Oser Communications Group

Restaurant Daily News May 21

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R e s t a u r a n t D a i l y N e w s S a t u r d a y, M a y 2 1 , 2 0 1 6 1 0 2 customers' Instagram feeds. Blackwing Organic Meats, located in Antioch, Illinois, is a nationwide sup- plier of all-organic meats and specialty exotic meats, including buffalo (bison), domestic elk and venison, wild boar, chevon goat and game birds. A vertically integrated company that controls its products from pasture to end users, Blackwing gives you the assurance that the protein choices you're offering your guests will excite their interest in your menu and meet their dietary require- ments as well as satisfying their hunger. "So many foodservice operations are leaning toward healthy, and we can help them with their needs to serve those cus- tomers," says Blackwing President Roger Gerber. "Eating a healthy diet has become a No. 1 priority for many. We offer every healthy protein they could want, and we are one of the very few who can do that. There's nothing that we offer that isn't verifiably healthy." Blackwing is the rare purveyor who can offer organic beef, bison, chicken, turkey and pork from one supplier. Quality organic meats as well as certifi- ably antibiotic- and hormone free-meats have made Blackwing a one-stop suppli- er to successful foodservice operations nationwide. While many customers expect to see organic pork, chicken and bison on the menu, a menu that also features exotic proteins like elk, wild boar and even grass-fed lamb or goat will offer guests a culinary adventure and surprise Blackwing O rganic Meats (Cont'd. from p. 1 ) and delight them into sharing their experience with their social networks. "Let us show you how organic meats ,bison, elk, wild boar or grass fed lamb can increase your business, separate you from competition and increase your profits. Blackwing's specialized offer- ings have helped launch many start-up burger operations to become multiple unit operations," Gerber said. "Wild boar, bison and elk make the restaurant memorable, and you, as the patron, walk out of there and have conversa- tions. If it ate good and was delicious, you'd have more than one conversation. That's what makes our meats an impor- tant marketing tool that grows the restaurant's business." Blackwing Organic Meats has been in business since 1997 and has just opened a new 25,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility that gives the company expanded capability to meet the growing demand for exotic and organic proteins. "We just built the finest state-of the art facility that is vertically integrated, so that we now have the ability to handle any aspect of the busi- ness and to service every foodservice operator from the smallest single-unit cus- tomer to national chains," Gerber said. "We even have our own retail, organic store now.... A restaurant within 20 miles that needs to pick up two cases of bison patties can come down and pick it up from us, and while they're here, they can pick up organic produce, dairy and cheeses." Visit and sample Blackwing Organic Meats in booth #10633. After the show, call 847.838.4888 or visit www.blackwing.com. FABIO VIVIANI TALKS PRACTICAL COOKING, ENTERTAINING By Micah Cheek Halfway through my interview with Fabio Viviani, I had to interrupt the restaurateur, entrepreneur and Top Chef winner to catch up with the quote I was typing. He jumped at the chance to inter- rupt me back. "You can make it so much easier on yourself if you record every- thing, get a voice recognition program," he said. "Get in the 21st century!" Viviani had just reiterated an attitude that has followed him through his restaurants, kitchenware collections and media out- lets – keep it simple. Viviani's outlook is worth listening to, especially because of the media pres- ence he commands. The "Fan Favorite" status he earned on his initial "Top Chef" appearance put the spotlight on the chef's undeniable charisma, which he has lever- aged into a variety of appearance and endorsements along with his restaurant interests. This media savvy has been plac- ing him on everything from local news- casts to "The Rachael Ray Show," and the videos just keep coming. Aside from the celebrity factor, the appeal is clear. Viviani is feeding the desires of consumers who want to cook more, cook healthier and do it all with a gentle learning curve. Viviani's history, growing up watching his grandmother cook and making his way up through the restaurants of Florence, made me expect to speak with a stickler for tradition. I was surprised to hear that three of his home kitchen essentials are appli- ances: a food processor, immersion blender and high speed blender, in addition to wooden spoons and a few good knives. And how good should those knives be? "A $30 knife is as good as a $300 one, as long as it's kept sharp. A $1,000 dollar dull knife is not gonna work," says Viviani. The chef's standard fresh pasta recipe, a main- stay of his kitchen demonstrations and TV appearances, avoids the classic volcano of eggs in flour in favor of a minute or two in a food processor. When tradition comes up against practicality, practicality wins every time. Viviani was raised with a bent toward this efficiency. "I grew up on food stamps. My grandmother was paralyzed from the waist down, and she was always cooking," says Viviani. "I was witnessing her making a meal out of nothing." Viviani's family didn't have the luxury of stringent preparation rules or of waste. This has informed the way Viviani's recipes are crafted and executed. Viviani seems excited to encourage consumers to simplify cooking with fresh ingredients. The only time I heard him taking a serious tone was when we starting broaching the subject of home cooking. Viviani said he was expecting home cooking to continue to rise in prominence, and then things began to take a turn. "Eventually people will have to get back in the kitchen or else they'll go to the cemetery," said Viviani. "[If] people are lazy, then they get fat, and then they get sick and die." Viviani has the same passionate outlook on food waste, recalling the times that his family could not even afford to throw away pota- to peelings. He says he often deals with people who think he can only advocate these changes because he has the expert- ise to cook in a healthy way. "People say, 'For you, it's easy,'" he said. But Viviani grew up watching someone with no for- mal training feeding a family in this way. "My grandmother was cooking for six people every day, and we didn't even have food." I mention home entertaining, and just like that, Viviani's usual cheer is back. "I think the best concept for home entertain- ing is tapas," says Viviani. "As long as it's not complicated and it's easy to consume, everything is good." Tapas are a good standby, because the format can be as for- mal as you like, and guests can easily get involved in the kitchen with simple room- temperature snacks. "Food is meant to bring people together. When you have a lot of people and everyone does their share, it's fun." Viviani recommends serv- ing for parties on small wooden plates, because the style can be adopted for both formal and casual scenarios. The chef has lent his name to the Fabio Viviani Heritage Collection, a set of acacia wood tableware that fits the bill nicely. When discussing wine pairings, Viviani said the words that every novice oenophile was hoping to hear. "Everything about wine is an opinion, and I don't follow opinion much," said Viviani. "When you think about food and wine, you can think too much." For Viviani, a few general guidelines can point a consumer in the right direction more than worrying about tannin levels or jammy undertones. "You don't want to drink a dry white wine with something spicy, or your face will be on fire," says Viviani. "You want to drink a pinot noir with a lighter meat, while you can save a bolder wine for something heavier." Viviani's line of wines, first released last year, promotes this attitude. "The most important rule for us is to keep the wine easy for people to understand," he says. If Viviani's continuously rising star is any indication, consumers are starting to heed the no-nonsense advice. Meanwhile, I'm headed back to the kitchen to sharpen my $30 knives. AUTHENTIC GREEK FRESHNESS IN AN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL By Lorrie Baumann You won't see a lot of clutter on the label of a bottle of Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Instead of a lot of extra text, the bottle's white label is simple and clean, suggesting the purity and elegance of the product inside. That's intentional, says Jonathan Bassett, Co-founder of The Olive Fruit, which makes the Kiklos product. "A lot of olive oils, and particu- larly specialty olive oils, say a lot on the label, and then when you purchase them and taste them, you're asking, 'What did I just buy?'" he says. "We wanted to show in the brand image that we're taste perfectionists." The Kiklos brand was started by Bassett after he grew frustrated in his search for the authentic tastes he remem- bered from when he traveled to Greece on family visits when he was young. "I fell in love with the country and the food," he says now. One of the flavors he missed most was the characteristic taste of Greek olive oil. "It's such a staple taste that influences the taste of the food that's made with it." He finally decided that the best way to get that flavor in the United States was to start a company with a Greek col- league and import high-quality extra vir- gin olive oil from the Peloponnese region made from just one variety of olives—the Koroneiki. The Koroneiki olive, known as the "queen of olives" for its fine taste, also produces oil with high antioxidant levels, which are responsible for the health benefits for which extra virgin olive oil is lauded. "It's a Greek taste," Bassett says. He launched the Kiklos brand in American stores in June, 2014. Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil from olives harvested this fall will be arriving in stores this winter. Olives for oil production are harvest- ed in Greece during the months of October, November and December. The olives whose oil will be bottled for Kiklos are harvested just before they reach the peak of ripeness to maximize their antioxidant content. Kiklos olives are picked without using big machinery to shake the olives out of the trees, as is done in many olive groves. That hurts the trees and hurts the olives, and the effects ultimately show up in the oil's flavor, so the Kiklos olives are harvested gently, then transported quickly to the mill and cold-pressed within a day or so at a tem- perature below 27 degrees C. "Since we're a small company, it's easy for us to do that because we have full control over our process," Bassett says. "But even as we grow, we'll continue to process the same way and always in small batches." The result is a yellow-green oil with a characteristic grassy flavor and a pep- pery finish that Bassett calls the "Kiklos kick." "With the kick, you feel a warm sensation at the back of your throat, which signifies that you're getting the antioxidants and a natural anti-inflamma- tory," he says. "It's not blended. It's not deodorized. It's not infused. What we're offering is olive juice – it's just pressed olives without any other chemicals." "In Greece, when you order a salad, there's no dressing; there's just olive oil, vinegar, pepper and salt. That's it," he adds. "It's the perfect dressing, not only for your salad, but also if you want to cook chicken or fish or grilled vegetables – it just makes it that much better." Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil retails for around $29 for a 500 ml bottle. For more information, visit www .theolivefruit.com.

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