How Marcella Hazan Made Italian Food All-American
According to the study, the increase in drive-thru wait time is due to a growing complexity of fast food menus. For example, the burritos and bowls in Taco Bells new Cantina Bell menu have up to 10 ingredients. Taco Bells complex new menu is just part of a growing trend of fast food giants turning to more complicated, high-brow options, like Wendys Pretzel Burger and Burger Kings Bacon Sundae . This year’s dip seems especially significant because operators are telling us that as consumers demand more premium, healthy, and customizable menu options, Sam Oches, editor of QSR, said in a release . The operational pressures to assemble those items are slowing down the drive-thru.” The study assessed seven brands of fast food restaurants in 40 different states, evaluating a total of 299 Burger King restaurants, 299 Chick-fil-A restaurants, 200 Krystal restaurants, 317 McDonalds restaurants, 308 Taco Bell restaurants, 107 Taco Johns restaurants, and 325 Wendys restaurants. Wendys was the only chain to improve on its average service time over last year, clocking in at an average 133.6 seconds from order to pick-up, 3.85 seconds better than last year. The chain also holds the all-time record for speed at its drive-thrus, an eye-popping 116.2 seconds in 2003. Taking last place this year was Chick-fil-A, with a 203.9-second wait time on average. McDonald’s was also sluggish, posting its slowest-ever drive-thru time in the 15-year history of the study. The industry giant clocked an average 189.5 seconds from order to pick-up. Yet, speed of service was not the only factor evaluated in the study — accuracy was assessed as well. Unfortunately, this year has not been great for accuracy either. Industry-wide, order accuracy for drive-thru meals is down 1.6 percent , from 88.8 percent last year to 87.2 percent this year. The chain ranking highest in accuracy was Chick-fil-A at 91.6 percent , which may account for Chick-fil-A taking the longest to fill an order. The lowest for accuracy was Burger King at 82.3 percent .
Study shows fast food drive-thrus are getting slower
Key mistakes to avoid The surveys finding that satisfaction is lower among food franchisees than other types of franchisees is not unusual, Stites said. The food sector is a little bit more complicated a business to run, he said, noting that its often very employee heavy, plus entails dealing with fluctuating food prices, the potential for food spoilage and other challenges. On top of that, youve got probably some of the slimmest profit margins of any business, he said. Franchisees without prior restaurant experience may be in for a rude awakening. In the food business, typically people are working 50, 60 hours a week. Theyre managing lots of teenagers or a first-entry-level-job type of employee, Stites said. If youve come out of the corporate world, maybe you had an executive assistant, maybe you had a team of people to help you do projects, you buy a food franchisechances are youre not going to do well. Satisfaction varies by company Another driver of satisfaction, or lack thereof: How the franchiser treats its franchisees. There are companies that are transparent and have a very inclusive culture, Stites said. They see their franchisees as partners. Those companies tend to have much higher satisfaction than the companies that dont have an inclusive culture and basically say, Listen to what we say. Do this. That transparency includes financial information, he said. The best franchise systems will share financial information across their system so you know if Bob Smith in Salt Lake City has got a 28% cost of goods sold and yours is running at 34%, youre going to call Bob and ask, What are you doing to get that number? Stites said. In the food business, it is about nickels and dimes. The systems that have an inclusive culture and really get their employees to share financial information do better than those that dont, he said.
For Food Network addicts, new book hits the spot
Friends who exclaimed at the exotic, unfamiliar dishes she served them convinced her to start informal classes, which came to the attention of Craig Claiborne, who brought attention to chefs and cooking in a way no journalist had before because he did it at the New York Times. He invited himself over to lunch, wrote about it and her classes, and after the day his story ran, on Oct. 15, 1970, Hazan wrote in her 2008 memoir, “I have never since then had to be concerned about how to occupy my time.” The book that the couple published in 1973, “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” was invariably compared to Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in its comprehensive, step-by-step approach that brought any dish within reach of a patient, interested home cook. Like Mastering, the Hazan’s book seemed to put the entirety of a glorious cuisine that had only been available to a privileged few into the hands of any cook. The comparisons between the two books were set in stone when Child’s editor at Knopf, Judith Jones, took over Classic from another publisher (as she had done with Child’s) and re-designed and publicized it. What the book really did was liberate cooks from the idea that the more you did to an ingredient, and the more butter or cream you buried it in, the better it was. Classic — classy — food could be quick and easy and made with what was lying around the bottom of the refrigerator or kitchen cabinet. Yes, Americans learned for the first time how to make pasta by hand, roll out sheets for ravioli, then cut and stuff them with long-cooked fillings, techniques that had seemed unthinkable before. But they also learned that the best way to roast a chicken is to stuff it with two cut-up lemons and an onion; the best way to serve the greatest American fish, striped bass, is simply to bake it over several layers of sliced potatoes; and that an elegant dessert was nothing more than sliced oranges dusted with sugar and left to chill. They learned they could make a pasta sauce in the time it took to boil the pasta, and that the sauce could be both meatless and tomato-less — all of this now commonplace, all of it then revolutionary. More than Child, and more than any popular writer before her, Hazan made cooks understand that recipes in books are just blueprints and the real architect is the cook. You can change up a sauce, or a whole recipe, depending on your mood and what you found — or didn’t find — at the market. Improvisation was what a cook was expected to do, not an act of desperation. The Hazans also promoted a different understanding of a meal: one that began with something light and barely prepared, went on to a restrained pasta or risotto course, and then to a similarly simple meat with one or two vegetable sides–and ended with fruit, not dessert. That had never been part of the way Americans ate.
Along the way, Salkin serves up plenty of stories that will surprise and entertain. For example, one of the network’s first employees sent a cake with her resume and was hired, even though the cake was made from a mix. The network’s 1996 election night coverage included a sheet cake depicting the United States, and states were frosted either red for Republicans or blue for Democrats as the returns came in. And an episode of the show “Too Hot Tamales” aired with an unplanned clip of pornography spliced in, leading to visits from the FBI. Other treats: “Iron Chef America” contestants were given three possibilities for the show’s secret ingredient 24 hours before the episode was shot, a fact that wasn’t revealed to viewers, and Emeril Lagasse was self-conscious about his bald spot, so a makeup artist used a black cosmetic powder to cover it up. To get these morsels, Salkin talks to an impressive array of people, including many of the stars. In addition to Lagasse, he tells readers he interviewed Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. Salkin acknowledges that some stars snubbed him. Among those who declined to be interviewed at length: Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Robert Irvine and Giada De Laurentiis. Salkin manages to dish about them anyway. There is one weakness in the book that Salkin concedes from the outset.