French-born Chef Gregory Czarnecki has been called the “Picasso of the Plate”, known for his locally sourced but stunning dishes. After traveling for years, he’s currently the head chef at Waterkloof, an innovative restaurant in South Africa that sources directly from a biodynamic winery. Eschewing conventional fertilizers, all plates are filled with organic and fresh from the land products.
In an interview with Fine Dining Lovers, Czarnecki explained that all his meals come down to three words: contemporary, minimalistic, and French. Presentation and flavor go hand in hand; while presentation “creates the mood” of the dish, the dish itself, he insists, must be full of hearty, natural flavors.
His favorite ingredients? Artichokes, celeriac and quince, “all three of [which] are grown in Autumn, which is [his] favourite season” for developing “very subtle, elegant flavours.”
The Uglier Side of the Weather Changing
While autumn offers plenty of inspiration for chefs like Czarnecki, the restaurant industry as a whole may be less fond of this time of year. Autumn marks the opening of the holiday season and foretells a stretch of colder weather, both of which cause changes in dining habits.
In general, people tend to eat out less during holidays: up to 61 percent of restaurants experience a decline in profits. The cold and decreasing daylight hours also have a negative impact on consumer spending.
The good news? Personal and private chefs might actually benefit from seasonal decline. While it’s true some holidays may disrupt working schedules for chefs, it is equally true that, in general, whatever season, people liked to have things prepared for them. A recent survey by CNBC estimates that up to 90 percent of Americans don’t like to cook. Even during holidays and family get togethers, consumers may opt for pre made selections, rather than heat up the stove.
Personal and private chefs offer exactly what consumers are searching for: hot meals, without the effort, and without the wasted time and hassle of traveling out in the cold during a busy holiday season.
The Season of Increasing Profits
As less consumers spend on eating out, personal and private chefs need to take advantage of this season to actively seek clients and advertise their services.
The National Retail Federation, which tracks consumer spending, explains that the holiday season can “make or break” small businesses; this principle can apply to personal and private chefs just as easily.
But actively seeking customers is only the first thing private and personal chefs need to do as the leaves change. Here’s a list of autumn-specific business moves to make the most out of the season:
Make Produce the Centerpiece
Fall lends itself to hearty and rich flavors, in part because it is a plentiful season for endless options in terms of fresh produce. Apples and pumpkins are favorites, but also look for cranberries, brussel sprouts, persimmons, pomegranates, sweet potatoes and turnips. All of these are great complements to roasted chicken or turkey, or as a full meal in of itself, like balsamic sweet potato pasta, turnip and potato patties with warm apple salsa, or penne with brussel sprouts and pancetta.
Offer Cooking Lessons
Many people don’t like to cook because they don’t know how. And even for those who don’t care to learn, autumn may tickle their fancy in hopes they can master holiday favorites before the big day. Offer one on one lessons, or even lessons for the entire family as a special deal. Check out these tips on how to teach cooking lessons that are both accessible and fun.
Refresh your Spice Cabinet
Now is the time to check your spices and seasonings to make sure they’re at their freshest, and add some new ones to the mix. Have nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves? Add ginger, fennel, allspice, dried orange peel, and licorice root. Now’s the time to combine sweet and heat, with spices like turmeric, curry powder, paprika, cayenne, and blends, like the Ethiopian berbere.
Fall in Love with Color
Match the vibrancy of the changing leaves by offering colorful and seasonal plates. Balance the creamy orange of pumpkins, squash, and potatoes with dashes of scarlet or yellow. Add sprigs of herbs to liven up a beef stew. If nothing else, follow these tips for colorful plating.