Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF
FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-
If food writers are correct, family cooks are always looking for inexpensive meals to prepare. Here’s an example.
Yes, you would be correct. That there is a heapin’ helpin’ of Hamburger Helper. Yuckimundo.
Actually, there is a cheaper, more delicious, more appetizing option. How about a dinner where the main entrée is…
Is that what you think it is?
Fischer, have you finally lost your mind?
Recently I was perusing a business website I check at least once or twice daily…CNBC. The home page had this tease of a headline:
Lobster cheaper than burgers?
This I had to read. When I clicked to the article I was sent to a Financial Times piece that explained that because ocean waters have warmed, there’s been an explosion in lobster populations. Simple economics tells us that increased supply reduces prices, in this case down to $2.25/pound, severely hurting the Maine lobster industry. According to Financial Times:
“Gastropubs have been offering lobster macaroni and cheese, while a Walgreens pharmacy in downtown Boston is selling live lobsters for $9.99.”
That just can’t be, I thought as I read while drool slithered down my face. So I did some investigating.
This weekend I paid a visit to my nearest Sendik’s, right here in Franklin. As I walked into the store I noticed I was getting strange looks from everyone I passed. About an hour later I realized it was because I spoke out loud with a gazed look:
“Lobster. Lobster. Must have lobster. Got to get lobster.”
It didn’t take my investigation long at all to learn for the shocking conclusion to give me great dissatisfaction.
Lobsters ranged from $15.99- $25.99/pound. The burgers at Sendik’s were $5.79/pound.
Bummer. I walked out with burgers, but no crustaceans.
Here’s the scoop. There is a glut in supply. Prices have come down, as low as $2.20/pound. That is...OUT EAST.
The sharp decline hasn’t come close to our area and may not.
Meanwhile out east, diners have descended upon higher end restaurants with the intention of feasting on discount delicacies. No cigar!
The widely-read New Yorker reported:
“Studies have shown that people prefer inexpensive wines in blind taste tests, but that they actually get more pleasure from drinking wine they are told is expensive. If lobster were priced like chicken, we might enjoy it less.
“One of the interesting strategies that restaurants have adopted to take advantage of the lower price for lobster: they keep the price of lobster entrées high, but add lower-priced items—lobster bisque, lobster mac-and-cheese, a lobster B.L.T—to the menu. That way, they can generate more business without endangering lobster’s exclusive image.
“Lobster has also stayed expensive because it makes other menu items, particularly seafood dishes, look more reasonably priced.”
Those explanations might sound reasonable but offer little or no consolation to consumers sitting at a restaurant table armed with media-fed information that lobster prices have dropped like a tennis ball rolling off a table.
In other words, they’re ticked, big time.
And restaurant chefs are mad that their patrons are mad.
ABC News (with a link to the above-mentioned New Yorker article) writes:
“Several vocal chefs have defended their prices, however, saying there are myriad reasons for the markups.
“Whether the cost of transport, cooking labor or the type of lobster, the combined price of what appears on your plate is more complicated than boat hauls and psychological associations, said New York City chef Marco Canora (Hearth, Terroir Wine Bar) who fired off a fuming tweet earlier this week in response to the media flurry.
"’Here we go again: annual 'cheap lobster' article is out and once again no talk of Hard vs. Soft shell lobsters #makesnosense,’ he wrote.”
What follows is a discussion about how hard the shells are, yada yada yada.
Phooey on the uppity chefs who come across as elitist snobs whose noses are scraping their restaurant ceilings. While news is hot about lower lobster prices, make slight adjustments to your menus and have the crowds filing into your establishments leaving with smileson their faces instead of ripping them in print.
Besides, these chefs are out of touch with the masses who are smart enough to understand basic Economics 101: Huge supply results in lower prices. The fact the chefs don’t get it and refuse to offer even the slightest discount tells me that for now, lobster-driven consumers need to remember who dissed them and direct their business elsewhere.
CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES
Think it's easy opening a restaurant?