Exploring culture through food is as old as time. Food, after all, has a narrative to tell if you start to dig in deep enough. But even the most interesting ethnic dish may be hard to understand for particular palates. Taking the unfamiliar to the familiar poses a challenge, but not impossible. Mexican food, once considered unusual, is now mainstream.
Now, we have a new way to build and taste our interconnected community— ghost kitchens. Virtual kitchens can embrace different ethnic communities with dishes that wow the senses and explain the “story” of the cultural cuisine, so it’s not lost in translation.
But what kind of tools does a ghost kitchen need for creating its particular ethnic cuisine? In this article, we’ll show you precisely what you need and how to launch a successful cultural ghost kitchen for a delivery only kitchen.
Create the right experience
Taking ethnic food mainstream means making it appeal to the same crowd as those who eat burgers and fries. You want an authentic experience that’s not too far away from what’s familiar.
You’re asking your customers to spend $15-20 on an unknown meal, so you want to create a food experience that’s exciting yet not too different from what they’re used to ordering for takeout. It’s essential to create a cultural dialogue that stays true to the ethnic cuisine yet provides a bridge to the target audience.
Do your research
Creating the right experience begins with first doing your research. You need to know your target market and what sells best in your city. Also, you need to research the ethnic food market to really explore the cultural niche you plan on opening.
Really understanding the new culture and the dishes helps you open a cultural restaurant that’s truly authentic. By researching, you can get what you need from the culture to take it mainstream.
Develop the concept
Once you’ve researched your target market, it’s time to develop the ethnic dishes. First, look at the names of your food items. It’s essential to treat the terms like a cultural dialogue. While the original dish name may be the best in that language or country, the words may not “translate” well to the new audience.
It’s better to simply call the dish chicken and rice instead of chicken kapsa, making it familiar to the new audience. You also want names that are easy to pronounce and spell. By making the name accessible, you’re lowering the perceived risk of trying something new. Unless you’re catering to that specific audience already familiar with “kapsa” to show authenticity.
You also want to avoid cultural appropriation. Appropriation is when a dominant group borrows from a minority culture or group without permission and claims something belonging to their group as theirs. So, it’s important to honor the ethnic group and develop the concept positively.
Plan Your Dish Ingredients
Another vital element is the dish ingredients. Some traditional ingredients for your new cuisine may be hard to acquire in the new country. Or don’t translate well to the mainstream crowd you’re hoping to target.
You can try taking a standard base for the ethnic dish and putting a more familiar twist on it. For example, Korean pork belly is a popular barbecue dish in South Korea, but pork belly may not be as appealing as juicy tenderloin steak.
Why not take the Korean flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili flakes and add them to more familiar meat? This way, you’re making the unfamiliar culture more familiar and sellable.
Connect With the Right People
Starting a ghost kitchen is exciting, but it’s still a lot of work, especially if you’re trying to cater to a niche market. Partner with the best people to promote your new brand. You may have a connection or a background in ethnic cuisine, but you still need experts to guide you.
Apply to the ShiftPixy Labs Ghost Kitchen Incubator Program to learn and grow your ethnic virtual kitchen the right way. If accepted, your concept goes through a series of challenges with the end goal of financial independence. The ShiftPixy trainers and consultants have years in the restaurant industry and the knowledge and skill to help you jumpstart your cultural concepts.
Optimize For Delivery
As a delivery-only restaurant, how “deliverable” your cuisine can make or break your ethnic dishes. When creating your food, think about how well it lasts in a 10-20 minute car ride. Explore the best takeout containers that not only represent your brand but keep the food hotter longer.
Another essential element is who will deliver your food. It’s so easy to slip into the trap of relying on third-party food apps to deliver the food. But these apps may seem convenient, but the fees associated with the services make your slim margins even slimmer. Plus, you do have other choices.
Native delivery with ShiftPixy gives you the tech, helps you hire the drivers, all without a hefty investment in technology. By using the ShiftPixy delivery platform, you can cut out the middleman and the commission fees.
Like taking a cultural dish mainstream, you have to find ways to work for everyone involved. ShiftPixy does just that and more for niche markets.
Find Your Kitchen
Making cultural dishes may only need a stove and fryer, but perhaps you need special equipment or a specific location. Delivery-only concepts like ghost kitchens don’t need to be in heavy foot traffic areas, but they need to be close to your target market. This way, delivery is easier and faster.
Why Go Global?
Exploring global flavors validates diversity and makes it digestible for the more traditional crowd. If you’re looking to embrace and target different food, such as Indian food, Caribbean food, and so on, you can do this when catering to niche markets in a virtual kitchen.
It begins with developing the concept with the right people—contact ShiftPixy today. Cultural collaboration is only a click away!