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Friday, November 26, 2010

“Culinary Essays at the New Elemental News of the Day—the Chef as Manager, Part II” by Chef Stinkbug

Today’s Flamin’ Groovies’ album is their third release, “Supersnazz,” which came out in 1969 and saw the band break into mainstream with this, their first release on Epic Records.  Never like the rest of their San Francisco psychedelic compatriots, the Groovies charted their own course.  This is a great album so please go to Amazon.com right now and BUY it by using the convenient link!


Here is the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 746 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


Chef Stinkbug

END Commentary 11-27-2010

Copyright © 2010 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 2,568.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Saturday, November 27, 2010 by Chef Stinkbug


Culinary Essays at the New Elemental News of the Day—the Chef as Manager, Part II” by Chef Stinkbug

Bakersfield, CA, 11-27-2010 S: Today, we are going to continue with our discussion on the Chef as Manager, Pt. II.  I am going to present to you the basic mathematics that are necessary for the chef to control and to figure out his food cost and his portions.  Too many of us fail to learn the business side of being a chef and this is simply foolish!  If one wants promotion or to find the right job, one has to be able to do ALL of the chef’s work, not just creating a fantastic menu and specials, but the bookwork, the monthly inventory, and the time sheets/payroll of his crew. The more one becomes responsible, the more one progresses in the dog-eat-dog world of professional chef.  It was my regret that I never learned these things as a young cook, just as I regret never having learned how to carve ice. Both of these are essential to finding and keeping the right job and if you cannot do it, someone who knows how will be glad to usurp your position.  Like I said, it is a tough world out there and NO chef is ever secure in his or her position! Anyhow, today, we are going to learn some of the more important formulas for pricing and food cost control. If you are ready, let us begin!


     There are several different ways to determine the prices on your menu but they all must include the following:

     1) Price of all items purchased

     2) Rent

     3) Labor costs

     4) Equipment

     5) Taxes

  1) Amount of mark-up using a fraction:

     This is a way past chefs accomplished their goals. They determined the selling price of anything on their menus by multiplying the raw food cost by a fraction, which was simple and took into account just about everything. Here is an example:

     If the price of the raw products that go into making a dish of spaghetti with meat sauce is $1.95 and the mark-up rate your establishment uses is 2/3, this is how you obtain the markup rate by multiplying the cost by the mark-up rate. The formula for this is:

     Raw Food Cost x Mark-up Rate = Amount of Mark-up

     Raw Food Cost + Mark-up Amount = Menu or Selling Price

     $1.95 x 2 = $1.30 which is the amount of Mark-up

        1    3

Therefore, $1.95 (Raw Food Cost) + $1.30 (Mark-up) = $3.25 the price to be charged on the menu.

  2) Amount of mark-up using a percent:

     To determine the selling price of an item on the menu, most chefs nowadays use a percentage figure to complete this equation:

     Raw Food Cost x Percent = Amount of Mark-up

     Raw Food Cost + Mark-up Amount = Menu or Selling Price

(Tip: Do not forget, 60% = 0.60).

     For example, if the raw food cost of a serving of spaghetti is $1.95 & the mark-up rate of your establishment is 45%, convert 45% to 0.45 & multiply:

   $1.95 raw food cost

   x .45 Mark-up percent



 $ .08775 = $0.88 mark-up

     Then, add the mark-up (0.88) to the raw food cost to determine the selling cost or menu cost which in this case would be $1.95 + .88 cents = $2.83. To obtain a number comparable to the first example, use 75% as the rate of mark-up and the number will be $1.38 which actually is a little bit better for the house (by 8 cents).

     Now that you have the base mark-up determined, you may want to add another dollar to it which will cover the additional costs of salad, soup or bread if you include that in the base meal as well as everything from paper products used in the kitchen to the uniforms worn by your staff. The mark-up price has to be competitively close to that of other establishments in competition with yours but must not be too much higher if you expect to stay in business.

     The chef I recently worked with at Seven Oaks Country Club had an easy method to determine menu prices- he multiplied raw food cost by 3 and added another dollar or two to cover the sides and anything else. Therefore, if the Australian lobster tail cost us $9.00 each, he would multiply that by 3 and arrive at $27.00 to which he would add another $2.00 to cover the additional costs, which still came out to the nice price of twenty-nine bucks. Beat that, I say!

 b) Formula for determining monthly food cost:

     To determine monthly food cost, divide food expenditures by gross profit:


     The gross profit for the month is $26,485.00 while food expenditures are $10,064.30. Divide cost by profit:

     $10,064 divided by $26,485.00 = 0.379, .38, or 38%.

     To determine yearly food cost, divide total food expenditures for the year by total gross profit for average yearly food cost.

     In order to be the best cook or chef that you can be, you must master other mathematical formulas. One of the most important of these is determining the amount of loss and whether or not it is worth it to you to say, buy pre-cut meats or prepared raw vegetables. There are times when it is worth your trouble to cut all meats for your place of business and times when it is better to buy pre-cut. Take note of the following formula:

     As-purchased weight - waste = E.P. (edible portion): you divide the size of the serving portion into the E.P. amount to give the approximate number of servings it will produce.

  E.P. Amount divided by serving portion = number of servings


     The chef purchases an 18# strip loin of beef. 2# 10OZ are lost through boning and trimming. We can cut how many 12-ozs New York’s from the remaining piece of meat?


   18# (a.p. converted to oz) x 16 = 288

   288 oz - 42 oz (waste converted to oz) = 246 oz E.P.

   246 oz E.P. divided by 12 oz (size of steak)

   20.5 or 20 12 oz steaks + 6 oz of trim

     The rule-of-thumb here is that ordering close to the proper amount needed will reduce inventories and help control food cost and waste.

     The following example and formula tell you how to determine the necessary amount of an item in order to prepare for a large group of people:

     How many pounds of ground chuck, E.P., must we order to serve 42 people and each person receives a 5-oz portion?


   5 oz x 42 =210 ozs (amount of portion x number to be served

= number of ozs required to serve 42 people)

   210 ozs divided by 16 ozs = 13-1/8# = 14# (number of oz required divided by 16 oz in 1# = amount to order.

     As chef, you also need to determine the cost per serving of any item on your menu. The following formula will help you to do this:



     TOTAL COST divided by total ounces = cost of 1 ounce

     cost of 1 ounce x number of ounces served = cost per serving


     A 5# box of frozen lima beans costs $6.24. How much does a 4-oz serving portion cost?

     WEIGHT: 5# x 16 = 80 oz

     TOTAL COST: $6.24 divided by 80 oz = 0.078 cost of 1 oz

     COST OF 1 OUNCE: 0.078 X 4 oz served = 0.312 = $0.31 cost of a 4-oz serving.

     Now, let me give you a final formula regarding how to figure the amount of any given item necessary to prepare for a banquet:


     How many #10 cans of green beans do we need to serve a party?

of 260 people if each person is to receive a 3-oz serving and each can contains 4# 6-oz.

STEP #1:

     260 x 3 oz = 780 oz

     number of people to be served x portion size = ounces needed to serve 260 people.

STEP #2:

     4# x 16 oz per pound = 64 ounces + 6 ounces = total of 70 ounces

     pounds in container x 16 + oz in container = content of one container

STEP #3:

     780 divided by 70 oz = 11 w/ remainder of 5/6 can

     ounces needed to serve 260 people divided by content of 1 container = 12 #10 cans needed to serve 260 people

     All of these are basic formulas that a working chef must be competent to do in order to compute what he or she needs to have on hand to take care of the daily business. However, in order to aspire to a higher position, regular cooks need to know how to do these things as well or otherwise; they’ll never get a chance to move up the ladder if they’re not fortunate enough to have someone willing to provide them with the proper training. I know that when I had my first opportunity to hold a chef’s position at the age of 21, I was more-or-less a flunky because I did none of the business mathematics- they were handed down to me by the management who basically told me whatever they wanted to in order to keep me from bettering myself. They canned me a couple of times whenever they needed a scapegoat.

     Education is the thing that gives us the opportunity to aspire to greater things but if our bosses are unwilling to share it with us, what can we do? As I was coming up the ranks during the 1970s, there were no books like this one, which designs to answer all of the questions that the young culinarians has. Furthermore, if it’s not covered here not (which everything can be), I will either provide you with additional sources you can turn to at the end of each chapter or at the back of the book.

 c) Purchasing:

     Purchasing foodstuffs and supplies in the correct amounts are something that can occupy a chef’s business day and in fact make it distressingly difficult. If you are unfortunate not to have a purveyor, we must arrange it to fit our needs, not those of the sales representatives. Salespersons are sales representatives and when they come to see you, they try to do it on their terms. If you buy large quantities of foodstuffs, you can pretty much state the times that you are free to deal with them but if you don’t buy a great deal, they rather have you.

     Furthermore, if you buy from several different grocery companies instead of just one, you can still set the terms. There’s nothing like competition to sweeten the pot. On my first chef’s position at Freddie’s Top-of-the-Hill, we bought from a variety of different companies, 2-3 grocery, 1-2 each for produce and meat and 1 each bakery and dairy. The deal here is that the grocery companies and the meat and produce ones would all compete against each other in order to get the weekly sales. Granted,

we would buy more-or-less from our favorites (those who provided us with the best prices on a day-in, day-out basis as well as the best service in times of emergency) but it was always good to have alternative sources in order to keep the major ones honest and fair.

     As I’ve already said, salespersons are out to do whatever it is to get their commissions even if they’re our friends. Therefore, when they think they have us in their pocket, they’ll shift into sales techniques that are definitely more advantageous for them. The only way we keep them in line is by cracking down on them on a fairly frequent basis. I learned how to do it from Executive Chef Fred Olague, the man I replaced at Freddie’s due to heart problems was this: 1) to have my homework done in regards to what I needed on a weekly basis in advance and 2) to then give the purveyors set appointments on the day I set aside for them each week.

     Chef Olague would be ready for the grocery and meat suppliers by the time they arrived. He also knew the prices from items purchased in the preceding weeks because we bought large amounts and always had stock on hand to carry us through the times when prices weren’t to our liking. As we did a large volume of business due to heavy banquet and restaurant sales, we never let our stocks diminish to nothing.

     Anyhow, he’d have the representatives from our three grocery suppliers on hand at the same time and present them with a list of what we needed. We’d need x amount of cases of canned green beans and x amount of cases of frozen cod for fish-and-chips in the bowling alley. The purveyors would thumb through their books and quote prices. Whoever came in the lowest with the best quality on any given thing would get the sale of that particular item. Everything was above-board and no one could say that the other salespeople screwed him through the use of deals or other promotions—it was the ideal way to do things.


As always, we have a great time around here and that is why we want all of you to become a part of the organization by submitting articles to us for inspection and full-credit.  It is a great thing if you would do this, as it is a symbiotic relationship: we give you the space to share your recipes and in return, you send us more and more people who will become dedicated followers of the END.  Currently of multi-diversity across the Internet, it is important that we hear the voices of more and more people from all walks of the foodservice profession —join us. We urge our readership to write to us, leave comments, and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously do not pay anything but give YOU full byline and that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it will be fun! Expect that when all of us have run through our cycle, we will be introducing some brand-new talent or so Stinky says.

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people do not care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It is sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

            Okay, that is it for today; we will pick back up tomorrow and will continue with our discussion on controlling food cost, pricing menus, and monthly inventory.  By the time we are done, you will be on top of the world and able to manage most jobs and that is what matters. Find a place you want to work and work at it until it is your job and then take the ball and run with it!                                   

Anyhow, let us close with this impassioned plea—please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Flamin’ Groovies’ and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com—we want to make some money here so help us out by buying something!  Allied with them, we are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!  

Thank you!


American Bakers’ Association, ACF, CWC

This is I back in the 1980's when I was the sous chef of a large foodservice operation in Bakersfield, CA. I began my cooking career in the 1960's when I apprenticed underneath a great chef, Master Chef Ulysses S. Paz.  I have lived and worked in Hawaii, Washington State, Arizona, and California.  Even though I am in my late 60’s, I am still actively involved at a hotel here in Bakersfield, CA.

Stinkbug writes from OILDALE, CA.


The END Commentary for Saturday, November 27, 2010 by Chef Stinkbug

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


The one-and-only Chef Stinkbug wrote this original essay.

Recipe created by Chef Stinkbug on November 13, 1982 in Bakersfield, CA.



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This is #-00003 an original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Autumn Aspens." It is among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and known around the world for both the beauty and timelessness of her artworks. Hanging in private and public galleries and followed by many fans encircling the globe—her works instill awe because of her artistic brilliance and personal beauty. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It is possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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