Price Expectation

Food for Thought

Chef Dave explained to me that rugelach was traditionally small like his. Foods tend to get bigger when they arrive here because the ingredients are cheaper, and larger sizes attract more customers. Eight of these small rugelachs were $21, and I would imagine that many people would be shocked; my wife was.

But, if we objectively evaluate the cost, there isn’t any reason we should be surprised. At $21, each is $2.625. At Ladurée, each macaron is $2.80. There isn’t anything in macarons that makes the cost intrinsically higher, but everyone seems to accept it, especially because it’s French.

Many of us, especially those who can afford French macarons, make a lot more than a few dollars an hour just by typing into computers or talking to people. Furthermore, there are no hard expenses like the cost of ingredients. Yet, a significantly higher-than-expected price can enrage some people. It is an interesting phenomenon, a double-standard of sorts.

Since I’ve tried baking baguettes, I know how hard it is. If I were to ignore the price expectation in the market and sell them at the price that would make sense for me, I would charge at least $10. But at that price, nobody would buy it. So, what chefs can explore creatively is limited by the price expectation. They need to work backward from it.

This is the reason I often criticize fine dining restaurants. If you have enough connections to big investors, you can set a high price expectation by the decor and expensive ingredients like truffle and caviar; you’d have a lot more creative freedom. If you consider these factors, most fine dining restaurants are not very creative; they are just using their privileges to raise price expectations.

Our price expectations limit chefs creatively. Chef Dave is at the forefront of that battle with cookies. Despite the bad reputation today, we have to give Starbucks credit for pushing the price expectation of coffee. Behold what became possible.

Unlike many fine dining restaurants, Chef Dave is not asking you to pay a minimum of $100 to experience his creations. I’d love to see other chefs push the price expectations and still keep their creations accessible to all.