How to adjust your menu for short-staffing

Question: 

What menu adjustments are you making to deal with labor constraints?

Answers from FSD’s Culinary Council

At this particular time we are having no labor issues, although in the prior six months we were looking for back-of-house staff. But I have made a few changes in certain areas with time-consuming prep. An example would be still purchasing fresh product but having it ready to use (diced root vegetables, peeled Yukon potatoes, assorted julienne vegetables). I’m still buying all fresh fish and meats and still making scratch stocks and sauces with 13 full-time cooks, a pastry chef and a baker.

—Stephen Plescha
Executive Chef
Pennswood Village (senior living)
Newton, Pa.

Where possible, pricing has been adjusted to reflect the complexity of recipes. For example, in catering the department has increased pricing on those items that require a lot of hand-work.

The food cost may only reflect 10 to 12 percent of the total price. This has been a difficult concept for some of our guests; however, we try to be as transparent as possible with our pricing structure. We remind our customers that not only are they paying for the food but for the convenience of having someone prepare, serve and clean up for them.

—Janna Traver McCann
Executive Chef/Assistant Director
University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas

Some of the adjustments we are making to address this issue are to look at the menu, reduce the number of items and ensure the items we keep are popular and well-made. We also cross-utilize ingredients in multiple recipes, so the ingredient prep is done in volume for multiple concepts.

—Kerry Paterson
Director, Residential Dining & Catering
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Ore.

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