selective. With a smaller menu and seating arrangement, a bistro owner can pick and choose the best quality restaurant equipment rather then the largest sized. To get started, you first need to take a long hard look at your menu and decide which equipment will benefit you the most.

Broiler

A broiler is used mainly for cooking meats, but it can also be a good tool to heat up dishes you have prepared in individual casseroles. For example, a small bistro that features stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer can prepare those in an attractive casserole and heat them inside of the broiler. This is a quick way to get the food ready, and still have it taste bistro delicious.

Open Flame Grill

The preferred method for cooking meat and fish, an open flame grill can be powered with propane gas, wood, or coals. This gives the meats a delicious flavor while still preserving their natural juices. This is a good piece of equipment to have especially if your bistro serves hand made sandwiches. Instead of purchasing pre-cooked meats, you can serve the sandwiches hot with the meat straight off of the grill.

Flat Grill

A flat grill is best described as a very large frying pan. Here you can cook eggs, bacon, and pancakes if your bistro serves breakfast. You can also use it for heating up meats and grilling breads for sandwiches. With other equipment like the open flame grill, many bistros will only employ a small flat grill, unless their focus is on breakfast.

Stove Top

A stop top is essential for preparing foods ahead of time and for making fresh vegetables. The size will depend again on your menu. An Italian bistro will need a larger one to accommodate many pots of boiling pasta, while a quaint lunch bistro may only need a couple of burners to heat up soups.

Deep Fryer

A deep fryer is essential cooking equipment if you are planning on serving sides of fries or items like chicken tenders for children. Even if your bistro menu does not contain a large amount of fried foods, you can find a single deep fryer that will fit in perfectly with a small bistro kitchen.

Oven

An absolute must if you are going to be serving fresh bread, which is common in a bistro. Most small restaurants will have their oven on the backside of the cooking line so that it does not interfere with making the plates of food.

Once you know the types of equipment you will need, you can size it and make a kitchen plan. If you are not a cook yourself, enlist the aide of one to help you decide the best placement for all of your machinery. With the right equipment set up right on the line, your bistros service will always be impeccable, giving you profits hand over fist.

5 Famous Bistros Around The World


You don’t have to serve French fare and wine to be considered a bistro. So long as your menu is small and specialized, the atmosphere cozy and the food over the top, you have gained bistro status. Here’s a look at some distinctively different small restaurants that have earned themselves a bistro title.

bistro sign

Soul Food Bistro

American southern food that encompasses everything you know it to be. Hot, hearty and finger licking good. There are two different locations, one on the west side of Jacksonville, Florida and the other on the south side so that the whole city can get a taste of their daily specials like Tuesdays curry chicken or Thursdays classic meatloaf and mashed potatoes. What makes this a stand out bistro is the cafeteria style setting, allowing you to pick and choose whatever combinations you want.

http://www.thesoulfoodbistro.com/

Chives Canadian Bistro

Chives is the epitome of the bistro as they use fresh local ingredients, making it necessary to change their menu with the seasons. Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia the owner of Chives is also the chef and has written 3 best-selling Canadian cookbooks. With starters like smoked potato and celery root chowder and entrees like Nova Scotia spring lamb you can see how he has perfectly blended local flare with a French twist.

http://www.chives.ca/

Le Rubis

Located in the heart of Paris, Le Rubis is best known for its extensive wine list. A favorite for local business men for lunch, who enjoy the typical Paris bistro fare that includes favorites like andouillette, jarret and bourgiugnon. When in Paris, make sure you choose to dine at twilight when the locals are lined up at the bar, giving you the chance to sit at one of the cozy banquettes.

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Balthazar Restaurant

You might be on Spring Street in New York City, but when inside the Balthazar you are transported straight to Paris. The décor is a good blend of opulence and cozy with furnishings that are unmistakenly Parisian in design. You will find solid bistro food like classic roasted chicken and steak fries, but more impressive is the oyster and shellfish bar. That’s what really makes this award winning bistro in New York stand out above all of the rest.

http://www.balthazarny.com/

Chez Manny

Inside of Battersea, London you will find a menu that is pure French all of the time. Sit down to a plate of foie gras, or baked Camembert. The ingredients are always fresh and the food always cooked to perfection. This is a stand out bistro in London not for the food, although that is a plus, but for the warm and cozy atmosphere that has been set by the brothers who own and run it. Chez Manny is a perfect example of the bistro that caters to the local crowd.
You will find that bistro quality in small restaurants scattered all around the globe. Whether they serve local food, classic French or combination of the two, it’s that warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you walk inside the door that should make it stand out as one of the greats.

http://www.chezmanny.com/

How To Start Your Own Bistro And Profit

Owning your own business is a fulfilling experience like no other. Yet it can be very stressful if you start out without educating yourself first. If owning a small restaurant like a bistro is something you have been thinking long and hard about here are a few tips to get you started.

woman enjoying bistro coffee

How do you get raving customers to frequent your bistro?

The idea of a bistro started in Paris as a small and simple restaurant that would serve quality food quickly. Today’s bistro can be themed anyway you want and catering towards any type of ethnic cuisine you feel comfortable with. So long as the food is exceptional, your bistro should flourish.

One way to ensure that you are always serving great food is by keeping your menu simple. Let the larger restaurants keep their confusing and expansive menus, yours should be small and precise. This allows you to focus your attention on making sure that the dishes you serve are always made to perfection.

Statistics show that around half of all new restaurants are going to fail in the first three years. That is scary when you consider how much money, not to mention your heart, is going into the project. Make sure that you have the capital in place and then some to avoid losing your bistro before it even gets up and running.

Not enough funding is one of the biggest mistakes a new restaurant owner makes. Underestimating the start up costs can be detrimental. This causes you to cut corners and inevitably quality in your business, driving away the customers right from the start. Know from the start that no matter how much you think it’s going to cost, it will be more and plan accordingly.

How you staff your bistro is also important. When it comes to a bistro you are dealing with people and two things that are very important to them, food and money. You need to have a front of the house staff that understands this and knows how to treat the customers accordingly. Look for employees who can display signs of empathy as well as patience and consideration when starting to staff your bistro.

Your back of the house is equally important. If you don’t have much experience in the food service industry, having a chef or cook that does can be very beneficial. Just don’t allow them total control over your kitchen. Look for experienced cooks who you feel comfortable talking to in order to avoid your inexperience to intimidate you out of your own kitchen.

To make sure that you start off making a profit, think locally. You’re a small business catering to local customers so you will want to cater to the area around you. Not only should you find a niche that is new to the area, you should direct your marketing efforts accordingly. Plan a big opening, start a loyalty club and use as much local product as possible. Impressing the people close will ensure that you always have customers at your tables.

You are about to embark on a life changing experience that when done right can be very rewarding. Not just for profits you can earn but for knowing that you started something from scratch that turned into a big success.