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What are the 5 recipes I should make before starting my cafe?

My husband and I plan to start an all-gluten-free lunch/dinner cafe within the next 5 years. I can't take culinary classes because I'm too allergic to gluten to be in a flour-flying environment, so I'm homeschooling myself in the culinary arts. I try new recipes all the time and have no problem converting them to gluten-free. But what should my core curriculum be? What should I be practicing for technique and knowledge? (Yes, we both have experience working in restaurants; I'm just a little terrified to be completely in charge of all the food!)

asked by beyondcelery over 4 years ago
18 answers 1839 views
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AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

Wow, this is exciting news! There is a gluten-free bakery nearby. Nothing in the place has a speck of gluten in it. I'll go take a look at their offerings and report back.

What kinds of things do you plan to make? I am so happy for you. I have never taken a cooking class in my life (other than a team-building cooking party for a business outing), so I am eager to hear what our friends here recommend. ;o)

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added over 4 years ago

aj, are you talking about mariposa? if you've not been there yet, it is a lovely place to grab a bagel and coffee. i really love the space there.

syronai, you're pretty darn skilled already. i think in terms of things like knife skills and a lot of the basics in mechanics and chemistry (braising v. roasting v. searing; how leavening (in all its forms) works; how to cook a perfect egg, etc. etc. etc.) you are probably pretty far ahead of the curve already. perhaps the skill that you are least likely to have is how to run a kitchen from the business side: minimizing waste, keeping costs low, ordering and developing relationships with purveyors.

there are textbooks in culinary school. i'm sure you can get your hands on one, and just work your way through if you want to be sure you have the skill set down. there is generally also information about kitchen management in those books as well.

i can't wait to come eat at chez syronai! (or whatever you're going to call it : ) )

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

Yes, Mariposa's the one. I like The Wine Mine next door, my favorite wine shop when I need something in particular, or "special." ;o)

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added over 4 years ago

oh, i didn't really answer the five recipe question. here's what i would say: 1) eggs (over, poached, scrambled, frittata, etc.); 2) roast chicken; 3) cake, as in a classic birthday cake cake (i think you have that covered already); 4) sauces and dressings; 5) bread.

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SKK
added over 4 years ago

What a wonderful question! You have met my daughter and you know who she is working for and the thing you and her boss have in common is that neither of you have gone to culinary school. And he didn't finish college and he is proud of it. And you have and should be proud of it.

Maybe your core curriculum should be what you love to cook, and maybe you should recruit a mentor who is a great cook and is not gluten free or vegan or any lable and you create together.

An example is Roxanne Klein and Charlie Trotter getting together to do a RAW book. Charlie Trotter is a meat chef, well known. Who knew?


766e7ce3 8394 4788 8337 bbd8a8d3a07e  5.15.11 coconut macaroons best sm
added over 4 years ago

Thanks, these are great suggestions! I should look into a textbook, can't believe I didn't think of that. Anyone ever used a good textbook in culinary school? Eggs, sauces, and dressings are definitely not my strong points. I've been playing with sauces lately; I should follow some good recipes for those. Suggestions? I grew up reading Laurel's Bread Book and the Tassajara Bread Book, so I feel like I've got a good baking chemistry base. I do need some kitchen management lessons--fortunately, starting out with catering out of my home kitchen has already helped a ton in those areas. (Not to mention running a coffee distribution warehouse--if that doesn't teach you about proper ordering, relationships, and stock levels, I don't know what will!)

The menu of the cafe will be at least half prepared ahead: specialty shepherd's pies, pot pies, quiche, baked goods, etc. Besides that, it'll be skewed towards basic pub fare, though on the healthy side: baked potatoes, salads, fries (gotta have those), dips, pickled eggs, layered polentas, flat breads. Specials of rice or quinoa tagines, stews, soups, chili. A wide variety of options, but a fairly limited day-to-day offering, so anyone could eat there 5 times in a week and never eat the same thing twice. It'll all be gluten-free, but beyond that anything may turn up on the menu. It'll be called Beyond Celery, the name of my blog. Any really classic recipes I should make at least once to know them, though?

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AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

I'd go for just a few items every day, with new but not overly complicated things introduced regularly. I know nothing about running a restaurant but I do know that the ones I like the most (which do very well, and have been around for a long time) are ones with a very limited number of choices, but they're thoughtfully put together on the menu, and well executed. You're going to be great!! ;o)

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

The best education might be to get a job, even part-time, in a gluten-free bakery or restaurant. Teaching yourself gluten-free cooking may be the least of it. You'll learn a lot more than just gluten-free cooking and baking, but also about how the business works, how much work is really involved, what interests you, how you would shape yours differently.

766e7ce3 8394 4788 8337 bbd8a8d3a07e  5.15.11 coconut macaroons best sm
added over 4 years ago

@AntoniaJames: That's pretty much the idea, keep things limited but varied. We'll have about 5-6 standing menu items, with 3-4 specials every day. Also, 4 taps with gluten-free beer and cider, a couple more in bottles, and maybe 3 rotating wines.

@boulangere: I've already had that job and it taught me a lot. The main reason I don't have it still is that this particular gluten-free bakery was very poorly managed when I was there. But I was in charge of all the savory items for the bakery for a few months. I wouldn't dare start a cafe without having worked in the business--it's very good advice! I wish I could get another job in a regular bakery/cafe, but the last time I did that, I started getting really sick because of all the gluten flour around. Fortunately, my husband's worked in restaurants for the last 8 years and I'm a regular sight hanging out asking questions of the kitchen staff (and bringing them gluten-free cookies).

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added over 4 years ago

Also check out Zest Bakery in San Carlos, CA. They're all gluten-free and more of a cafe than Mariposa, I think (Mariposa is only sweets, I believe)

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Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 4 years ago

Mariposa in Oakland offers pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and sides. They don't have your (very good) idea to serve gluten-free beer and a few wines. You might like to take a look at their menus. http://www.mariposabaking...

766e7ce3 8394 4788 8337 bbd8a8d3a07e  5.15.11 coconut macaroons best sm
added over 4 years ago

Thanks for all the suggestions! My main question is really what recipes I should practice, gluten-free or not, simply to learn technique, flavors, etc. Sounds like I should get to work on some sauces, eggs, and dressings.

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

Try this technique of making cauliflower couscous. It can be made lightly cooked.
Or raw for use in a tabouli type salad. (with some spinach and a nice greek dressing).
Try some tagine recipes too, it works well l cooked and seasoned with those on top.
http://www.food52.com/recipes...

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added 6 months ago

Not sure if you'll be serving meat, but in addition to eggs, dressings/sauces, I'd say being able to perfectly cook a steak... to all desired levels of done-ness. For that matter, I'd say perfect preparation on all different cuts of meat would be a good technique to practice.

0c2c08a9 1e7e 4449 89c1 758d62f1e797  amdrink
added 6 months ago

ha! I just realized this question is from 4 years ago! :)

766e7ce3 8394 4788 8337 bbd8a8d3a07e  5.15.11 coconut macaroons best sm
added 6 months ago

It is from 4 years ago, but I still haven't gotten to start my dream business anyway. Still working on sauces, but I can cook a pretty darn good steak now! As well as many other things. I've been concentrating on selling things from my home kitchen on a small scale while I teach my 2-year-old how to bake and I work at a coffee company. Thanks for the suggestions! =)

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added 6 months ago

I think it depends on what your culinary inspiration or focus is. Are you looking to do something 'ethnic' or 'American regional' or 'casual'? Small plates, soup/sandwich, or larger entrees? I think the answers to those questions will start to dictate your "lesson plans". Best of luck!

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added 6 months ago

So weird. Only the first few responses had loaded when I answered. I now see everything. My 'best of luck' wish remains though.