The Complexity Behind a Catering Menu
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Developing a menu is quite involved, especially for caterers.

In a recent blog post by Abigail Kirsch, they briefly discuss the seasonal menu development process. Not surprisingly, composing an executable menu is far more complicated than it appears. Unlike a traditional menu, a caterer's menu must be viable on a large scale; therefore, the recipe development process can be much more time consuming. The caterer must take special care to balance simplicity with gastronomic trends and tastes.

Step 1: Research & Conceptualization

For Abigail Kirsch, the first step is research and conceptualization. During this phase of development the caterer will analyze current and future consumer tastes. These tastes and trends don't have to be limited solely to catering dishes. The caterer can look at trends within the restaurant business to determine what people may desire. For example, South American cuisine, which has become quite popular in recent months, could influence a caterer's menu.

Step 2: Testing Testing Testing...
Once a menu has been conceptualized, the next step is taste testing, recipe testing, and re-testing. For Abigail Kirsch, 50 different chefs and cooks test each new menu item to ensure it meets the company’s high standards. This means that across the company, Abigail Krish’s staff must ensure that the recipe is workable and (most importantly) delicious. Recipes that don’t “cut the mustard” are promptly dropped during this phase. For a typical season, the Abigail Kirsch staff tests 100+ dishes. That’s quite a bit of food!!

Step 3: Aesthetics
After a menu has been tested and finalized, the last step is photographing the dishes for marketing and display purposes. Yet again, Abigail Kirsch chefs must prepare each menu item paying particular care towards aesthetics (remember a picture is worth a 1000 words). It is this phase that likely makes the whole menu creation process appear effortless.

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