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Make the Most of Valentine's Day at your Restaurant

A couple celebrating Valentine's Day at a restaurant


Make the Most of Valentine's Day at Your Restaurant

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. To make it a success, have your menu mapped out and enough staff on hand to ensure that everything runs smoothly. But don’t forget about wooing your guests! Let’s take a look at how you can make Valentine’s Day a success at your restaurant.


Menu Planning

The menu is arguably one of the most important elements on Valentine’s Day. You want to make sure that you have something special and unique for couples to share together. Start by creating a few set menu items that feature your best food and drinks. Consider offering a variety of price points so that there is something for every budget. Additionally, it may be helpful to offer “couple specials” such as two appetizers or entrees with a bottle of wine or champagne for one price. 


Wow Factor Strawberry Champagne Cheesecake

Wow Factor Strawberry Champagne Cheesecake


Valentine’s Day calls for something extra special in the dessert category! Consider these carefully selected desserts from Wow Factor and Daboom – perfect for Valentine’s Day.


Daboom Molten

Daboom Molten


Staff Preparedness

Finding labour can be difficult for restaurant owners during peak periods such as Valentine’s Day. It is important to take into account seasonal fluctuations and plan ahead by hiring extra staff before the big day arrives. Consider offering incentives such as bonuses or free meals to attract more applicants. If you are short on time and resources, contact local staffing agencies who may be able to help you find qualified candidates quickly and efficiently.


Make sure all staff members understand their roles beforehand and are prepared to handle any potential issues that might arise throughout the night. If possible, provide additional training sessions prior to the big day so everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.



Valentine’s Day isn’t just about food – it’s about creating an unforgettable experience for your guests. Think outside the box when it comes to creating a romantic atmosphere in your restaurant – from subtle decorations like candles or fresh flowers, to music or even a themed photo booth where couples can take photos together. You could also consider offering “extra touches” like complimentary champagne or desserts as part of their meal package - these small gestures can really add up and make a big difference in terms of customer satisfaction!


Valentine’s Day doesn't have to be overwhelming – if you plan ahead and pay attention to details, your customer satisfaction will be high, hopefully leading to repeat business.




Flanagan Foodservice at 2:25 PM
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Raw Bacon vs. Pre-Cooked Bacon

Maple Leaf Cooked Bacon with buns, lettuce, tomatoes

Raw Bacon vs. Pre-Cooked Bacon: Which is right for you?


As any chef or restaurant owner knows, having a versatile and reliable ingredient like bacon on hand can be a real lifesaver. Whether you're looking to add a little something extra to a dish or you need a quick and easy option for a busy breakfast rush, pre-cooked bacon is always a great choice. But what are the benefits of pre-cooked bacon over raw bacon? Let's take a look:


  1. Pre-cooked bacon is labour-saving. There's no need to tray raw bacon or cook it from raw – with pre-cooked bacon, employees can be spending their time on higher ticket items.
  2. Pre-cooked bacon is easy to handle. Maple Leaf Food’s new enhanced technology on their cooling process makes the product easier to handle and no ripping of product is necessary. Laid out flat for handling and counting, you will get the same count in every case - great for inventory control!
  3. Your customers will enjoy the maple wood chip flavor & centre cut bacon!
  4. Endless Applications: salad topper, pizza topping, flat breads, burgers topper, sandwich builds, center of the plate and more.
  5. Increase profits by adding bacon as an upsell, open and use the product immediately.
  6. Easy to reheat with any of these methods: pan fry, flat-top, microwave, deep-fry, Panini press, hot tables or chafing dish.
  7. Increased food safety with no handling of raw product.
  8. You have the same amount of slices per case.
  9. Saves on labour with less time spent in the kitchen cooking bacon off.


Added bonus: Produced in Canada - Winnipeg, Manitoba


Maple Leaf pre-cooked bacon on toast


So, if you're looking for a delicious and convenient option for your next dish, pre-cooked bacon is the way to go! Not only will it save you time and effort in the kitchen, but you'll also be able to create some truly unique and mouth-watering dishes that your customers will love.


Maple Lead Foodservice logo



Flanagan Foodservice at 2:34 PM
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Consider Stew for your Winter Menus

Shrimp and mussel stew in a bowl


In a Stew

Add slow food to your pot during the colder months

Give your customers the pleasure of slow food in this fast-paced world. Simple, yet sublime with infinite variety, this staple of kitchens worldwide brings comfort in every bite. Slow and relaxed, evoking an island state of mind.


Stew defines you. Ethnically diverse using cost-effective (and local) ingredients, stew can warm up your menu this fall and winter while at the same time keep your budget cool.


Love cooked into every bite


Yes, the love is in every serving of stew. You can smell and taste the memories – home, family, friends, meals shared. As one-pot wonders, traditionally using simple ingredients, stew is undeniably greater than the sum of its parts and a part of every nationality.


Find a stew that tells customers your story and transports them to happiness.

Philman George, corporate chef for High Liner Foods, has a life full of stew. “Every Sunday, my mother, who hails from the Caribbean, would prepare a one-pot stew. The house would smell so good, with aromatics like thyme and ginger root.”


Now, Chef Phil loves dry stew, a traditional West African dish, an influence of his wife, who is from Sierra Leone.


“It consists of taking a mix of vegetables and spices and cooking this mixture with roasted chicken legs and thighs until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated. What’s left is a rich paste that sticks to the chicken,” he says. As a fish and seafood-focused chef, he has adapted this stewing method and created a dry fish stew.


“Great care is taken to ensure that the seafood retains all its natural tenderness. I season and sear the seafood in cast iron and set aside. The vegetables, stock and aromatics are stewed down and seafood is added at the end. It’s big time comfort food!”


Chef Phil prides himself on fun, ethnic and approachable food. His goal is to place craveable seafood on your menu and generate more profit through the “Heart of the House.”


“Every culture has their version of stew. In Canada, especially on the east coast, chowders are our seafood stew! High Liner has some delicious stew recipes using cod and PEI mussels.”  


As he says, “Stews are the go-to bowl for winter and fall.” 


Stir up some fun with innovative approaches


“All ethnic stews can find a place on cold weather menus, when there is a focus on a single stew. There needs to be a story behind it – where the recipe comes from or a signature ingredient or cooking method the chef used to make it stand out,” says James Keppy, national culinary manager foodservice at Maple Leaf.


A favourite of his is a Mexican-Style Chicken Stew with chicken thighs, black beans, tomatoes and hot sauce, finished off with sour cream and tortilla chips.


Coaxing flavour and tenderness from underappreciated cuts is the real magic of stew, he says. “Using raw boneless, skinless chicken thighs and the pork cuts from the shoulder are cost-effective options for a great stew,” the chef reminds us.


Mix and match flavours and ingredients


Definitely not a thing of the past, a stew session using ingredients and flavours which do not regularly play together or crossing ethnic boundaries will create a unique stew that tells your story. If you do it right, it may even transport the ingredients to a new, undiscovered place.


Plant-based proteins will continue to drive menus. Maple Leaf’s au naturel! line of products and their Lightlife Plant Based Burger and Grounds deserve a place on your stew menu. Good for you, your customers and the planet – and distinctly on-trend.

“Maple Leaf also offers turkey breasts, pulled pork and beef, and sausages (Oktoberfest, Mediterranean, Andouille and Spanish Chorizo) for non-traditional twists to a stew,” adds Chef James.


With infinite protein, vegetable and spice combinations, there is a stew that is right for you and your customers. You will run out time before you run out of ideas!


Beef and vegetable stew


Stew tips
  • Think frozen. With the increasing number of dietary requests and restrictions, you may want to stew up delicious solutions that can be at the ready in the freezer. Simple additions like a hazelnut parsley gremolata add a punch of freshness and detail your customer appreciates.
  • Go beyond the bowl. Elevate your stew with a puff pastry topper, drop in some signature dumplings or pull out a vegetable and showcase on top. Present with artisanal breads (great for getting every last morsel), mash, steamed grains, polenta or pasta.  Or when in doubt, serve with more veggies.
  • Consider the upsell. “Remember that shrimp is the most consumed seafood item in Canada. So, no matter what stew you’ve made in your establishment, upsell that stew with the addition of shrimp,” says High Liner’s Chef Phil.

Your time-starved kitchen deserves a break. Stew, a hands-free, budget-saving option that tastes even better the next day is the perfect solution. Don’t you worry about a thing, because in a stew, everything is going to be alright!


Try veggies (and fruit) first

Stews can showcase delicious locally available ingredients throughout the fall and winter months. Creatively choose seasonal options and design a stew around them, maybe a specific farm-focused flavour profile.


Customers increasingly crave food transparency, even for their fruits and veggies. Why not choose your veggies and fruit first? For instance, the humble rutabaga (not the same as turnip) soars out of obscurity in a spice-drenched Tagine.


Fruits deserve a spot in the pot, too. Apples, peaches, pears and plums add sweetness and a native flavour. How about Rhubarb Koresh, for instance? A fruit stew is a new approach to the dessert menu in the colder months.


Using seasonal vegetables and fruits in stew makes sense – and cents – cost-effective, locally sourced, with a twist on the flavours of home. Keep customers coming back for seconds and thirds. 




Hearty Mussel Chowder


Written by Cherie Thompson


Flanagan Foodservice at 3:21 PM
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Globetrotting Gourmet: Margherita Pizza

Margherita pizza on a dark background

Globetrotting Gourmet: Margherita Pizza

Pronounced: mahr-geh-ree-tah. 


So what makes the best Margherita Pizza? The answer is simple and yet at the same time complex: the proper balance between quality ingredients, technique, and tradition. The crust, sauce, and cheese are all integral parts that work together to form something more than the sum of their parts.


Margherita pizza is one of the most famous pizza types, it hails from Naples and is one of the best examples of how simple ingredients can blossom into magnificent flavour. Legend has it that the Margherita is named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, who in 1889 visited Naples. The pizza was developed by Raffaele Esposito at Pizzeria Brandi to represent the colours of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil) and white (mozzarella).


What makes a Margherita a Margherita?


The secret to the Margherita is the ingredients: high quality, fresh products differentiate the Margherita from a regular pizza.


It all starts with the crust. Margherita pizza has a simple crust made from flour, yeast, and salt. Unlike other pizzas that use thicker dough, Margherita pizza has a thin and crispy crust.


The real star of the Margherita pizza is the tomato sauce. Using top-quality tomatoes is critical. We recommend the famous “San Marzano Tomatoes”. Grown at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius volcano in Italy, carrying the prestigious Protected Designation of Origin designation. This is a truly authentic product characterized by its excellence in quality.


Top with fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of olive oil and salt.


The Results

The ingredients come together harmoniously to create a delicious mouthful of Italian goodness.


Margherita ingredients with Flanagan codes:


Product No.   Description                                                         Pack/Size

306524           Milano Flour "00" Pizza Napoletana              1/10KG

481588           Emma Tomato Peeled San Marzano Dop     6/2.84LT

207796           Quality Cheese Mozz Fior Di Latte 250G       1/3KG  OR

207789           Quality Cheese Bocconcini Medium 80Gm  1/3KG

281175           No1 Basil - Fresh                                               12/1EA

448166           Saporito Oil Olive Extra Virgin Pet                  4/3LT



New Product - Lactose Free Pizza Mozzarella

Flanagan Foodservice has listed a Lactose Free Pizza Mozzarella. For your lactose free customers adjust the above recipe and use;


207821            Galbani Cheese Mozz Shrd 19% Lact Free    4/2.27OZ



So there you have it - the key ingredients and techniques that go into making a great Margherita Pizza. If you follow these simple tips, you'll be well on your way to creating a delicious pizza that everyone will love. Buon appetito!




Did you know?

Bococcini and Fior Di Latte are the same thing, but when the balls of fresh mozzarella are 250gm they call them Fior Di Latte.




Flanagan Foodservice at 10:00 AM
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Woo Diners with Interactive Games

Game time with playing pieces, dice and more


Woo Diners with Interactive Games

Looking for a fun way to woo guests back inside for dining? How about adding some game time to your menu? Increasingly, guests are bringing their “game face” to restaurants where they are expecting entertainment that goes beyond food and drink. 

Kids’ games – such as paper placemats and crayons for colouring – have been around for years as a way to entertain the younger generation and keep them occupied while waiting for their meals. But what about the adults? How do you keep them engaged, ordering, and off their smartphones?


Many family restaurants, bars and sports-themed eateries already include active play on their menu, like such popular options as dart boards, billiards tables, trivia games, foosball tables, and more. 


Games keep your guests engaged and may encourage them to linger longer – with more opportunities to upsell and increase check size. They also brand your restaurant as a fun venue and the place to be, plus games can help build a bond between staff and guests.


Raise your table stakes

One restaurant offers a gaming option with a twist. Graffiti Market in Kitchener, Ont., a combination restaurant, microbrewery, market, coffee roaster and bakery, features highly interactive game play right at diners’ tables.


Ryan Lloyd-Craig, co-owner of the Ignite Restaurant Group, of which Graffiti Market is a part, wasn’t even thinking of games when he saw his first interactive smart table. “The idea didn’t come to me overnight. I was walking the technology section of the Restaurants Canada show and came across a gentleman standing on what looked like a giant iPad until I got closer and found that it was an interactive table made by Kodisoft (a tech company based in Ukraine).”


Lloyd-Craig’s original thought was not even about games but mainly about using the tables as a way for guests to order interactively, have food runners bring the items to the tables, and then have the tables function as a complete POS system. Other countries were already using the Kodisoft system successfully, but no one in Canada had tapped into combining business with pleasure right at the table.


The games people play


Lloyd-Craig’s interest in the tables quickly evolved into something different from an ordering and POS solution. “The benefit of these tables is that you can visually see every item on the menu so it makes it easier to order, but their main appeal is keeping people engaged and entertaining them while waiting for their food. People are putting down their cellphones and actually talking to each other. That’s kind of neat.”


The tables offer a variety of gaming options. He started with a simple colouring application, then a doodling app after the first month, before adding puzzles for all age groups (from a basic jigsaw puzzle for kids), air hockey, Chinese checkers, and most recently, chess, all of which can be turned on or off depending on how busy the restaurant is.


The tables can also support advertising, both internal and external (for instance from sports businesses running commercials and interacting with guests), though so far Lloyd-Craig hasn’t tapped that potential.


Interestingly, far from encouraging guests to linger, guests using these interactive restaurant tables want to clear the menus and food off faster to get back to their games. Lloyd-Craig’s initial goal, in fact, was not to get diners to stay longer, but to realize labour savings from integrating ordering with serving and paying for a total POS solution – “any way you can save two or three per cent off the bottom line,” as he puts it. The restaurant hasn’t been open long enough for him to see these savings yet, but he has experienced a steady increase in sales since he brought in the game tables – and that means he’s already ahead of the game.


Not all games have to cost the earth for you to add. Take trivia. This option’s been around since Trivial Pursuit took off decades ago and has become a bar and casual restaurant staple. Trivia is a particular hit with Millennials looking for interactive experiences and can liven up slower winter months in any family-style restaurant. Companies like QuizRunners and Quizzholics design, create and can run your trivia games professionally. Who knows? Your eatery could become a stop on a trivia circuit.


Tabletop inspiration


  • Visual menus encourage ordering, and ordering more – especially highly visual desserts.
  • Restaurants can market and advertise their promotions and potentially attract outside advertisers.
  • Table games encourage guests to put down their smartphones and focus on the dining experience. 


Top tips to add games in your restaurant


  • Develop a games budget. You can start with something as simple as setting up game nights and bringing in board games from home. But the sky’s the limit on what you could spend to add a games component. Each of Ryan Lloyd-Craig’s 23 smart tables (Graffiti also has 25 “dumb” tables) costs $15,000 US, not including maintenance.
  • Create a brand theme and strategy. What will set you apart? A sports bar, for instance, might naturally gravitate to sports-themed games, while a family-friendly eatery would pair well with trivia nights.
  • Know your demographics. Kid-friendly restaurants are perfect venues for everything from fun “play” menus to dedicated kids’ games areas, while adult-oriented restaurants might be better venues for trivia nights, darts, even bingo.
  • Be clear on your goals. Are games a way to encourage your guests to linger longer, an opportunity to entertain young diners, a chance to bring in business during slow periods, a way to attract new guests, or an opportunity for guests to put their devices down and enjoy some family time?
  • Check your real estate. If you decide to bring in game tables, dart boards, foosball tables, do you have the space for these plus your dining tables? Don’t bring in games at the expense of your regular eating areas. After all, it’s still mainly about the food!





Written by Jane Auster






Flanagan Foodservice at 10:16 AM
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