What Goes Into A New Menu?

The past couple of months have been a lot of fun as I have worked with our chefs and the menu committee to brainstorm new recipes for Hearth ’n Kettle’s Spring/Summer menu. The process of creating a new item and adding it to the menu is not as easy as you might think. Here’s a sneak peak at what goes on behind the menu:

First, the Menu Committee challenges each chef to come up with a few new recipes. Then we have a bit of a “Tasting Smackdown” when all Hearth ’n Kettle managers and corporate management get together in the afternoon to sample as many as 25 different sandwiches, salads, entrées and appetizers in one sitting. Well, it’s not really a smackdown … not competitive at all. Everyone supports each other, makes suggestions and honestly evaluates and scores each creation based on taste, presentation, use of fresh ingredients and a suggested price point. Once the scores are tallied, the top items are looked at more closely.

As Executive Chef/Purchasing Director it is my job to take each item and “cost it out”. This means sourcing the ingredients to get the best quality for the price. Once we set a price for the item based on cost, we must decide if it is a good value and if it is competitively priced. Would some of our customers be willing to spend a few cents more for nitrate-free bacon in the Arugula Salad? We think so… it tastes great and is healthier for you. In another instance we might decide that the ingredients we choose push a price too high and so we look for alternative high quality ingredients to make the item a better value. Then we taste it again and sometimes run it as a special in the restaurants to get valuable customer feedback. This is all part of the H’nK Approval process when each item is evaluated against 3 criteria:

  1. Is it made with Wholesome Ingredients?
  2. Does it Taste Great?
  3. Is it Competitively Priced?

Only if the new item meets all 3 criteria is it “H’nK Approved” and added to our menu.

Our Spring/Summer menu will be in all of our restaurants Wednesday, May 16th and we look forward to your feedback. We think this is one of our best menus ever with more than 25 new items. Stay tuned for more about the new menu!


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