Chef Allen Susser has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He made a name for himself in Miami, Florida, where he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast in 1994. Today, Chef Allen’s helping other chefs at restaurants, hotels and resorts, and says whether he’s working on the creative or technical side, people want to understand food and recipe costing.
“Most people don’t have a handle on it. Most chefs think that they have a gut feel for it — they generally are way off.”
Chef Allen searched for a simple food costing software on Google, watched a meez demo and immediately began using the tool for the built-in yields and culinary content. Now he’s implemented meez at two ghost kitchens and one restaurant kitchen with the goal of accurate and productive food costing but many added benefits for the operations.
“As a consultant, I come in and look at food, menu mix and menu development; see what they’re selling, what the favorites are and what makes sense for the concept; and help them analyze the conceptual menu — if they’re telling the right story through their menu. Then I move on to work with meez as a product for them to help them understand the intricacies of what they’re doing.”
Often culinary business operators don’t realize the intricacies of recipe costing — that an ingredient’s yield after prep actions and the recipes that go into each component of a dish have to be factored into the calculation.
“They discover that every recipe is not just one menu item, not just the protein and the sauce. There are multiple layers of preparation and costs that are involved with it. When they see the complexity of it, they can understand where the operation fails because they’re not prepared with sub recipe items.”
In his years of experience, Chef Allen knew that the food cost calculators in purchasing and vendor systems were very complex. Meez is the first recipe costing tool in a recipe management system, maniacally focused on the culinary development process.
“I like the idea that it is an independent look at food and food costs, understanding the recipes, understanding that a lot of the information that we utilize takes into account the production loss that happens anywhere from defrosting to butchering to peeling and dicing.”
Developed for chefs by chefs, the meez team designed the software with intimate knowledge of how kitchens function in terms of recipe and menu development.
“Understanding that a chef created this and was working with it, I felt that that was an important issue resolved,” Chef Allen says.
Meez has added value with recent supply chain challenges. “I’m able to look at the cost as the fluctuations happen in the market. Right now, there are major cost increases and so it’s helping me to stay abreast of cost analysis and focus on what I need to do to stay in the black.”
Initially, meez provided more functionality than the traditional method of costing with Excel formulas, including tested yields with prep actions, intuitive conversions and laser-accurate scaling — and then Chef Allen added photos and videos to recipes.
“I’ve used Excel sheets, self-created, and they were good for a picture of ideals, but it did not really account for utility, butchering down, loss of product so that swayed me in the meez direction.”
The meez team helped Chef Allen import his volume of recipes and adapt to the format and functionality.
“There’s a learning curve to use it but out of the several systems that are out there, I think it’s the easiest and most flexible,” he says.
Chef Allen continues to use meez with new clients because of the support, service and communication.
“There’s someone there that answers questions, there’s a live face and a live person,” Chef Allen commends. “So often you’re tech crazy and you don’t get answers to why something’s not working, so friendliness of service, adaptability, and meez being able to explain and/or change to help me through is an important aspect.”
Now he benefits from demonstrating recipes with mobile devices, maintaining a universal recipe format and eliminating training materials in the kitchen.
“I love being able to access the recipes when I’m training someone – I use it for food costing and creating a menu and understanding the pricing value – but my favorite use of it is to actually have it on the phone.” Cooks are granted view access to follow the recipes with photos from their phones, and recipes and recipe books are easy to navigate for team members. “The numbers are there, the information is there, but the practicality of having a recipe book that is very accessible, to type in 3-5 letters of a recipe and go with it is probably the best thing for consistency and quality.”
“I was launching a new concept where there was no standard yet, and I used meez for the standard recipe guide,” Chef Allen explains. “They had the picture, they had the ingredients, they had the sub recipes and were able to manage very well. Sometimes even with a handbook you have to flip through pages. Here, they were linked 1-to-1 as you needed it. I found that cross referencing and hot links in the program to be very useful.”
Chef Allen describes how meez is sustainable, eliminates the need for binders and ensures consistency.
“I try to use it as the recipe book now and have cooks on stations be able to reference it. Instead of having a book out there that gets dirty and out of place and pages fall out — they have it in their pocket. They find it a lot more user-friendly. I find that they go to the recipe a lot more often than going off on their own with it. And the recipes are a lot more organized. There’s more consistency, I have a better value, and I have the cooks more organized in their work process. Instead of running off and realizing they’re out of something, they’re able to organize.”
“It’s a very good tool that I’ve found, and I highly recommend it,” Chef Allen concludes.
“I love the technology. I’m an old cook with new tech so I enjoy learning new things and I’m interested to see how this will progress and develop as a tool in the kitchen and how I’ll be able to help other organizations manage their costs, training, development and consistency. It’s a very good tool to have and have access to.”
Start your free trial to cost recipes more efficiently and effectively, scale with accurate units of measure, communicate prep and menu changes to your team while spending less time in the kitchen, and calculate a real value of food waste. Save time, be more efficient and import recipes easily with meez.