As a chef, you’re always looking for ways to boost your margins without sacrificing quality and losing customers. Chef Wout Vereecken created a number of recipes inspired by world flavours that will help you do just that. He shares his insights on how these flavours can not only help you do more with your menu, increase your margins, run your kitchen smoothly and cost-effectively - with surprising dishes.
Quality always comes first
The biggest challenge for every restaurant professional is quality. “Quality is the one thing on which you never want to compromise,” says Wout: “It begins with your menu, your purchasing, your suppliers, and delivery methods. These all affect on what ends up on your customers’ plates. Many restaurants, for example, use decorative cress, which is very difficult to transport as it handles temperature changes badly. Should you use that product? Would it be better to buy it yourself? You have to keep asking yourself these questions.”
Wout also mentions salads: “Most restaurants use plate warmers to serve their food at the right temperature. But what happens when you put your leafy greens on a warm surface? They wilt. Putting your greens in a separate bowl may seem like an obvious move, but it is often overlooked. You have to be critical about these processes. If you aren’t, your customer will be.”
More mise en place, less à la minute
Wout’s recipes are particularly interesting for chefs, operators, and restaurant professionals looking to improve their margins. Each recipe can easily be served quickly and in large quantities. It helps reduce the amount of handling required for every dish; more mise en place, less à la minute. “In casual dining, you want to shift large quantities fast. Your profit margins depend on your ability to cover tables multiple times. The more handling your dishes need, the more specialized staff, time, and energy is needed. A high-end restaurant will, therefore, serve fewer covers, as they prepare more complex dishes. For casual dining or QSR, that’s not the way you want to operate to be successful. Smart planning, a focus on mise en place preparation and easy preparation during services, however, is. Try to restrict à la minute preparations to finishing touches for greater appeal. There’s a saying in the industry; hurry when you have the time, have time when you need to hurry. It’s a good one to keep in mind.”
Upping your margins with world flavours
One of Wout’s recipes is a Moroccan lamb shoulder stew on Connoisseur Rustic skin-on fries. This is a prime example of using world flavours and simplifying your process at the same time: “The topping is a stew, which can be prepared in large quantities. Moroccan spices give it a very rich flavour. If you know how many portions you need, it’s easy to prepare them in advance and regenerate them. The mayonnaise adds some freshness and can also be made in advance.” All you need to do is fry your Connoisseur Rustic skin-on fries with a home-cooked look and fry up the tomatoes.
All Wout’s recipes are extremely easy to make during service, as you can do most work in mise en place. Using world flavours won’t just surprise your guests and allow you to up your profit margins, but it will also make your menu more diverse, only requiring small additions to your stock. But there’s more: “These recipes don’t require any new equipment or additional storage space - they’re easy to implement. The cooking methods used also help. I used stews in many recipes, because you can easily keep them in your freezer for up to six months. These recipes will even help you reduce your food waste!”
Want to create your own world flavour recipes? Find out more here.
Key advice for higher kitchen efficiency
Are you ready to streamline your processes? Here are Wout’s most important pointers:
- Less handling means higher kitchen efficiency.
- Opt for preparation methods that require less à la minute cooking and reduce food waste.
- Plan the quantities for your mise en place preparation to speed up your service.
- Don’t cut corners on fresh products: dried-out garnishes can ruin an experience.
- Use world flavours for dishes that are simple, yet surprising enough to elevate your price.
- Always keep up your quality standards