Over 25 years cooking by the Bay
I try to keep this site light but there is an issue I feel I must address. The talk show circuit lately has played host to a clique of doomsayers who are out peddling their gold Krugerrands, 50 gallon drums of freeze dried food and other survivalist supplies by playing on peoples fears and foretelling a total collapse of the food supply, among other horrors. They also envision an end to the value of the dollar and point to the classic pictures of Germans in the late1920's wheeling in barrows full of cash to buy a loaf of bread. The real give away to their fear mongering scam is this, how are your asked to pay for these precious, invaluable commodities they sell? Is it through a barter system with goat meat jerky and dried fruit ? :No, they want cash, that soon to be worthless dollar. The Italian trade delegation I saw last week wasn't here to trade olive oil for Sonoma wine, Marin cheese or even shiny gold coins, they too still sought the busted buck.. Last year was a problematic year for grains, there are some drought conditions in some parts of the world and Australia lost much of it's rice crop but the real reason for shortages is that frightened people are hoarding. This fear driven reaction causes a self fulfilling prophecy, Costco has maintained supplies of rice to it's commercial buyers in the quantities they usually buy but they have refused to support the panic buying that is going on and have limited regular shoppers to a one bag per trip supply. This is a sensible move, why should a commercial operation that is feeding large volumes of people on a daily basis, have to deal with scarcities because panicky family buyers are trying to put a years supply of sacked rice under their beds as "insurance"? No one profits from this sort of buying but the mice who will soon be nibbling their way through the sacks. The world suffers from drought years in different locations all the time, was there a special factor at play to make this year more serious? Perhaps global warming? Well the meteorologists have had to admit, their hasn't been so much as a fractional increase in the planets temperature for the last eighteen years. It's just normal, it happens and we get by. Maybe too it is not such a bad thing that we all learn a little respect for the bread we put on the table and not throw a half of a loaf of French bread out every morning because we didn't eat it all the night before. We used to throw a lot of bread away at the restaurant. The bread was supplied by the bakery on a "par" basis, in other words, the bread delivery man would work off a sheet that told him approximately what we would use on say a Sunday in July and he would supply us accordingly. Any bread that was not used that day was dumped into the garbage can the next and the wastage was just written off. As prices began to rise I realized this system was wasteful and expensive and I started ordering the bread myself on a day to day basis. I know what we are going to need much better than a delivery man with a par sheet after all. The result was we cut our costs on bread by over 10%,, a savings directly passed on to the customer because it allows us to keep putting "complimentary" bread on the table with your meal without raising your check price. This is just a small example of a host of things we are doing to keep our costs down and keep your menu prices as low as possible. In aggregate they add up to thousands of dollars a week in savings we can pass on to the consumer and gives us a competitive edge against the restaurant or chain who can't or won't make their operations more efficient and just pass their increased costs on to the public.
There are smart ways to deal with this run up in prices we are all facing and they entail intelligent cooperation and creative solutions, implemented by people working together for the common good, not a philosophy of hoarding and hiding.
By the way, our old deep fat fryer fat is not even wasted these days, it is picked up by a bio fuels company and after a filtering process becomes a cheap non polluting substitute for expensive diesel fuel.