Today’s restaurants leaders face growing operational and labor costs, as well as high employee turnover. In addition to these challenges, Datassential’s 2018 Pulse report also lists growing consumer demand for speed and convenience as a top concern among restaurant owners. Not only do diners want efficient service paired with diverse, high-quality menu offerings, but many consumers are not willing to pay more to offset their higher standards. All of these challenges make the task of satisfying consumers and balancing the budget a difficult feat, yet there are strategies that can help restaurants achieve all of these goals.
One vital tactic in a restaurant’s arsenal is using speed-scratch products to boost operational efficiency. From aiolis and sauces to toppings and side dishes, speed scratch helps restaurants capture the same bold flavors they could make in-house with reduced operational burden.
“Speed-scratch products make it easier for any employee to deliver a more consistent dish and flavor,” says Tim Shaw, senior marketing manager for Kerry Foodservice, which offers Chef’s Pass products for restaurants. “These items cut down on preparation time because everything comes together in a storage-friendly package, versus pulling large numbers of ingredients together from the pantry and preparing them.”
Yet just because speed-scratch products make kitchen life more efficient doesn’t mean food standards must be sacrificed. Many of today’s products can actually boost quality because they are made by chefs for the restaurant industry.
“The biggest misconception about speed scratch is that it is not as good as scratch and the customer can taste a difference,” Shaw says. “Manufacturers like Chef’s Pass have focused innovation around not only delivering food quickly through format and packaging, but also with the best taste possible, ultimately raising the bar with clean, natural ingredients and bigger, bolder flavors.”
In fact, speed-scratch products offer restaurants strong flavor profiles like those created in-house, but in less time. For example, Chef’s Pass Caramelized Vegetable Reduction shortens cooking time down to 5–10 minutes instead of the traditional 45 minutes, while offering the robust flavor of traditional caramelization to vegetables to create elevated sides and mix-ins.
Additionally, speed-scratch products reduce the amount of time it takes to train new team members while ensuring high quality standards. This reduces the impact of employee turnover or training deficiencies on food quality.
Though speed-scratch products offer many benefits, they are not all created equal. Operators should find those that offer high quality and match their operational goals. Shaw says that good speed-scratch products should offer the flavor, texture, and appearance that customers expect from scratch-made foods. Additionally, when restaurants pair with vendor partners who share their missions, such as sustainability or clean labels, chefs can ensure the food they serve meets their own high standards.
Speed-scratch products do help restaurants satisfy customers with delicious dishes, but their impact on kitchen life is immeasurable. “The biggest benefit of speed scratch isn’t about the guest,” Shaw says. “It’s about giving our operator customers time to focus on other important things, like new menu innovations, operational efficiencies, and family commitments, while giving them peace-of-mind around flavor and quality.”