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Creating the perfect menu: Menu engineering strategies

 

Working on your establishment’s menu in an effort to achieve a perfect result should be done thoughtfully and regularly, without losing sight of the delicate balance between raw ingredients and local needs.

Sometimes this task is undertaken with the help of consultants, who have worked in the field for years. They don’t need to be chefs, they can also be front of house experts, the important thing is that they work in synergy with the restaurant.

Carefully designing the menu helps reduce to a minimum the effect of any unforeseeable factors, like a special request from a client, the lack of an ingredient and other eventualities that could entail a change to a dish.

If we liken a restaurant to a company the menu is like a catalogue in which your products are presented and promoted, highlighting your face and your character.

Starting from the graphic design all the way to the contents, it is fundamental to aim for brand new materials: from environmentally friendly ones for a green establishment, to hi-tech materials for a modern place, for example. One of the most difficult things is to bring menus in line with the requirements stipulated by regulations.

For several years now it has been necessary to include all the possible contaminants and allergens in the description every dish. This regulation does not favour the creation of recipes that can be truly flexible, that are able to adjust to the availability of raw ingredients, thus making it hard to substitute one ingredient for another that isn’t available at the last minute.

The transparency requirement forces restaurants to compartmentalise, nevertheless this can also turn out to be an advantage because you can’t offer everything and expect good results.

The danger is that our menus become long and boring lists of ingredients, making it impossible for even the best designers to create menus that are attractive and easy to read.

What’s called for is a large does of creativity, and a few extra lines on the pages of our catalogue, to be able to continue to offer clients a pleasant experience that can adjust to the seasons, to the cook’s fancy, and, last but not least, to the legally stipulated requirements.