At any given time, a chef could be doing upwards of ten things at once. The last thing they need is to have forgotten to order an ingredient and then have to run to the store at the last minute.

All good chefs write down their thoughts on paper so they can remember them at the end of the day. Chefs are notorious for forgetting things. Just ask anyone that has ever entered a walk-in cooler.

Let’s talk order guides and their importance to a chef’s sanity. Everything that comes through the back door should be there because it was ordered by the person in charge. If the items are on paper, it reminds the chef to check for it and if need be, order it. Like all things in the kitchen, the order guide should be organized and tidy.  Like we say in the industry “shelf to sheet.” When the chef is scanning the shelves, his list of items should be in the same order as his order guide. This helps to ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

Some important things that every order guide should include:

  • Item Name
  • Par
  • On Hand
  • Number Ordered

Order guides are the key to keeping the kitchen running. If a product isn’t coming in, there is nothing to cook. From meats and fish to disposables and produce, everything needs to be ordered and an order guide ensures nothing gets overlooked.

I always liked to have at least several days of previous orders on the same order guide. For instance, on produce, I would have on a weekly guide so I could look and see how quickly I was going through certain things. This would let me know if I need to order something or not. Additionally, a properly organized order guide could alert you to the possibility of thievery. For example, you order 20 ribeye steaks for Monday night’s service. You come in Tuesday and only have five left, but your reports show you selling thirteen. One of two things could have happened, the grill cook overcooked two steaks and had to make two more, or your grill cook stole two of them.

In conclusion, the importance of keeping accurate and up-to-date order guides can help foodservice establishments maintain accurate inventories.