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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Recipe Book Bible Question

Dear Joe,

My name is Koti, working as a Head of operations for a group of restaurants in India.

I read your blogs which were interesting, I would really love to make a RECIPE BOOK BIBLE for my Restaurants.

I do have knowledge of food costings and all. Please give some ideas and suggestions in this regard.

Thanks & Regards,

Koti, Head of Operations

I love the great recipe tools we have to work with Koti. I find many companies do the bare minimum with the available technology. In fact, the typical approach is often dangerous. Many companies use the recipe cost software to produce a "ideal food cost" which is anything but ideal.

To begin the project, I would divide recipes by the intended use. We would start with the classic recipe card project. Start with your current menu and get all the recipes for these items. After sorting the cards by category (soups, salads, entrees, etc.), make a list of all the menu items in a spreadsheet. Enter the category in the next column. Some menu items need to be prepared before the meal service and other items are made to order. In the next column, enter BATCH or PORTION to highlight the preparation method. The next column will have the number of portions the recipe yields. The BATCH recipes will have a number greater than 1 and the PORTION recipes will use 1.

Now go through all the cards and find any other batch recipes which need to be prepared in order to produce the menu item. You will produce a list of sauces, dressings, mixtures, cakes, pies, breads, casseroles, stews, etc. Add all these recipes to the spreadsheet. The category should reflect the process. For example, BAKERY would be used for cakes and pies and GARDE MANGER would be used for salad mixes and dressings. Most of these recipes will be BATCH oriented. Enter the yield data with a number and a unit of measure. For example, a soup may yield 5 gallons.

Go back to the expanded stack of recipe cards and search for any ingredient which requires preliminary prep work. All items which are butchered, trimmed, sliced, diced, ground, etc. would be added to our spreadsheet. These mise en place items can be categorized by their production process or simply use the category PREP. When you setup the BATCH yield, we are looking for the amount produced (not the amount required). You may have Steamed Rice which tends to expand. Enter the weight of the final steamed product not the raw rice required to produce the finished product. Conversely, your butcher and trim items will produce less than the raw ingredient weight required to produce the steaks and clean vegetables.

A 2.5 kilo beef tenderloin may produce 6 large steaks. The Beef Tenderloin is the raw ingredient purchased, stored and use in recipes by weight. The steaks would be in our PREP items and the yield data would be in PORTIONS. Filet Mignon with Sauce au Poivre may be a menu item in the ENTREE category with the focus on a single PORTION.

If you start with this design phase, you will have a strong foundation. Once the recipes are fleshed out, there are many unique and very helpful variations I like to build. Think in terms of the management tasks every chef or food and beverage director needs to perform: forecasts, par stock determination, line production, purchase orders, banquet event plans, etc. You will find many ingredients are not restocked based on the menu. Shelf stable items are typically ordered based on a par stock model. I like to make a separate set of recipes for ordering the menu driven items like high cost, perishable meats, seafood, produce and dairy. My second set of recipes could have a slightly different name. For example, the Filet Mignon recipe could have a copy with the name X Filet Mignon. The category could be FORECAST. The number of portions would be the same - one.

For my recipes used in forecasts, I strip them of all ingredients ordered using a par stock model. The survivor ingredients will all be your key items. Management can forecast the number of portions they expect to sell (or produce) and the model will produce a purchase requirements report.

If we take a look at the line cook position, the same base recipes need procedures, photos and possibly videos. Think of an operations manual designed to produce consistently prepared menu items. Make a gallery of photos and, if available, a gallery of videos. The menu procedures can be scanned from your recipe cards or entered into a word processing file. Most recipe software programs allow you to attach files and cut and paste (or import) text into the procedures box. This window dressing phase can be accomplished by a second team if you are in a hurry.

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