As a menu staple, it’s a given that leftover potatoes are found in most foodservice kitchens. To prove the opportunity for profit from yesterday’s entrée and side dish, the Idaho Potato Commission asked chef-instructor Richard Nickless of the Culinary Institute of Charleston to calculate the cost of producing popular entrees from items stored in the reach-in. In his presentation to American Culinary Federation chefs, Nickless demonstrated how cost-effective and versatile Idaho Potatoes continue to generate savings with each successive use.

As his leading example, Chef Nickless chose Shepherd’s Pie, a hearty winter dish that utilizes leftover cooked meat (chopped or ground) and roasted root vegetables bound with beef gravy and topped with mashed potatoes before baking. Costing out the various components (note: basic costs can vary by region), Nickless computed a basic food cost per serving of $2.22. With food costs ideally maintained at 30 percent of operating expenses, Nickless projected a break-even cost of $7.32 and a menu/selling price of $9.50, giving him a 100 percent profit on his original ingredient investment.

Wasting food is an expense that few operators can afford in an industry where food-cost margins are already slim.


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