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menu is a list of dishes served or available to be served at a meal. But a menu is also more than this. It is an important management tool. Nearly every aspect of the operation of a food service business depends on the menu. In fact, it is fair to say that the menu is the single most important document in the business. Purchasing, production, sales, cost accounting, labor management, even the kitchen layout and equipment selection of a new facility—all are based on the menu.

Recipes can be said to be the building blocks of the menu. Each item on the menu can be represented by the recipe or the procedure for preparing it. Therefore, recipes, like menus, are important management tools. They indicate ingredients to be purchased and stored, and they give measuring and preparation instructions to the kitchen staff.

In addition, recipes are important tools for the cook because they are a means of recording and passing along essential information. Learning to cook without being able to consult recipes would be like learning to play the piano without using written music.

This chapter discusses menus and recipes as they are used in commercial kitchens. How do we construct a menu that builds sales by offering the best choices to the customer and that also promotes efficiency and productivity? How do we read and understand recipes? How do we measure ingredients and portions, convert recipes to different yields, and calculate food cost with the aid of written recipes?

After reading this chapter, you should be able to

1. Explain how the makeup of a menu depends on the type of meal and on the institution using it.

2. Describe the differences between static and cycle menus, and between a la carte and table d'hote menus.

3. List in order of their usual service the various courses that might appear in modern menus.

4. Devise balanced menus that contain an adequate variety of foods and that can be efficiently and economically prepared.

5. Describe the problems and limitations of written recipes and the importance of using judgment when you cook.

6. Discuss the structure and functions of standardized recipes.

7. Use and understand the recipes in this book to practice basic cooking techniques.

8. Measure ingredients and portions.

9. Use metric measurements.

10. Convert recipes to higher or lower yields.

11. Perform yield-cost analysis.

12. Calculate raw food costs.

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