It was a friends birthday and I went to one of the shops that sell cakes and are known for it and asked for a customized cake after taking the order I ask the waiter to write happy birthday on the cake and she says I quote ” We can’t do that ma’am as the cakes are already cut into pieces”, which got me to say will can you tell the pastry chef not to cut it as I’m buying a full cake and I want to cut it the way I like. The waiter proceeds to say “No Ma’am the cake gets shipped from the U.S ready made and cut!”
I literally stood there in shook which may seem overdramatic, however, this specific restaurant is known for their cakes that are”freshly baked”. So the fact their idea of “freshly baked” is the cake being shipped ready made in boxes from the U.S for 14/15 hours and then being heated in their oven, is absurd. I then proceeded to say ” If that is the case what difference will it make if I buy a frozen cake by your brand from any hypermarket and heat it myself. It would be cheaper anyways”. The waiter smiled at me and said nothing!
This situation got me thinking are all restaurants that way? Is their idea of fresh different? what is their idea of fresh?
Most of us can probably agree that the concept of “fresh food”, in its quintessence, implies a meal or ingredient consumed as few degrees removed from its source as possible.The past two weeks I went on a hunt, trying out different restaurants at different price ranges to see what their definition of fresh was… here are my conclusions.
The market redefined the word “fresh”, to my surprise 90% of restaurants I visited don’t have the same definition of fresh! Today, the universe’s usage of fresh has nothing to do with the textbook definition of the word. In most ways, fresh has nothing to do with food at all. It’s become a convolution, tied up with manufactured images of authenticity, transparency, and even morality—the fleeting ecstasy of doing what consumers are persuaded to believe is the good, right thing. I.e. unfortunately, they are playing with us psychologically, they say what we want to hear!
Looking at this from the restaurants perspective, they will do anything to cut costs and grab more customers which I understand as running a restaurant is known to be costly and sometimes ready-made frozen food sounds much easier and cheaper. Moreover, consumers’ demand for fresher food and a unique brand experience continues to grow rapidly.
In addition to that, if we look at franchise restaurants they want to sustain the same dish taste and presentation, whether you are having it in Qatar or in the United States. I understand that completely, I myself would be very disappointed if a dish doesn’t taste similar to a dish I had in the same restaurant in a different country. Nonetheless, as a restaurant, you should be truthful!
Some may argue that struggling sales in a restaurant happen because of poor service and an outdated image. I would agree that those issues have played a role in declining financials, but there is a larger issue negatively affecting older/fast-food restaurant chains: People want fresher, healthier food options, and they’re seeking out restaurants that deliver it through an engaging brand experience. Nonetheless, many of those brands promising fresh food don’t have the same definition of fresh as you… in other words, they are just empty promises!
What is more shocking to me is from the 90% restaurants, that have a different definition of fresh, one-quarter of them are restaurants on the higher side of the price spectrum. Meaning they are serving you expensive “fresh” food that isn’t fresh!!!
It is very sad that the food industry is redefining a lot of things to match their standards instead of being truthful with us my advice if you are eating in any restaurants outside ask them to alter something in their dish or bluntly ask them about their definition of fresh.
Finally, I would like to mention that in all the restaurants I visited, I had the chance to speak to the management team about their idea of “fresh food” and unfortunately, many of them explained to me that as much as they would love to serve fresh food that matches our definition many choose not to, to cut costs. Which I understand because restaurants or any business is trying to cut costs, however, increasing the price a little bit in exchange for the customer trust that the food is truly fresh, is worth it. In some cases, they can even maintain their price by using local ingredients instead of shipping their ingredients from the other side of the world.
Love to hear your opinion about this topic please share in the comment section
No restaurants were mentioned to avoid biasing my own opinion!
Photos used in this blog post are not mine, rights reserved to owners.
Until next time, crave the dish…