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Mar 18, 2007 08:01 PM

Where restaurants get their foods

I sure hope I've never paid $10 for a chicken dish that was actually this:

Or, at a restaurant, order a breaded fried chicken with cream sodium phosphates, sorbic acid preservative, oleoresin in tumeric:

I might as well have bought it in a supermarket myself and heat it up at home.

Have you ever noticed restaurant foods you've ordered that might have actually been ordered in mass, defrosted, heated in the microwave/oven, and served you -- and you're paying quadruple its actual worth? Perhaps restaurant owners/chefs know more about this, but this just leaves eating out..distasteful.

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  1. That is the type product most - NOT all chains serve. Many people are not willing to pay for quality products as restaurant or consumer. I recently switched my fryolater grease to a non transfat product. It costs me $12 - $18 more a JUG!!! However - there is no room in my market to charge more to offset this increase. I believe in my food and want it to be healthy and as good for you as I can make it - that is not what my average consumer is willing to pay for.
    I really don't think people realize how many restaurants fail - and that the ones that don't - don't have really great profit margins ( in general ) unless they are serving that type of food.
    We as consumers need to demand more - and be ready to pay for it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: coastie

      Most fryolater greases/shortenings were transfat to begin with, but certain food companies (whom I won't name but are mentioned here) are adding the exact amount you mention to your bill to take advantage of the situation. Just FYI. And the price to your customers would have to go up eventually, in any event.
      I'm glad I live in a place where Sysco isn't the only game in town. We have plenty of choices of purveyors, from broadline to just produce, just meat, just specialty etc. You can get whatever you want; I find the places that buy these pre-made items to be: nursing care and schools, concessions, chains, delis for their hot meals. Not actual restaurants, except for employee meals.

      1. re: coll

        do you mean non-transfat to be begin with.....
        I did a lot of research on this - I think you should clarify because that is certainly not what I found - and the repeated application of heat causes changes that mimic transfats n oils that don't start out that way....
        I'm in an area where transfat is not being controled( which I like)
        As other restaurants make the switch the market will bear more fluctuation.

        1. re: coastie

          I know that regular (ie cheap )"creamy" and "clear" fry oils were non transfat to begin with, with no reformulation, and of course soy oil was always that way also. There are new oils coming out that make a big deal about being non transfat (with names like ZTF etc), but they're all $30 plus per tub, and maybe they're better for some other reason like longevity. What bothers me is that some distributors are trying to take advantage of the situation abd double their money, especially here in NYC. Let me get more info tomorrow and update what I'm telling you.

      2. re: coastie

        I noticed online that a local restaurant now offers macademia oil as an option, at $2/oz. For salads but also some wok items - not sure about deep fryer items. I don't know if this is a new trendy oil for some reason (I vaguely recall some trendy diet may have featured it?) or if they are trying to give a non-transfat, cost-transparent, option.

        1. re: julesrules

          I started hearing about macadamia oil several years ago, the ad had a doctor in it so it had some health benefit but I don't think it was transfat, something more like anti oxidents. I bought some and thought it tasted terrible myself, and the price was ridiculous.

      3. Why does this bother you?

        And, if you sit down and think about it for a moment, it really shouldn't come as a surprise.

        Restaurants are in the BUSINESS of making money, not feeding you well. The latter is only a happy coincidence of the former.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I know, but I think it was reading the ingredients and the description that turned me off. I guess when I'm hungry and the food smells and looks edible, I don't give a thought to it. But, it does make me appreciate more the restaurants like Josie and LaCachette that use market fresh ingredients. It certainly takes much more effort and devotion to the food itself - from the raw to final plating - to keep that up.

          1. re: chica

            Yeah, hence the $$$ for places like Josie and La Cachette ...

            Also, "Sysco" is the Jeopardy answer for the question "How does Hometown Buffet stay in the business with its incredibly low buffet prices?"

        2. Yes, restaurants -- from high-end to hole-in-the-wall and everything in between -- get all manner of foods, processed and otherwise, from Sysco.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Neely_Ohara

            Yep, I understand that, but I hope I never eat a dish that promotes itself as a chicken steak, when it's a bunch of chicken pounded together...:) Perhaps that's a norm, but I never knew that!

          2. We must be in the business of making money!! But that doesn't have to mean processed foods. You get what you pay for. Sysco is merely a purveyor. Some of the products they carry are fresh whole foods.
            I believe we need to eat better - fresher foods that are more natural. As a chef, as a food lover I can not divorce myself from the want to feed people well. Hopefully, it makes me money.So far that philoshopy has worked for me. As a person handling peoples food I feel obligated to provide the freshest product for the best value.
            It doesn't bother me that these products exist - but that people don't realize they are there because the market demands it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: coastie

              I totally understand the need for such suppliers. It's a system that works. I was just a little bothered by some of the foods I saw, like that pounded-up meat taken for an entire piece of actual bird. I guess that sort of dish makeup is well-known when ordered - my lesson of the week!

            2. There are many people who think that just because a Sysco truck is in your parking lot, that you are using subpar, frozen supplies, dried spices, canned tomatoes, soy sauce, olive oil, sugar,flour, etc...has to come from food providers, it is where we choose to purchase the vegies, meat, dairy...that makes the difference. (And how we treat them once we get them)

              1 Reply
              1. re: nyfoodjoe

                Without FSA ( same as Sysco) I would be sunk. People don't realize those great products mentioned originally are chain food and instituitional food ( generalization of course) - its what we feed our kids , our sick, and our elderly.....