Food Cost is Love and Flavor

The lower your food cost, the higher your profit margin on any particular menu item. It's a lesson quickly learned, whether cook or waitron. Controlling food cost is the primary function of a menu or tonight's Dinner Special. A menu's interdependency is a tool for simplifying inventory, today's Spinach and Chicken Consomme du Provence a useful method of recycling yesterday's Chicken Florentine. Some chef's will pick over the garbage through the course of a night to see what orange rinds, parlsey stems, and fish heads are there. Some chef's will upend the garbage on the floor at the end of the night, making staff pick through the chicken wing tips, romaine trim, and those embarassingly blackened filets to see what could have gone into a stock or a puree for the next day's specials. Kitchen Managers have line cooks put their underutilized foods in clear lexons rather than waste baskets on the assumption cooks won't waste so much if they can see their own debris.

The best kitchens I have seen, the chef loves their work. They find ways to create or draw flavor from all the food. Whether as garnish, in stocks, bisques, or sauces, their passion for and the subtlety of their work combines to bring food cost down, seemingly without effort.

So the next time you go to dinner and you see the Lobster and Potato Bisque drizzled with Asparagus-Pesto Creme Fraiche, give it a try and don't be surprised how much you like it.