Setting up a method of evaluating dishes is vital for the success of any food business. No matter the size of the restaurant, a system to check food quality should be in place. Consistency is a crucial element in establishing the credibility of your business. Food is your main product, and if you are not sending out quality dishes, then you risk losing customers.
The Importance of Evaluating Dishes
Why is it important to evaluate dishes on the menu?
- To check if dishes meet the restaurant’s standards for quality
- To detect deviations from established food quality standards
- To identify ways to improve dish quality
- To examine the overall palatability of food
- To screen the competency of the kitchen team
- To test the consistency of food served to customers
When should a dish be evaluated?
- When it’s being developed
- When it’s being launched
- Periodically during operations
How to Rate Food
There are many ways of evaluating menu items. But the most practical method is to evaluate the characteristics of food as perceived by the five senses–appearance, aroma, taste, texture, and consistency. These five factors serve as the criteria for food tasting that will guide you in checking the quality of dishes.
When you are just planning and developing a dish, you should already define your standards and expectations for each menu item. As you go along, check if every prepared dish matches up to these standards. Use the following guidelines when setting expectations:
- Color and color combinations
- Sizes and shapes of ingredients
- Visual attractiveness
- Eye appeal
- Signs of freshness
The smell or aroma such as tangy, herby, earthy, etc.
The basic sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami tastes
Texture and Consistency
The qualities felt with the finger, tongue, palate, or teeth
Knowing the right temperature to serve dishes such as hot, cold, and room temperature
Method of Evaluating Dishes
- For appearance, taste, and texture evaluations, place samples in clean, uncontaminated containers and assign codes when evaluating more than one sample.
- Use separate food samples for each evaluator.
- When evaluating aroma, place the sample at least 1 inch from the nose.
- When evaluating taste, bite off a small portion of the sample and chew slowly.
- When evaluating more than one dish, spit out the sample after tasting and rinse the mouth with tap water.
- For comparison and ranking purposes, 10 seconds is acceptable for easy recall of the tastes.
- For a single panelist who has to taste several samples, allocate 2 minutes of rest in between to prevent fatigue.
- To evaluate liquids, take a small sip of the sample and swirl it around the tongue before spitting it out.
- When evaluating more than one sample of liquids, rest for 1 minute between samples.
Recap and Summary
Food quality is a very important part of the restaurant business. When evaluating the dishes that make up the menu, you should also consider the following:
- Your guests
- Production and service capabilities
- Availability of ingredients
- Food costs
After assessing the quality of the dishes on your menu through a sensory evaluation, you should also review their production and cost-effectiveness. Note that your guests might have preferences different from yours, so always consider their perspectives. Better yet, make them participate in your chosen method of evaluating dishes.
Congratulations, you’ve completed the Evaluating Your Dishes topic!
Continue to the next topic or pick a related topic from the Importance of Menu Planning module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.