Portion control and serving size

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by anachoreo, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. anachoreo

    anachoreo

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    Restaurant Manager
    Dear colleagues,

    My wife and I run a small hotel/restaurant in the Republic of Panama. We serve mainly to tourists and retirees. It is very small scale, on a busy day we might serve about 20 people. We are about to professionalize with a new building, a big kitchen and restaurant. There is however one aspect of the business where I seem to be unable to find agreement with my wife: serving size. She has experienced real poverty where food and especially meat becomes a luxury, and now thinks that any meal that does not stuff people up to their necks is not big enough.

    To give you an idea of our portions: 12 ounce fish filet, 13 ounce pork chops, 1 can of tuna on a tuna salad, more chicken on a chicken sandwich than physically possible and so on.

    No matter how many of our guests 'complain' that the food was too much, nor the fact we hardly ever sell deserts, she cannot be convinced to do otherwise. Perhaps you, as professional chefs, can tell me something about the size of your portions. Please help out because right now our kitchen is more of a hobby than a business.
     
  2. pinkykaz

    pinkykaz

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    At the place I work at, the dinner portion for fish is 8oz (for all of our fish preparations), our pork chop is 12oz portions (6oz each 2 pieces). Also what amount of sides are you serving? There's not much I can help with without researching your entire menu. Try running some smaller portions and see how your customers react to it. Or offer half sizes of certain entries that you think are to large for a discounted price?

    Just my 2c, good luck to you!

    -Kyle
     
  3. chefedb

    chefedb

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    You are serving much to large  a portion. Since you are dealing with tourist, I can tell you here in the states .

      Soups  20 to 21  portions per gallon(6 0z.each)

          Fish raw weight  6 to 7  ounces is plenty, Meat (steak)boneless   I always figure 7 ounces raw is one cooked portion. Chicken breast  6 to 7 ounce raw  breast per portion is sufficient

      . Vegetables 16 pounds per 100 guest, or 2.56 ounces pp cooked weight

         . Rolls  men 1 1/2 per. woman 1 per. These figures have worked well for me, as I pride myself in never having run out  of food. 

    Your pork chops should be 5 ounces each(twin chops)

    Desserts  give your waitstaff an incentive to sell them. Like whoever sells most at end of week gets a cash prize. Money motavates people
     
  4. anachoreo

    anachoreo

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    @pinkykaz: Our menu can be found here. Our customers will be fine with smaller portions. Most of them are from a generation that has been taught to finish their plates even if it is more than they can stomach.

    @ chefed: we don´t have any staff during low season. When I ask the question of desert, most people respond with a deeply satisfied sigh and politely turn away the offer. It is mostly about convincing my wife that solving the worlds'  food problem or imitating La grande bouffe is not a good business concept.
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Maybe because you portions are to big and they are full.
     
  6. left4bread

    left4bread

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    I can understand some of your clientele "complaining" about portions being too large, especially if they are "members of the clean plate club".

    If you simply want to "stuff people with food", give them too much starch, not protein.

    Filling them with too much protein will get you from "hobby" to "bankruptcy" eventually.  eventually (i don't know how deep your pockets are).

    You're going to have to start thinking of it as a business venture eventually.  Fun us fun, but...

    8 ounces for proteins is more than enough.

    4 ounces proteins on sandwiches if you ever do lunch.

    Subtract 2 ounces for fish. It's expensive.

    Add 2 ounces for pork. It's inexpensive.

    Well, where I come from.....
     
  7. gclancy

    gclancy

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    I agree with everything chefedb said. You can't have a good food cost with that. Show your wife the current food cost, then re-portion and show her what the profits could be with a well planned 3 course meal.

    Sent from my GT-I9100M using Tapatalk
     
  8. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    If your wife is determined to stay with those portion sizes, then change your prices to reflect the food cost that you want to achieve with those sizes.
     
  9. cookers

    cookers

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    Are you even making profit with those prices or coming out even? 

    A business is a business bud. Outside life needs to stay out and your wife needs to know that. She's no longer your wife at work, but a co-worker. If you two are in it together, you need to have a meeting and mark down prices for everything. Next to it, make a chart with costs for each proportion. Find a middle point where you can at least make 30%+ off of just food costs. 

    Tell your wife to consider finding a middle point that doesn't give them a lot of food, without ripping them off. It will keep them hungry and wanting more which is more money in your pocket. 
     
  10. anachoreo

    anachoreo

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    Thank you for your reply and yes we do make a profit, since beer costs us 40 cents to buy and we sell it for a dollar. But on food, certainly no 30% profit. Tried the profit & loss spreadsheet, did not work. I begged and plead without success. But this topic does seem to work; the replies from other cooks. For the first time she is asking: "how big should this portion be?" and she actually weighs it. So thanks again.