What really makes a great restaurant?

For those of us that work in higher end restaurants, we are continually approached by patrons that laud accolades and approval at our efforts and the Chef’s dishes. But what really makes our food so good that someone is willing to pay thirty dollars for some chicken, a starch, and a side vegetable with some sauce? Why are people paying twelve dollars for a salad that they could be making on their own for a fraction of that cost? The things that make restaurant food beyond that of the home cooks are experience, innovation, balance, and a lot of cream.
The experience that we as cooks have of continuously coming in, mowing through ingredients, prepping out items for ease makes cooking less intimidating than many of my friends claim it to be. If your job is a constant immersion into these ingredients to the point where you know what they will taste like, what they look like when they are subpar, and what their best preparations would be, then trips to the grocery really are not that difficult, and a meal preparation becomes a half hour task instead of a two-hour fiasco.
Good restaurants usually have a supply of innovation to boot. One of the restaurants I have worked at met five separate times for one menu change, allowing all of the cooks the chance to put forward their opinion on which dishes they wanted to put out to customers. I had never thought there could be so many classic spins on dishes like stroganoff, turkey manhattan, chef’s salads. The combination of one ingredient with another that few people had ever thought to do, along with the successful creation of a dish around these ingredients allows restaurants to continually impress the mind along with the tastebuds.
Balance. What does balance have to do with anything? By balance, I simply mean achieving huge levels of salt, fat, and glutamate. By allowing us, the people in restaurants. to cook for you, the consumer, we are allowed to put whatever it is we want in the food (under strict food service laws mind you) to make the meal delicious. Does that mean adding large amounts of salt and fat to the dish? Absolutely. These are compounds that your body has evolved to crave, and the pleasure you find in eating that food is, on some level, the achievement of that craving. In a sense, people surrender themselves to the food at restaurants when they come in, because they are trusting us to reward their senses, and that is what we are doing.
In all honesty though, it is freshness of ingredients that makes all the difference in many of the foods served by fine dining establishments. Fresh salad greens, with their deep, dark green color, smack of flavor compounds that have yet to be lost to the degrading march of time. Fish, freshly caught and served, still taste of the ocean, with no trace of that “fishy” taste. Local fruits picked at the height of ripeness, destroy any chance of ever enjoying their supermarket counterparts.
If you want to eat as well as you do at the restaurant, buy local ingredients at their seasonal peaks whenever possible. Try creating some crazy new dishes, practicing a few times. Work your butt off every night after you come home, making a meal as quickly and cleanly as you can. There is no reason you do not have to eat well at home. And also, add some salt. Trust me.

Browse Restaurant Culinary Management Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
            Show more [+]
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • A private post-secondary institution of higher education serving south-central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland since 1967.
            • Offers associate degrees in specialized business and specialized technology, as well as programs leading to professional certifications and diplomas.
            • Gives each student their own career services specialist who helps keep them focused on their goals.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
            • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid