Seasonality: Why it’s Important to Your Success

Seasonality, as defined by Wikipedia, “…is a characteristic of a time series in which the data experiences regular and predictable changes that recur every calendar year. Any predictable change or pattern in a time series that recurs or repeats over a one-year period can be said to be seasonal.” When related to food, that definition doesn’t quite embody the excitement of the seasons’ first strawberries or heirloom tomatoes! However, the point is made. We can apply the ideas in this definition to how we interpret what goes on our menus as restaurateurs and chefs.

Acquiring goods from across the globe has never been easier. I can source Mushrooms from France, Avocados from Mexico and Big Eye Tuna from Hawaii the next day! Logistics have allowed a universal amount of options for menu development, however, it also dilutes the idea of cooking with the what is best available. Why not source Green Asparagus from Peru in September? I’ll tell you why.

• Menu Diversity and Change. Cooking with what is seasonally available in your region brings new menu ideas and diversity to your menu throughout the year. Your guests will appreciate the change.

• Product Quality. I will guarantee citrus in the Winter, asparagus in the Spring and tomatoes in the Summer will bring the most flavor to the plate. Research what products are best in which seasons.

• Marketing Potential. As an example, soft shell crabs arrive twice a year in limited availability and people love them! Give yourself the advantage by focusing on these seasonal patterns. Promote them through social media and internal/external marketing channels. It will bring you the business not your competitors.

• Community Support. Thoughtfully sourcing products from the small farmers, cheese makers, coffee roasters and beer producers in your area will resonate with your current and future guests. Showcase these products and the producers will return the business next time they recommend a restaurant to others.

My goal is to merely start the conversation regarding the benefits of focusing on seasonality in your decision making process for menu development and beyond. Be prepared for a myriad of options which can be a challenging undertaking with inconsistent availability and staff education to name a few, but remember it starts with just one coffee bean, leaf of lettuce or loaf of bread. It is that easy. Research your region and the producers surrounding it and you might be surprised what you find.

Recommended Text: The Flavor Bible, Page & Dornenburg