As the chill of winter recedes, many restaurant managers rotate warm comfort foods off of their seasonal menus in pursuit of fresh ingredients. Rotating menus seasonally can be a great way to keep your loyal clientele returning to find new dishes available and bring out the best in your creative kitchen staff.
Seasonal Menu Food and Handling Course Guidelines
Each season brings its own food safety challenges and the upswing in fresh ingredients spring offers creates some cause to take extra precautions. We’ve isolated a few issues you may want to consider as you bring in the ingredients for your fresh new menu:
- Proper storage of fresh proteins
- Proper washing of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Review of holding procedures for new hot and cold items
Most food and handling course protein storage guidelines tell you to store your product on shelves in descending order of final cooking temperature. For example, whole raw pork would be stored above ground meats and poultry products must always be placed on the lowest shelf. Most seafood products will have the lowest cooking temperature, but we recommend you find a separate storage location for fish and shellfish that is not on a shelf over any other product. Some of your guests may suffer from seafood allergies, so taking precautions to prevent cross-contamination is a must.
Spring also brings an abundance of fresh produce. Remember to wash all produce that will be cooked or served raw, even if you bring in organic ingredients. Washing produce removes residue left from pesticides, fertilizers or dirt that remains on fruits and vegetables.
Finally, review hot and cold cooking and holding temperatures with your staff. Raw seafood items are particularly popular in the spring and summer when fresh ingredients can be purchased. If you serve sashimi, sushi or seafood tartare, spend some extra time reviewing cold holding and cross-contamination prevention.
Do you choose to rotate your menus with the seasons or do you have other ideas for keeping the food you serve fresh and relevant?