Guest Author - Jason Hodge
You can never get too familiar with your specialty food stores. When you keep your finger on the pulse of what your marketplace is carrying, you keep your finger on the pulse of what your adoring fans may be looking for. Keep abreast of this when perusing your specialty foods markets.
Specialty foods markets are awesome. They keep the life and nuance running through your dishes transforming the, proverbial, ordinary into the, cliched, extraordinary. It will mean the difference between your delivering an okay meal that your client can get anywhere or presenting a culinary masterpiece that is second to none and cannot easily be duplicated.
When you make your food foraging trips to these rare finds, take the time to meet your grocers. They're a wealth of knowledge and information. Establish yourself with them and you'll find that they'll begin to look out for you. They'll give you a heads-up when they're getting a delivery in of those rare items that come in only once a year. They share ways that they and their families use the unfamiliar ingredients, imparting that authentic old-world flair and flavor to them. You may even find that you get an occasional invite to the family gatherings where you get first hand experience cooking for and being critiqued by the ones who know how an item is supposed to play out in a recipe. You'd be surprised at the type of close-knit friendship food can help you develop.
Make a determination that you're going to explore at least one new item every week. Ask about it.
What is its history?
How is it used?
What's the folklore around it?
When is it in high demand?
What's a good price for it? etc.
You want to get into the culture of the market and understand the products they sell. You want to know what the biggest and best sellers are and why and you want to know what you should be keeping your radar up for.
The more you do this the more familiar you become with what your clients potentially may be interested in. These are just a few of the things you should be aware of when you hit your local specialty food store. It's not only an educational experience, but it's also a great boost in building your business. Just imagine all of the referrals you can get from your new found friends at the market who happen to know you're a personal chef. It's always all about the relationship.
As always, I've had a great time sharing my ideas and experiences with you. Until next time...