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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 recipeweight 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: Central Coast Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by the staff of Central Coast Food & Beverage, a foodservice consulting firm based in Capitola, California, just outside Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, created the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: London Bridge Pub
Recipe Mapping: London Bridge Pub This month's featured menu items were provided by London Bridge Pub based in Monterey, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, worked with London Bridge Pub owner/operator John Eales and his staff to create the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by the staff of Central Coast Food & Beverage, a foodservice consulting firm based in Capitola, California, just outside of Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, created the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by the staff of Central Coast Food & Beverage, a foodservice consulting firm based in Capitola, California, just outside of Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, created the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: MexItalian
Recipe Mapping: MexItalian This month's featured menu items were provided by MexItalian restaurant, a Latin/Mediterranean fusion concept located in Santa Cruz, California. This project was funded by the Central Coast Small Business Development Center based at Cabrillo College. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, worked with owner/operators Jean Pierre Juliano and Fernando Vasquez to create the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: The Harris Ranch
Recipe Mapping: The Harris Ranch This month's featured menu items were again provided by The Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California, known for locally raised high-quality beef products. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with Chef Anthony Hagans in the development of the recipe mapping for two more of their most popular dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: The Harris Ranch
Recipe Mapping: The Harris Ranch This month's featured menu items were provided by The Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California, known for locally raised high-quality beef products. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with chef Anthony Hagans in the development of the recipe mapping for these fabulous dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: The Grill
Recipe Mapping: The Grill This month's featured menu items were provided by The Grill at Pine Mountain Lake. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with Chef Carrie Taylor and general manager Jay Reis in the development of the recipe mapping for these delicious and cost-effective offerings. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by Sacramento Food & Beverage. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, has worked with hundreds of restaurants in developing their recipes and cost-control systems. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Sacramento Food & Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by Sacramento Food & Beverage. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, has worked with hundreds of restaurants in developing their recipes and cost-control systems. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Aviator Casino Bar and Grill in Delano, California
Recipe Mapping: Aviator Casino Bar and Grill in Delano, California This month's featured menu items were again provided by the Aviator Casino Bar and Grill in Delano, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with general manager Kyle Morris and front-of-the-house consultant Tim Campbell to create the recipe mapping specs for two of their more popular dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Aviator Casino Bar and Grill
Recipe Mapping: Aviator Casino Bar and Grill This month's featured menu items were again provided by the Aviator Casino Bar and Grill in Delano, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with general manager Kyle Morris and staff to create the recipe mapping specs for these excellent dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food and Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food and Beverage This month's featured menu items were provided by Central Coast Food & Beverage in conjunction with Café Mare in Santa Cruz, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, worked with owner/operator Jean Pierre Juliano and staff to create the recipe mapping specs for these excellent dishes. To view the training video for making pie pastry, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/CentralCoastFB . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: The Giant Artichoke
Recipe Mapping: The Giant Artichoke This month's featured menu items were provided by the Giant Artichoke in Monterey County, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, worked with owner/operator Janet Salazar and staff to create the recipe mapping specs for these excellent dishes. This effort was part of a redevelopment project co-funded by Monterey County and the California State University Monterey Bay Small Business Development Center. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage
Recipe Mapping: Central Coast Food & Beverage This month's menu items were provided by the staff of Central Coast Food & Beverage, a foodservice consulting firm based in Capitola, California, just outside of Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Central Coast Food & Beverage, created the recipe mapping for these dishes. . . . more >>
Recipe Mapping: BeX Restaurant
Recipe Mapping: BeX Restaurant This month's featured menu items were provided by the BeX restaurant in Lancaster, California. Tom Bruce, founding chef and owner of Sacramento Food & Beverage, worked with managing partner Tim Campbell and his staff in preparation for this month's features. . . . more >>
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