Ensuring quality on desserts made off-site

99
65
Joined Jun 28, 2017
Hi all, I’m trying to figure out the best way to insure that the desserts I wholesale to a small local wine bar make it to the plate the way they’re supposed to…

I’m selling them two desserts: 1) an olive oil and buttermilk tart with basil-infused peaches and amaretto whipped cream, and 2) a caramelized miso panna cotta with sour cherries and an anise-almond tuile. I give them all the components, they do a minimal amount of prep before service, and plate the desserts.

When I dropped the desserts off for the first time, I showed the kitchen staff how to plate, had them taste stuff, and gave them a few directions - specifically, I asked them to please taste everything before service, re-whip the cream each day, and slice only the amount of tart they thought they would use for the night and not carry pre-sliced pieces over to the next day. They also mentioned that they were using micro basil and would be happy to put that on the tart if I liked, which I thought was a great idea.

I structured my pricing/portioning to (hopefully) incentivize the behaviors I listed above. The tart has 12 portions, but I’m selling it to them as 10 - with the idea being that the excess is for trimming and tasting and I gave them a few extra pannas to taste before service as well.

When I dropped off my order today (just before service), the owner/manager of the bar asked me to plate up one dessert to photograph for a promo on their instagram. And while I was plating up the tart it seemed like maybe the directions I gave a few days ago were not totally understood or communicated to the staff who was there today. There were 4 or 5 slices of tart carried over from yesterday, cream was not rewhipped (so they were using just the thicker top part and the amaretto flavor was concentrated in the thinner bottom part that was getting discarded), they were using mint as a garnish not basil (I would have preferred no garnish over mint). These details may seem nitpicky, but I think they're important to the way the guest experiences the dish, and I want them to be *right* not just good enough. 

So, how do I make sure the directions I give get communicated to everyone on the kitchen staff? How can I best insure that the plates go out the way they’re supposed to? 

There is no doubt to me that everyone involved cares about quality (so I don't think it's a motivation issue) - but it’s a brand new place and the management/owners have a ton of experience with beverage/service/FOH, but are not food people. I want to make sure that the quality is at the level it would be if I were there, because my name/my business is going to be listed on the menu and it’s a huge marketing opportunity for me.

I’m also trying to figure out a way of communicating/controlling quality that I can apply to other wholesale accounts down the road (this is my first wholesale account) and that will work if I increase the complexity of a dish/the prep involved on their end.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, and thank you in advance for your advice! This forum is such an amazing resource and I appreciate all the experience that each of you brings to your answers.
 
4,474
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Have another inservice...invite whoever was in charge during the first one as well as whoever is directly over him/her.

Bring a bowl of the broken cream for EVERYONE involved to taste...maybe that will help it sink in that half the yummy is being tossed out.

Have available and leave instructions as well as pix.

Tell them you have decided the green garnish looked off balance or whatever...thank them for the offer but decline (without pointing out the error).

Charge for what you provide...if they are grownup enuf to have a job they should be able to portion without waste....if it won't interfere with quality deliver preportioned in the tins.

I get you will be walking a tightrope and some of the things that need to be reinforced may sound ticky to whoever you are dealing with (basil and portions left out) and the cream is just plain wrong on their part... just try to sound business like without whiney.

One more thing....I have never been a fan of preplated desserts (other than the precut portions left in the tins)....and this is doubly true when it is as elevated as what you are peddling.

It doesn't take that much time to put together.

They wouldn't THINK of treating anything else in that manner so why your desserts?

People are way too intimidated by pastry and need to grow up get over it.

mimi

OBTW....have been meaning to complement your avatar pix.

Green is hands down my favorite color and the way you have used the different shades and put them together in odd squares and lines and rounds...... way attractive.

m.
 
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5,546
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Short version: You can't.

Say you were a baker, even if you gave your customer explicit instructions on how to store your hand crafted loaves, there's no guarantee that they would not serve stale bread, or with hand reared pork, beef, game, etc., or with heirloom tomatoes or salad greens.

Its best to just sell the actual tart or desert, no sauces, no garnishes, no plating instructions. You are a whole seller, not an employee, a supervisor, or an owner, so there is no way to ensure that desserts are being plated like the way you want them.

What you can do is this:
Take pride in providing your customer with the best product you are capable of producing, take pride in that your product arrives in perfect condition, and..... walk away.

Yes, your customer has "bragging rights" about using your stuff, just as they do with someone else's bread, pork, beef, etc. But you can't control what happens after the customer pays for your goods.
 
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Joined Jun 28, 2017
Thank you for the replies! I'll be getting back to you with a more detailed response in a few days - my fiance and I are moving tomorrow so things are little hectic right now!
 
99
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Joined Jun 28, 2017
Thank you both for the advice! I decided to switch the whipped cream to an anglaise so it wouldn't need to be rewhipped, made a chart with a description/components/prep/plating for each dish, and casually asked them not to bother with the green stuff. I'm probably also going to switch from selling them large tarts to be portioned to individual tartlets. And now I'm walking away and "taking pride in providing my customer with the best product I am capable of producing" which I think is going to become my new internal motto when I drop products off.

And flipflopgirl flipflopgirl , thank you for the compliment. The photo is of cookies I made for a client who wanted "something creative for an art party". They're citrus-coconut shortbread with a layer of white chocolate ganache topped with white modeling chocolate that I rolled super thin then painted kind of randomly with food coloring diluted with high proof vodka. I have since used the same technique a bunch of times and they end up being really popular.

These are snowflake cookies I made for the holidays:

And packaged cookies I made for a client who needed a give-away item at a "Rainbow Families" conference:
 
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Joined Jul 12, 2017
Thank you both for the advice! I decided to switch the whipped cream to an anglaise so it wouldn't need to be rewhipped, made a chart with a description/components/prep/plating for each dish, and casually asked them not to bother with the green stuff. I'm probably also going to switch from selling them large tarts to be portioned to individual tartlets. And now I'm walking away and "taking pride in providing my customer with the best product I am capable of producing" which I think is going to become my new internal motto when I drop products off.

And flipflopgirl flipflopgirl , thank you for the compliment. The photo is of cookies I made for a client who wanted "something creative for an art party". They're citrus-coconut shortbread with a layer of white chocolate ganache topped with white modeling chocolate that I rolled super thin then painted kind of randomly with food coloring diluted with high proof vodka. I have since used the same technique a bunch of times and they end up being really popular.

These are snowflake cookies I made for the holidays:

And packaged cookies I made for a client who needed a give-away item at a "Rainbow Families" conference:
Beautiful cookies! :) Any chance there's a video out there about the painting part? Also... how did you get the modeling chocolate to stick to the short bread?
 
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Joined Jun 28, 2017
Hi - sorry for the long delay in replying! Unfortunately there is no video about the painting part. I use a few different sizes and styles of (food safe) brushes and randomly paint the modeling chocolate - sometimes letting the food coloring dry between colors and sometimes letting the colors bleed together. You kinda just have to experiment a bit with it to see what looks good and what doesn't. You can get different effects depending on how much color you use, what proof vodka, etc. Interestingly, I've noticed that the brand of white chocolate I use to make the modeling chocolate makes a big difference as well. It definitely helps if it is not too humid out, and do *not* over soak the modeling chocolate with the vodka - fast, light layers of color work best. I use Americolor for the colors and Rolkem for metallics. Metallics look *awesome* in person, but don't photo very well usually. The modeling chocolate is stuck to the shortbread with slightly warmed up ganache.
 
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