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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7

SPLASHING OUT 22/11/21


THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE ARE REALLY WORTH THEIR PRETTY PENNY The one thing we get asked the most in food is what do we most like to cook or eat? People are right to think we are so lucky in food to get to work, taste and eat the most wonderful ingredients from around the world. It is true; we do enjoy this aspect of a life in catering, one of the many rewards. Well, like films, songs or books I have my favourite ingredients or dishes that I would happily bring to my desert island and gorge on for an eternity and never get tired of eating them. They vary from common enough items like rare cooked quality beef, simply boiled al dente asparagus, freshly baked baguette, high cocoa content dark chocolate in whichever type of dessert and my favourite whiffy cheese called pont l’eveque. Then there are the not so common and more expensive ingredients like lobster, scallops and oysters and the even more costly foie gras and truffles. The mushroom variety that is. There is a second question we get that can be related to this list of my favourite things. Why are some menus so bloody expensive? I have spent my professional life explaining this after what can be best described as a regular berating. The answer is always the same. Price. Well actually the cost of the ingredients and the labour to convert them into fine dining food. If you had to pay three euro for a single fresh king scallop, ten euro for a portion of foie gras, twenty five euro for a live lobster or fifty euro for a truffle then you can see why the price of the menu to you might be a €100.00 when all the ingredients for the dishes have cost maybe €25.00 in total for the dishes you pick. Remember that also out of the €100.00 you pay has to come the wages which will increase substantially as the product standard rises through the restaurant ranks from low to mid market to up market as both the labour needed is greater and the technical expertise is far superior to provide the food and service level the business has positioned itself in. Higher qualified staff get paid more, it’s a fact of life. If you had a 20k per week wage bill then the customer is paying for a top product and service, go do the maths. With wage percentage at around a third the place needs €60k turnover a week. It’s the same logic for the bottle of wine you see for a tenner in the supermarket that is €50.00 on the wine list. There is a very good reason why you pay far less there. Then you have all the other multitude of maybe twenty or more different overheads to cover in your €100.00 bill from rent, vat, taxes, insurance, utilities, marketing, maintenance, administration and material costs like uniforms and menus, the list goes on and on so that when your €100.00 is all paid, there might be a fiver for the owner. So if your menu is just a €40.00 one, then only a tenner might have been spent on the food but all those overheads still have to be paid out of the other thirty euros gross profit, so it’s all relative and that’s why it is your choice to spend at the high, middle or low end of the market. Just like you would if you are buying an outfit, car or a house. So next time you baulk at the price of a menu, you now know what is behind it, you are buying the whole experience as well as the actual food and wine. There is no telling some people this however so after my exasperation's I say of course they can buy their own steak and wine for a tenner at the supermarket and do it all themselves at home. Their choice. #menumaths #thehighlife #breakingitdown #treatyourselfsometime #explainer




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