I don’t know what most of you know about creating a menu for a restaurant. For The Wild Orchid our menu must represent our branding and our passion. We try very hard to combine local seasonal ingredients with recipes and cooking techniques that will highlight not smother the delicate and rich earthiness of our local bounty. Most of the time Chef Trey Raeder will create a skeleton menu based on things available for the season we are in (winter can be challenging) then the team of Jim, myself and our GM Patrick Newman will all gather round to discuss the pros and cons. Patrick’s in site is invaluable because he is in front of the public every hour he works here and receives immediate feedback from his staff and our guests regarding the satisfaction ( or not) of any food item we prepare. It is an incredible process to balance costs, customer expectations, trendy items, tried and true and standard must haves ( crab cakes!) And at the same time take some risks and be edgy as we have a reputation for that. I happen to be from Texas so I don’t get the Crab cake thing but I can tell you if we EVER took it off the menu the emails would fly and phones would ring. My job is to spend hours and hours researching restaurant trends and overall menu items, James Beard Award winners, new farming techniques and also to study professional publications regarding our industry as well as Group Dining Sales. For instance there is a national trend in the Farm to Table thing and other more gourmet places to offer ” other parts”. Meaning Sweetbreads, Liver,Kidney’s etc.. So I started suggesting some of those things but my Deep Fried Pig skin was shot down and we settled for our new appetizer Dirty Grapes. It is based on a recipe from a famous french cooking book( I have heard that the French use every bit of the animal has anyone else heard that?) that is no longer in print. It combines sauteed chicken livers with roasted grapes, Apple wood bacon and sweet wine. It’s actually really amazing and whats more amazing is that it is one of our more popular items we serve it with a warm sliced baguette. So this week was very heavy – we had to create 3 menus. One for Valentines Day that must feature the top ten list: Lobster, Beef Tenderloin, Chateaubriand – ours will be venison!( edgy) Rack of Lamb, Duck Breast, Oysters and lots of chocolaty desserts. We also designed the Restaurant Week menu and also did a skeleton of our upcoming Early Spring Menu ( I am already sick of winter) So we had alot to discuss and as most hospitality professionals are slightly ADD sitting down for any length of time is difficult. But we did it! When I figure out how to post pictures I will add some and also of the Fried Pigs Ear – delicious.