It’s 2017; people are drinking less alcohol, renouncing cigarettes, exercising more often and eating healthier. If you’re smart, you’ll get with the program.
Many other articles, especially those under the purview of New Year’s resolutions, will cover methods and choice tips by which to give your mains and appetizers the health kick they need to keep drawing in patrons with increasingly esoteric dietary restrictions. One nutritional piece of advice around this time of the year that can be quite damaging to our restaurants, however, is to cut out desserts entirely as a means of weight loss, unclogging arteries or mood elevation.
While there will always be a market for the uber-indulgent and ever-inventive confectionary creations of your pastry chef, nowadays if you only offer decadent desserts, you run the risk of alienating many with this compelled-to-stay-perfectly-thin mentality and crippling your chances at getting a few extra dollars from every table.
Some may argue that desserts are meant to be decadent and you simply get what you get. I advocate choice insofar as offering a few healthier dessert alternatives so that you can better appeal to this growing trend and thereby maximize revenue per turn. Moreover, if you become known as a spot for healthier desserts, then that alone may spiral into its own marketing engine to further propel awareness and popularity.
In terms of what might actually fit into the oxymoronic category of ‘healthy desserts’, I suggest you go back to basics by excluding flour, refined sugars, butter and creams, and then working resourcefully with fruits, nuts, dark chocolate and unpasteurized honey (which actually contains many valuable nutrients as well as being more flavorful than its processed counterpart). Depending upon your views on dairy, a selection of fine cheeses also makes for an excellent last course; although this tradition still has a lot of catching on to do in North America.
Armed with only these five ingredients or classes of ingredients, challenge your chefs to come up with something wonderful beyond simply a bowl of sliced fruit, honey-baked mixed nuts or chocolate fondue. Make it a bit of a competition. As with many other creative enterprises, sometimes it is the limitations that compel us to produce our most imaginative creations.
Next, consider healthier beverages for the dessert menu. As diets change, milkshakes wane, but so too are alcoholic digestifs. Think about adding cold-pressed juices, smoothies or other healthier concoctions to the list. Much like the challenge you will present to your chefs, ask your bartenders and mixologists to come up with an alcoholic infusion to what would otherwise be deemed a vigorous brew.
As any you slice it, with nutritional conscientiousness on the rise, your menu will require improvements to this effect if you are to stay at the top of your game.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in Hotels Magazine on January 10, 2017)