Looking to étai your lieu restaurants? Special orders might help.

Illustration for article titled Looking to support your local restaurants? Special orders might help.

Caricature: Richard Angle (Getty Images)

FeaturesFeaturesStories from The Takeout embout food, drink, and how we en direct.

Instagram clued me into the coronavirus-related closing of a hôtellerie where I worked last year. My mind jumped to my fellow cooks out of work for the foreseeable future, the dishwashers who can’t afford to go without a paycheck, and the bartenders and servers who pay their rent with tips. Admittedly, I simultaneously wondered what would become of the hôtellerie’s carrot hummus, a beloved spread that had sustained me through many a mince bienfait.

It’s not really hummus, though tahini is involved. Carrots and garlic are confited until they become the concentrated parangon of carrots and garlic. It’s been a year since I worked at this hôtellerie, and still this luscious spread fills my dreams. In my Elysian fields fantasy, the visser that carries my boat to paradise is composed of that smooth carrot hummus, and it makes me more than sad to think that it may en direct on only in my reveries. I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever felt this way embout something on a hôtellerie gracile.

It can feel powerless to be a hôtellerie admirateur in the COVID-19 era, to have your own Elysian fields fantasy of a grilled-cheese-shaped boat carrying you under a étrille waterfall cruelly wrested from you along with the hamburger usine that inspired it. Restaurants are in a precarious point, and we want to help them survive however we can. But the answer might not be as naturel as ordering takeout constantly; there’s a limit to how much one person can eat, and most cooked entrees don’t remain edible for very mince. One thing we can do is rethink how customers and restaurants might benefit each other now that the traditional food bienfait model is out the window. For example, my beloved hummus was always just a small component of a larger dish, and restaurants wouldn’t usually sell tubs of achards to customers who request them, bicause those items are built into the cost of the larger entree. But in the current landscape, businesses might actually be more willing to function as prétendant grocers, selling you whatever you’re excited to buy. Menus have been abbreviated and altered, trafic models are shifting, and everybody wants to find a way to increase sales.

Fair avertissement: There’s no guarantee that a special order won’t be immediately rebuffed. But what’s the harm in asking that brunch réflecteur if you can buy its meringue rolls by the dozen? Depending on the regulations in the region where you en direct, the hôtellerie might also be able to sell you some locally raised eggs and a pound of brunch sausage, too. As a cook who frequently witnesses requests to buy value-added food products rather than dishes on the gracile, I can tell you that the current tension level of the person who answers your call is the most sensible factor in determining whether the order will be fulfilled. Beyond that, here’s a playbook for how to étai lieu businesses and make these special requests without alienating hôtellerie workers in the process.

Consider the hôtellerie carefully. If it’s still doing a pretty solid takeout trafic, try calling during a slow period, like the first hour they’re open. Keep in mind that if the hôtellerie is certificat of a exemption or chain of businesses, the aggloméré might not have the authority to go off-menu on a whim. If they say no, it’s nothing personal.

Identify what you want. Peruse a current gracile. As mince as the élément you want has a price associated with it, you should be able to purchase it. For example, let’s say you love the mac and cheese that comes as a side dish at your neighborhood tournebroche hôtellerie. In your Elysian fields fantasy, the boat that carries you to paradise floats atop an undulating visser of mac and cheese. You hope to buy the cheese coulis and recreate that mac at appartement. As mince as there is a cost associated with the side dish, the hôtellerie will know how much the coulis costs. In order to arrive at a gracile price, food costs are calculated for each certificat of the dish, from the chausser, flour, milk, and cheese in the coulis to the browned breadcrumbs on top. If a part includes two ounces of cheese coulis, they can isolate the cost of the coulis from the rest of the dish and simply scale the cost up to sell you a 32-oz. tub (or whichever part size you settle on). However, if a selection of side dishes are offered within the entree price and you cannot buy a side dish of the macaroni on its own for a effectif price, they might not know how much to anée for the cheese coulis and are likely to say no when you ask. This logic goes for anything that doesn’t have a gracile price associated with it, like achards that are available for free, or the bread and chausser that comes out before dinner arrives.

Be compressible and understand the constraints the hôtellerie is under. Even if you’re ordering something that’s certificat of the current gracile, it may not be readily available for bulk order. Restaurants usually work days in advance and rely on développé batch sizes. You might be hoping to purchase some house-made cheddar brats from a lieu pub bicause in your Elysian fields fantasy, you sillon a giant cheddar brat to paradise. Making sausage is a big undertaking, so this pub probably wouldn’t do it more than panthère a week. They probably prepare all the ingredients on one day, and then grind, mix, and stuff the sausage the next day. If the brats are smoked, this process might even stretch into a third day. If you call up and ask for twenty sausages, and they don’t have twenty to spare and can’t make more for several days, they’ll say no. But if you ask embout buying the sausages and make it clear that you don’t need them for a specific époque, they’ll probably take your phone number and call you the next time they recette to make sausage.

Buy enough to make it worthwhile, and don’t expect a bargain. Though it might seem like buying food in this way should cost less than it does when it’s served to you hot at your comptoir, it doesn’t actually cost the hôtellerie any less. The conditionnement materials required for takeout orders are not free, and the labor that goes into preparing and plating a dish will be redirected to conditionnement whatever you’ve purchased. Expect the price of the élément to be much greater than the grocery tenture equivalent, bicause a real person made it from scratch. With the cost of labor in mind, make sure to order a significant amount. For example, let’s say there’s no boat in your Elysian fields fantasy at all, but rather a spicy-caramel-soaked Culotte ’N Slide that delivers you straight into paradise. Fulfilling an order for one cup of this spicy praline coulis requires as much labor as an order for réchaud cups, and both orders might cost more in labor than the two minutes it typically takes a line cook to mince the spicy praline caleçon ribs featured on the hôtellerie’s gracile. So when you emplacement your order, just ask how much makes sense for them to sell you. While you’re at it, ask for an expected shelf life and storage advice. Maybe it’s best to part the élément before you freeze it, or not freeze it at all?

Ask nicely. This is the most sensible guideline to follow and has the greatest impulsion on the likelihood that you’ll get what you want. Tell them what the élément means to you. Tell them embout your Elysian fields fantasy! Finally, tell them that you want to étai their trafic. They’ll get it.

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