If you want to make money selling food, you need good recipes.
The primary responsibility of a professional kitchen is to produce a consistent quality product, so whether you work in a restaurant, manufacturing plant, or any other food preparation business, if you cannot produce a consistent quality product , you are unlikely to have a successful business.
The recipe is the code you follow to produce this result. If you write bad code, you end up with a buggy program that doesn’t work properly, and the food is the same way. If you save a recipe and it’s not a high quality recipe, you can get good results as long as the person running that recipe has the knowledge to do it, but then you have to show that recipe to someone. another. They will run this code and run this recipe in a way that doesn’t give the same results because there isn’t enough information.
Without a high quality recipe, it is very difficult to achieve high quality results. Without recipes, you rely on institutional memory, and institutional memory without any documentation is embedded in people working in the kitchen – and people leave kitchens all the time. There is a high turnover rate in our industry, so you can’t sync all of your corporate memory with your staff and expect to continue running the business. You must document yourself.
What makes a good recipe?
Completeness: A good recipe will contain all the parts you need for your operation. If you’re in a manufacturing plant, you might not need a photo of the end product in your recipe, but if you work in a fine dining or fast-casual restaurant, you need one. photo of the final product so people make sure the food knows what it’s supposed to look like.
A consistent format makes it easier to write recipes. If you sit down and have a certain list of things you need to include in your recipe, it’s easy to hit all those spots and make sure the recipe is complete. Consistent formats also help people who read recipes, so recipe production and recipe execution depend on the consistent format.
It’s hard to read a recipe that comes to you when all the parts are in different places than you’re used to. Any structure or format of information will also speed up the process. It’s like putting away your laundry: you know which drawer your socks or pants go in. You don’t need to search every time. If you write or run recipes and know where to look for the things you need, it’s faster. You don’t waste time hunting, you just do the work.
In general, there are parts of a recipe that everyone needs:
- You must have ingredients, quantities and units of measure. Recipes without quantities or units are guidelines and do not yield consistent, quality results. You also need to have specific names for things. It’s fine to leave it open to whatever’s available, seasonal, or at hand, but in this case it’s always a good idea to be as specific as possible. Say, “In spring, use ramps, in summer, use leaks, in fall, use onions,” to suggest alternatives. You leave a lot to interpretation if you don’t.
- A recipe must certainly contain specific instructions. Many professional cooks believe that if you don’t know how to do it, you shouldn’t do it. If I write dicing the onions and sautéing them without further details, an experienced cook can probably execute this, but in every kitchen there will be different criteria. What is a diced onion? What size? Does sauté mean until they turn brown or cook gently? do we season? What type of fat do we use? What type of stove do we use? The more details you provide, the easier it is to get good results, which is the goal of running a food business.
- A recipe has to come with a yield, and that’s a big recipe that people skip all the time. If you think it’s a little different every time, it’s probably because the recipe isn’t written correctly and people haven’t used the same amount of ingredients and steps. If your recipe is well-written, it should yield about the same yield every time. You can’t actually tell anyone how much to mix unless you know what the recipe yields.
The yield is also very important for the cost. If you want to know how much it costs you to put this recipe on the plate or in the box, you need to know what these recipes yield. How are you going to make money if you don’t know what food is costing you to produce, and how are you going to know what food is costing you to produce if you don’t have a return on your recipe?
A recipe is like any other tool in the kitchen. I like to compare it to a knife. A dull knife will slow you down and frustrate you and a poorly written recipe is the same. If you sharpen this knife, it suddenly becomes a powerful tool in the kitchen. It speeds up your workflow, you get better results, everything looks better, everything tastes better, and you feel better using it. A recipe is the same way. Refining your recipes and making sure you have all the parts mentioned will speed up your workflow and make it easier to get good results.
What you need from a recipe depends on the type of kitchen or business you are in and the people you work with. Do you work with very experienced cooks who will be able to interpret your two-word instructions and prepare the food, or do you work with young cooks who don’t have as much experience and need a lot more tips ?
Once you’ve decided on what you need to make this code work in this environment, make a checklist, go through each recipe, and make sure each item is in place. While you do this, clean them up and put them somewhere where they will be most useful.
If you want to change something, you want to do it quickly and easily. One of the worst things you can do is have a stale recipe. If you have a documented recipe somewhere and you’ve changed three out of four things but never updated the documentation, then the next person to make that recipe won’t be making the right food anymore. Having an easy to update recipe storage system is really important because a recipe is a living thing, you are always adjusting it.
It’s really important to be able to use recipes because that’s what recipes are for. It’s not enough to create a bunch of documents in a cloud somewhere. They don’t go in a filing cabinet; they go to the kitchen.