Earlier this week I sat with a friend who owns a fantastic coffee shop. She was telling me the same thing I’ve heard from countless restaurant owners.
“My staff know how to make the sandwiches. I’ve shown them so many times. And then today one went out, and I could see the bread wasn’t toasted, and it had half the filling it should have, and there was no garnish. I don’t know what I must do to get them to do it right.”
I get where she’s coming from.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like having to follow up on team members. I don’t have enough energy to chase mistakes and hold endless training sessions. I like to know that I can trust my team to serve quality and that I can focus on the 200 other things on my list.
Having worked with over 30 food businesses I’ve built a great arsenal of tools. The processes I’ve developed ensure that once I leave the team will be ok without me.
This is the one I call on the most and recommend all the time.
Recipe cards are deceptive in their simplicity, and brilliant because of it.
A recipe card is a step by step recipe, printed out and laminated and displayed in the kitchen.
They work because they are always visible. No need to page through books to find the one you need.
This is a recipe card.
You need recipe cards if
- What comes out of the kitchen depends on who is on shift
- There’s no consistency in portions
- You find things change without your knowledge. Like butter lettuce plated instead of rocket. The burger sometimes has mayo, and sometimes it just doesn’t
- You feel panic at the idea of taking time off because you know you’ll get food complaints
It doesn’t matter if you’re a restaurant, coffee shop, caterer, bakery or sell packaged food. If you have a team you can introduce these today.
As well as being accessible, recipe cards work because
- People in kitchens are more-than likely visual learners.
- Kitchens are busy places. I 100% promise you that NO chef is leaving what they’re in the middle of to run over to a corner, pick up the book, find the right page and then double check the recipe. It isn’t happening. I’ve been that chef.
- No one has time to read through and double check that everything is there. A picture takes a quick glance to reference.
It’s a simple system, but surprisingly effective. I know from personal experience that if the recipe is on a wall somewhere and laid out easily I’ll absolutely follow it.
How to make your recipe cards
Now you’re convinced you need them, here’s how you make them.
- Standardize your recipe.
Do this before you train and introduce the cards so you know you’re using the correct recipe.
Follow this process:
- Make the dish as you want it served
- Take notes as you go along, weighing every ingredient
- Test your recipe
2. Photograph the dish
A quick pic using your phone will do.
- It’s taken in good light
- You can see the whole dish, and all the elements
- The meal is plated exactly as it should be served
3. Transfer the recipe onto the template, and add your picture.
Every recipe card should include
- The ingredients
- The method
- A picture of the finished dish
Those are the essentials. The rest is up to you.
Some places include the equipment needed, and which plate it will be served on. If you have specific plates, definitely include that.
There are lots of ways to display your cards. I personally prefer to laminate them and stick them on the kitchen walls.
Other options include
- Get the cards ring bound and hang them on an overhead rod in the kitchen
- Create a flip file for each section in the resaurant
- Put them together and have a big poster
- Frame each one and attach them to the walls
Whatever you do, keep them visible and accessible and you’ll be on your way.
Do you want to get recipe cards up quickly? Download my templates and introduce them today. These templates come in Canva, Excel and Word format, so you can find the one that works best for you.