Your food is only as good as what you put into it. That includes not just your skills and your utensils but also your ingredients. All the skill in the world put to use in a great kitchen will still not generate a quality entree if it’s been made from substandard ingredients. Here are four tips for locating quality ingredients for your kitchen.
Network with Quality Chefs
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Everyone has such extensive social and professional networks these days that it’s easy to talk to friends about what they’ve bought and what they’ve liked. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If a classmate from culinary school has a great restaurant and sources ingredients from a certain supplier, it’s probably going to be satisfactory for you too.
Source Your Ingredients Locally
When products must be shipped long distances, there are impacts on the harvest, handling, and packaging. You might save a few dollars by bringing in ingredients from two time zones away, but your quality will suffer. Identify local producers who can get you what you need without so many miles of travel. Get your from a local bakery. Identify a nearby dairy where you can get butter. Keep it close to home to maximize quality!
Visit Local Producers
Any product can look good when a shipment arrives at your back door, but when you can put your eyes on it during production, harvest, and packing, you will know that you are purchasing quality ingredients. Buying from sources that you can visit–even if it’s only once a year–will reassure you that you’re buying quality. If they don’t allow visitors, you may want to search elsewhere.
Grow It Yourself!
Not many chefs have the time to operate a full-blown farming operation, but it is possible to produce some small-quantity items yourself. Herbs and garnishes are easy to produce in small spaces, sometimes even in pots. What could be fresher than an herb that was just picked outside the kitchen door? These plants are often easy to grow. Most of them are perennials, and they require almost no processing.
Your success in the restaurant business includes many variables, but the quality of your ingredients probably tops the list. Make sure that everything you bring into the back of the house for use on your menu has a fresh flavor and high quality so that your diners will be pleased with what’s going to the front of the house.