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Recipes

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am new to pro cooking. I only use recipes for baking and other dishes which require exact ingredient quantities for a good outcome, for everything else I use ingredients I have and cook the way I know how. The result..rarely do my dishes turn out exactly the same two times. I like this and most of my patrons either don't mind or they understand and/or show appreciation if they ask me why my food varies...I tell them, "this way you know I am not serving pre-prepared food then give a ;)".

My question is do most chefs and pro cooks follow recipes or not?
post #2 of 13
In my experience and watching other chefs, I use recipes only as a guideline. Be careful though, if you have items on your menu that taste inconsistent you might disappoint returning patrons because they are expecting the same tasting dish as before.
post #3 of 13

a lot of places

have standardised recipes so that it keeps things consistant , people coming in after the last person to make that recipe can make it the same way each time, and it also means that food costs stay relatively the same. Your customers more often than not expect consistancy with the way things taste , especially if its something they eat on a regular basis. Its great to be creative with ingrediants, but consistancy is really important too
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
Reply
post #4 of 13
If it's on the menu it has to be consistant. Go hog-wild on the specials, or the customer's "show me what you got" special requests, but if it's on the menu, it has to be consistant.

As Tessa said cost is a huge factor. If a menu item sells for $25.00 then you can't exceed $8.00 as your food cost, or the boss will show the other side of the door. O.T.O.H. if you bring your cost down below $5.00 and the menu item is still selling at $25.00, then you're cheating--hosing the customers, and if the boss is honest, he'll show you the other side of the door.

If Joe Scmoe has the Blackened oyster special on Tue, and rants and raves to his wife about it and they both come in on Sat. and order it and it isn't what Joe had on Tue... Well, Joe'll look like an ejit and a liar, and it wouldn't be his fault.

Go nuts on the specials, be as consistant as you can on the a'la carte stuff.....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 13

i agree with you on the specials and keeping things honest

with both the customers and the boss, . the minute you change the honesty rules everybody loses out
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
Reply
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
Reply
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your comments. I agree that menu items should be very consistent. I wasn't clear the type of restaurant I work for. It is a buffet restaurant associated with a nursing facility, doctors office, and retirement community. We do have a breakfast and sandwich menu. 95% of the patrons eat from our soup and salad bar and hot food buffet. I am to prepare comfort food dishes, we have 2 entres one protein, one casserole, two hot veggies, one potato dish, 2 soups, fresh homemade breads, and a salad bar.

I can see that some consistency may be important even in this venue. I will consider this.
post #7 of 13
I agree with everyone else.

Creativity has it's place and the line ain't it. Are you kidding me? You want to get creative with the chef's perfected dishes? Someone died and made you chef? Take your risks, make your mistakes and create your culinary masterpieces on your own time and in your own restaurant. Don't believe me? Ask chef. Ask the owner.

As both I and my cooking mature, it's become easier to repeat dishes. This comes from taking better notes, simplifying my recipes by getting rid of things that don't do much or are merely whimsical, and a continuing improvement and consistency in my technique -- I've been doing this for more than thirty-five years. This in no way limits creativity, in fact it frees me. On the other hand, you have to stay loose to accommodate variation in ingredients and environmental conditions. A big part of the battle is controlling seasoning. So few cooks can hit salt, sweet, sour, and hot balances, it's kind of pathetic. But, the key isn't talent, it's tasting.

You want to be careful about conflating creativity with lack of discipline.

My 2 tbs,
BDL
post #8 of 13
Consistency, is the key, certainly in a restaurant environment. So many of my customers have the same dish every time they come in. I like to experiment on specials and rotating seasonal menus, but for the main menu they know what they like and they want it the same every time. This is also easy when training others in the kitchen, if it never changes it's easier to learn/or teach.
post #9 of 13
I have a severe lack of discipline. I'd never make it as a line cook :smiles:
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I hear what you are saying. My profile stating line cook is probably incorrect. I am reluctant to call myself a chef as I have no formal training. I have been cooking, studying cookbooks and recipes, and experimenting for over 20 years. I have a good idea what works and what doesn't. If I am trying a new dish I will often do a comp search and read several recipes for the dish then make my rendition of the dish without a recipe.

I am the kitchen manager, the head cook, and have been asked to prepare one dish that the patrons are familiar with each day from the previous cooks recipes and one less institutional new dish each day. I started 3 months ago as a breakfast cook and a soup cook (I have been collecting and preparing soup recipes for 20 years as a hobby). After 3 weeks I was promoted to kitchen manager and charged with making delicious non-institutional tasting food. I am not on a set budget aside from a labor budget. As for food costs I have been told repeatedly that as long as I am reasonable with my buying (no crab flown in from Alaska ect.) and the recipe is conducive to buffet presentation there are no guidelines on what I can prepare. The patrons have been very kind and complimentary. I have begun cutting some of the old recipes out of our recipe book as they were just disgusting IMO and replacing them with revised recipes using better and fresh ingredients.

When I wrote the OP in this thread I was actually thinking about my soups. In 3 months I have repeated few times. I always make chili the same way, most of my other soups vary. I have made potato soup of one type or another every week without repeating sometimes I use ham, some times bacon, some with no meat, some are cream soups some are brothy some are butter rue based. Same with vegetable soups some with meat some are vegan some I serve brothy some I thicken a little with rue some I thicken with file', some I puree. The overwhelming majority of comments I have heard about my soups have been very complimentary. I have built a small but growing group of patrons who buy soup to take home. This had never happened at my restaurant before I came.

As for tasting, I couldn't agree more. When I first came the food was prepared and never tasted. I taste everything coming out of the kitchen and I require every cook to taste any dish they are preparing then I taste it before it is placed in the proofer. I have found that the cooks who are working for me, all of whom have been there far longer than I, have adapted very well to my cooking style and they have begun hearing compliments on the food they prepare which was rare before.

I think I will start writing and following some recipes for core dishes and soups after reading the responses on this thread.
post #11 of 13
But, soup...

You've got a CAPTIVE AUDIENCE! :D

Feel free to play around, and they'll have no choice but to eat it. :rolleyes:

Mike :chef:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #12 of 13
Soup, you are a chef in my book :chef:
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
This is not a retirement center cafeteria, it is a restaurant in a small town which is located in a community center in a retirement residential area. Many regulars are residents within the neighborhood, most are mobile the other core group are office employees of two manufacturers located in town as well as local business people.:)
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