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Best Food Cost Cutting Tips...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
So we're having some food cost issues and I thought I would see what kind of tips you may all have......maybe somthing I have'nt thought of.....
post #2 of 18
do you serve bread and butter at the table? oil and vinegar are cheaper in the long run. or nothing. What cheeses do you use? Do you use "baby" vegetables of any kind? they are more expensive. What kind of restaurant is it?  the old stand by ,use more salt and sell more beer
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by fryguy View Post

So we're having some food cost issues and I thought I would see what kind of tips you may all have......maybe somthing I have'nt thought of.....
Hi Fry,

FC problems at Oswego Lake Country Club? LOL!  I've heard it all now!
You could start by buying a bit less lobster, caviar and fois gras!
Stop filling the fryer with olive oil
Take fillet steak of the staff menu
LOL!
If that doesn't work I'm sure you can raise the prices a bit...

Anyway, I'm properly not the best one to ask as I cost my menus after I cook them ;-))
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
hey Pem, thats some funny stuff LOL... I almost fell off my chair........the deal is we have a new board of directors and their watching the numbers VERY VERY closely ....... 
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by fryguy View Post

hey Pem, thats some funny stuff LOL... I almost fell off my chair........the deal is we have a new board of directors and their watching the numbers VERY VERY closely ....... 

Ahhh....well to be serious for a moment....if your FC is consistent historically (high or not), and you are happy that wastage is under control and that the food you are buying is being efficiently converted,,,,, then your FC represents the expected cost of doing buisness to the level and quality that you do..Phhhh that was a long sentence!
Anyhow, if all this is true so far, then reducing food cost means either raising prices of lowering the level of food (and this will effect service to some extent) you are serving.

My sixth sense tells me that in these kinda situations cutting the overall cost of catering is more likely their main aim and this includes lots of variable other than food cost (i.e. wage costs! ahhhh, I said it, sorry!)..

You could always offer to reduce the free rounds of golf you play weekly from 7 to 6 ;-))
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #6 of 18
[quote}  My sixth sense tells me that in these kinda situations cutting the overall cost of catering is more likely their main aim and this includes lots of variable other than food cost (i.e. wage costs!

I gather you are at an upscale private equity club.  The current  economic climate is creating problems for these facilities nation wide, even in the top echelon clubs.  You can expect some belt tilghtening, at least for the short term.  The membership does not like to hear the word "assessment".
post #7 of 18
Correct me if I'm wrong, fryguy, but weren't you being chastised by some on this forum not too long ago for worrying about the chef wasting tenderloins?  Most effective thing they could do would probably be to get rid of him.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by greyeaglem View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, fryguy, but weren't you being chastised by some on this forum not too long ago for worrying about the chef wasting tenderloins?  Most effective thing they could do would probably be to get rid of him.

No.  He was being criticised for going over the chef's head.  Those are two different things.  And it's not a matter.  Given that background, how do we know the food cost drama is not at least partly of his making?

BDL
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
well I thinks it's not best to air out my lists of what I think is wrong here on the net......that being said I know we need to make some change......I think we can do better, and it's my job to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.....so I'm just trying to stick to positive imput, and not start any drama........I took all the menues home and I'm going through them line by line as if I were the chef and after I'm done I'll give a copy to the GM and Chef and if they can get some use out of it great.....also I plan to write up a proposal of what i think would help the overall operation as I see it and again submit it to the GM and Chef......I think it's good to get some documentation that "I" am taking some action to the problem.......oh the food cost was 53% I think budget was around 42%......
post #10 of 18
Good luck Fry with your research, the exercise you're performing is a good idea and worth doing yearly; It helps to shake things up in the kitchen once in a while and remind everyone about the importance of finance and controlling costs.

Thinking about forums going the wrong way; I post on a car forum in the UK quite often. Last week members were complaining about each others spelling and grammer. LOL, come on, lighten up guys!
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #11 of 18
First, we need a little background info.

Purveyors.

Do you have multiple ones for each category?  I.e. meat, produce, seafood, drygoods, dairy, etc?

Are you buying in pre-finished stuff like peeled & cut vegetables, pre-portioned meats, etc?

Do you buy in all pastry items pre/semi- finished, or make some in house?

Do your purveyors supply you with "weekly/monthly specials'  and if so, do you take advantage of them, work them into menus?

How far in advance does the Chef plan out his specials, menus etc?
 
And the $12,000.00 question:  Is the Chef or purchaser "obliged", or in some way instructed to order from certain companies--that may or may not belong to club members?

How easy is it to "walk away" with stuff from the dry-store or walk-ins?

In may cases it is far cheaper to buy dairy, pop, and certain drygoods at Costco--even when you factor in labour and transportation.  Dairy can be as much as 30% cheaper.
 
In many cases it is worth it to buy vegetabes--pots, onions, carrots etc. in large quantitites locally and store them.  In the summer you can buy in berries--strawbs, blueberries, etc. and freeze them--dead simple to do and very little labour involved.  Again, you can shave off as much as 30% from the purveyor's price by doing this, AND have 'bragging rights" to local produce.

By making maybe 25% of your desserts in house, you are far less  independant on purveyors .  Doesn't have to be fancy, you can do stuff like Choc. mousse, creme brules, Tirimisu. etc..  Bake-off bread/buns are a good thing too.

The big thing is that there is always a trade-off.  Great food cost usually means high-er labour cost.  If you can get 25% labour and 18% food, the Chef is a saint and a genius and will either be head-hunted for a plum job, or will find the money to open his/own place  
...."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 #12 of 18
Fryguy, why are you giving a copy of your food cost findings to the GM and Chef. Wouldn't it be proper to follow the chain of command. I see you always put the GM first, as to make sure he sees who is doing all the work.................Chef Bill
post #13 of 18
I think pre-portioned/pre-made foods cause the most overhead, and if you have salaried employees who can be making these from scratch, then their would be no downside to doing things from scratch. If there is a way to use waste on the menu (for instance, when we buy whole tenderloins for banquets, we don't use the tails as filets but utilize them as tips or filet burgers) it makes it even more attractive. There's usually a huge difference.

I don't know the whole story and understand why you don't want to provide details, but I get the sense that the chef is part of the problem or at least is impeding the solution. If that is the case, screw the chain of command, think about the well-being of the club and the jobs of yourself and everyone else beneath him. Chain of command is one thing during service, but in the big picture you're doing the right thing going over his head if he's the problem. Sometimes it's a cutthroat business and I have very little sympathy for chefs who are more worried about their ego or expressing themselves artistically than they are about the livelihoods of their staff.

EDIT: This looks kind of harsh looking back over it, but just for context I want to point out that I'm in the northeast, and our club business is already tougher because it's very seasonal. the economic downturn has hit us harder than clubs who have year-round play and we've been bare bones for a while now...53% food cost would be totally out of the question here. Chefs who got comfortable and expected old New England money to be around forever are getting axed left and right now. My club would literally have gone out of business a year and half ago if some of us hadn't gone over our chef's head to the GM.
post #14 of 18
If I ever had a Sous, Lead cook, Kitchen Manager, head cook go over my head to the GM on Food costing, menus or kitchen matters in general, they would be gone real soon. Its up to these positions to report their ideas and suggestions to the Chef. I had a person do this a few weeks ago, they are now collecting unemployment. If you think your smarter than the Chef then go run your own kitchen, until then be an asset, not an *******..................Chef Bill
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
I would love to go into more detail as to why I'm doing things the way I am but this is not the place to do it......I'm trying to look after the club that has taken care of me for over 15 years ......and I'm givivg copies to both the Chef and GM If he wants to fire me for doing the right thing then so be it.....Personally I think he's going to thank me for my input, but reguardless of what others do or don't do "I" need to do somthing 
post #16 of 18
My earlier post regarding fryguy being chastised was referring to his concern about several whole tenderloins being left over from a party. I felt his concern was justified as the amount he talked about was a lot. If all the people showed up for the party, then the chef grossly overestimated the amount of food he needed, which tells me he doesn't know what he's doing. I don't know why some people get their shorts in such a knot over someone going to the GM about something they think is wrong. I have worked with plenty of chefs that didn't know their *ss from first base, and while I didn't go above their heads, I have spent plenty of time in the unemployment line because their arrogant stupidity drove the place under. The owners then ask why the rest of us didn't say anything, and we have to explain "Because he's the chef." Makes the rest of us look stupid for not saying anything. I have had people go to the GM or owner because they didn't understand what I was doing. I never cared that they did. They either didn't understand the place, or there were financial or other reasons that drove what I did that they weren't aware of. I never faulted them for their concern and wouldn't dream of firing someone over it. I bear in mind all the time that the business and everyone's job is reliant on what I do. They have a right to question things they don't think are right. If they feel uncomfortable asking me directly, then by all means go to the GM or owner, with my blessing.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

THANK YOU........geese it's a tough crowd around here........

post #18 of 18
Fryguy, do what you have to do.  Have you tried talking to your Chef about your food costs and ways to cut them down?  The KM and I talk about everything and when we had to reduce our food costs, we brainstormed and came up with the best ideas for us to keep costs down but while still serving quality meals. 

I'm not sure where they are looking for you to cut costs, but I would look at where you see the greatest amount of waste and focus on trying to resolve that.  (that was what helped us out the most with our issue) Some things are just expensive and if your menu includes high cost items there isn't much you can do about that.  We did experiment with different produce companies and we found that while there were alot of companies that charge less than the one we have stuck with, we did not experience the same level of quality and at the end of the day it was costing us more because we were throwing out produce that had turned and having to buy more so by paying for the quality it was saving us money.

I hope this helps and I hope you can figure out something that will help the club and your kitchen.
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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