5 golden tips for a tight mise en place planning
Okay, two possible scenarios for next Christmas: the first is that restaurants may be allowed to open again soon (or remain open in certain cases) and business runs as usual. Second scenario, the catering industry remains closed and for many, it will be their very first Christmas take-away service. Either way, it means a mountain of mise en place planning for you. So, how can you plan this far in advance?
#1 Use a block schedule
Have you ever heard of the term 'block schedule'? It looks exactly as you would expect: blocks on a timeline in which you neatly organize specific tasks. A block schedule helps you work towards a peak or deadline in a controlled and phased manner. It's perfect for the Christmas season!
By creating a block schedule, you can clearly see at a glance how to spread specific tasks effectively over the weeks in the run-up to Christmas. Use different colours when creating a schedule to make things even clearer. The more uniform your schedule looks, the better the tasks are spread out over the days you have left. Below is an example of a typical Christmas period block schedule.
# 2 Discuss the day
And then? Once you have a schedule, you also need to look at it, talk about it, and stick to it. The strength lies in discussing the day at the start of the mise en place. This will enable you to keep alerting your team to the importance of sticking to the schedule and also pay extra attention to the items that are scheduled for Christmas.
# 3 Plan your menu full of mise en place items that can keep
Include preserved products in your Christmas menu such as raspberry confiture with red wine and citrus, pickled lemons, or preserved blackberries. You could also use crisps that can be kept for a long time or preparations stored in the freezer. For example, the dried and smoked carrot tartare is frozen during the last phase of the mise en place. It truly is an ideal component for advance preparation in large quantities!
# 4 Less = more
At Christmas time, you'll want to keep an extra close eye on your margins, and if there is one main rule, then it is that less is often better. Also, or perhaps even due to the lack of extra fuss, you can showcase your skills as a chef. Ask yourself whether each garnish is really necessary. How extraordinary would it be if you could amaze your guests with dishes that consist of 'only' four or five components?
# 5 Allergies? Make sure you cater for them!
Be prepared for allergies and exceptions. If there is anything that can disrupt a service, it is an unexpected exception. Always make sure that you have ready-to-use substitute products in stock to cater for the most common allergies. For example, a lactose-free vegetable crème can be kept in the freezer in a small 50g ziploc bag. This can be defrosted in a pan of boiling water in ten minutes, so you'll be able to provide an alternative in an instant.
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