Chef Nick Liberato of Calidelphia Catering, The Venice Whaler and Bar Rescue is just 37 but has 22 years’ experience in the industry. He dropped out of college and skipped culinary school to realize his dream of restaurant ownership. He’s all about two things: the details and creating experiences. “We’re on stage every day,” he explained.
One of the biggest obstacles to menu innovations is operators becoming married to food items. Rather than omit menu items, they keep adding new things, creating massive menus that just don’t work. Don’t be afraid to find out what no longer works and get rid of it. Another issue Chef Nicky has noticed is an inability to let go of items that guests just don’t “get.” If your vision for something new isn’t working, set aside your pride, remove the item and move on.
Other ways to elevate your menu include putting modern spins on classic dishes, being seasonal and local and tying in garnishes between dishes. Of course, there are also the Millennials to consider. Not to keep hammering home this particular point but they demand higher quality ingredients. Plenty of them also don’t eat meat, so a simple way to elevate your menu is to serve portabella mushroom sliders rather than typical beef or chicken sliders.
Finally, it all comes down to details when reaching the next level for your menu. Remove seeds from lemon wedges, have more than three colors on your plates and, when serving fish, serve it whole and break it down tableside to create a reaction throughout your entire venue.