Starting up a Mediterranean Restaurant: What to expect through the trek
Growing up, I have come to love different Mediterranean cuisines. It all started at home where any other good thing begins. The process of cooking itself already gives me so much delight. I have loved vegetables since I was young. Mediterranean cooking, which combines meat and plant-based ingredients and spices, gives an explosion of tastes I have never experienced in any other type of cuisine. Call me biased, but other cookery has never been successful in making me dumbfounded with how beautifully the ingredients of Mediterranean dishes taste altogether. Indeed, it’s a masterpiece.
Like all aspiring food connoisseur, the first bursts of curiosity and amazement I had as a child turned into a dream. The dishes my mother cooked when I was little inspired me to cook for other people, too. I started to have the goal to let others taste what I have tasted, or let them experience the delight that I have experienced every time I eat a brand new spice-glazed lamb steak, steamy and saucy pilaf, or crunchy and semi-sweet baklava.
I have encountered failures at the start. You don’t become a master overnight. I have had troubles getting the right taste, or making an original recipe I may call my own. I have had some moments of dereliction. At times, I did not want to continue what I have started anymore. I struggled to rekindle my enthusiasm and determination my dream, thinking that there’s no other future waiting for me but that one where I’m in front of the stove, garnishing the final spices to a heavenly steak, while my assistant chefs are looking hopefully, and my patron customers are waiting outside for my most awaited menu of the day. Just as Jim Rohn said, “Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well” (Hartzell 4). It does not come easy, and everyone must work hard for it.
- Food Business and Mediterranean Cuisines
Nowadays, we can observe a lot of new and developing food industries across the globe. Why do food businesses click? Simple. People never run out of ideas when it comes to new recipes. Likewise, there is always a gaping hole in everyone’s taste buds, waiting and wanting to try something new and palate-stimulating. With different spices and ingredients, the probability of making something wonderful out of their combination is endless. There is just a lot to create and discover. Another reason why businessmen tend to grow such biz is because they do not affected much by economic collapse, considering that food is a staple for survival. You do not always need a lot of funds to start a food business. Especially with Mediterranean recipes, sometimes all you need is water and sunlight to grow your ingredients.
Mediterranean cuisines are not only very healthy, but very practical too, because most of the ingredients, particularly veggies and spices, can easily grow out of a patch of soil. Here are some of the basic ingredients of Mediterranean cuisines (Courtier 5):
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Moderate consumption of wine, desserts and chocolates
- Beans, potatoes, and grains
- Fresh fish, poultry, and red meat
- Some eggs and dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
But what really makes a Mediterranean cuisine special?
It is the World’s Healthiest Diet! (Courtier 1) – It is a good balance of vegetables with an ample amount of meat that is sure to keep our bodies healthy.
It has the most irresistible aroma – Mediterranean dishes might be one of the cuisines which use a lot of spices and ingredients in once cooking, which doesn’t just stimulate the palate, but entices the sense of smell as well.
Beef = Steak = Happiness to Everyone’s Inner Carnivore – People want variety. And people want meat. Somehow, eating just veggies or just meat is too bland for our tastes. Even our ancestors know this. That’s why Mediterranean cuisine is perfect for everybody, especially for those with voracious carnivore inside. Who wouldn’t swoon over the right medium rare steak – right kind of crisp on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside?
III. Building up My Career in Food Business
Pursuing a culinary vision, or any kind of career for that matter, needs a proper education. My understanding about cooking is not enough to achieve what I am really aiming for: success. That is why I have to learn and cook, and learn more and cook more, until I get better. Choosing the right school to enrol to is the first ever step, and even with this I still have some troubles. For instance, I have learned that most of the best schools that offer the best culinary education regarding Mediterranean cuisines are in Italy. This brought me to a school named Stile Italiano. They provide fantastic courses in Mediterranean culinary, but unfortunately, I don’t have the financial capacity to go there and study. There are however, short, cheaper courses available here in the US. Culinary education is a very expensive course, and I might need to be working in order to support myself financially in taking up culinary lessons.
3.1 Improvement of Basic Cooking Skills
Cooking does not only require mental understanding, but it also requires the emotional, psychological and social skills. Waters (“7 thoughts on How to Improve Your Cooking Skills and Knowledge”) enumerated the following as the right attitude and skills to learn and acquire, if you’re delving into the food business:
- Keep your mind on the goal.
- Identify the dishes that you like and then cook them over and over again, until you get to the right taste.
- Practice using your senses, i.e. taste, touch, smell and sight, and not just your critical brain.
- Keep notes. There is always something new to learn and try out.
3.2 Jobs and Career Building
Aside from taking up the short courses in Culinary arts, and then moving into more sophisticated and advanced classes when I have the time and money to spare, I would need to beef up my knowledge in business and management (Lynn 1). Taking a second degree, probably in Hotel and Restaurant Management, or Business Administration with a specialization in Restaurant Business, shall take care of the business side of my dream. These may seem to be little steps but like what I said before, success does not come easy. After all, every step of this journey will provide me essential lessons in life and this specific career. After studying, I could apply for my first job in one of the finest Mediterranean restaurants in Las Vegas such as the Estiatorio Milos or the Olives.
3.3 Basics of Business and Restaurant Management
In planning my own food business, it is very essential to know what kind of restaurant it would be. Will it be a classy one, quick diner, a food truck, or whatever (Walker 29 – 31)? As for me, I would like it to be a family diner, so everyone can enjoy good food at affordable prices.
It is also important to learn and understand the basics of handling one. Here are some tips to follow as specified by Mealy (“10 Things to Know About Restaurant Management”):
- The customer is always right. Never argue with them no matter how wrong they may seem.
- Restaurants need advertising. Make your business known by showing your consumers what it is about. Good advertising is a must in any business enterprise.
- A restaurant menu should be updated regularly. People need to know that you serve something else rather than the menu last week. Innovation is the key.
- Simple steps can save restaurant’s money. Come back to nature. Mediterranean recipes depend largely on plant food and spices. I dream of having a restaurant with its own organic garden, where I can grow all the necessary ingredients for my menu. It will be a better option than hiring a supplier. This is also a way of taking care of the health of my family and customers.
- Be creative in making your restaurant. The ambiance is everything. No matter how often we hear the words “never judge a book by its cover”, we just can’t help but notice physical appearances. That is why when building a restaurant, it’s important to take into full consideration its aura and façade, interior design and overall ambiance which must be warm, welcoming, comfortable and homely. Because I plan to serve Mediterranean cuisines, my restaurant should play the part.
I am from the Middle East, and I want to feel always at home, even in a foreign country, whenever possible. I would like to give my future customers the feeling that my restaurant is a home they can always return to, where they can eat with their family and friends, and enjoy every moment with them.
Putting up your any business requires a lot of work to do. You will have to observe a lot of details and guidelines regarding different aspects of restaurant management. There are factors that you have to consider such as your own learning about the cuisine you are cooking, how you will improve that learning, managing a restaurant, finding a good location and many more (Lynn 1). However, learning these things are great opportunities that open doors to better understanding, and brand new adventure towards the goal. Learning does not stop even when you have already established your own business. You will encounter a lot of failures such as balancing your income, or dealing with unsatisfied customers, but these are parts of making your way to success. The consumers make up the restaurant itself. A business is nothing without the people who go there to eat and have fun while doing so. Valuing your customers is very important.
Courtier, Marie-Annick. Cooking Well: Mediterranean, Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Diet. NY, USA: Hatherleigh Press, 2009. Print
Hartzell, Michael. 10 Magic Marketing Tips for Restaurants. USA: Better by Ten
Productions, 2010. Ebook.
Lynn, Jacqueline. Start Your Own Restaurant and More: Pizzeria, Coffeehouse, Deli, Bakery,
Catering Business. 4th Edition. USA: Entrepreneur Press, 2012. Print.
Mealy, Lorrie. “10 Things to Know About Restaurant Management”.
restaurants.about.com, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
Walker, John. The Restaurant From Concept to Operation. 7th Edition. New Jersey. USA:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014. Print.
Waters, Alice. “ 7 Thoughts on How to Improve Your Cooking Skills and Knowledge”.
simplycooking.wordpress.com, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.