Monthly Archives: May 2017

Present Tacos Like a True Chef

Fortunately, the nature of mobile taco catering lends itself to a clean presentation.

It says something that the once-lowly taco is now served at weddings, corporate events, and high-ticket fundraisers. The deceptively simple yet delightfully textured tacos that taco cart caterers are now serving at these events cannot just be delicious food: they need to be presented in such a way as to fit their surroundings and to meet the expectations of their well-heeled diners.

But while an unfortunate number of Americans met their first tacos at a certain fast-food chain (or confuse tacos with their cousins, the burritos, extensively sold also in casual, fast-service environments), the association with fluorescent lighting and hard plastic seating is out of step with what tacos have become today. So for the unenlightened, the presentation of tacos – be it at a company party assisted by taco catering, a bar/bas mitzvah with mobile taco catering carts, or an in-home event prepared by an amateur chef – requires a few important details that add to the gastronomic pleasure of the modern taco:

Clean kitchen – The hygiene of food preparation is essential, of course. But just as important is the perception of that hygiene. A good taco cart will be sparkling clean with the added bonus of the food prepared right in front of the guest, one taco at a time.

Collaborative cooking – The other benefit of taco events is how no two tacos are alike. Because of the wide array of salsas and toppings – in addition to the choices between chicken, chorizo, carnitas, tofu, tilapia and shrimp – the diner and cook will have a back-and-forth exchange on what goes on that particular taco.

Salsas and toppings – As with the clean kitchen, the salsas and toppings need to look fresh and be in good supply. The sharp cook will keep all options available to all diners at all times.

Designing a Food Package

After all, it is the packaging that serves as the best form of in-store visual communication for the consumers that can help retain old customers and convert new ones. So what are the do’s and dont’s of food package designing that can make all the difference for a brand? Let’s find out.

Simplicity is never overrated

The average shopper has an attention span of about 4-seconds while browsing through products on the store shelf. Can your product packaging capture their attention in that short span of time? If you get it right, yes, it can.

In a store, when your consumer is likely to be bombarded with multiple choices from your competitors, using a label that offers both form and function, and delivers the right amount of product details to the consumers for them to make an informed choice in favor of your product becomes critical for your product’s success.

Honesty and dependability

When you’re selling processed fruit juices loaded with preservatives, sugar and some percentage of fruit pulp, and your product packaging says that it is fresh fruit juice, that’s misleading the consumers into thinking they’re buying something that they really aren’t.

While this is an extreme case, staying honest with the consumers can go a long way in earning their respect and brand loyalty. Your product packaging is the medium that communicates this honesty to them. Honest product packaging lends a dependability to the product and works as a key differentiator on the store shelves.

Visual impact

The in-store experience is all about visual communications with the consumers. However, inside a store, your product will not be alone on the shelves. It has to compete with other products for consumer’s attention. The products on the store shelves are always arranged in rows and columns, add to that the distance from the shelves and the relevance of package design become clear.

Test your product packaging by placing it on a shelf with other similar products to check for the visual impact it has on the consumers. The results will surprise you. It is often seen that the most intricate designs get lost on the shelf while the most simple ones pop-out. This simple test can help you get past this hurdle and ensure that your product registers the sales as per your expectations.

Scalability

Always keep one eye on the future. You may not have any immediate plans to introduce a new variation in your product line, but that doesn’t mean that your plans won’t change sometime in the future.

Product packaging design should leave future options open and allow you to scale your product line without having to invest heavily in new packaging design. If you sell jams and you decide to add a few more flavors to your product line, you shouldn’t have to reinvent your brand all over again. Moreover, this will allow you to retain consistency in your brand presence across your product line and add to the visual impact on the store shelves for your brand.

Practicality and sustainability in packaging

In the race to look distinctive with design elements like patterns, graphics and fonts in product packaging, don’t forget that the most critical function of the packaging is to preserve the food. Perishable items, in particular, need to be shipped and stored in packaging that allows longer shelf life of the product. The tried and tested design elements are always the safest bet for any product category. However, ‘tried and tested’ leaves no room for innovation, and the fact is that there is plenty of room for innovation while keeping practicality of the product packaging in mind.

Milk, for example, has been distributed to consumers in glass bottles for many decades with limited shelf life and preservation capacity. But tetra packs changed that, giving milk producers a chance to preserve their product for longer and distribute it to consumers in a wider market.

Moreover, advances in packaging materials mean that you have more choices than ever in selecting the right components for use in package design other than the traditional plastics, glass, aluminum, and cardboard. Sustainable packaging materials are no longer just buzzwords for the industry. Not only do they offer an improved shelf life of products, but also ensure better returns on investment, eliminate the possibility of toxicity, and help reduce your carbon footprint.

 

Vegan With Celiac Disease

First, a little clarification on these terms:

Vegan

A vegan diet/lifestyle uses no animal products at all, so that means no dairy, eggs, wool, honey, leather or silk. It goes for food as well as all other items. People are vegan for a variety of reasons, but generally it’s because we do not want to support the suffering and exploitation of animals. Another big factor is that livestock farming uses a lot more natural resources than plant farming does, and that is one of the driving factors behind so much pollution and ecosystem destruction in the world.

Celiac Disease

This is now becoming a fairly well-known condition, even though most people hadn’t heard of it 5 to 10 years ago. It’s an intolerance to gluten, the main protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Eating even small traces of gluten can make someone with Celiac sick with a number of digestive problems, as well as other symptoms like joint pain, fatigue and more.

The Problems of Both

So what about living with both? It just makes food choices even tougher. You’re already very limited when you have to avoid wheat (if you didn’t realize, it’s in a lot of foods), and then you add on further restrictions for eggs, dairy and animal products. It can mean slim pickings in some areas.

Specifically, the biggest problems are meat-replacement products like burger patties, hot dogs and sandwich “meat”. The majority of them use wheat gluten as their core ingredient. Brands like Yves and Gardein are easy-to-find for vegan meat alternatives, but they are not an option if you have Celiac’s too. You tend to do a lot more cooking at home, when you can find good vegan and gluten-free recipes. Look for products and recipes that rely on soy or rice rather than wheat, and you can find some gems.

Destinations For Foodies

Before moving forward, it is important to know what exactly constitutes the Texas Hill Country, considering most people would never really associate hills with Texas. The area covers 21 counties (either fully or partially) in the central to central-western part of the state. Vegetation varies from prickly pear cactus & Texas live oak, and yes, there are rugged hills in the terrain. The Texas Hill Country is made up of the Edwards Plateau region. Elevations on the land can range from about 100 feet to over 3,000 feet above sea level.

Needless to say, the area is unique in its diversity, but this, in turn, means that the residents of the region are also diverse based on where they find themselves the most comfortable. This comfort is found in the food that is available in the area, and it’s here that the fervent foodie nation finds itself flocking to as often as possible.

If you happen to be a foodie that’s not in the know yet, or perhaps you’re just someone who likes good food & road-trips, here are five food destinations in the Texas Hill Country you need to experience:

1. August E in Fredericksburg – For over a decade, this chic little restaurant has been known for “Nouveau Texas Cuisine” and has graced the tops of important local, state, and national restaurant lists due to its amazing offerings of great steak & stellar sushi.

2. Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood – This Texas gem has been dishing out top-tier BBQ for nearly two decades, offering brisket, sausage, pulled pork, spicy corn, and a “to die for” tater-tot casserole. Just in case you have a hankering for something sweet, there is also come off-the-menu cola-based cake (it’s a must).

3. Lost Maples Cafe in Utopia – This place is considered an absolute must for those traveling through the Texas Hill Country. It’s housed in a building over a century old, the servings are hearty, the clientele is diverse, there are no frills, and if you just need something a little sweet, grab a black coffee & a slice of some of the best pie you’ve ever had.

4. Becker Vineyards in Stonewall – Established 25 years ago, Becker Vineyards has award-winning wine in many styles. Visitors are treated to various events, tastings, tours, and even private tasting rooms. If you love wine, especially supreme examples of Texas wine, this is the place to visit.