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Appearence, but at what cost?

June 1st, 2010

As a chef I’m trained in the art of making food, I’m also trained to spend a lot of effort on making sure the food i produce looks good.

these are principles i have no problems with on a general level, after all, it is my job and one of my major skills. However, sometimes, making the food look great, just can’t match the required costs needed in order to get the job completed

One of the common things I get a lot from managers is the pressure to ensure that the food i make is constantly garnished. which, in principle is fine. After all, even a basic garnish can dramatically improve the appearance of a dish, and in any restaurant, this would be a required practice. However, I’m not working in a restaurant. I’m working in a construction site mess catering for upwards of 450+ people, and this is where the cost begins to get too great.

the fantastic presentation of food in any form is something that does, in reality cost a lot of time. Which in a time restricted environment , where a large amount of tasks are required by the one person, it just become unviable.

I used to garnish my products in the baine for morning service, however with over 400 people coming in to get food within a 45 minutes period, this has, in all honesty, become a sideline. By the end of service, the baine is a total mess, with almost everything quite low and/or empty.

people are fairly predictable, you can tell what they will take vs what they won’t. however it doesn’t detract from the sheer numbers that are coming in for the food available. in terms of time, trying to maintain the service area in a proper and presentable state is almost impossible without having some staff who are dedicated to just doing that task during service, and this of course is something that you have to pay them for.

then there is the products used for garnish, and the quantities one would go through. for such a large number, to maintain a good garnish would require quite a large amount of product set aside for the purpose, product which is often, not cheap, and when budget and/or supply problems come in, this can totally destroy any routine there may be for this.

in the end, garnish is great, but sometimes it’s just unfeasible. this is, of course a purely situation thing, and a few minor changes would make it perfectly reasonable once again. however until those occur, the cost of the perfect appearance is just too high, and cannot be met.

I’m not burning myself out over garnishes for anybody!

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