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.

Featured Culinary Schools

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2 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.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
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5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
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1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
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  • Online Courses
NCP College of Nursing , South San Francisco

NCP is a California State approved College of Nursing that serves the San Francisco Bay Area. Our nursing programs are attended by many students from nearby of San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Pacifica, Millbrae, Brisbane, San Mateo, Burlingame, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Union City, Fremont, Concord and San Jose.

  • Ranked #11 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
  • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
  • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
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  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
  • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
  • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
  • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
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  • Online Courses
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Houses one of the largest library systems in the Pacific Northwest, with 3 libraries on the Pullman campus and a library at each regional campus.
  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
  • Has 5 Washington campuses in Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and Everett.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Students can complete an entry-level technician program in about a year, and manufacturer training and graduate in as little as 18 months.
  • Provides technical education training programs for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, and marine technicians.
  • Partners with many well-known manufacturers, including General Motors, Porsche Cars North America Inc., and BMW of North America LLC.
  • Offers internships to students and alumni for first-hand experience.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Financial Aid
  • Ranked 25th among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • One of the world’s leading private research universities.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 56.8% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 96.8 percent.
  • Dedicated to a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education since 1880.
  • Its faculty includes National Academy members, Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more.
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  • Online Courses

• Originally founded in 1899, making it one of the oldest colleges of osteopathic medicine.
• Specializes in osteopathic medicine, which features a “whole person” approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms with a focus on preventive health care. 
• Faculty conducts ongoing research projects and scholarly activities in the field of medicine and healthcare.
• Offers Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) programs and several graduate programs.
• Accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

•        Ranked among the top 20 Regional Universities in the West in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.

•        Listed as one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes Magazine in 2014.

•        More than 97% of tenure-track faculty holds a terminal degree in their field.

•        Student to faculty ratio of 15:1, and 47.5% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

•        Accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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  • Online Courses
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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  • Financial Aid
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid