Oh, it’s on, baby . . . the battle of the restaurant vs. the supermarket [classic article]

Chain Leader magazine knows that people feel they can make things “cheaper at home”. Even Corner Bakery, which has restaurants in Maryland, knows that people have this perception. The restaurants say that they have it all over us, with quality of ingredients. They say they can get better and more exotic ingredients than we can.

Well, it all depends! When you go to an upscale restaurant, most of the time they have access to grades of meat and fish we will never see. Plus, they can afford to throw out veggies and fruit that might be past their prime. We’d have to order a whole steer from a butcher to replicate what they do. Also, we’d have to have the best knives, ovens, etc. — very expensive — to do what they do. But that’s in the best of situations.

Many restaurants have big jars/cans of basic ingredients that they all get from the same wholesaler. Some still put in questionable seafood for the Sunday buffet’s “Seafood Newburg”… throw on a Bechamel sauce and call it a day. The turnover in the less successful restaurants ensures that the ingredients aren’t going to be any fresher than what you’d do at home.

Then, there is the new phenomenon of community gardening going on all over the Baltimore area. Have you seen those locked little fenced in yards with tons of stakes? Those are people who have gotten together and created their own little veggie farms. There’s one in Hampden and others all over. Straight from the ground veggies and herbs put the home consumer on par with the finest chefs –especially if you are planting fancy heirloom or Campbell’s tomato seeds. You take those ingredients with the best of the best from supermarkets — or even better, farm store markets, and the game is on!

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