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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Good Food is Food You Cook Yourself - BBQ and Grilling is as Basic and Easy as it Comes in Alberta, Canada

What You Are Eating


"Fast food" is everywhere. It means, unfortunately, that bad food is too. 

Because it is easy to get cooked food fast, many people are forgetting how to prepare it themselves and are probably unaware of what they are really eating. I know this is a gross generalization. It may upset some people. These may be the very people that never paid attention to how grandma boiled potatoes or pulled a roast chicken from the oven. I bet they can't even fry an egg.

There is a whole generation of Millenials that think milk comes from a factory and burgers should be made in laboratories. Most of what they regularly consume comes from an oil fryer, and they have their local restaurants, and food establishments on speed-dial through technology like "Skip the Dishes" and "Uber-Eats". No wonder they gravitate towards veganism! They are unlikely to be eating enough good food.

Here is the revelation. Whatever you order from a restaurant is probably sub-standard. You can buy better at the supermarket, cook it yourself, and it will ultimately taste better, and perhaps be even cheaper. By cooking for yourself, you may learn something. You will definitely also make a few friends along the way when you also share your work with those around you. 

If you don't cook your own food, you are probably not eating well. Let's take a closer look at the economics of a food establishment in today's world.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 


Heritage Heat Ep1

Alberta BBQ Ep2


DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Buy vs. Cook


This is the scenario. It is a case that will probably be out of reach for most people. However, it will put in context what good restaurant food may look like. What will be a fair price at an upmarket downtown establishment, when we order a 450g rib steak, scalloped potatoes, another green vegetable and a salad?

Without the trimmings, side dishes and drinks, and excluding tip and tax, the steak alone will probably set you back around CAD$45 - CAD$50. How did they get to this price? Consider that you have the cost of the slab of beef, the skill of the chef/cook, some seasoning, the overhead of the facility and the margin built in as cost to the price of the meal?

According to "Forbes" magazine, the average gross profit margin for a fine-dining restaurant is around 60% with a food cost percentage between 38% to 42%. Because we are looking a premium piece of produce, there is a good chance that the portion of meat that is served in this scenario set the restaurant back around $21.

Remember that the meat is the star of the meal, and clearly, it is the most expensive part of what is served, so everything else should contribute to pay the rent and wages. The potatoes, vegetables, salad, wine, etc. must deliver substantially better margin than the 60% (charged over and above in this case).

Here is the surprise. The price the consumer is willing to pay ultimately determines the profit a restaurant can squeeze out of a meal. If you and I are eager to slap down $50 for a steak, then a good restaurant will creatively engineer their food and overhead costs to maximize the return from that $50 of wallet spend, without diminishing their brand or upsetting customers with a sub-par experience.

The question is, what can they get away with?

This is where creativity starts in the restaurant business. Either they have a heck of a deal to get prime produce really affordable (because they buy vast quantities, know the farmer, grow their own beef, blah, blah, blah, or let's just say it is where the cook/chef's talent come to shine. They likely take an average (or below-average) cut and dress it up to be served as a prime cut for a top dollar.

Now, think what you get served at a fast food restaurant. Where is the margin coming from in a $10 Happy Meal? Not so happy anymore, are we? No wonder, they try their best to obscure what you are really eating from the fryer.

You can cook for yourself. Visit the grocer or butcher and buy a prime piece of meat. Drop it on a hot grill for 4 minutes a side. Slap it with some garlic butter and a little S&P and another couple of minutes in the oven. See how that compares to your $50 barely adequate rip-off restaurant steak.

I cannot fathom why I would choose the restaurant's steak over my own unless I have money to burn or masochistically feel like tendering for a round of prime indigestion. The point is, you may ultimately spend the same money if you want to (if you pick the 90-day, dry-aged, prime cut that is actually the 90-day, dry-aged, prime cut). However, you will be eating better, because you know what you're cooking, and you have no incentive to cheat yourself out of a perfect meal.

Which brings us to barbeque and grilling.

Observations


We cannot wait for the BBQ season to start. Granted, we BBQ, grill and cook year-round. We are die-hard braai boere from South Africa. Before we came to Canada, we didn't know there was another way to prepare food!

The good thing about BBQ season is that there is a season for it. As with most things in Northern America, there is no half-measure. It is done with complete commitment, enthusiasm and dedication. Rain, snow or shine, the cookers will be running with brisket, pork, sausage, chicken and for the really adventurous they even do baked cheesecake, bread, and desserts, in what is really just a big woodfired oven.

The best part of the BBQ season is that you get to do something primal with good friends. You gather around a fire and prepare food as it was done for thousands of years. It is where every cooking adventure should start and where it ultimately provides one with better eating and a better quality of life.

If you cook your own food and do so with friends, you will be a better person. You will enjoy life more and likely to be happier and healthier. This is the Two Cowboys guarantee.

Come along. We'll show you how we do it.


Hendrik
Cooking Cowboy

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Photos


Pork Chop

Steaks

Original

Beast

Salad!