A menu consists of a list of dishes offered to customers. Usually it is presented in courses. Many factors need to be considered when planning menus for the food service and catering industry.
Scale of Function Functions can involve a small or large number of guests. With smaller functions it is easier to provide more courses and options in each course than dealing with larger numbers. Typical courses in a menu are:
Appetiser- Tasty food which is not too filling and stimulates the desire for more food.
Entree- Usually a fish, soup, salad in small portions.
Main course- Usually meet, fish, or poultry with vegetable accompaniment
Dessert- Sweet dishes, fruit or cheese
Types of Menus
A La Carte Menu:
Lists all the dishes available, arranged in courses and each priced separately
Provide an extensive choice of menu items
Allow the customer to choose the number and type of dishes
Means the food is cooked to order so there is a waiting time
Can be expensive as skill is required to prepare each dish individually
Usually used in restaurants
Table D'hôte Menu
Provides a set menu with a set price
Includes a fixed, limited number of courses, usually a three course meal with coffee
Offers a limited choice within each course and all the guests are served at one time
Allows for faster service making it easier to control costs and minimise wastage
A popular choice for restaurants, cafes and function rooms
A Cyclic Menu
Offers a series of fixed meals usually breakfast lunch and dinner
Usually breakfast lunch and dinner that rotate over a period of time such as a week fortnight or month
Provides only a few choices to pick from for each meal
Is usually well balanced nutritionally
Commonly used by hospitals, nursing homes, camps, and airline catering
Is used for special occasions such as weddings, formals, parties and business conventions
Is usually a fixed menu similar to Table d'hôte menu but with little or no choice
Varies depending on budget, venue, and the number of people, for example a 4 course dinner, or a variety go appetisers or sweets
Usually prepared in advanced and the customer is charged a set price
Du Jour Menu
Presented on a blackboard or variably to the customer
Is a useful way to accommodate seasonal produce, test new recipes and use excess stock
Facilities, Staff, Time and Money An establishment plans menus according to the facilities, staff, time and many they have available. For example an a la Carte menu requires chefs with skill. It also requires a lot of equipment to prepare the varied dishes and is costly because many ingredients are required. Offering a table d'hôte menu limits choice and may help an establishment to save time and money.
Some caterers such as those in nursing homes, need to feed a large number of people at one time. They are usually limited in their funding and facilities and many dishes on their menus contain inexpensive ingredients and methods of cooking such as baking, which allows a lot of food to be cooked at once.
Year time and Occasion
Menus are often planned with consideration to the time of the year. In winter more soups and warm desserts are on a menu while more salad and cold desserts are available in summer. In spring lots of fresh vegetables will be offered.
Depending on the time of day many establishments will offers breakfast lunch or dinner menu. Breakfast menus and lunch menus are often lighter, quicker to prepare and include fewer options than dinner menus.
Different occasions also influence menus for example, a wedding commonly uses function menus and cake is included as part of the menu.
Types of Customers
The health, occupation, gender, age, preferences and number of people a food service provider has to cater for affects menu planning. Hospital caterers, for example must take into account the health, gender and age of patients in order to provide a nutritious meal and so consult with dieticians to plan suitable meals. men for instance often have a higher energy requirement than women and those recovering from heart disease require low fat meals. In order to cater for personal preferences they often include several options as part of their cyclic menus, such as providing a vegetarian item. These days there are also strict nutritional guidelines for child care and school catering services.
1. Explain the difference between an a la carte menu and a table d'hôte menu. An a la carte menu has a more extensive choice of dishes for customers to choose with a varied waiting time, however a table d' hote menu is quite limited as to what dishes are available yet there is a shorter waiting time because meals are produced in bulk. 2. List factors that you need to consider about customers when planning menus. Their health, occupation, gender, age, preferences and number of people a food service provider has to cater for affects menu planning. 3. List 5 foods that may be on the menu for a mobile food van catering for construction workers. Give reasons. Pie: convenient, easy to eat. Sandwich: healthy alternative thats convenient to buy/eat Sausage Roll: Easy to eat, convenient, cheap. Burger: nutritious value, easy, quick Chips: quick, carbohydrates, easy, eat as you go 4. Plan a blackboard menu for a summer breakfast for a holiday resort cafe. - Fresh seasonal fruit with Vanilla Yoghurt 10 - Creamy Greek Yoghurt topped with crunchy muesli and berries 11.5 - Buttermilk pancakes with Vanilla Bean Ice-cream and Maple Syrup 11.5 - Sourdough bread toasted with crushed strawberries and caramel cream 11.5 5. Select a function and design 2 menus for your client to choose from. One of those menus must be a finger food option.