Cooking and Professional Cooking
Cooking is the preparation of food by the application of heat, changing the food’s structure, texture, flavor, aroma and, or appearance.
Professional Cooking is the process used to prepare and present food in a food service establishment such as a restaurant or hotel to an established set of guidelines that ensure the delivery of food in a safe, wholesome and timely manner and usually, to the profit of the institution.
Mise en Place
Mise en place literally means “everything in place.” It is the defining principle of a professional kitchen. Professional chefs and cooks rely on mise en place in order to meet the intense demands of a commercial food operation. Mise en place consists of 3 elements: Planning, Organizing, and Cleanliness.
Planning begins with the menu. The menu is the blueprint for all the recipes required for a particular food service. At a minimum, the menu must meet these three criteria:
- Appeal to the guests. The flavor profiles, variety, portion sizes and price of each item must deliver a perceived value to the guest.
- Practical for the kitchen. The menu and accompanying recipes must be meet the skill levels of the cooks and the time and equipment limitations of the kitchen.
- Profitable. Commercial cooking involves making a business-sustaining level of profit or, staying within the budget constraints of non-profit food outlets such as schools, prisons, etc.
Once the event is defined, and the number of guests are known, the menu is made. Ideally, recipes are designed to pace the preparation over time and best utilize personnel and equipment. The recipe items are “prepped” according to a timeline that best fits the physical space available for the preparation of ingredients, the cooking of the recipes and the available storage space. Consideration is also given to the holding properties of the food items. Some items may be prepared days in advance while others will need to be prepared at service or a la minute.
Recipes are a set of instructions that guide an individual in the preparation of a meal or menu item. When relying upon recipes it is important to remember these limitations:
1. Ingredients are not uniform. For example, an instruction may detail the cooking time of a fruit or vegetable but that time may vary greatly given the ripeness of the item.
2. Kitchen equipment varies. For example, the size and thickness pans will affect how quickly an item cooks.
3. Instructions are subjective. What color an item is when it is “done” or how thick a soup or sauce is subject to the cook’s preference and experience.
4. Recipes will often have errors, be incomplete or be untested. Many recipes, especially those found in the internet, are incomplete or untested. Also, many recipes may have been translated from another language, losing some critical information in the process.
5. The success of a recipe will rely upon the experience of the cook. Many recipes require various degrees of training and experience to be successful. Recipes will often use technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the inexperienced cook.
6. A recipe is just a guide. Do not try to rely upon a recipe word for word, think of it as a starting point or set of guidelines.
Standardized recipes are recipes written for a specific foodservice kitchen. Standard recipes are designed to ensure the quality and consistency a commercial foodservice establishment requires. Standardized recipes will often be scaled to quantities requiring specific large format cooking equipment. Standardized recipes will also often highlight Critical Control Points in the safety and sanitation of a food production time line.
Scaling a recipe refers to increasing or decreasing the number and/or servings or portions.
Converting a recipe refers to changing the measurement system of recipe between metric and standard or between volume and weight. It may also refer scaling a recipe or converting to/from baker’s calculation of percentage scaling.
3 teaspoons (tsp.) = 1 tablespoon (tbsp.)
2 tablespoons = 1 ounce (oz.)
1 cup (c.) = 8 ounces
1 pint (pt.) = 16 ounces
1 quart (qt.) = 32 ounces, 2 pints
1 gallon (gal.) = 128 ounces, 8 pints, 4 quarts
1 pound (lb. or #) = 16 ounces
1 ounce = 28 grams, or approximately 30 grams for most cooking applications.
1 liter (l.) = 34 ounces (about 1 quart)
454 grams = 1 pound
In cooking, all liquids, oils and fats weight the same as water. Water weighs 8 ounces per cup, 8 pounds per gallon.
Steps to scale a recipe:
1. What is the “old” or existing number of servings AND the portion-size of each serving (the Yield)?
2. What is the “new” or desired number of servings AND the portion-size of each serving?
3. Multiply the number of servings by the portion sizes. Portion size units must be the same.
4. Divide the “New” by the “Old” to determine the scaling factor. The scaling factor has no units and is the number by which each ingredient is multiplied to determine the new amount required of each ingredient. The scaling factor is whole number if increasing the yield of a recipe and a fraction if decreasing the yield.
5. Multiply each ingredient amount by the scaling factor.
6. Covert units as needed. (Convert 3 or more teaspoons to tablespoons; 2 or more tablespoons to ounces; covert 8 or more ounces to cups or pounds; covert 2 or more cups to pints, quarts or gallons; etc.)
Items Limited to Hand Washing
“Clean as you go…”