Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Continued Rise of Ghost Kitchens and Why They’re Being Invested In

The Continued Rise of Ghost Kitchens 
and Why They’re Being Invested In

Many business ventures have turned towards the ephemeral. Startups design products like SnapChat or introduce features like stories which are focused on the fleeting – Clubhouse is the latest example in the social media landscape. Pop-up stores are another example of this movement towards for-a-limited-time-only presence in malls and shopping estates, as are the exclusive collaborations which fuel these temporary shopfronts.

The food industry is no stranger to this type of business model. Restaurant pop-ups have been popular for a long time. Many chefs focusing on this model rather than establishing consistent residencies. It allows some to impress investors and business people to allow them to then open their own place. Still, the premise is that a space, for a specific and short period, is entirely theirs, setting an atmosphere and a menu to create a distinct experience – it’s an art installation, as much as anything. However, a new adaptation of this is taking over: ghost kitchens.

 

Ghost Kitchens
Some restaurateurs are opting for delivery-only. To achieve this, they are making use of ghost kitchens. There appears to be two approaches to these spaces. One is that the ghost kitchen is hired and filled by the restaurateurs own staff, to prepare and cook meals and then organise their own delivery system, making use of existing services like Uber Eats or Deliveroo. Some are calling these types of business “digital restaurants,” as they follow the technology trend of picking and choosing when to appear as a physical entity.

There are many perks to this business model. There will be no continued rent on a building, for instance, which is, obviously, a considerable cost for many establishments. Also, no needing to account for the purchase and maintenance of equipment and the salaries of a larger workforce mean that overheads are reduced further.

The downsides and upsides are that the marketing strategy is hugely important. This may sound like a silly thing to say, as its applicable to all businesses anywhere. However, not having a geographically fixed location means that it’s important to work hard to earn the attention of eyeballs online. It’s difficult for a digital roamer to wonder past your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter page without meaning to, making a mental note to try that place out in the near future with some friends. As such, many of the key players in the early parts of the ghost kitchen scene have been celebrities which huge existing audiences. 

Mr Beast’s Burgers
Mr Beast, a YouTuber with 56.9 million subscribers, whose content mostly revolves around gaming, excessive challenges, and philanthropy, opened Mr Beast’s Burgers on December 19 th and by the week of March 12th they had sold their one millionth burger, which is an average of 40 per day at each of their 300 locations across the United States of America and Canada. This is a promising start for the business. While it is someway off a lot of its competition (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.), it’s an important milestone in both Mr Beast’s endeavour and for ghost kitchens.

There have been some criticisms, though, which have followed Mr Beast’s Burgers – due to its profile – as some ghost kitchens are other business’s kitchens which have their own or other orders to fulfill and, therefore, puts extra workload on their staff.

Mr Beast continues to attract venture capitalist intentions, with his management company, Night Media, creating a venture studio to help nurture and grow its stars entrepreneurial endeavours, including his existing fast food business.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Kitchen
Gwyneth Paltrow, a Hollywood actor, author, and entrepreneur, founded Goop, a lifestyle company, in 2008. It is a company which has attract some controversies with its emphasis on wellness solutions and dieting tips that are based on “pseudo-science”. Despite this, Goop continues to be successful and has decided to set-up a delivery-only food service.

Their menu is at odds with Mr Beast’s Burger’s. Goop Kitchen is focused on healthy eating, using sustainable growing practices, and meeting Goop’s own standards for “cleanliness”. The service is geographically limited to Santa Monica, California. It may expand, as Paltrow’s company’s mission is to continue to grow and inspire a movement around these lifestyle choices.

Guy Fieri’s Flavortown
Guy Fieri is a restauranteur who made his name hosting shows on Food Network in the late 00s and has more recently become more of a meme online. He has still, though, the chops for keeping up the with restaurant industry by relieving Flavortown of its brick-and-mortar confines and taking it virtual. There are classic Fieri options on the menu and has already established operations in twenty-four states, with multiple outlets in many states. It’s aiming big, as his profile, knowledge, and contacts enable him to.

Ghost kitchens are another leap into the digital-first approach for businesses and the emphasis on being in a place just long enough.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Rainbow Velvet Cake

This Rainbow Velvet Cake is vivid in colour with a rich vanilla flavour. Six thin layers sandwiched with my Cream Cheese Buttercream and cloaked in a chocolate fudge frosting made for a decadent birthday treat!
 

Since I was born, there has rarely been a time when my birthday didn't conflict with either Easter or other family members' birthday plans. As fate would have it, my whole immediate family have birthdays within a 4 week timeframe, with Easter falling on either my dads, my sister's or my weekends. Most of the time it's not a big deal, although as a kid birthday parties were always somewhat disappointing. Then again, some years I did get chocolate and gifts, so I guess I'm not too hard done by!

This year my birthday fell right smack on Easter Sunday, so knowing we would have my grandma and N there I figured it would be a great time to make a tester batch of Rainbow Velvet Cake in preparation for my sister's celebration. She got the idea for a multicoloured multiple layer cake from watching Trixie Mattel's Easy Bake Oven series on YouTube (seriously, you should watch her cooking videos for the sheer fact that they are hilarious) and since I hadn't made one stacked that high in - well, ever - I needed to see if it worked.

 
Luckily, this cake recipe is simple - it's one batter that gets divided and individually coloured. That said, be prepared for all the dishes! While the cake I made uses only three colours, you need 6 bowls for tinting so as to get the right amount of batter per cake pan. Obviously, if you want more colours just don't double up on the bowl tinting! As for what colouring to use, I strongly suggest a gel or paste, since to get enough tint in the batter liquid dye will thin it too much. I haven't tried with liquid, so can't say what you'd need to alter for proper product.
 
Another note on the batter portioning - it will look like you won't have enough batter per 8" pan. You will. The batter should be thinly spread because you are effectively baking half a layer at once. Separate pans eliminates the hassle of torting and dealing with all those crumbs. 

 
When it comes to filling and frosting, your choices are endless - though I have to say both my sister and I are biased! I folded sprinkles into my Cream Cheese Buttercream and schmeared it generously between the layers and cloaked the rest in a chocolate fudge frosting. Given that it's a vanilla cake, pretty much any flavour filling will work - my mom loves raspberry jam, my dad loves custard, and me? Well, I'd be loading up on the chocolate. If you aren't using frosting, make sure to pipe a border around the outside edge of the cake to keep it from leaking out!

At any rate, have fun making this cake - and while it certainly feeds a crowd, it doesn't dry out too fast so storing it for the 3 or 4 days it takes to disappear is no problem!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Golden Miniature Panettones

These golden, pillowy Mini Panettones are studded with dark chocolate, Craisins and pistachios and full of orange zest for an irresistibly festive flavour. They're rich and sweet with a secret ingredient that makes them even more special! 

Well, it's Easter weekend - and for the second time, both the Easter Bunny's visit and my birthday are being spent in lockdown. I shouldn't complain though, it isn't like I'm one for parties or bar-hopping, but it would be nice to actually grocery shop without the 45 minute lines again! This birthday is also being spent with limited baking potential, since I'm still relatively useless when it comes to hauling buckets of flour and bowls of dough here and there thanks to the car accident. So, rather than showcase a spiffy cake this year (though one may be forthcoming...) I'm going to share a festive bread that I made last Christmas and forgot to post about! Don't worry, I haven't forgotten the experience, or the reactions from the family I shared it with. Besides, panettone seems to crop up at our household on the Easter weekend as well, so let's say it's still seasonal!

I will admit, I've always wanted to make this form of bread to see just what is so special about it - having a vast Italian stepfamily and working with a few others who love the stuff, its ubiquitous every holiday. One year we had 4 large ones in our pantry thanks to gifts from family and friends! Because we had far fewer people dropping by last year, I decided to try out a recipe that could be made rather easily in miniature form using jumbo muffin tins and a few ramekins, and just so happened to be vegan, but that would be no less decadent. My inspiration came from a carton of Coconut Nog that I picked up at the discount grocery, which seemed like it would add not only flavour but richness to the dough. To make up for the missing "eggy" colour, a pinch of turmeric sufficed. The dough came together like a dream and was satiny and soft like my mom's Brioche dough is. Then I debated fillings.

Given that my mom was one of my taste testers, I knew there had to be chocolate in there somewhere. I mean, how can you go wrong? After that, I looked to my stash and after finding my bag of shelled pistachios in the freezer it hit me - holiday colours could be had by adding Craisins too! I will admit that I measured these rather loosely, so my amounts below are a guide, but each little loaf had a generous amount of each component.

Now, sometimes little loaves are not what you need, but I have you covered with this nutty, citrusy, sweet bread recipe - it's absolutely translated into a large loaf pan and I give baking times below. Either way, I don't think it's fair to keep this as a holiday only affair - who's to say a Saturday morning isn't cause for celebration?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Shingled Taco Pie

When the wind is blowing and the thermometer is still up and down like a yo-yo, why not turn up the heat with these vegetarian taco pies? A simple spiced lentil and vegetable filling hides under a shingled blanket of thinly sliced potatoes and (of course) cheese! The recipe makes two, so have one tonight and freeze one for later.

Well guys - it's almost Spring! That said, around here, Spring is more fits and starts than a season of it's own, and the nights are still plenty chilly! I've also been sidelined from cooking (mostly) for the last month and a half since a lovely car accident and final exams, so my silence is not intentional! 

However, before all that went down I was dabbling a fair bit in the kitchen, and one of my favourites so far has been this Shingled Taco Pie. It (like a lot of things during the school year) was born out of leftovers - in my case, it was leftover taco filling that the kids and I made. N loves my shepherd's pie made with lentils, and with potatoes always in our pantry I figured why not take that idea and twist it into a meal he could enjoy for a week before his night shifts?

That said, I have a wee secret. I loathe making mashed potatoes. The water, the waiting, the splashing, the dicey-at-best draining... yeah, that's a two-to-three times a year thing (probably good too, cause we like these guys). So instead of baking / nuking the spuds and mashing like I do for the shepherd's pies, I decided to let my knife work and create a neat little shingled "roof" over the taco filling, held together by the highlight of any taco - cheese.

 Did it work? Yes - and way better than I anticipated it working. Not to mention how gorgeous it looked sitting in the pan! Of course, since this isn't a pie with a crust or anything, a slice won't hold the same photogenic quality. However, I am the last person to complain about how a delicious meal looks while I'm savouring every last mouthful! I made two pies and N froze one for a later stretch of work, which apparently came in handy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Comfy Kitchen: 4 Must-Have Appliances For Your Kitchen

 

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A Comfy Kitchen: 4 Must-Have Appliances For Your Kitchen

If you are moving in a new home or just planning to spice up your kitchen, make sure that you include in your list the most important appliances for your kitchen. Of course, there are so many kitchen appliances to choose from but you must remember to start with the basics that will really help you a lot in the kitchen.

We all know that costs escalate fast once you start looking into appliances to buy since you learn about better technology of one thing or the other, you could doubt what is beat to buy so you buy different things instead.  Maybe you now want a bigger sized appliance as you have quite a larger family, things that you never considered before.

There are just some things that should top your must-have list as these kitchen appliances come in very handy especially on days that you will need a hand in the kitchen. So, let us start start looking into the list of your Kitchen appliances must-haves:

Rice Cooker

A rice cooker may be small but it is a very jam-packed appliance that is very useful in the kitchen.  This easy-to-use automatic appliance is also an energy-saver that can give you the perfectly warm bowl of rice that you want. You just need to plug it and it is good to go, no supervision or monitoring needed as it works without much fuss.

The good thing about a rice cooker is that it is a multipurpose appliance. You can cook healthy, nutritious vegetables in it like steaming carrots, cabbages, cauliflower and even boil some eggs in your rice cooker. To check the best rice cookers, this guide on Foodal is a great resource.

Kitchen Stove

Whether you want a gas or an electric stove is up to you but take time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before purchasing one. All your cooking will be done here so it is essential that you pick one that will fit you and your lifestyle.

If you are quite picky with your food and cooking, you may prefer the gas stove as this can offer more control of what’s going on your pan. Heating up or cooling down with electric stoves may take some time, that may not get the nod of some fussy cooks or a professional chef. However, many modern housing and condos highly recommend electric stoves because they believe this is easier and safer to use.

On the other hand, another plus of gas stoves is that it can still be used even if the power is off. Residents in far-off areas with unstable power supplies usually have gas stoves as this is more appropriate for their situation. So, it is really up to what you prefer for your kitchen but this appliance is definitely very vital for every kitchen.

Refrigerators

Depending on size and style, refrigerators can take not only a large amount of space in your kitchen but your pocket as well. That is why it is critical to make sure that you need this new appliance before you hand in your bills. If you think you can no longer recycle your old fridge you may want to sell it at a low price online or to your family or friends, this could save you lots of money so that you can buy that ref that you really want.

There is no denying the advantages it gives to your health and comfort. With a fridge, you are able to save your leftovers. You are also able to save a lot because you are able to keep your meat, fruits and vegetables fresh and safe to eat for a longer period of time. If the food lasts longer, there is a higher chance that it will be consumed.

In addition to this, if you really want to save on your food you must check on its organization,  keep your newly-purchased goods at the back of your fridge so that the early retailed ones will be used up first.  

Microwave Oven

Another highly-popular appliance for your kitchen is the microwave oven. Since people are very busy with their daily work or business, many rely on the microwave to cook their food fast and easy instead of using the stove where you will need to flip the food and keep an eye on.

With the microwave, your frozen food will be cooked in no-time. You can grill, cook rice, thaw frozen foods plus it is cooked evenly. This is the reason why it is also very useful in many corporate offices as they usually work overtime. 

Takeaway

Even if you think you have it all planned out, you can still get overwhelmed with all the eye-catching tools and things for your kitchen. But you must always keep in mind that you will need something that will be able to help you do your everyday chores in the kitchen.

So stick to the basics and look for the appliances that will give you efficiency and durability which in the end will make a world of difference for you. At the end of the day, you would also want to rest, and these appliances will be your ever reliable friends you can always count on to make your life a bit easier.