Gerald Ford, CMC, explains the importance of recipes, both for the member and for the staff, and offers downloadable recipe templates.
One of the most common challenges in any foodservice operation is consistency. Memberships need to have confidence in knowing that when they bring in guests and order a meal, the meal is going to be as great as it was the last time they dined at the club. Knowing that the cheddar broccoli soup is always on point or the ranch is not watery or too thick, depending on who made it.
In the highest-level culinary organizations, this is often done by relying on standardized recipes for everything, from the poaching liquid for eggs at breakfast to the chicken stock and the Dauphinoise potato gratin for banquets.
As the Executive Chef of the culinary program, you set a tone.
The team behind the chef needs to understand that adding their unique touch to a “club favorite” when the favorite is expected often yields a flurry of emails and meetings about slipping or changing quality standards. Inconsistencies in clubs and resorts are not positives.
A chef’s real arsenal is in his or her repertoire of recipes. This is the playbook from which the team needs to work. Solid recipes provide a clear path for the team to follow and provide a clear baseline—a clearly defined standard. Although we live in a world of gray, recipes must be in black and white to establish a clear rule that your team can follow. Chefs need measurable metrics for success, and ultimately if you have not already done so, chefs need to provide teams with the opportunity to find the answers they seek in documentation of established standards.
A recipe can provide as much or as little information as the chef wants. A recipe allows the chef to clarify ordering specifications, as well as provide a baseline skillset to oncoming cooks and has the added benefit of being ready and available for when a member or guest asks, “How do I make the bread pudding at home?”
Recipes allow sous chefs to manage processes and effectively lead a team to service and make creating order guides much simpler and less time-consuming. Most importantly, in a world of allergens, this transparency allows an added layer of communication between departments and to the membership.
Recipe development is and always will be an evolutionary process. There needs to be a starting point, and then adjustments can be made with proper approval and supervision, then adjusted program-wide for consistency. Well written recipes provide a lasting legacy for a chef as well as a road map for the team to follow. They can be the building blocks of a career for young cooks or a foundation for a sous chef. In the process of building, developing, or evolving a culinary program, a well-written recipe is a vital tool.
Need a recipe template? Here are my two favorites: