Kitchen Management 305/321 - Menus



The menu is the heart of any food operation.  Like the engine in a car or the sail on a sailboat, the menu determines pretty much everything else that happens in the operation.  The professional cook needs to know the function of the menu, correct sequence of courses served, and types of menus.  The learner will explore menu building (or planning) and menu design.  

Learning Outcome

When you complete this module you will be able to...

Explain the function and planning of various types of menus

Learning Objectives

Here is what you will be able to do when you complete each step.

1. Menu Functions in Food Service
2. Gastronomic Sequence
3. Definitions of menu types
4. Considerations for menu types
5. Classical menu terminology
6. Menu building


Service Module

Performance Evaluation

To show that you have mastered this task, here is what you will be asked to do:

Develop a banquet menu as per the KMGT 305 Project.

Objective 1

When you complete this objective you will be able to...

Discuss the function of the menu in food Service

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

In your notes:

Define the term "menu."

Discuss the importance of the menu in food service operations.  Consider the relationship between the menu and:

a) the purchasing process
b) the staff required 
c) the equipment required
d) the budget (cash flow and expenses)
e) marketing

Discuss the term "demographics" and its importance to menu planning.   What is meant by demographics?  What factors about the target market need to be considered before choosing menu items?  Discuss customer expectations and the concept of "perceived value."

Discuss how the type of operation affects the menu plan.  List (at least ten) several types of food service operations with one example of each.  What menu items might be found in each?

Discuss the effect of location on the menu plan.  Consider the location within a city or town, regional location (urban or rural), and geographic location.  How does competition affect how you would choose menu items.

Review the factors you've discussed.  Which of these are internal restrictions (within the control of the operator) and which are external restrictions (outside the operator's control but which must be considered)?

Learning Material

Imagine being a guest in a restaurant that didn't have a menu.  The server comes to your table and asks what you would like; the kitchen will prepare whatever it is, if they are able.  Most of us would be uncomfortable with this, wanting some suggestions.

Now imagine yourself as a new employee at this restaurant.  What skills would you need to be successful?  How could you possibly be trained for the position?   What mis-en-place do you do when you arrive at work?

Imagine yourself as the chef of the operation.  What difficulties might you have running a restaurant without a menu?  What do you buy?  How do you determine the staff needed?

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When you complete this objective you will be able to...

List the correct Gastronomic Sequence of service.

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

Put the following courses in the correct sequence for a formal dinner.

Oysters Rockefeller  (hot appetizer)
 Sorbet (palate cleanser)
 New York Steak Madagascar (entree)
 Tiramisu (dessert)
 Mescalin salad (salad)
 Pate Maison  (cold appetizer)
 Quail Consomme  (soup)

How would this sequence change for a more casual dinner?

If only one appetizer is served, what is the sequence?

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When you complete this objective you will be able to...

Define menu types

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

In your notes:

Discuss the "a la carte" menu.  Explain the pricing structure for a la carte menus.  Where would this type of menu be most commonly used?

Discuss the "table d' hote" menu.  Explain the pricing structure for table d' hote menus.  Does the customer get choices on a table d' hote menu?  Where are these menus likely to be found.   Explain the importance of menu unity; why the menu must work together as a whole.

Explain the static menu.  Where are these menus usually found?  List advantages and disadvantages of this type of menu.

Explain the cycle menu.  Where are these menus usually found.  Give a reason why these menu would be used.  List advantages and disadvantages of cycle menus.

Discuss the importance of nutrition, variety, popularity and planning for the use of leftovers in both static and cycle menus.

Where would a static, a la carte menu be used?
In what situation might a static, table d' hote menu be used?
In what situation might a cycle, a la carte menu be used?
In what situation might a cycle, table d' hote menu be used?

Give several reasons for running a daily special or feature.  Would these be static, cyclic or otherwise?

Learning Material

A la Carte

Most food operations use an a la carte pricing system on their menus.  This simply means that each menu item has its own price and the customer is charged according to what s/he orders.

Table d' hote

A table d' hote menu offers several courses for one price.  The diner may or may not be given choices, for example the choice of beef consommé madrilène or the cream of wild mushroom.  Some hotels have a table d' hote as well as a regular menu.  Banquet menus are also table d'hote menu, whether paid for by the diner or some other individual, like the father of the bride.

Cycle menu

Imagine yourself as the brand new chef at a correctional institute (jail).  You have considerable industry experience in hotels and restaurants and have compiled a list of the 12 most popular menu items ever.  You offer these 12 items every day for a year.  Your clientele are truly a captive audience.  How long do you think it will be before the inmates rebel?

Clearly, a cycle menu would be more appropriate here.  A cycle menu is best suited where the same clientele will be in the establishment for a period of time such as a school, or a company cafeteria.  The key is to provide variety to your clientele.

Static menu

Most operations use a static menu.  This simply means that the menu stays the same for an extended period of time.  If an operation runs a seasonal menu, changing every  3 months, it still has a static menu.

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When you complete this objective you will be able to...

Discuss considerations for menu types

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

In your notes, answer the following questions:

What is characteristic of items chosen for breakfast menus?  Why?

What is characteristic of items chosen for lunch menus?  Why?

Can we make the same characterizations for dinner menus?  Why or why not?

What factors need to be considered when choosing items for banquet menus?

Learning Material

Breakfast diners are looking for fast service, big bold lettering on the menu (easy to read) and particular types of items, usually easy to digest.

Lunch diners generally have limited time for lunch while those out for dinner may have a lot of time, or a little depending on their reasons for dining out.

Banquet menus have particular needs, especially regarding holding and service times.

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When you complete this objective you will be able to...

Discuss classical menu terminology

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

In your notes answer the following questions:

How did classical menu terminology develop?  Who came up with the terms we use for classical cuisine?

List and explain classical terms (including main ingredients and cooking methods) denoting cooking styles including:

bonne femme chasseur  au gratin

List and explain classical terms (including main ingredients and cooking methods) denoting geographical and regional associations including:

florentine  francaise hongroise
lyonnaise provencal polonaise

List and explain classical terms (including main ingredients and cooking methods) honoring personalities including:

Chateaubriand Holstein Melba Rossini

List and explain classical terms (including main ingredients and cooking methods) in the style of particular clubs, hotels and restaurants including:

Waldorf Delmonico

List and explain classical terms (including main ingredients and cooking methods) denoting historical events including:

Chicken Marengo Crecy  Mayonnaise

Learning Material

As people began to travel more, it was necessary to be sure that terminology was constant.  Dishes were named by the chefs who created them.  They named the dishes based on particular cooking methods, after geographic regions where a product was most common, after famous people, in the style of particular clubs or hotels or after historical events.

It is very important that classical culinary terms are used correctly.  To misuse a term is a sure sign that the individual doesn't know what s/he is about.  Diners who are familiar with classical terminology will consider incorrect use to be false advertising or incompetence.  Imagine ordering chicken cordon bleu and getting a chicken breast stuffed with spinach.

As well, consider the importance of truth in advertising and menu accuracy.  Canadian regulations can be found at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Menu Accuracy page.

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When you complete this objective you will be able to...

Discuss factors in menu building.

Learning Activity

Complete each of the Activities listed below :

In your notes:

Explain how variety and balance are  important when planning menus.

a) Discuss balance in the types of foods used.
b) Discuss the use of moist and dry cooking methods in menu planning.
c) Discuss balance in colour, taste and texture in and among menu items.

Evaluate the following menus:

a) Beef Consommé Printemps 
Spinach salad 
Chicken Blanquette 
Cauliflower 'Natur'
b) Scotch Broth 
Cucumbers and Onions in Sour Cream 
Irish Stew with steamed potatoes
c) Cream of Broccoli 
Caesar Salad 
Veal fricassee with Rice Pilaf

Discuss the importance of nutritional considerations in menu planning.  For each of the four food groups in Canada's Food Guide, give at least one example of a menu item for each of the six courses in the gastronomic sequence.

Giving misleading names to menu items is not only dishonest and unfair to the customer, it is false advertising.  It takes away from the credibility of the operation.  Giving examples, discuss menu accuracy in terms of:

menu terminology 
product's point of  origin 
portion size

Discuss how the availability of food relates to menu planning.   Why is it important to use seasonal products?

How does the menu plan consider complete utilization of product?  Discuss using products or product trim in other places on your menu(s).  How are leftovers being used?  Is it reasonable to expect no leftovers?

Describe each of the following service styles and the impact of each on menu planning:


How does the staff, both in the kitchen and the front of the house, affect menu planning?  What needs to be considered in this area?

How does equipment affect the menu plan?  Discuss balancing the work load across the equipment available.

Learning Material

Alberta is beef country.  Because we believe this is so, we have the following menu:

Braised beef rouladen 
Roast Prime Rib 
Broiled New York Steak 
Broiled beef tenderloin 
Sautéed beef stroganoff

It's unlikely that this menu would satisfy many of our diners.  In order to provide more variety and balance, we've amended our menu to:

Broiled chicken breast 
Broiled pork chops 
New York steak 
Bar B Qued Salmon 
Grilled Veal Chops.

Still very repetitious.  We need to use a variety of cooking methods.  Often, menus are short on moist cooking methods which allow us to use cheaper cuts of meat.  These items, beef rouladen, stews, fricassees etc, are often very popular, particularly at lunch.  They can be prepared early in the shift when there is more time, making service faster and easier.

We also need to avoid repeating the same colours and flavours when planning our menu.  Imagine serving spaghetti bolognaise with a tomato salad.  Sole Bonne Femme served with steamed rice and cauliflower 'natur' would have very little eye appeal.  Flavours need to complement and contrast each other.  Sole Bonne Femme served with Brussels sprouts and Harvard beets would be a mistake.  The vegetables would over power the flavour of the sole.

The public has become more aware of and concerned with nutrition than ever before.  General concerns are:

Low fat 
Low Cholesterol 
Low sodium 

We need to know how to prepare low fat items by trimming visible fat and preparing low fat sauces and dressings through alternative starches, thickeners and reduction.

It is important to be aware of the sources of cholesterol in the diet.  Cholesterol comes from animal fats.  Further study of nutrition will be undertaken by the student in another course.

Service styles

French service is an elaborate, showy service style requiring 2 servers, a flambé carte, special dishes and trays and lots of table space.  The food is prepared in the kitchen but finished and plated in the dining room.  Great skill is required by all staff, the show's the thing and dining is at a slower pace.

Russian service is similar; the food is prepared in the kitchen and finished in the dining room.  One server can handle each table as the food is arranged on a silver platter, presented to the diners then plated.  Still requiring a high degree of skill, there is not quite as much equipment and space needed as for French service.  Dining remains at a slower pace.

American, or plate service is much more common.  The food is prepared and plated in the kitchen.  The server picks up the plates and brings them to the diner.  Most white table cloth restaurants now use a modified French service where most of the menu items are served American style with a few items being finished at the table.

English style isn't often used in restaurants or hotels.  In a Chinese restaurant, several items are ordered and everyone helps themselves from the dishes.  Country weddings are often similar with large bowls and platters being passed around.  This might be considered 'home style' service.

Cafeteria and buffet service have different considerations.  The food is already prepared, or can be prepared quite quickly.

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Kitchen Management 305/321
Last Modified May 2007, Garry Wall
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