Controlling portions during the preparation and cooking process is very important in order for a restaurant to meet their standard food costs. For this reason, it is important that staff use portion control devices rather than estimate measurements. Without using these tools, staff may be including portions that are bigger than what’s been calculated into the cost of a recipe or “formula”, which can result in the operation losing money and unreliable portioning which can lead to inconsistent flavor in dishes. “For good recipes to become great menu items, you must learn to make them pleasing to both your guests and your accountant. You must break them down into stages that assist purchasing and inventory control, organize prepping, reduce production time, and maximize yield. Then you must build them up to serve dozens of covers,” says Tom Bruce, an expert in menu concept development.
We often mention how important it is to control food costs, but there’s nothing better than getting a fresh perspective from a real professional in the kitchen. On the blog today, we’ve invited Chef John Storms, a culinary expert and Executive Chef and Director of Culinary for Hard Rock International, to educate us on the subject of using measuring tools.
With your experience as an Executive Chef, do you still use measuring devices?
I personally am a big fan of measuring devices and tools. They say for the iPhone, there’s an app for that, well in the culinary world we say, there’s a tool for that. We are pretty much a 100% scratch cooking restaurant. If someone decides they are going to eyeball how to make the barbecue sauce and they over-portion the Worcestershire Sauce and it’s not right, it’s going to be tossed out. You’ll have to start all over again. It’s either measure and make it just once, or make it twice or three times until you get it right. As you can imagine, costly experiments such as these are not conducive to an operation of our size.
How are measuring devices integrated into the training process?
When we are doing a training exercise for a new store opening we stress the importance of measuring everything, that it’s not a heaping this, it’s a level teaspoon. We make videos of every service and prep recipe so a staff member knows exactly the measurements, ingredients, prep recipes and what the finished product is supposed to look like picture-perfect on the plate, every time.
Why is recipe consistency so important for Hard Rock?
For us recipe consistency is so vital. Many of our customers are Hard Rock Rewards members and most of them are passionate about our collectible pins. For some of our loyal fan base, it’s a lifestyle—they travel all over the world to visit our restaurants and collect our Hard Rock pins. A few of them have visited every Hard Rock in the world! They’ll come up to us and say, “This is my 100th Hard Rock I’ve been to!” They are there to collect the pins but also to eat and live out a memorable experience. It’s very important that we make sure that our quality is the same in every restaurant so they get the same familiarity wherever they go. If it tastes different, it’s a turn off for our guests and that is simply unacceptable.
Different Tastes, Less Satisfaction
Each of your dishes must be made exactly the same way every time. Your establishment’s reputation depends on it. When your ingredients are even slightly out of proportion, a meal can have unintended flavors, texture, and appearance. If you manage a restaurant of any size, your customers will probably be disappointed when they order their favorite entrees and the tastes aren’t quite right.
Measure Up. Lower Food Cost and Food Waste.
While a dash of this and a pinch of that might work when preparing meals at home, this might not be a wise practice for recipes when feeding hundreds of guests every day or for chefs involved in menu development and training. Taking these liberties in your restaurant could be making a dent in your profits and might be losing you customers.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to avoid the problems described above. With convenient measuring products at their disposal, your professional cooks can cut back on waste, serve more consistent dishes and keep their customers coming back time and time again!
Cambro offers an impressive and comprehensive assortment of portioning scoops and measuring cups. Personalized products in a variety of styles and sizes are also available from Cambro. Personalized products with specific fill lines for ingredients have proven to be effective in supporting and maintaining portion control.
About Chef John Storms
Chef Storms is Executive Chef and Director of Culinary for Hard Rock International, Orlando, Florida. Hard Rock operates in 191 locations in 59 countries, including 168 cafes.