The Spoon Blog
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I cannot BELIEVE it's been that long since my last Blog! Seriously, I feel like it was last week that went by so quickly!
Well, so. Here we are. New Year, new menu! What are your thoughts? This has been an interesting menu transition, for sure. Not only did we revamp food items, but we changed around furniture in the kitchen, production processes, and waste management techniques. That's a LOT of stuff to wrap a line cook and service staff member around.
Did you ever wonder what the process is for a new menu roll out? It's no small task and we don't employee any consultants to do it. We generally start in July (for a January 1 rollout) by analyzing the current menu. What's working, what's not, what's been around for a while and needs a breath of fresh air. Once we've discovered our "cut" subjects, we take a look a comment cards from the year (and you thought we weren't paying any attention!) and see if there are any recurring themes or requests. We also look at current trends in the food industry and see what we can borrow or tweak from there. Finally, we hit up the staff for ideas. We love to let the culinary crew have input into the menu as it gives them a different level of pride and ownership in their day to day tasks. We also love to get service staff input since they're the ones you talk to. Even small, seemingly insignificant comments can be a source of inspiration!
Then comes the sit down. Historically, it's just been the Culinary Supervisor and I. This time, we opened it up. Cassidy and Karie both joined us. This was VERY helpful, as they both embrace different dietary practices (as opposed to my T-Rex diet...RRRRAAAWRRRRR!) and their insight and perspectives brought a lot to the table! Here's where the fun begins...we take basic ideas that have been brought up by you, by the staff or by the internet and then start messing with them. Patty Melt a little too old school? Make it vegan! Buddha bowls all the rage? Build Your Own Bowl it is! We usually sit around for a couple of hours, hopped up on caffeine and sugar, tossing out ideas, arguing points, and back-and-forthing until finally...We're there! The proposed menu is typed up and passed around for one final look through before recipe development begins...generally in August.
The proposed menu is sent to the design team. They are FANTASTIC, if anyone wonders. They take all our mumbo jumbo and turn it into a classy, organized, well-laid out menu that looks good and is easy to print in house. They even proofread, which is good, 'cuz I can't stand proofreading! The menu is also sent to our Point of Sale provider, Nextep. They take care of managing the digital menu boards. Then Christine takes off with developing recipes for ingredients and running proposed menu items as specials. I start populating the Point of Sale system with the menu items, nutritional information, descriptions and pricing, and Karie starts putting together the training manuals and recipe books. We then bring in Dave Daniels to do our food photography...he's amazing, if you didn't know that already, and phenomenal to work with. Makes EVERYTHING look good!
Once all of that has been finished, we use the week between Christmas and New Years for a deep clean of the whole restaurant, which includes taking equipment apart to powerwash, degrease, decarbon and scrub, move furniture around and do staff training. Training is usually a two to three day process that involves making the dishes multiple times and allowing all staff to see and taste each and every dish. We also do academic training with the Front of House so that everyone knows whats vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, etc., etc., etc. They even get to take a written test to make sure they've got everything nailed down.
Finally, it's go time! The day before opening we come in, prep all the new ingredients, set up the mise en place, do a final line check and go home for a long sleep so we're fresh and ready to go on roll out!
Of course, not everything will go as planned all the time. There are hiccups. There are opportunities to fine tune. There are process changes. There's the gnarly steep learning curve that happens before muscle memory kicks in. All things that have to be dealt with on the fly while keeping emotions in check...But it's all worth it. Before a month is gone we have everyone humming along swimmingly...more or less...and the new menu is now simply The Menu. And we can start in on planning the new menu again.