At home as well as for catering and cooking demonstration events, I
find it essential to fill out a spread sheet planner as a means to itemize
the menu, itemize the buying list, identify what can be prepared ahead,
cross off what’s done and carry forward what needs to the done a la
I got this idea from Chef Bonnie Moore, a gifted instructor chef at
LAcademie and my boss at FoodFit.com. Moore used a similar planner
at school for big events and at FoodFit for promotional dinners.
I was impressed by its utility, designed my own and have been using it
After the event, I save each sheet in a 3-ring folder as a record of
what I’ve cooked and for whom. The folder of past events is, in itself,
a menu planner and means to preclude repeating a dish to a returning guest.
I recommend giving this idea a try. I think that you will find
it very useful. The planner promotes thinking the event through ahead
of time and getting it all done in an orderly manner. Everything
should come together more easilyone trip for groceries not two, every
item planned, plates ready, garnishes ready and food served on time and
hot. (The French have a culinary term for this, namely mise
en place.) You will spend less time in the kitchen
more with your guests.
It looks something like this and can be created easily on your word
The page setup is legal size 8.5 X 14, landscape.
GUESTS (# & NAMES):
|MENU ITEM||BUY LIST||EARLY PREP||DAY PREP||EVENT PREP|
Make each cell as large as possible to allow sufficient room to write
I use the EVENT PREP cell to write in actions and times, keyed to the
desired time to plate each item. For example:
· Time to start the ovens for service
· Time to remove prepared items (cheese and dips, for
ex.) from the fridge
· Time to finish the sauce and other last minute tasks
· Time to warm the food and plates, etc.
Not least of all, this planner is a formidable senior moments deterrent!
Try it, you’ll like it.