Q&A – MARK TODD, CULINARY CONSULTANT
WHAT IT TAKES TO ESTABLISH A BETTER BEER PROGRAM
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO OFFER BEER AT THE RESTAURANT? Interview originally appeared here – http://liguriafoods.com/category/newsletter/
TODD: Since Fritz Maytag rescued Anchor Brewing in San Francisco from bankruptcy in 1965, the craft beer movement has grown. Now, there is a local brewery in almost every city. After Prohibition, there was an expected explosion in the number of breweries in the U.S. – at the beginning of WWII there were more than 850 breweries. That quickly waned and started a long decline, until in 1978, the year of maximum consolidation, we were down to 89 companies making beer in the entire country. Why is it important to have a beer program in every restaurant today? Because that number has grown to the point that we saw our 4,000th brewery open in 2015. The math is simple. Craft beers, and now craft ciders, are where many people today are looking to enjoy an adult beverage.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN OFFERING BOTTLE BEER VS. BEER ON TAP?
TODD: In short, draft is usually fresher and more lively than bottled or canned beer. It also affords the opportunity to use alternate gasses to push the beverage, giving the beer a different mouthfeel and aroma. Guinness Stout and Boddington’s Pub Ale have a widget inside their containers that charges the beer with nitrogen upon opening, imitating the taste and texture of a draft beer. There are exceptions to every rule, as some Belgian Style ales and Barley Wines Wines are built to age and are best left in their bottles for proper maturation.
WHICH BEERS PAIR BEST WITH PEPPERONI, MEAT-LOVERS, AND HAWAIIAN PIZZAS?
TODD: There are thousands of varieties of pizza – each will have a soul mate in the land of fermented barley. If we are talking the most ubiquitous pizza in the world, New York-style pepperoni, the answer for me is unquestionably Pilsner Urquell,the grandfather of all Pilsners. The crisp hoppy mouth is the perfect tool to cut through the wonderfully greasy-cheesy unctuousness that makes this pie the King of Pizza. But unlike the overly hopped IPA’s, this beer’s bitter bite stops well short of the mouth-imploding stage, with a nice showing of biscuit-like malt peaking through. And the beer finishes balanced and clean.
A meat-lovers pizza depends to some extent on the meats involved. Smoked meats like bacon prefer malty beers, such as Belgian Doubles or German Doppelbocks; spicy meats like chorizo or coppa prefer a clean German-style lager, so it depends on the meats. Hawaiian is not really pizza, even though I do secretly love it. Chefs in Naples cringe when they even hear the term. But for my taste, if you are going Hawaiian, go Hawaiian and have a Kona Longboard. To be honest, though, I had a real dry apple cider that was absolutely awesome with it.
LIGURIA MAKES 25 DIFFERENT PEPPERONI. FOR BRAVO GUSTO, WE ADD A DRYING CYCLE IN OUR REDWOOD SMOKEHOUSE TO IMPART A SMOKY FLAVOR. WHICH BEER DO YOU RECOMMEND WITH IT?
TODD: As I stated above, smoky meats in general, like the sweetness of malt as a foil for the intense umami flavors in smoked meats. It is possible to have high hop beers that pair well also, but these are best checked in person, as generalizations are not accurate. One Golden beer I love with smoked meats is Chimay Cinq Cents, a Belgian Tripel clocking in at 8% abv. With a golden-orange hue and the quintessential “rock head,” this beer is so beguilingly mild – one would never expect it to carry a sledgehammer in its back pocket. Aromas of yeasty bread and raisins give way to a cascade of bright crisp, somewhat citrusy flavors. A clipped finish leaves the palate ready for more.
ANOTHER FAVORITE IS OUR ROSSO PEPPERONI WITH EXTRA RED CAYENNE PEPPER – HOW WOULD YOU PAIR BEER WITH THIS?
TODD: Also noted above, spicy meats are at home with beers showing a more pronounced bitterness. It takes this more flavor-intensive style beer to get through the sensory-overload of capsicum. Capsicum has a skeleton key for every taste bud, and can overwhelm the tongue’s ability to distinguish flavors. Hops are almost as overpowering and will stand up for themselves in the flavor wars.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE BEER AND PIZZA PAIRING?
TODD: My personal fave … Hmmmm. Well, you asked. Tatre Flambee dough, generous spreading of Mascarpone, cubed Dolce Gorgonzola, candied pecans, caramelized onions and shaved 70% Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate (added after cooking) with a deliciously funky Saison Dupont.
Mark Todd has worked extensively in the foodservice and the retail sides of cheese promotion and education, and has made spreading the word about cheese his professional life’s goal.
Mark Taylor – An L.A. Original
Sales and marketing guru, Mark Taylor, has worn all of the hats associated with foodservice – from restaurant operator to owner/executive of a distribution company to independent sales consultant. He currently owns a food brokerage company, trades with a local trading company and manages the sales for Santini Foods, Inc. http://www.santinifoods.com/
The Foodservice Blog talked to Mark about market trends and how he sees the current state of the foodservice industry:
Q: What’s your favorite part of the foodservice business?
The beauty of foodservice as opposed to retail is that restaurants count on reliable sourcing, availability, and consistency of their products. It is less about the packaging and price, but rather about that quality, integrity and value that drives the business. I like that everything I sell is of the highest quality and not necessarily the least expensive. Foodservice people rely on that consistency and quality in order to succeed and I am proud to be able to provide that.
Q: What’s the most important change you have seen in the last three years?
I’ve seen an explosion of interest in local sourcing for food products, coinciding with the expense and difficulties associated with imported foods. I see this trend continuing with more and more European companies setting up production in the U.S.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career?
I can manage this business as a sole operator with the aid of modern technology and with a memory that hasn’t totally faded yet. That I can put my kids through college as a sole proprietor and that the industry shows me the support and respect to thrive professionally. I have evolved and held many positions so I am happy that my experience and relationships still serve me well.
Q: What’s the best new product you seen in the last three years?
I would say it not just one product but the improvement in the quality of gluten-free products and their adoption by major food companies. I say this somewhat selfishly because my daughter suffers from Celiac disease and is also lactose intolerant.
The technology has improved so the quality of the finished product mimics the traditional item especially in the baking and prepared foods category. Gluten-free products have come a long way and now many of them resemble their traditional counterpart.
Restaurants are creatively weaving dairy free and gluten-free items into their menus, which means families can deliciously eat out together without worry. I see this trend continuing to evolve as more foodservice operators add gluten/dairy free alternatives to their offerings. It is a very exciting time to be in the food business.
Pizza 360 Interview
One of our team, Ed Zimmerman, was interviewed by PMQ Magazine’s – Pizza 360 regarding trends for pizza for family dining and schools.
Joe Christopherson, Liguria Foods Vice President of Operations
State-of-the-Art Food Safety Management
Joe Christopherson, Liguria Foods Vice President of Operations, brings more than 29 years of experience of food safety management to the manufacturing facility. In his second year at Liguria, Joe comes directly from Hormel Foods where he had worked for 18 years. Prior to that, the University of Minnesota Economics and Finance graduate worked at ConAgra and Farmland in operations management.
We asked Joe to share the food safety fundamentals that have turned Liguria Foods into a leader in its field:
What are most important factors of Food Safety in today’s manufacturing world?
- Microbiological Sanitation – At Liguria, we take a proactive approach by managing food safety through sanitation chemical suppliers. We work with our suppliers to make sure we are always a step ahead in food sanitation.
- Operational Sanitation – This involves our process and procedures. We always want to take the right steps towards handling and keeping a clean environment. The cleanliness of a manufacturing plant is driven by HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and SSOP (Sanitation Standard Operating Practices). We design the food safety program tighter than what is required by government regulatory agencies. A lot of what we do is designed towards risk mitigation.
- Allergen Controls in Labeling – This is today’s biggest issue amounting to the number one reason for recalls. We have to be on top of that and we have to have people on our team who are trained in those avenues. Fortunately, the most frequent allergens are not used in our products, but we still have to be very aware of the procedures to keep control of potential allergens.
How do you go about training your staff?
One thing we do is to actually personalize our training in order to make sure we have the cleanest facility possible. We ask our employees, “Would you want your family to eat this product?” That goes to training and retraining. We always keep food safety in front of our employees. It is not the new flavor of the month but is imbedded into the culture of the work environment.
What has Liguria done to live up to food safety standards or to set them?
We go beyond what is regulated by the government. We are SQF certified Level 2 for food safety and we are working towards attaining Level 3 Quality Program certification. We have it in place now but should pass the audit by the end of 2015.
What food safety certifications does Liguria maintain?
The USDA certification is no. 1. We are always in constant communication with USDA because it is a partnership rather than an adversarial relationship. Liguria Foods maintains a good working relationship with USDA. They update us on new rulings or concerns, and we talk about our upcoming initiatives. We go well beyond the spirit of the rules which is how we look at food safety – because the risk of a recall far outweighs the savings you may try to gain. Besides the USDA certification, Liguria also is SQF Level 3 Certified.
Where do the Liguria Foods management team and sales staff fit into your food safety program?
The wonderful thing about our company is that our management team is open to change with the times. As tech changes, as new procedures arise, they are open to implement what is needed to the highest levels. It makes keeping up with changes and implementing changes far easier. Liguria Foods maintains a culture that is founded in food safety. Everyone is trained and kept up to speed on food safety procedures. We educate our sales and marketing staff so that they get an annual review as part of our plan. They know how food safety affects products in a positive way so they can talk about it in an educated manner. They also have full access to the operations team which can answer questions quickly and knowledgeably.
When it comes to food safety, what does Liguria Foods do differently or better?
One of the keys to best practices in food safety is our partnerships with vendors. They play a key part because they understand the requirements needed to shape and support what we are trying to accomplish. Our success equates to their success.
What future improvements are in store for food safety?
You can always make facility upgrades geared to improved sanitation. We look to bring in the latest equipment with the highest level of sanitation criteria that is easy to disassemble and clean. We also make sure that our layout and product flow are simple, efficient and in line with food safety procedures. We seek to minimize cross-traffic and cross-contamination issues by monitoring the product flow.
For more information, contact Joe at:
1515 North 15th Street
Humboldt, IA 50548