As always, the latest edition of our regular Market Forecast throws down a few challenges for chefs, this time when it comes to planning menus for the spring and summer.
For example, both sea bass and salmon face pricing challenges – sea bass because its popularity in menus puts pressure on farmed supplies, while salmon has seen prices increase sharply after Russia relaxed its import ban.
With steak cuts, a rise in demand for fillet, along with the continued popularity of ribeye and rump steaks, means sirloins may be a better value option for chefs.
Using specials boards to keep the offer flexible, and working with suppliers to buy according to availability and price, is always sound advice. However, we also know that in a busy kitchen, making menu changes while maintaining margins can often be a problem.
Our experience has been that many chefs, from hotels to pubs and care homes to cafés, routinely order meat and fish without providing their suppliers with the basic information they need to do the job. If the chef doesn’t know how many portions he can expect to serve from a kilo of cod, or whether the quoted weight of a leg of lamb includes the bone, then the business has very little chance of setting its menu prices at a level which will keep it trading profitably.
As with many things, knowledge is power. A basic understanding of how to specify meat and fish orders, as well as what to expect in terms if yield from different cuts and species, can make all the difference when it comes to negotiating with suppliers – in terms of both time and cost.
So, it‘s worth bearing in mind some basic sound advice on ordering meat and fish by weight:
- A whole beef striploin might look better value than pre-portioned standard trimmed steaks, but the fat and gristle will need to trimmed. This will reduce the yield by up to 20% of the total weight, and each steak will need to be cut to weight for accurate portioning.
- Unless a caterer is confident that they have the butchery skills in-house, we advise customers to order steaks and other meat cuts individually rather than by weight – for example, 20 standard trim sirloin steaks, each 8oz in weight. Then, if the weight of an individual steak is over, it’s the butcher who bears the cost rather than the caterer.
- Always weigh meat at the time of delivery to check it against what was ordered.
- With fish, from 20% up to 60% or more can be lost when filleting, depending on the species, so the yield will be considerably lower than the weight of the fish.
- Once again, it may make more sense to pay a premium for fillets, and know that all the fish being purchased can be sold to customers.
Yield guide- what to expect:
- Cod, haddock and plaice fillets: 8 portions per kg
- Plaice, turbot and brill on the bone: 4 portions per kg
- Salmon (gutted but including head and tail): 6 portions per kg
- Topside beef joint: 6 to 8 portions per kg
- Diced beef: 8 to 10 portions per kg
- Boneless leg of lamb: 6 to 8 portions per kg
- Boneless loin of pork: 8 portions per kg
Please note these are guideline portions only, and yield will depend on the cut and quality
At its simplest, the more accurately you can specify, the better value you’ll get. If a supplier has try and second guess the order, there is far more potential for misunderstanding. Asking your catering butcher or fish supplier for advice and information isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s the best way to work with these specialists, and can often be the secret of a successful menu.
To download the Spring 2016 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast, go to http://www.lynxpurchasing.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Market-Forecast-Spring-2016_low-res.pdf
The Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App, which is endorsed by the Craft Guild of Chefs, enables chefs, caterers and restaurant managers to monitor margins in busy kitchens or when negotiating with suppliers, using a smartphone or tablet. To download the FREE App, go to:
For Android: Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App on Google Play