Achieve Consistent Quality Of Food Through Recipe Standardisation
Recipe (def.): A recipe is a list of ingredients and a set of instructions that tell you how to cook something
The purpose of a recipe is to ensure that the resulting food is of desired and consistent quality and of an accurate and viable yield.
As a catering company can only be successful if it can consistently produce high quality food at an acceptable cost, having the ability to write good quality recipes is extremely important.
In this article we teach you the very best practice regarding recipe-writing so that you can:
- Achieve consistently high quality results
- Achieve predictable yields
- Minimise wasted batches
- Reduce the likelihood of serving sub-standard food
- Boost your reputation
- Teach better technique
- Show your chefs you care for them
- Sleep better at night
Also, if you receive a quality complaint, you will be able to eliminate problematic recipes from your investigation and focus on what else could have gone wrong.
- For caterers, there are basically two distinct ways that you may need to write a recipe:
- Standardising/upscaling an existing recipe Writing a recipe from scratch
These days, with the internet and recipe databases at your fingertips, it is rare that you will be creating recipes from scratch. Therefore we will be focussing on No. 1. (We will cover recipe writing from scratch in a future edition.)
When upscaling someone else’s recipe, first you need to analyse it, looking for the following factors that you are going to have to adjust when you formulate your version of the recipe, such as:
- Modification of technique - for example, if the original roast beef recipe says to sear it then slow roast at 53 degrees then serve a la minute, in a cook/chill facility you might decide to sear it on the outside and roast at 140 degrees to internal temperature of 52 degrees, then chill.
- Change of equipment - to beat 4 egg yolks you might use a hand-whisk, but for 4L of egg yolks you would use a planetary mixer. Another example would be the types of trays needed to chill large quantities of cooked food.
- Changed ingredient spec - for example, to make 1L of chicken soup, you might order one chicken, cook it whole, then pick the flesh off the animal after cooking for use as garnish. To make 100L you are probably going to order bones to make the broth and then breast and leg meat to steam or poach for the garnish.
- Poor economics - the author of the original recipe quite often has not thought about how to produce the desired result in an economical manner, perhaps using unnecessarily expensive ingredients. You may need to alter the recipe as you upscale in order to achieve the correct food cost.
- Evaporation challenges - the main reason you will experience inconsistent yields is because it is hard to predict the rate and volume of evaporation, given different volumes of ingredients in different kinds of vessels. Imagine you are making caramelised onions. In order for the onions to get hot enough to start caramelising, the majority of water contained in the onions has to evaporate first. If you are trying to caramelise 1kg onions in a 10L capacity pot, the ratio of water to the surface area of the pot means that this happens very quickly. So cooking your 1kg caramelised onions may take 20 minutes. However, if you are trying to caramelise 50kg onions in a 150L capacity brattpan, there is a huge amount of water compared to the pan’s surface area. So in the first couple of hours there will be no caramelisation and you will have a very thin oniony broth. Practically, this means you have to either factor in the long cooking time, use thickeners, or, more commonly, remove any type of watery liquids from the recipe and replace with dried alternatives, or use other imaginative ways to reduce cooking time and standardise the cooking process.
- Wording - the methods in recipes written for domestic or non-industrial situations will always require heavy modification for use in your kitchen.
The language you use for the method in an internally-written recipe must always be:
- Consistent - once your chefs get used to reading consistently written recipes, they can be held accountable for the results. If each recipe is written using different kinds of words then you are forced to leave interpretation up to each chef.<?li>
- Facility-specific - Refer to equipment by terms that you establish in the language of your own kitchen.
- Completeness - be very careful to ensure there are no gaps or missing words in your standardised recipes. If there are errors or missing information, not only will your chefs come up with a different way of attacking the recipe, but you will find it hard to diagnose quality issues as you will not have a standard method to refer to. </ol> 7. **Version Control** - your database should register versions. Even if you use Word or a piece of paper, make sure you keep control of your versions. There is nothing more frustrating than ensuring a recipe is perfect then realising that your chefs are operating off an old one! 8. **Silly stuff** - ou will sometimes find completely ridiculous mistakes or things in recipes that simply don’t make sense. Question everything you read - a wrong recipe is bad enough, don’t upscale it to make it bad food x 100! To demonstrate some recipe-upscaling and re-tooling techniques, we will be focussing on the following recipe: ### Baked Orange Custard (original recipe from client)
|1||Vanilla bean, scraped|
|5||Oranges, zest only|
|5.4kg||Pasteurised egg yolk (sweet)|