The Preparation Control Point
One of the biggest changes taking place in commercial food service is the increased use of conveniece or pre-prepared food items. The more pre-prepared food items an operation uses the more it can reduce its labor staff as well as prep areas. The quality of many of the new conveniece food items approaches the quality of many 'made from scratch' food items.
Food is purchased in many different forms or degrees of readiness in a food
service operation. Many items need to be prepared before they are ready to cook
or directly serve to guests. One of the biggest changes in food service in the
last 5-10 years is the degree of preparation or process many food items receive
at the manufacturer. Much of this increased processing is due to the increased
labor costs and labor shortages in many areas. It is know possible for food
service operations to eliminate certain jobs due to the increased processing
of food items reducing the amount of processing they have to do at the operations
The preparing function in a food service operation is also crucial to quality control. During preparation, products begin to be converted from their purchased state to the form in which they will be served to the customer. Mistakes made in food preparation mav be irreversible. If poorly prepared items are served, they are likely to decrease the customer's satisfaction; if they are thrown out, this waste adds to the operation's costs.
It is difficult to prescribe hard and fast rules for the preparing control point because there are so many different types of food service busineses, each with different procedures and objectives. Therefore, general principles which are applicable to most operations are presented in t sections which follow.
Preparing and Personnel
The skill levels of preparation personnel vary from operation to operation and from position to position.
Besides being clean and properly dressed, it is important that food preparation employees be accurate. Accuracy reduces waste and losses resulting from improper ingredient handling, weighing, and measuring. The accuracy with which ingredients are prepared can also have a significant impact on the quality of the end product.
Mise en place is critical to the success of preparation and cooking. This French term, which means, put in place, suggests that before preparation begins, all ingredients should be assembled in the work area. Organizing in advance reduces errors and speeds up the actual preparation process
Preparing may take place in any department in the kitchen. The salad or pantry department is usually responsible for bulk salad, appetizer, and seafood preparation as well as the source of canapes, hors d'oeuvres, salads, and other cold food presentations.
Preparing and Equipment
Equipment needed for preparation is based on the menu. If a menu change is anticipated, additional preparation or cooking equipment may have to be purchased. If a specialized piece of equipment is needed to prepare one new menu item, the cost of adding the equipment must be weighed against the profits it will generate.
The amount of preparation equipment an operation has in its kitchen directly relates with the number of food items it prepares from scratch compared to the number of items it purchases prepared or partially prepared. In the last 5 or so years there has been a big growth in the availiability in quality conveniece food items. The level of quality of a convenience product must be evaluated by management. A convenience product should never be purchased unless its qualitv is equal to or better than a similar product prepared in house. Second, because convenience products offer a predetermined yield, they have an easy-to-calculate portion cost. Third, convenience products can reduce waste. Fourth, convenience products can help reduce the number of and skill level of the preparation staff.
In some cases, convenience food products may reduce handling and storage costs. In other cases, storage costs increase because the products must be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. Therefore, each product must be evaluated individually. Finally, convenience food products facilitate menu expansion. These products can often be used in a variety of applications and menu items with little additional effort. The scratch versus convenience decision must be carefully evaluated before management decides to add or to rule out convenience food products.
Food products are changed physically and/or chemically during preparation and cooking. The objective is to enhance the food quality while protecting the safety of the food and controlling waste. The yield of a raw product is influenced by the grade, weight, and quality of the ingredients. Preparing and cooking must be done correctly to provide safe products and maximum yields.
A standard recipe is a written procedure for the production of a given quantity of a food item. It lists the exact quantity of each ingredient to be used, the sequential order in which ingredients are put together, cooking times and temperatures, and the equipment necessary to produce the finished product. Using standard recipes is essential to achieving consistency in product quality, sanitation, and cost. Standard recipes permit the operator to precisely determine the cost per portion of finished menu items.
Standard recipes should not be cast in concrete. They should be changed if conditions in the environment or resource levels change. Standard recipes merely provide a minimum level of acceptance. They can be used to train preparation personnel. If the production manager or the employees can improve the results by changing the recipes, these changes should be documented by revising the standard recipes so the changes will be known to all who use them. New recipes copied from magazines or supplied by other establishments must be adapted to the needs of the operation, its personnel, and its customers.
Once a standard recipe has been developed for each menu item, the cost per portion or standard recipe cost can be calculated. Knowing the cost per portion is essential if the menu items are to be accurately priced. A product cost analysis form is used to calculate the cost per portion. The ingredients and amount used for a menu item can be entered directly from the standard recipe form. Costs are derived from invoices and should be updated whenever there is a significant change in the cost of any raw ingredient. The standard recipe cost is calculated by dividing the total product cost by the yield (number of servings).
Preparing and Facilities
Preparation facilities vary in size and layout with the type of operation and its menu. However, every kitchen is divided into a series of work centers in which somewhat related products are produced. In some kitchens, certain work centers are in separate rooms (e.g., salad and dessert department, a la carte preparation). In smaller kitchens, all preparation may take place in one room without any obvious divisions between work areas. Nevertheless, the arrangement of equipment in the room provides a clue to the location of the various work centers.
Preparation facilities should be designed to efficiently move products from the issuing control point to the cooking control point. This avoids both congestion and delay. A minimum of handling and transfers is also desirable from a sanitation standpoint. Adequate equipment, work tables, lighting, and ventilation must be present in the preparation area to enable food preparation employees to work efficiently. It may be possible to concentrate food preparation in fewer areas to raise staff productivity levels.
To determine the layout of the preparation facilities, management must determine how much preparation will be done in each area. For example, suppose management is considering the preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables. Relevant questions might include these: Will all products be prepared in a single area or will preparation take place in a number of areas? Will the products be washed, peeled, chopped, or diced in the areas? Or will the fresh fruits and vegetables simply be cleaned and weighed? Who will be responsible for preparation in the areas?
All of these questions lead to answers regarding the type and extent of fruit and vegetable preparation facilities. The answers to these questions also influence equipment needs in the area. Perhaps in some work centers most of the products can be prepared with time-saving mechanical equipment rather than by hand. With careful planning, essential equipment for an area can be made available while unneeded equipment can be eliminated.
Preparing and Change
Changes in the preparing function occur daily in the food service industry. These changes are due to continually evolving customer demands and modifications in the food processing, manufacturing, and distribution systems. Many of these changes force food service managers to reevaluate their preparing control point.
Preparation activities that used to be essential in every food service business are no longer critical todav. For example, in the past every operation cleaned, peeled, and trimmed fresh vegetables in-house. Todav, many distributors sell already cleaned and trimmed produce.
More often than not, today's operations buy pre-portioned meat products. Some are even purchasing fully cooked and ready-to-slice roasts for sandwiches and other menu items. The proliferation of high-quality frozen convenience doughs and bread products has minimized the need for a full-scale in-house bake shop in modern operations.
Jn the past, most food service establishments prepared their own stock from bones and vegetable products. Today, the simmering stockpot is considered a relic of the past in all but a few establishments. The availability of several high-quality natural food bases eliminates the need for the traditional stockpot. These convenience products reduce waste and spoilage while lowering the sanitation risks of the simmering Stockpot.
Preparing and Success
Excellent operations maintain cost, quality, and sanitation standards at the food preparation control point. Managers of successful businesses realize that planning prevents poor performance. These individuals have developed standards for preparation because, at this control point, there are many variables to control.
Preparing requires a coordination of departments, product flow, and personnel flow. The objective is to not overburden or under-utilize resources. Use of a master food production planning worksheet helps systematize the preparing control point. Standard recipes help to ensure that menu items will be prepared in a safe and sanitary manner. These written procedures also provide consistency for cost and quality control.
Successful operations use preparation equipment and facilities to maximize the productivity of production personnel. If equipment is designed and located correctly, the probability of success is increased. The winners continually reevaluate their preparation practices and standards. Thev are not afraid to try new products and procedures which are consistent with the establishment's standards.
To complete this Topic successfully, please complete the following activities in the order shown below:
ACTIVITY: Evaluating the preparation function of a food service operation
Go on to Serving
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