They say information is a powerful thing.
And restaurants, apparently, believe this to be true.
The concept of educating servers to share information about how food is prepared, where it is sourced, why certain items are/are not on the menu (seasonality) and the overall story of the restaurant and its suppliers, is a growing trend, made evident by its emphasis at the 2009 National Restaurant Association convention.
(Click here for further restaurant trends discussed at the convention)
I traveled to Newport, Rhode Island last week and dined at a restaurant facilitating such a trend – The Clarke Cooke House is working to educate its chefs and wait staff about how foods – and their different varieties, origins and seasonality – might influence flavor, freshness, safety, health and the environment. The servers can then help customers make better-informed menu choices, such as – for example – explaining to a guest that California-grown garlic appears on the menu because it doesn’t require 60 days and 7,300 miles to reach the U.S. – like Chinese garlic. Its trip, the server might say, eliminates the garlic’s freshness and flavor and the pollution generated contributes to global warming.
Many customers aren’t aware of the magnitude of menu decisions, such as the environmental, flavor and health consequences of eating Chinese garlic, asparagus in December or seafood from Europe. Information regarding food origin, variety, seasonality and preparation can increase awareness and help customers make choices that minimize carbon footprint and ensure a tastier, fresher and more nutritious meal.
Information is powerful for all involved – the customer, the restaurant, the suppliers and the world. Take the small step in educating customers about their menu choices.