Preparing and serving food is not necessarily always a complex and intricate process. There are many instances in which simple foods will need to be prepared but this is not to say that the preparation and presentation process should be any less thorough and thoughtful than when serving in a fine dining restaurant.
Preparing simple foods might be a matter of preparing quick salads or finger foods; it might involve working in smaller kitchens or at outdoor venues.
No matter what the circumstances – working with simple dishes can be a source of great satisfaction and should always be undertaken with the customer and the organisation’s reputation in mind.
Prepare for service
Once guests have arrived and service begins there is precious little time for preparation, so preparing for food service is an essential task in any kitchen; equipment, implements and preparation surfaces must be clean and ready to use; food products must be properly processed and be ready to cook and serve.
In this section, we will look at the skills and knowledge needed to:
Review menu or product list to determine preparation requirements for simple dishes
Check quantities and quality of food items and restock where necessary
Complete food preparation prior to service
Determining Requirements of the Menu
The first step in preparing for service is to review the menu for the day (or service period) to determine what items need to be gathered and prepared. Unlike some menus preparing for simple dishes can be relatively uncomplicated. Simple dishes may include (but are not limited to):
Dishes prepared off-site and re-thermalised
Dishes containing a small number of ingredients
Dishes that require singular or limited cooking and preparation techniques such as:
Fish and chips
Menu and food style will depend on the type of operation for which you work. This might include fast food, casual restaurant, silver service, semi-silver service or ethnic operations. The menu structures will also depend on the theme or style of your restaurant. Then, too, customer requirements change with trends and competition from other food vendors. McDonald’s, for example, have recently changed their menu to keep up with customer demand for healthier food. So your menu items may need to change to match current customer requirements.
The preparation process also means that you need to ensure that all equipment and ingredients are ready before you open for business and several factors help contribute to the presentation of food you will serve including (but not limited to):
Cleanliness of service ware
Timing and teamwork
Logical work sequence
Placement of food
Attention to detail
Appropriate use of garnishes
Mis en Place
Mise-en-place refers to all the preparation that you complete before service begins, as many tasks cannot be done later without interrupting service to your customers. Mise-en-place, then, includes the following:
Assembling and preparing ingredients for menu items
Cleaning, peeling and slicing fruit and vegetables
Preparing simple food items such as salads, sandwiches, garnishes, marinades, coatings and batters
Selection and handling (thawing, reconstituting, regenerating, re-thermalising) of portion controlled and convenience products
Display of goods in appropriate storage facilities
Mise-en-place in some establishments will require the preparation of simple food items such as salads and sandwiches. These can be prepared and used as part of your cold display.