From new technologies and changing food trends to supply chains and innovative concepts, the restaurant industry is everchanging. Host Andre Natera shares kitchens, plates and stories with food and beverage superstars, preparing a new dish and offering valuable insights from the front lines of the culinary industry.
The art of cooking and dining has always been part of the human experience. It’s evolved rapidly in the modern world and is being reimagined once again in the age of COVID. Host Andre Natera welcomed Chef Gabe Erales to talk about the state of the industry, lessons learned, and what’s to come.
Erales brought his extensive resume and expertise in Mexican-inspired dining to in Austin, Texas. “My ties to Mexico, working down there and developing menus with techniques like fermentation made this opportunity a great fit,” he said.
Erales philosophy for the food and the staff is holistic. “We practice roof to leaf on vegetables and nose to tail,” he noted.
This mindset also plays into how he runs his kitchen with Chef Philip Speer. “We empower staff to be creative and learn. We have a cookbook club, where different staff will get a cookbook of their choice, then have the opportunity to present a new menu item inspired by it,” Erales explained.
Creativity of their mind is just one facet of a “healthy” kitchen. Erales cares as much about their emotional and physical health as their talent.
These philosophies served him well after the pandemic. The restaurant realized their meals wouldn’t translate well for to-go. So, they tried a twist on meal kits. “We began delivering ingredients to homes with instructions and videos on how to make it. It’s bridging the gap of that in-home dining experience,” Erales added.
The restaurant is now shipping these kits across the country. They’ve now reopened the restaurant as well with safety precautions, learning to work in a leaner kitchen with a shorter menu. He knows, however, that diners still have the same expectations for quality and experience.
The two chefs ended their chat by discussing the “what’s next” question of dining. Erales said, “The fermentation trend will continue as well as Mexican cuisine, which is having a moment. Right now, I do think diners want a casual approach to food and comfort.”
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