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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Professional Recipe Model - Introduction to Sub-Recipes

Preliminary Work Required

Professional recipe models provide a positive return on investment in a short time and offer flexibility for future changes. Initially, the project team should spend time and effort gathering and organizing critical information. The focus is on key items (most popular menu items and options and the ingredients used in producing these items).

This project is data intensive. Gather a POS menu item sales recap report for a 90 day period, quarterly (90 day) tracking reports from all major vendors, hard copy menus, inventory count forms, kitchen prep work forms, line setup layouts and all batch recipes.

In addition to POS reports and tracking reports, a comprehensive list of all food and beverage suppliers, food and beverage category lists, menu item category lists (preferably from hard copy menus) are essential. Any reports which can be exported to a CSV or spreadsheet file will save time.

Sub-Recipes and Key Item Yields

Identify key items (both menu items and raw ingredients) and key activities (all butchering, trimming and prep work which impact yields). If you use ranking reports, the key menu items and raw ingredients will be found on the first page of the report. These key items will represent a high percentage of menu item sales or overall food cost. The meat, seafood, poultry and produce items require yield intensive prep work. All prep work used to convert untrimmed raw product into recipe ready ingredients falls in the key activity group.

Recipe costing depends on standard recipes calling specific ingredients with well tested standard yields. Building adequate flexibility into a professional recipe model requires a thorough knowledge of sub-recipes. These sub-recipes are used to handle prep work, mise en place, stocks, sauces, butchering, trimming, cleaning and mixes. The sub-recipes used for prepping key items (generally meat and seafood) have the greatest impact on the entire recipe model.

Ideally, a large sample should be used for determining standard yields. If you butcher a beef short loin for T-Bone steaks, a 80% yield may be achieved using 10 boxes of meat. Some of the boxes may only yield 76% and others may yield 84% (by weight). Tracking actual yields against standards is an excellent control feature. An operation could achieve an above average food cost result if the yield is poor in a given period.

A beef short loin is used to produce steaks. In this operation, we produce steaks for 2 people (40 ounces) and single person steaks (20 ounces). Typically, the short loin cut produces Porterhouse, T-Bone and Strip steaks. When building a recipe model, we require sub-recipes for each steak variety (Strip Steak, Porterhouse Steak and T-Bone Steak).

In our example (see table below), we will assume all steaks are 40 ounces each and the standard yield for the entire 25 pound short loin piece is 8 steaks (2-Porterhouse, 3-T-Bone, and 3-Strip). This assumption may be changed to fit any given operation. The sub-recipe for T-Bone Steak would reflect the standard 80% yield. If we produce 40-ounce steaks from a 25 pound short loin (80% yield), our expectation would be 8 steaks.

If the actual short loin yield was 85%, we would still produce 8 40-ounce steaks and the extra trim would be used in ground beef and stew meat. We could experience a poor yield when butchering a short loin. If the yield was 76% on a 25 pound piece, we would not be able to cut 8 40-ounce steaks. Our yield would only be 7 steaks plus extra trim. We want the sub-recipe to red flag these poor yield short loins.

Some recipe model architects decide to use below average yields in their sub-recipes. Their goal is to have near zero variances in future reports. For example, they could make the short loin yield a weak 76% in the sub-recipe. Using the poor yield will produce fewer unfavorable variances in future reports. Savvy operators should welcome these variances. We don't want a standard yield which would allow 4 of every 100 short loins to disappear without an alarm going off in the reporting system.

Standard yields will allow us to forecast purchase requirements, track portion control, identify poor yield pieces and expose theft. Determining the standard yields on key items is the most important work in building a solid professional recipe model.

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