Our school requires us to hand-write all recipies for a given day of cooking on 3x5 index cards. We also use evaluation forms at the end of the day to self-evaluate the work on each table (usually 3-4 students per table, with up to 6 tables per class). The idea is that you are forced to at very least look at the recipie once all the way through before you attempt it in class, and to at least consider the results once.
I quickly realized it's very easy not to spend enough time familiarizing yourself with a given recipie, as well as factor in the proper production considerations. So I came up with a system in MS Word that forces me to think through recipies more than throughly before class, as well as produce a very useful production schedule & requisition sheet for each class (which if they aren't required by your Chef, are extremely valuable in any cooking class, and really get you thinking holisticly about the menu in the context of a working kitchen).
1. Break the recipie into tasks by "ingredient groupings", which is to say organize ingredients according to your mise en place procedure: eg for a baking recipie, one ingredient group can be your dry ingredients, another group is the wet ingredients. This focuses your work flow according to each task, rather than having you mise everything at once, or mise things now that you do not need until much later. (Example will follow).
2. Identify any "pre-awareness" needed throughout, eg pre-heating an oven or setting up a frying station. This is about equipment awareness more than ingredients. Need to make tomato concassee? Then you need a blanche/shock station. Put these kinds of needs first on your list. Include the things you always forget, like the time it takes to properly wash rice.
3. Include timings in all your tasks so that you are thinking through how long a task is going to take, but also so you can produce a quick and easy production schedule after you're done. My format is:
"(task): (estimated minutes):"
... followed by the ingredient listing for that task.
4. Create a "master sheet" that lists all recipies broken down by task and associated ingredients. (If you use the columns feature in Word, you can fit up to 5 or 6 recipies on a page)
5. Save the document as a new/different Word document; go back and delete all ingredients and print/save your new production schedule.
6. Go back to the master sheet; save the document as a new/different Word document, delete all your tasks & timings and print/save your new requisition sheet.
7. Fold the tops of your new documents and hang them on your speed racks as necessary.
8. I write out my index cards to follow this pattern, but having a standard format recipie on hand is probably a good idea too.
Master Sheet entry:
Same entry in the Production Schedule:
Same entry in the Requisition Sheet:
Beet and Apple Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette
2 Tbl. vinaigrette
I guarantee you if you walk into class with a production schedule and req sheet on top of your recipie cards you will be well prepared for class, and make an excellent impression on your Chef - and possibly motivate your fellow students to meet your effort and thus raise the standards of your classroom.
Take the time to fill out a plate diagram or two (maybe even bring some blanks with you to class) and you'll really be on the ball. Also, consider doing an equipement requisition sheet as well, or incorporating equipment thoroughly into your ingredient req sheet.
Edited by Culinuthiast - 5/4/10 at 10:40am