What is Quality anyway? Chicken

Can Quality actually be concisely defined? Absolutely.  When it comes to creating a menu or specifically a menu item, the ingredients you decide to use are as important as your talent in preparing the dish.
In a past Regional position I had 64 chefs in my Region. The Private Clubs that we had varied in concept from small concession-based food operations to high end dining clubs with white glove service. So, the type of chefs ranged from promoted Sous Chefs to well-trained senior level culinary artists. However, one thing I found that was true was regardless of level, most chefs did not know the level of “quality” that was available for many ingredients.
One way to avoid making a quality error was to just buy the “best”. Based on the customer ticket average, the real high-end clubs were getting such high prices for their entrées the could afford the “best” of everything. It was the middle and lower end clubs that struggled with food cost.
Here is an example. One club would never buy frozen chicken. That chef was convinced that the “quality” difference between fresh and frozen was significant. This middle market club had a strong buffet presentation for lunch, private parties etc. and Sunday Brunch. It also had a significant plated operation for a casual dining “Grill” area.  Most chefs would buy a fresh 4oz or a fresh 6oz boneless skinless breast. Those portion sizes would cover the buffet entrée portion correctly. It would also cover the Grilled Chicken Sandwich on the Grill menu. It would also cover the Chicken Fajita product for the lunch buffet, grill menu and private party menu as well. All covered right? Well, yes and no.
One way to think about product is that if a manufacturer or processor has to put a knife or any extra labor to an item for sizing it costs you more money. You need to review that cost compared to your labor costs to get to the same place. God makes the animal. Just like humans, animals (or in this case chickens) come naturally in a range of sizes.
Let’s take chicken into a level of process detail.
1. Live chickens. Of course, buying live chickens and slaughtering them yourself will give you the HIGHEST QUALITY in regard to freshness. But that is ridiculous.
2. Whole Chickens – Some owner/operators may see the value of this stage since labor is free so to speak. If the menu can support the entire yield it is a great decision. Breasts to be used as the main protein for a plate, or tossed salad. Thighs to mix with breast trimmings for chicken salad etc. The legs make a great “Thumper” children’s menu item. And the bones are used for chicken stock or soup. Whole chickens are available usually in either 2.75# to 3.25#, or 3.25# to 3.75# size ranges.
3. Cut Whole Chicken – 6 cut or 8 cut, no back no wing, WOGS (with out gizzard). Very popular for bone in chicken. Typically for fried chicken. Rinse, dust with your breading or batter and it is ready to drop in the fryer.
4. Bone-in pieces – chicken breast sized bone-in is very popular. You can buy ½ chicken or leg and thigh. Then of course wings alone. Wings with both parts cut at the joint or just the drumettes.
5. Boneless – The first decision is skin on or skinless. Boneless breasts are available in portion sizes and random. Random was the solution for the above club chef. The cost per pound savings greatly outweighed the labor cost to get the perfect size entrée and the food cost savings for his Fajita presentation. Also available is thigh meat. This an extremely low-cost part of the bird. Creating a menu item that utilizes this meat could be a food cost winner.
6. Prepared chicken – Typically this product is already breaded ready for frying. This is great for a lightly staffed concession operation.
7. Cooked Chicken – There is cooked diced chicken available. Some small catering operations use this for chicken salad for lunch catering.#foodservice #restaurants #hotels #restaurantmanager #restaurantpurchasing #restaurantconsulting #hospitalityindustry

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