From soup to squash, efficiently handling the biggest fall dishes can set a restaurant apart.

5 Ways to Efficiently Handle the Hottest Fall Favorites

These tips make it easy for restaurants to delight guests with autumn flavors.

Fall has officially fallen upon us and it's time to celebrate. This is a wonderful time of year for chefs as the bounty of the harvest arrives and diners head out in search of warm, comforting meals packed with their favorite fall flavors. 

It's also a time of the culinary year where a lot of labor time gets wasted on inefficient procurement and prep procedures. Below are a few tips to help streamline your autumnal operations and keep your guests fully fall satisfied.

1. Butternut Squash

Originating in Waltham, Massachusetts in the 1940's as a blend of three vegetables, butternut squash offers a soft, delicate flavor that is excellent as a side dish, pie or soup. This item is low in price when sold whole, but can be purchased skinned or seeded and also cubed. 

Recommendation: When you factor in 70 percent yield and labor time costs to store, peel and prep, processed products, such as pre-cut, pre-peeled, or even pre-cooked or pureed butternut squash options, offer significant savings.

2. Pumpkins

Unless you've slept through the last five football seasons, you know that pumpkin everything is favorite fall trend. Coffee, beer, pancakes, donuts, breads, pies, soup, ice cream—the fall fun never ends. The average 10-pound medium pumpkin yields less than 40 percent after peeling, deseeding and cooking.

Recommendation: Flavor profiles for canned pumpkin are best in most applications, including soups, pancakes, breads, and pies.

3. Apples

Small orchards earn more with “pick your own” than they do bringing their fruit to market, which can make it challenging to meet demand for locally sourced products. The demand for apples to produce juice and hard cider are at industry-high levels, which makes whole-fruit supplies harder to come by.

Recommendation: Machines that can skim skins, deseed, and slice are much more efficient and consistent than hand peeling and cutting.

4. Fall Soups

Trimmings and smaller pieces from root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes make excellent base for in house soups. Concentrate soups provide consistency. Operators add their level of water or cream and save money by not shipping liquids. Fresh, ready-to-use soup provides 100 percent yield, removes the guesswork of not adding enough, and provides cost per serving and no labor.

Recommendation: Find the soup that works best for your diners and don't waste your precious fall trimmings.

5. Roasted Vegetables

Roasted veggies are a growing trend. Don't fall into roasting equipment traps.

  • Never use slow and low, always use high and fast to crisp and provide color
  • Heat the sheet pans in oven (400F) to pre-heat for better crisping and reduction in cook time.
  • Add the lightly oiled and seasoned vegetables to pre-heated trays and return to oven
  • Watch closely and rotate pans to ensure even roasting

Success with all of these fall vegetables really comes down to effective buying and prep. One of the great things about fall menus is that there is a lot of work that can be done well before the shift during prep hours, and no food needs to go to waste. Roasted veggies can serve as an entrée, side, or appetizer and then be easily repurposed for soups, purees, or combined for medley sides. Embracing fall menus means joining your customers in celebration of late-season harvest, staying on-trend, and creating efficient, profitable additions to your regular menu. 

Charlie Lewis has spent 35 years in the hospitality industry and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also studied cooking and baking at the Minuteman Technical School in Lexington and continued to study hotel and restaurant management at Paul Smith’s College in New York. Lewis has held positions of the director of catering at Inter-Continental Hotels in Hawaii and Marriott Hotel, and as buyer and category manager for BJ’s Wholesale Clubs and Whole Foods Markets. He is currently a culinary specialist with Consolidated Concepts.

read more