Institutional catering is described as the art of feeding people who are unable to feed themselves in the modern world. It is responsible for the health and welfare of the younger generation. It involves catering for youth in schools, colleges & residential universities. These youth are generally in the age group of 5 – 25. It has the social responsibility of developing good food habits among the children of the nation and helping to build a strong and healthy population. Today this sector is recognized as being a significant and influential part of the catering industry.
Like all public sector, institutional catering operates under severe budgetary limitation. Public spending restraints mean that caterers must examine all areas f cost minutely. However, their degree of freedom to cut costs is often curtailed by the imposition of bureaucratic measures designed to monitor spending for instance, most caterers must deal with designated suppliers, work within rigid budgets and pay nationally negotiated wages. At times of cutbacks in spending the catering service is one of the first to be affected. Institutional catering differs in some aspects from those in the hotel industry. Yet both have some common objectives.
a. Food of good quality, property cooked & prepared.
b. Prompt and courteous service.
c. Well balanced, varied means.
d. Reasonable prices, consistent with service offered.
e. Adequate facilities
f. High standard of cleanliness and sanitation
The essential skills of an institutional caterer around selecting preparing and
cooking food together with the skill of administration which becomes even more
important as services grow in size and complexity.
Most institutional catering services operate on a ‘no profit no loss’ basis. There
are fixed charges for the meals of the control of the budget is very tight.
When planning a menu for an institutional service, the following points must be
borne in mind.
- There is quantity production of a few products for each meal so the meal should be simple, properly cooked and palatable.
- Generally a cyclic menu is adopted but there should be enough variety to maintain appeal in the food.
- The nutrition aspect must be given due importance
- As there is likely to be lack of skilled / trained personnel, in the kitchens, there is need for simple meals without any elaborate items.
In addition to the fixed menus, there will be special occasions like festivals, functions etc. which will call for special meals.
Equipment purchase is a major consideration and a long term investment. Care should be taken in selecting equipment :
- Original costs, installation charges, maintenance cost, insurance depreciation
- Durability and simplicity in operation
- Efficient use of space
- Mechanical efficiency
- Availability of spare parts
- Menu choice, food quantities and meal hours
THE DINNING ROOM : Adequate consideration should be given to the physical, sociological and psychological atmosphere including both functional and aesthetic value. The location should provide plenty of light and air and must be free of disagreeable odours, noises and fumes. The environment must satisfy the customers senses as well as appetite.
COSTING AND INDENTING :- In the first year you learn to calculate the cost of an entire standardized recipe and then work out the cost per portion by simple arithmetical exercise of multiplying the quantity required by the unit cost and work out the value.
Quantity in terms of unit x rate per unit = value. Similarly you calculate the food cost be taking into account the actual cost of the ingredients used in the preparation of an entire meal and the food cost percentage was worked out thus :
Food cost * 100 = Food Cost %
This year you will learn the difference between just indenting for lets say four portions and for a 100 person buffet or a 200 person wedding reception.
One of the main things to remember is that whatever provision or goods received in the kitchen on a said day is not necessarily the food cost, but the actual consumption of material on that day is termed as the food cost for that day.
VOLUME FEEDING IN
- Commercial or those establishments which are open to the public, are operated for profit and which may operate facilities and / or supply mela service on a regular basis for others.
- Non-commercial ( as employee feeding in schools, industrial and non-commercial organisations), education, government of institutional organisations which run their own food service operations. Food services in schools and universities, hospitals and other transportation armed services, industrial plants and correctional units are in the second group and may not show a profit or even balance out financially at the break even point.
- To serve hygienically prepared wholesome food.
- Food is primarily as a service to complement their other activities and contribute to the fulfilment of the objectives of the institute.
- Cyclic menus
- Not profit oriented
- Educational experience for those who are involved as they happen to experience different regional cuisine through the cyclic menus. As a result, the food habits become more flexible.
Quantity control quantity control and portion control are very important. A good quality standard, should cover essential characteristics that indicate quality in a product. Quality control programmes make it possible to serve as a consistent standard. Employee evaluation, taste panel, scoring customer reaction and other menus can be used to evaluate quality.
Good purchase specifications and finding the right product to suit the production need can do much to raise and maintain the quality standards.
Proper forecasting of quantities needed in production and controlling portion size are two essentials of good quality controls. Portion size varies according to food, type of meal and patron, cost of the food, appearance. Adults, teenagers and small children consume different quantities and portion sizes vary from them. Men eat more than women, an individual doing hard work eats more than other doing sedentary tasks.
Giving liberal quantities of less costly foods and smaller ones of the more expensive foods can be practised. The portion appearance is affected by the portion size and shape of the dish, decoration and width of the rim, dish colour and food arrangement.
OFF PREMISES CATERING :- Off premises catering has always been a specialised business. It is the service of meals in offices, clubs, canteens and also in individual homes. In this reference, premises means the area where food is planned and prepared. Its growth has been tremendous and there is a vast improvement of the equipment used. It covers everything from take home meals to the most elaborate meals at weddings.
QUALITY OF A GOOD PARTY CATERER :- The success of any catering service depends upon the person behind the venture. He must have good contact with the people who will be most likely to make use of his services. He must be able to perform these services satisfactorily and must employ suitable, efficient and capable staff. Most important he must be able to serve tasty, eye appealing food deliver it to its destination on time at right temperature.
COMPLEXITIES OF PARTY CATERING :- Party catering like other skilled technical jobs is highly specialised job. While profit is an interesting part of the catering industry, the multitude of activities throwing a challenge to the caterer, is the difficult side of the coin. If careful consideration is given to certain small details and the people concerned take active participation. It will increase turnover, improve profits and generally enhance the reputation of the caterer. There are no get standard procedures and formula for a successful caterer. Procedures and techniques vary from job to job to place and according to the requirement of the occasion. The facilities available and the cost factor also plays an important role.
PLANNING OF THE MENU :- The arrangement of a suitable menu, perfect from all points of view necessary for any successful party catering. The caterer must be an individualist full of novel ideas and must be able to pressure them profitable for the company and attractively for the client. The dishes chosen should be fhuirless in quality rasry in and attractive in appearance. Equally important is the cost of the dishes.
Nothing could be more disappointing and irritating to the guest as being served a dish smaller in portion size than he was tole at the time of booking the party. This could be avoided if the price of an item is given along with its portion size. Every party, whether for 20 or for 2000 must be a speciality and different from anything that has gone before. Clients seldom come to the caterer and ask him to arrange a party like the one they have had before, usually suggestions are wanted to make the party different, something that is unique and will be talked about. The following points will help in thoughtful planning of the menu.
- Planning well in advance will ensure minimum amount of repetition of the dishes.
- Planning a menu for a definite cycle of time have been found to be different.
- Variation must be produced by serving different vegetables and meats having a colour contrast.
- Seasonal availability is very important as parties are booked in advance.
- Nutritional balance must be ensured.
- It must fir within the budget of the customer and to his satisfaction.
- Equipment and personal must be adequate for the party.
- The menu must adhere to the established standards of service and must ensure quality and variety of the food.
- It helps to procure stores in advance.
- The occasion for which the catering is done is an important factor and so the pattern of food will change accordingly.
To be successful, the menu must reflect the eating habits and expectations of the restaurant market. The tastes of customers are complex and varied and change from day to day and time to time.
EQUIPMENT : - These may include an assortment of good china, for special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries, good hollow ware and flatware, attractive glass and silverware, serving dishes of all kinds and sizes, good quality linen and all kinds and types of buffet service equipment. These are the items that the guest see and by which they judge and catering establishment. For storage and transportation of these equipment, it is important to have special boxes where the equipment will fit. There are many kinds and types of kitchen equipment, such as insulated carriers for soup, coffee and other beverages. There are containers to carry ice cubes, portable hot cases to keep food warm and also portable griddles. Caterers could also hire out tables, chairs and other accessories on a contract basis.
CHECKLIST :- Various checklist help the caterers in smooth and systematic functioning of the parties. Server should be informed before service on the size of the portion by weight, Volume or count. The dish in which they are served, the serving tool etc.
The use of standard recipe offers a sound basis for controlled portioning and the achievement of a uniform product.
In almost all organisations where they have to cater to a large group of people, the kitchen as well as the service areas will be well equipped. The personnel handling the food will also be educated in the field of food production, nutrition, hygiene and service.
MENU PLANNING IN VOLUME CATERING
In volume catering units, the main factors influencing the planning of menus are as follows :
1. Cost :- This is one of the main considerations in menu planning. The cost of the menu should be within the budgeted allowance of any unit to be economically viable, whether it is run on a profit or non profit basis.
2. Ease of preparation :- Since mass catering units provide for large numbers, case of preparation of any dish must be considered. Elaborate preparation is time consuming and may result in delays in service of prepared foods leading to bad customer relations and appearance of inefficiency.
3. Incorporation of leftovers :- Menus for mass catering should be planned in such a way that any leftovers from one meal can be incorporated in the next meal so as to avoid abnormal wastage, reduce food cost.
4. Cyclic menus :- Menus should be planned in sets for a fortnight or for a month. This is then repeated all over again for ease in operations. Menus can be changed after such periods and seasonal foods can be incorporated. This will help provide variety economically.