Menus trick diners into spending more, $26.50 brownie mix, the manliest cooking magazine

Menus trick diners into spending more, $26.50 brownie mix, the manliest cooking magazine

The brownie mix from Bouchon

Amy Pataki taste-tests a $26.50 brownie mix from the bastion of expensive cooking supplies, Williams-Sonoma. The mix, modelled on Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery chocolate “corks,” fared better than the Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker mixes she also baked, but the brownies were a pain to make, and so buttery they stained the photographer’s table, and overall were not worth the money. A $26.50 jar of powder rarely is. [Toronto Star]

Globe restaurant critic Alexandra Gill turns the tables, so to speak, when she takes up a waitress gig at one of Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, Cioppino’s. Spoiler alert: it’s harder than she thought. Gill struggles with the Saturday shift, incorrectly calls the chef by his name (in kitchens, the chef is always referred to as “chef”) and has trouble memorizing the daily specials. Perhaps after these new life lessons, Gill will have a few memorable posts for the myriad angry waiter blogs. [Globe and Mail]

Roger Mooking writes about the future of diverse street food in Toronto, holding out hope that Toronto à la Cart will address its problems—like enormous start-up fees ($30,000 minimum) and rules about the amount of time owners must be present at their carts (70 per cent, so 24-hour locations are impossible). Don’t hold your breath, Roger. We aren’t. [City TV]

• Restaurants use menu psychology to trick you into buying expensive dishes. Diners tend to look at the upper-right corner first, so the most expensive items are placed there. Additionally, some menus use “price anchors,” putting high-profit items next to very expensive “anchors” to make the high-profit foods seem more reasonably priced by comparison. Drawing a box around a menu item also draws attention and makes the food seem desirable. And we thought we liked the $37 Bymark burger for its flavour. [The Guardian]

• Double X looks at the German-language magazine Beef!, ostensibly the most macho cooking magazine ever. At the same time Gourmet was closed in the States, this magazine was launched, featuring such articles as “Off With the Hide,” an instructional guide to skinning and preparing rabbit; and “Knives to Die For,” a photo spread of fancy cooking knives in film noir–style crime scenes. We wonder how Ruth Reichl would like it. [Double X]