Cooking and Preparing Large Quantities for Thanksgiving Dinner
It used to be that it was hard to find any restaurants open on Thanksgiving Christmas or New Years, because everyone was at home eating a freshly cooked meal with their families. However, times have changed, and now many families are looking for the convenience of eating out, while not having to worry about preparing their own Thanksgiving turkey dinner. This is a great opportunity for restaurateurs to make a nice profit as most people are willing to pay more to eat out on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. The problem can be that customers tend to have specific expectations and the large quantities of food that need to be made quickly and freshly can put a toll on any commercial kitchen.
Plan Your Menu
While it may be tempting for a restaurant to offer many different options when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, this is not always a necessity. Most people will be satisfied with the traditional choices, such as turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc., and perhaps a few additional options. It is important to remember that during the holidays a restaurant will have more business than usual and giving unlimited options will make an already complicated task even more difficult. Instead, try sticking to a few main dishes (including turkey) and try to choose side dishes that can make use some of the same ingredients or preparation techniques.
It is a fact of life that in most restaurants that the staff will have a little nibble during down time, or if they need a quick snack to keep them going until their next break. On most days of the year these little nibbles can add up and cost the business money but this becomes even more complicated on Thanksgiving and other holidays. That is because if each waiter or member of the kitchen staff has just a small bite, it can quickly diminish the amount of food prepared for Thanksgiving dinner. The best way to avoid this problem is to have specific food set aside for the staff so they won’t nibble.
Use Proper Food Portioning Tools
Any time a restaurant plans on preparing and cooking large amounts of food, it is very important to pay attention to food portioning. Remember that most people see Thanksgiving as a time to indulge, so keep this in mind when planning the amount of food your kitchen will need to produce. You will need to decide how large the portions will be, let your staff know, and then plan the preparation (including the pre-purchasing of all the ingredients) appropriately. When it comes time for plating, make sure that your staff has the right food portioning tools to ensure that each customer gets the proper amount of food to feel satisfied, but that the restaurant doesn’t run out of food during the course of the day.
Plan the Prep Work
It is important to plan your menu far in advance so you know what ingredients you will need, how much you need, and how long prep time is for each menu item. If, for example, you know that you are going to be making a meal that involves peeled chestnuts, it may be a good idea to buy them peeled instead of using your staff’s valuable time to peel them. The extra few cents in cost will more than pay for itself in time saved by your staff. Because of the large amount of food you will be serving, it is also important to make sure that your kitchen staff arrives early on Thanksgiving day so they can start working right away. It is also a good idea to prepare the menu items that can be prepared a day in advance, leaving you more time on the big day for last minute items.
Have Plenty of Chicken Stock
Another great tip to help your restaurant prepare the large amounts of food necessary for the holidays is to have plenty of hot chicken stock available throughout the day. There are many food items that can use some of this hot stock to add flavor, moisture or to heat it up right before serving. If it turns out that you made too much stock, which isn’t very likely, you can always save it for future use.