Uncorkd Restaurant Management Resources

Entice New Customers by Writing a Cookbook

The back-to-school season has started and with harried parents, busy kids, cooler weather, and less tourist traffic, your summer rush is pretty much over. If you want to ensure an even bigger and better summer rush next year, you need to tempt new customers to walk through your doors. Of course, there are many ways to entice the public to try out your food, but one of the best ways to get people talking about your restaurant is to establish yourself as an expert. The best way to do that? Write a cookbook. This post tells you the important steps you need to follow to ensure that your cookbook is a hit.

Don’t make this a hard project

If you plan to find a publisher for your cookbook, you need to make it perfect. However, if you’re simply planning to use your cookbook as a marketing engine on social media and your site, you can quickly write it, thoroughly edit it, and publish it as a PDF on your website. Include some creative and fun recipes, and spread the word through social media to drum up new interest in your restaurant.

Stick with your theme

It doesn’t matter if your restaurant makes Senegalese soup, Columbian cocoa, or Russian roast potatoes, you should only write a cookbook about what you’re known for. Even if you’re considering adding new cuisines to your menu, you’ll want to focus on educating your readers about your restaurant’s classics.

**If you have a bar, or you wish to include a section on cocktail recipes, by all means do so. A well-rounded cookbook is always a winner.

Consider your audience

Remember that your readers are unlikely to know as much about food as you do. They won’t know the difference between a chop and a mince, they won’t know exactly what a simmer is—they’re unlikely to even know the best method for poaching an egg. Cater to their knowledge level and make sure to explain, explain, explain. The more seasoned chefs will simply skim your recipe anyhow, whereas the kitchen newbies will be grateful for your careful descriptions.

**This, again, also goes for mixing drinks. Most people don’t know garnishing methods, and they may not know that cocktail shakers get really, REALLY cold when you’re mixing drinks. Explain these details and prepare your readers for kitchen success. 

Fail-proof test your recipes

The fastest way to lose your readers’ trust is to provide them with a recipe that doesn’t work. Consider the examples below.

Best case scenario: Your reader is disappointed and talks down your cookbook—but still goes back to your restaurant. Worst case scenario: He or she assumes that the food at your restaurant is like the pale, bland, messy creation they came up with after following your recipe to the T.

**Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this rule doesn’t apply to cocktail recipes, too. Good alcohol is expensive, and if the first recipe your readers try makes them feel like they wasted that bottle of booze, they’re unlikely to give your cookbook another shot.

Try new foods…and read the cookbooks about them

Part of writing a good cookbook is putting yourself in the shoes of a learner. As cookbook research, you can justify trying a new food or a new restaurant you’ve always been curious about, and then trying to reverse-engineer the recipe. Once you’ve come up with what you think the recipe is, go to your local bookstore and find a cookbook about that kind of cuisine. Compare your recipe with the one in the cookbook and see how much you were wrong about.

When writing your cookbook (or cocktail book), remember that if a chef as experienced as you can make mistakes when assessing a recipe, an inexperienced home cook will make many more mistakes.

Don’t give away all your tricks

Remember that the whole point of your cookbook is to fill up your restaurant’s tables. With that in mind, make sure not to give away the recipes to your most popular dishes—keep those a mystery. When your guests try to recreate your food in their own kitchens, they’ll be reminded of their favorite dishes that they don’t know how to make… and they’ll come back to see you.

**This differs for a cocktail book. To make your book stand out from the crowd, throw in at least one of your signature recipes, perhaps even two. These recipes likely take quite a bit of technical expertise, and many ingredients, so your guests will still order from you in the future. 

In conclusion

You still have a restaurant to run. While writing your cookbook (or cocktail book), you don’t want to set too hard of a task for yourself by trying to be a perfectionist, but you will want to test, test, and test your recipes to make sure that anyone can make them. To woo your audience, adapt your recipes to your their knowledge level, and put yourself in their shoes by learning how to cook a brand new food for yourself. Most importantly, save your best recipes for last, so that you can ensure that your guests keep coming in to have their favorite foods often. Then, advertise your cookbook (or cocktail book) on social media. If you follow these steps, your cookbook should be a success and generate some great new business just in time for next summer.

Photo licensed by Pete O’Shea