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Recipe Mapping

How to Turn Good Recipes Into Great Menu Items

A good recipe for home cooking doesn't always work out when you attempt to replicate it in the restaurant. Startup restaurateurs find out quickly that a recipe intended to yield four, six or even 10 servings might not be practical when feeding dozens or even hundreds of guests -- every day.

We've said it once, we'll say it again: Success in the restaurant business is often measured in pennies. Toss in an inaccurate order here, a dash of wasted product there, and mix in a bit of inefficient labor use, and you've got a recipe for slim margins. And while your friends and family never minded waiting an extra half-hour or so for your famous meatballs, your restaurant guests will not be so forgiving to slow service and inconsistency.

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. We call it RecipeMapping® -- a three-step process that allows you to add new items to the menu consistently, methodically and profitably. We hope it helps "map out" your strategy for adding items to your menu, as well as help you put your startup "on the map."

Step 1 -- Add Ingredients to the Master Inventory List. Every restaurant should maintain a Master Inventory List that includes all of the ingredients that a restaurant must use in the preparation of their menu items. This list can be maintained using a spreadsheet format that includes purchasing information such as the pack, size and price of the ingredients -- information that is useful when creating other management forms such as inventory and order forms. But to accurately calculate the real cost to produce a menu item, the Master Inventory list should not only reflect the purchasing cost and unit of measure, but also the corresponding recipe cost and unit of measure. Any ingredient used in cooking can be expressed in one of three units of measure when using it in a recipe -- weight measure (typically ounces or lbs.), volume measure (such as tsp.,tbsp.,cups, qts. or gal.), or by piece. Many products are purchased by weight units of measure but are measured for recipes in terms of volume (fluid) measure. To determine a true recipe unit cost, it can require measuring a pound of product to determine its recipe yield.

  Step 2 -- Create the Prep Stages. Here we identify parts of the menu item that can be prepared prior to final cooking and presentation, to reduce the time from order to service. Even a simple, single menu item often requires several subrecipes that are produced in batch and become part of the routine preparation tasks. Each subrecipe is then added to the Recipe Manual for reference by the kitchen staff. The cost of each subrecipe ingredient is calculated by multiplying the number of recipe units used by the recipe unit cost listed in the Master Inventory. The subrecipe batch is then assigned its own recipe unit and cost based on to total cost to produce the batch and how much it yields.

Step 3 -- Calculate Menu Item Cost. Finally, the cost of the menu item is determined by calculating the cost of each individual recipe or ingredient needed to produce the menu item, then affixing a selling price that produces the desired profit. Restaurants should review their menu item cost every three to six months to ensure that cost expectations are accurate.

Each month, Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine features different menu items in the Recipe Mapping article. Here, we have provided downloadable PFD versions of those articles for your convenience. If you don't have it, you will need to download a free version of Adobe Reader to view these articles.

Recipe Mapping: The Loop Pizza Grill Recipe Mapping: The Loop Pizza Grill
by Tom Bruce
Before Mike and Terry Schneider could even think about expanding their Loop Pizza Grill they knew they had to standardize their recipes and develop operational systems to ensure each unit operated the same way. In this article, Tom Bruce breaks down the recipes to determine the cost and correct procedures for producing two of The Loop's favorite menu items. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage
by Tom Bruce
This month's features have been contributed from the recipe files of Sacramento Food & Beverage. Tom Bruce, teacher, consulting chef and founder of Sacramento Food & Beverage has helped numerous operators streamline their kitchens and procedures.He has worked with several restaurants to produce previous RecipeMapping contributions. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Tres Hombres Recipe Mapping: Tres Hombres
by Tom Bruce
This month's features were contributed by Michael Thomas, owner-operator of Tres Hombres Long Bar and Grill located in Chico,California and a new location in Petaluma. Consulting chef,Tom Bruce, founder of Sacrament Food and Beverage Consulting,worked with the Tres Hombres' staff to provide the cost analysis for this month's featured menu items. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Johnnie's in the Hotel Diamond Recipe Mapping: Johnnie's in the Hotel Diamond
by Tom Bruce
This month's featured items were contributed by Johnnie's, located in the newly renovated Hotel Diamond in Chico, California. Chef and General Manager, Joseph Symmes and his staff worked with consulting chef,Tom Bruce, founder of Sacrament Food and Beverage Consulting, to present the detailed costing technique for two of Johnnie's popular menu items. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage
by Tom Bruce
Tom Bruce, teacher, consulting chef and founder of Sacramento Food & Beverage has helped numerous operators streamline their kitchens and procedures.He has worked with several restaurants to produce previous RecipeMapping contributions. This month, Tom has contributed two menu items from his own recipe files showing the step-by-step procedure for costing and preparation. more >>

Would You Like Your Restaurant Featured in RecipeMapping®? Would You Like Your Restaurant Featured in RecipeMapping®?
We're always looking for great restaurants that want to be featured in Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine. If you have some great menu items you'd like to share, simply submit your request and we'll consider featuring your restaurant in one of our RecipeMapping articles more >>

Recipe Mapping: Rudy's Hideaway Recipe Mapping: Rudy's Hideaway
by Tom Bruce
This month, Tom Bruce presents two of Rudy's top-sellers; Blue Cheese Strip Steak and Lobster Potstickers. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Bullwacker's Restaurant Recipe Mapping: Bullwacker's Restaurant
by Tom Bruce
Bullwacker's Restaurant is located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey, California. Pictures and recipes were graciously provided by John Eales, proprietor. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Latitudes Recipe Mapping: Latitudes
by Tom Bruce
Latitudes is a unique concept featuring eclectic selections from around the world.Owners Pete and Pat Enoch keep guests returning by changing their menu monthly, usually defined by the "latitudes" from where they get their menu creations. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Ala Carte Consulting Recipe Mapping: Ala Carte Consulting
by Glenn Cates
The variety of ingredients and the multi-step process for preparing Pan-Grilled Shrimp Pasta and Gulf Coast Crabcakes provide an excellent example of how proper Recipe Mapping techniques not only provide accurate cost information but can simplify the the cook line procedure as well. more >>

Recipe Mapping: Bella Luna Restaurant Recipe Mapping: Bella Luna Restaurant
by Tom Bruce
Learn how Tom Bruce uses RecipeMapping to cost out two popular menu items from The Bella Luna Restaurant located in the Jamaica Plains area of Boston more >>

Recipe Mapping: Saskatoon Recipe Mapping: Saskatoon
by Tom Bruce
In this article, Tom Bruce, founder of Sacramento Food & Beverage Consulting, maps out two popular menu items from Edmond Woo's Saskatoon, Steaks - Fish - Wild Game, in Greenville, South Carolina. more >>

Recipe Mapping: 75 Chestnut Recipe Mapping: 75 Chestnut
by Tom Bruce
This month's features were provided by 75 Chestnut, owned and operated by Tom Kershaw. Learn how Tom Bruce of Sacramento Food and Beverage Consulting uses the RecipeMapping process for two great menu items; TK's Sausage Sampler and Fisherman's Pasta more >>