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Chefs Say Cut Portion Sizes, Not Ingredients



Chefs Say Cut Portion Sizes, Not IngredientsOne of the biggest trends in food service these days is nutrition labeling for entrees and the development of “healthy” menu items that appeal to growing consumer concerns over what they eat.

A recent survey of 433 chefs conducted by Penn State and Clemson universities has shed some light on what chefs are thinking about the nutritional content of their menus.  In general chefs think cutting portion sizes, rather than adjusting recipes or ingredients of existing menu items, is the answer to developing a healthier menu.  Messing with already popular menu items is anathema to most chefs, which accounts for the reluctance to change recipes in order to improve calorie counts.

On the other hand, the same chefs surveyed overwhelmingly favored introducing a new reduced calorie item to their menus as opposed to altering an existing favorite.  There also seemed to be pretty solid agreement that a reduced calorie addition would be popular and sell well.  Chefs in general are still split on the question of menu nutrition labeling, however, with even numbers believing calorie data would help or hurt sales.

With increasing wholesale food prices and the ever increasing costs associated with managing and storing inventory, the trend towards smaller portions in restaurants probably isn’t going anywhere.  As the demand for “healthier” entrees increases, smart restaurateurs will find ways to dovetail the need to cut costs with the demand for reduced calorie counts on menus.

The marriage of these two seemingly divergent needs could be a win-win for restaurants.

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3 Responses to Chefs Say Cut Portion Sizes, Not Ingredients

  1. Don Moyer November 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    I definitely agree with the chef’s point of view as far as the recipe goes. One can’t just go swapping ingredients in a popular or classic dish and expect it to be the same. As far as portion size, I think it would be best to offer healthy alternatives instead of altering an existing choice. A regular would certainly know the difference if they walked in one day and found their favorite meal to be less than what they’re used to getting.

  2. Lisa November 24, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    I agree….
    Also, there are few restaurants I go to where I eat the entire dish anyway. I would love if there was a half portion option on dishes. These half portions would probably end up being a REAL full portion anyway, instead of what us Americans call a “portion”.

  3. Robert December 9, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    How about this, Keep the portion size the same (I like a lot of food for my money) and go hit the gym and run tubby! Some of us don’t need to worry about portion size because we are active enough.

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