Cooking is personal. Every time you present a plate you are showcasing your passion. You are inviting someone to see ingredients through your eyes. Whether it is the dessert your grammy used to always make or a side dish that you recently tried at a dinner party, there is always a story behind food. It is that story that makes meals insightful and fun. It is the story that makes customers loyal and it those stories that can make menu tastings really hard.
We recently had a menu tasting for our coffee house Fresh to change out some of the sandwiches and breakfast items. What was great about this particular menu tasting was everyone brought there significant other. When there are only 4 employees that is entirely doable! Each person presented their suggestions, we all tried a bite then evaluated. “This is a little dry.” “I like this better when it is hot.” “This is fantastic, do you think it will sell?” We are asked to be critics to think about each dish, how easily it can be produced, how well it holds, and overall if we think the cliental will like it. While the food is always fantastic, the process can be hard. You are offering criticism to someone’s story.
After the taste testing has finished, the real analyzing takes place…what is the food cost? Based on each ingredient what will the cost be. The average food cost is 30-35%. Too high and it is not profitable, too low well you have some wiggle room but all in all it is pretty exciting. Also, each presenter must speak about their dish in a “business way”, it is no longer about the fact that the dish is family recipe its about the pracitcality. “I chose this dish because it utilizes ingredients we already own so we wont be bringing anything new in. Plus, we offered it as a special and it did really well. My concerns are the amount of prep it takes.” It is now business it is not personal. People walk away with a pleasant taste in their mouth (pun intended). Once you put numbers to something, you save the story. And let’s face it, it is always about the story.