Quality restaurants, what does it mean?

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Great Italian Food Trade inaugurates a new column, RistorAzione. Dedicated to an industry where work is frenetic, competition enraged by free licenses and Web services, terms of engagement innovated by coupons and home services. In search of quality paradigms, possibly inspired by the values ofhomo sapiens sapiens rather than by algorithms.

Catering Capital,
focus
raw materials and semi-finished products

The survey starts with Rome as the capital city, an undisputed destination for travel and tourism as well as a ‘melting pot‘ of cultures and peoples, Italic and otherwise. The initial objective is to try to understand the criteria adopted in mid-range restaurants for the selection and sourcing of raw and semi-finished materials.

Orders are often executed
online
, relying on the catalogs of distribution companies. Which focus on quality delivery service and commercial offerings that reflect market trends. And in turn, they stimulate the inclusion of new dishes that tend to recur, against a discrete but not very large supply.

Making the purchases, in the most organized settings, are not chefs or restaurant owners but employees with commercial skills, somewhat similar to the buyers in the large-scale retail trade (GDO). Who, inevitably bound by numbers, tend to chase savings rather than recognize the value that quality supplies can reflect on the exercise itself.

Instead, quality catering relies directly on specialized producers. Who provide extraordinary selections of raw and semi-processed materials in an almost individualized service approach that caters to chefs. A necessary choice when you want to keep several dishes on the menu, without being able to have large teams of helpers or give up the exclusivity of the courses.

RistorAzione, certified supply chains and values

The origin of products and certifications of PDO, PGI supply chains are undoubtedly an asset of restaurAtion in Italy today. Taking into account both the large number of certified supply chains (there are now almost 300, unparalleled in Italy) and their appreciation by patrons. And so, the easy ‘putting value’.

The most motivated restaurateurs and chefs rely on specialist producers precisely because only they invest in the quality of the supply chain and are able to share the value, which can also be passed on to the end consumer.

One cannot simply take up the messages of sterile data sheets, in short, if one wants to put forward the value of raw materials in support of quality in modern ristorAtion. Instead, the narrative of the territories, microclimates and labors behind the signature ingredient is needed.

Narrative, after all, can no longer be based on the innkeeper’s words alone but must instead leave a trace. On menus and perhaps even with more modern tools, without inhibition to smartphones where everyone now consults everything, for thesketch of the reality around him.

The origin of meat is then one of the most serious information gaps. We can boast of excellent animal husbandry and yet we continue to play it down in catering. Until such news becomes compulsory, as it already has been in France since 2002 and we ourselves are calling for, alongside the Italia Zootecnica Consortium.

RistorAzione, the ‘
veg
in anticipation of organic

Vegetarian and vegan are now ubiquitous on menus. Understandably, in the face of a growing ‘herbivorous’ attitude, albeit not exclusive, among Italian and international consumers. Not just ‘veg‘ but ‘flexitarian,’ as they say.

The choice of alternating plant-based and animal-based protein sources is associated with the search for products that are relatively new in composition and format. Folk and macrobiotic traditions, from pasta and chickpeas to seitan slices, thus give way to vegetable ‘burgers‘ and other novelties marked ‘veg‘.

Organic, on the other hand-despite continued double-digit sales growth-is still struggling to emerge on menus. A pity, an untapped opportunity, considering that:

-Consumers are increasingly sensitive to pesticide dangers, as the ‘glyphosate case’ teaches. As well as to animal welfare, which organic guarantees,

-the organic supply chain better than any other contributes to the protection of natural habitats and biodiversity, our true treasures. And if ‘garden vegetables taste different‘ it is due in large part to respecting its nature, not offended by agrotoxics.


Gluten-free
, with caution

The market for ‘

gluten-free

‘ in turn is experiencing exponential growth.

Ten percent of the European population follows a gluten-free diet, although celiac disease and allergies to various grains containing it affect only 1 percent of individuals on average.

The phenomenon ‘
gluten free
‘ should therefore be attributed not to the increase in diagnoses of celiac disease, but to the spread of a scripted fad, sobered by the misinformation of those who speculate on it. A dangerous fad, moreover, for those who are not forced into it by health needs.

Declaring ‘gluten-free,’ however, carries a definite responsibility on the restaurateur. Which must actually be able to ensure that the food presented as such is completely free of contamination. (1)

Hygiene and safety, information on allergens and frozen foods, animal welfare

Hygiene and safety are the basis of restaurateurs’ responsibilities. We have already offered the ABCs of this, highlighting on several occasions how crucial it is to provide detailed, written information about each allergen in each dish. (2) Written information, among other things, is also mandatory on thawed products.

Administrative penalties for failure to provide written notice on allergens can reach €24,000, unless the act constitutes a crime. The offense also often occurs in cases of thawed foods presented as fresh (the ‘Cannavacciuolo case‘ is famous) or ‘
culled
‘.

Finally, animal welfare is of interest to caterers when it comes to storing live shellfish. Live in the pan is fine, but not in the refrigerator.

On RistorAction, in short, we will have some news and reflections to share.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) NB: Gluten-sensitive consumers who consume even minute amounts of gluten due to cross-contamination may suffer serious adverse reactions, even life-threatening ones. In such averted cases, the owner of the public establishment may incur liability for the crimes of injury or murder, whether negligent or even intentional

(2) See in this regard the circular Min. Sal. 6.2.15 and the European Commission Guidelines.