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Kent Vargas

Tips for Eating Out on a Diet

by Kent Vargas

Many people that are following an eating regime avoid eating out. The main reason being fatty recipes and not being cautious of the calories they consume while dining out.

So should you just stay at home and eat boiled vegetables? Instead, try our smart eating tips to eat out while you’re on a diet.

Be Picky About Where You Eat:
In this era of fast speed internet and millions of website, you can run a quick check on the restaurant you want to go to.
Check out menus from different restaurants near you before you decide. There are many mobile apps on the play store and Apple store which allow you to measure the calorie intake after consuming certain food items.

Look at the menus and pick from grilled food, salads or vegetable specials. You can shortlist from several healthy choices.

Sit where it’s quiet:
This isn’t another one of the common advice you’ll hear. Research has shown that people that sit in crowded places while eating gets distracted and eat more than compared to people that sit in quieter spots.

Being by yourself would give you time to concentrate on what you eat and how much you eat. If you cannot find a table in a separate spot, ask the waiter you’ll wait for one.

Order First:
When you go with friends and family, always be the first one to order. Because the person you go with might have different plans for what they want to order and that might tempt you into eating something harmful for your diet.
To sidestep the temptation of delicious yet fatty food, your friend will order, be the first one to order and get the menu away from your site.

Avoid Snacking:
Most of the damage is often done before you even begin with your meal.Restaurants offer multiple appetizers and snacks that have a high- fat factor. Appetizers also increase your appetite for the main course.

“So if you feast on the snacks, you’ll eat more with a warmed up stomach. Even if the snacks are free, like chips or nachos, avoid laying your hands on them.” says frequent Yours Truly patron Don Halbert.

Don’t be blown away by words:
Waiters know the art of presenting food like none other. They’ll express dishes using words like “juicy and tender” or “delicately ripe”.
Don’t get blown away by the description and focus on only on the food the goes with your diet.

The Michelin Guide never comes to Canada

by Kent Vargas
The Michelin Guide never comes to Canada

Let’s face it, Canada isn’t exactly known for its cultural cuisine. Our namesake dishes include fried potatoes soaked in gravy and cheese curds, elbow macaroni doused in neon powdered cheese sauce and something called the “Figgy Duff.”

Compared to other cultures of the world, these recipes don’t sound very appealing as far as cultural richness is concerned.

Canadian restaurants rarely make the U.K based Restaurant’s influential World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Also, no homegrown restaurant has cracked into the list’s top 50 since 2003.

The Michelin Guide – the most influential restaurant rating system in the world, doesn’t even bother with us.

It’s not just that we aren’t home to a single restaurant holding a much-coveted star; the Guide doesn’t even send inspectors to Canada anymore.

For years, Canada has been assumed to be a lost cause by the international gourmet food community.

 

When Anthony Bourdain visited Toronto in 2012 to film a segment for his former show “The Layover”, he had some thoughts on what the city could do to become an internationally recognized food mecca: “Maybe you just need a good slogan”.

Maybe you already had it. “Hogtown. Hogtown, eh?”

The advice seemed less aspirational and more of a blunt suggestion that, perhaps, we should just come to terms with the fact that there’s not much to be done about our culinary status.

We are what we are, and there’s a lot we’ll never be.

 

However, things have changed since Bourdain’s visit. In just four years, Toronto’s food scene, which used to boast only a handful of must-eat restaurants, is now so full of them it’s hard to keep up.

Several international stars opened outposts in the city, including Daniel Boulud with The Four Seasons’ Cafe Boulud and David Chang with Momofuku. But, more importantly, Canadian chefs have been stepping up to the plate, as well.

 

These results aren’t merely restaurants imitating the French greats or recreating derivatives of New York trends, either.

Torontonians are witnessing a rise in uniquely Canadian restaurants that celebrate our nation’s diversity. Some of these include Chinese-Jamaican hybrid Patois, Byblos’ mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, DaiLo’s French-inspired Chinese fare, Antler’s local forest-to-table dishes and Alo’s modern take on French tasting menus.

With so much hype surrounding Canada’s newfound food scene, is it high time the Michelin Guide gave us a shot?

The best restaurants in central Ontario

by Kent Vargas
The best restaurants in central Ontario

The Craftsman Restaurant

This place has been around since 1955, and the key to its longevity is found in, believe it or not, the great food.

They’ve got special features every night, such as Cajun-style blackened catfish, maple stuffed roast pork, and grilled rainbow trout, to name a few.

Moreover, there’s a traditional roast beef dinner every Sunday, which sounds just about right for a town of 4,000 people.

Memphis Fire Barbeque Company

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all on the menu here and the Sneaky Cheeseburger has developed a loyal fan following.

You get a patty made from fresh ground beef from local farms, dressed with ranch, lettuce, tomatoes, dill, and caramelized onions and topped with a smoked cheddar spread.

And while you can get a single, you end up getting the triple patty.

Frijoles Fresh Mex Burritos

You’ll find all the classic Mexican foods here. From tacos to burritos and quesadillas, everything is served without any of the unnecessary frills.

However, you must try out their burrito, served with homemade guac, pico de gallo salsa, toms, sweet corn, fresh cheese, romaine, crisp cabbage, jalapeños, plus chicken, beef, and pork.

But that’s not it. There are eight of the house-made sauces that you can try with it.

Era 67 Restaurant & Lounge

The steaks here are cut in-house daily and easily stack up against anything any big city has to offer, especially their 14oz AAA Angus Reserve Alberta Beef Ribeye monster.

Feel like something different? Try some hand-made pasta stuffed with Era 67 homemade wild mushroom duxelle and a chardonnay reduction, shallots and fresh thyme.

It also incorporates Woolwich goat’s cheese and Balderson aged cheddar tossed with a roasted garlic cream sauce and topped with wilted baby arugula and duo of grape tomatoes in maple marinara.

That Little Place By The Lights

A fairly sizable family runs this amazingly named Italian restaurant, where everything actually does taste homemade.

Try the linguine puttanesca (black & green olives, capers, garlic, hot peppers, and anchovies in tomato sauce), or their meat-loaded Mamma Anna’s pizza with Italian sausage, salami, ham, and bacon.

Do’s & Don’ts of Using Photos to Grow Your Restaurant Business

by Kent Vargas
Do’s & Don’ts of Using Photos to Grow Your Restaurant Business

First, it should go without saying that great photos of mouth-watering dishes have immense power over the human brain.

They can turn a person from not even thinking about food to experiencing an intense craving for a specific food item.

So purposefully building a collection of great visuals is a must-have for restaurants large and small.

Ideally, you are able to bring in a professional photographer, but if that’s not an option you could find ways to leverage your customer’s photos.

User Generated Content (UGC) can also be used for marketing. If you have a great customer base that shares photos, awesome. If not, don’t worry.

You can run a contest asking your visitors to send you the photos they took during their visit to your establishment and draw a prize for something simple, such as a dinner package.

Once you have the photos collected or you’ve decided to make a concerted effort to create your own, here a list of do’s and don’ts for using those photos to grow your restaurant business.

 

Use Social Media

Do:

  • Regularly share a mix of your business’s photos.
  • Pick one or two highly visual social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Use your company account to share and highlight your customers’ photos when you can.
  • Offer friendly and positive feedback and thank you’s for attention to your restaurant.

Don’t:

  • Use photos without tracking licensing and permissions to reuse them.
  • Make sure you ask for permission to re-use photos taken by your customers and come up with a quick and efficient way to request it.

Grow Your Brand with Visual Consistency

Do:

  • Try to find a unique way to share your photos, something that really resonates with your business and is unique to your brand.
  • Stay true to that voice and curate all your photos and posts with that in mind.
  • Always, always make sure that all your logos are used properly. They are called “brand assets” for a reason. As your brand grows, they accumulate real tangible value and are part of your restaurant valuable assets.

Don’t:

  • Allow inconsistencies in voice and images.
  • One way to ensure consistency is to never allow your logo or photos that have poor resolution or quality on your website social channels or any publications.