A Chef's Perspective: Ends and pieces
Last month we discussed specific ways for processors to sell more meat to chefs – here is a link, if you missed it: http://bit.ly/4YGqyt. This month, we’re going to drill down a level and talk about “Ends and Pieces.”
At home, most of our closets and garages are full of stuff, and many of us have storage units that are also “fully committed.” The reason I have too many things is simple; I buy the same stuff year after year and never throw anything away.
When I’m at work, wearing my chef’s hat, however, I’m much more efficient. Products must have a specific place in a refrigerator and freezer, and those products must rotate every few days. Like processors, chefs make money on product turns because there’s a direct correlation between inventory management, guest count and profit. Profitable chefs equal profitable processors.
Consumers are demanding more menu variety than ever. Fast-casual and casual-dining concepts typically offer 50 to 60-plus menu items at any given time. Even fine-dining restaurants that used to offer six to eight entrées are now offering 12 to 14, which nearly doubles a processor’s sales opportunity! So in order to turn inventory, increase throughput and satisfy a more sophisticated guest, chefs must cross-utilize cuts on the menu and create new ways to roast, grill and braise whole muscles that used to be sent to the grinder.
When I was vice president of culinary at Wolfgang Puck, I used to say, “Don’t let me fall in love with what I can’t afford.” I wanted to serve superior quality, but the cost of steaks and chops were prohibitive in my fast-causal segment. So I looked to “Ends and Pieces” and then tried to use those cuts in as many ways possible. The chart (Figure 1) included with this story shows the six cuts of beef and pork I purchased and the 27 ways I used them.
It’s not rocket science, but chefs need help thinking of ways to cook and cross-utilize Ends and Pieces. The good news is, we’re a loyal bunch, and the more you help us, the more we’ll buy from you. In the meantime, I’m putting on a toque and going to clean my garage. It’s the holidays, which means more stuff!
Just always remember: Most chefs can’t do their job without meat, and it’s your job to offer simple, value-added solutions.