Product Testing from Vendors
Lots of vendors contact me asking me to try their stuff. Cheese, flour, pizza toppings and different tech apps or food service products — you name it. When picking food for the menu, we’re picky. We only care about how it tastes. And you should do the same. It’s worked well for us. So, when a vendor says, “Hey, we got this new cheese. You should try it,” you might say, “Nah, I love what I already have. I don’t wanna try it,” or ask, “How much does it cost?”
Let’s go through a cheese performed using this method.
If you’re starting out, you might ask around, “Who uses what cheese?” And someone might say, “That place uses that cheese. So, I’ll use it too.” It’s okay to mimic or even acknowledge the endorsement from a trusted source, but you must create YOUR ideal vision, not someone else’s vision. Get samples of every product in any category you want to try. Try them as they are, without cooking them. Then try them cooked how you would make it in-store and decide for yourself.
Make it a blind taste test. To do that, get someone else to make the food and put a black olive on one item and a single green bell pepper on another, etc., just one of each, so you know which product is which. Write it down on paper, too, i.e., find a way to keep track of the items without knowing which one is what.
Also, don’t add extra items during this test. So, if you usually sprinkle some unique cheese on your pizza, don’t do it this time. Just rely on your taste buds to pick the best cheese, not the cheapest one, not the one with the fancy name, and not the one used by your favorite pizza maker. Just think about what tastes best on your pizza.
After that, try different styles of pizza, like ones with lots of toppings, meat, and veggies. See if the taste test holds up. And when you feel good about your choice, let your staff, customers and even people who are honest about what they think try the different cheeses. Listen to their feedback.
I’m not saying you have to agree with them, but it’s good to know what people in your area who like your pizza think about the cheese or whatever you’re trying. That way, you can make an intelligent choice based on research, not just a guess.
Once you’ve done all that work, you’ll know which cheese is the best for your pizza. Remember, not all cheese is suitable for all pizzas. You might want less salty cheese or a mix of different cheeses. You might like Wisconsin cheese or California cheese, or New York cheese. Or maybe you want fresh mozzarella on all your pizzas.
The intent of this process, of all this added work, is to KNOW that anything you decide on is something you love and know is the best choice for your pizza. That’ll make it easier to sell, and you’ll be confident in your decision. Now, if the cheese you choose is the most expensive, charge for it. Feel free to sell what it’s worth. Make the best pizza you can, and make sure everything in your restaurant goes well with that final product, not the other way around.
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instagram: @mikeybausch