How can I become better at doing specials?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cheflool, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. cheflool


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    Professional Chef
    I always find my self not knowing what to do when it comes to doing the Specials, even though I have a lot information on my head, but for some reason my brain lock when i star thinking of new special...Can someone give me some advice?
  2. michaelga


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    Retired Chef
    Rather than trying to 'think up' a couple of specials for every night of the week plan them out a couple of weeks in advance if you can.  

    Really helps for those days that you just don't feel creative.

    Also some ideas that may assist you:

    - have a goal for your specials (re-purposing), getting rid of slow moving product, trying out a product that you might want to add to the menu

    - try having your lead cook or one of the line cooks make up a special *always try it first and be honest / polite about the whole thing

    - ask your regulars if there is anything that they would like to see as a special  (we actually have a short *call list of regulars when we do certain specials that they love... just call and leave a short message (be very brief) you'd be amazed at how much business this can drum up.

    - use the nearest holiday for 'inspiration' or a theme... doesn't have to be the same day just near

    - make a special that uses the same ingredients that you normally have on hand just prepare them a different way

    - make comfort food specials, as much as it's not exciting / fine dining i've always found basic baked mac-n-cheese or sheepherds pie always sells well.

    - use what is in season for your specials (it's also likely on sale)

    - use your suppliers 'deals' or 'specials' as your specials (beware that you may become 1 of 10 different restaurants that are doing this also)

    Anyway hope this helps, i've probably missed half a dozen other good ideas but i'll leave that up to the rest of the gang!
  3. thetincook


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    Line Cook
    Sure, after you took the easy ones, :D

    Other ideas...

    Read alot. Books, websites, and the trades. Easy way to broaden your horizons. When Chez Panisse opened, they would cook their way through books. Richard Olney, Paula Wolfart, Elizibeth David...

    For a personal example, I like to read about food anthropology and history when I get the chance. A couple of months ago, I was making a vat beef ragu for some lasagne and pasta. It was nothing interesting really. You've tasted the same stuff at hundreds of red sauce joints. Then I recalled how midaevil cooks spiced their food, so I reached for some sweet spices, and my merely humdrum sauce, became something noteworthy.

    Get a copy of escoffier and have fun with it. A lot of good stuff in there.