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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Navigating Through The Recipe Jungle

From time to time, certain issues surface when recipe standards are effected by seasonal shifts. The common high impact issue concerns produce yield and price as seasons change. For example, the Romaine lettuce you purchase in the off season may not only cost more. The yield will be far less than peak season. Often you will see a case price double and the yield decline.

These times of high priced, low yield purchases should trigger a menu shift. In winter, I'd recommend as the special each night a wonderful soup made from seasonal root vegetables. Steer the customers away from the popular Caesar Salad to Minestrone.

At this time, we in the Northeastern USA will see prices plummet on beautiful peppers. Menu items with roasted peppers, stuffed peppers and sauteed peppers will fully utilize the high yield, low price cases. On the other hand, this may be the absolute worst time of year to buy apples. With a few weeks to go until the apple harvest begins, current offerings are often of poor quality and from 50% to 70% above prices you can expect to pay in one month.

If your menu is inflexible and some highly popular items must be produced from ingredients which are out of season, create a completely new recipe calling the
poor yield item at the inflated price. Save your main recipe for the peak season.
Now when your food cost percentage trends upward, you'll be able to quantify the impact of the limitation in your menu.

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