Are you keen to make more use of technology in your culinary and business operations? ChatGPT, can revolutionise the way you manage your kitchen, from organising your recipes, scaling dishes and optimising food costs, to suggesting ingredient substitutions, planning menus, and enhancing staff productivity. Also, check How to Use ChatGPT to Create Training Material for Restaurant & Cafe Employees.
I asked ChatGPT how artificial intelligence, while maintaining a personal touch and creativity in your kitchen, can streamline operations, reduce waste, and boost a restaurant’s efficiency and profitability. I’ve shared the prompts I used to generate the answers.
PROMPT: Act as an experienced executive chef with a strong interest in food costing, production methods and labour productivity. What are some ways that ChatGPT can be used to manage recipes in a restaurant? Here is the list I received, which I then interrogated for more details…
- Recipe Database: ChatGPT can be used to create an interactive recipe database. It can organise recipes by ingredients, cuisine, meal type, season, or any other category. It can also make searching for recipes quick and easy, retrieving the right recipe just by entering a few key words. This could significantly streamline the kitchen operations.
- Recipe Scaling: ChatGPT could assist in scaling recipes up or down based on the restaurant’s needs. If you need to serve a dish to more people than usual, or if you’re experimenting with small-scale trial of a new dish, AI can do the calculations for you to adjust the ingredients’ quantities, and can account for factors that aren’t linear.
- Food Costing: AI can be invaluable in food cost control. Once you input the cost of each ingredient, it can calculate the total cost of a recipe, helping you price your dishes appropriately. Moreover, it can also help monitor price fluctuations in the market, so you can adjust your prices or ingredients accordingly.
- Ingredient Substitution: If you’re out of a certain ingredient or if you want to experiment with a new flavour profile, ChatGPT can suggest suitable substitutes based on the flavours and textures of the available ingredients. This will help maintain consistent quality and customer satisfaction.
- Waste Management: AI can help track and analyse food waste to identify patterns and suggest improvements. For example, if a particular dish is often left uneaten, it may need to be rethought, or if certain ingredients are frequently wasted, their purchasing quantities or usage can be adjusted.
- Menu Planning: ChatGPT can use its extensive knowledge to suggest dishes that complement each other, taking into account factors such as seasonal ingredients, customer preferences, and dietary restrictions. This can help in designing balanced and appealing menus.
- Labour Productivity: AI can also help optimise labour usage. It can predict busy periods based on historical data and suggest appropriate staffing levels. It can also track the time taken for various tasks and suggest efficiency improvements.
- Training: With its capacity to provide detailed explanations and step-by-step guides, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool in training new staff. It can easily provide recipes, demonstrate techniques, explain food safety rules, and answer any trainees’ questions.
- Quality Control: ChatGPT can provide standardised procedures and checks for each recipe, ensuring that every dish maintains the same high quality. This can include everything from ingredient quality checks to final plating instructions.
PROMPT: Re #1 , in what format would this database be kept and how would it be developed and added to?
In fact, this proved to be the weakest of the 9 areas it suggested, as ChatGPT is no substitute for a proper recipe or kitchen management solution – you can see this from the answers as I asked it for more details. AND… watch this space, it won’t take long for AI to become more integrated in databases and spreadsheets, and for recipe systems to do their own integrations.
The recipe database can be maintained in a variety of formats depending on the needs and resources of the restaurant. It could be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as a custom software solution. Here are a few options:
- Spreadsheet: A spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets could suffice for a small restaurant or one just starting to digitise its recipes. Each row could represent a recipe with columns for the recipe name, ingredients, preparation steps, cost, and any other relevant information.
- Database Management System: A database management system (DBMS) like MySQL or PostgreSQL might be used for a larger or more technologically sophisticated restaurant. This would provide more advanced data management features than a spreadsheet.
- Custom Software: A more advanced and integrated solution would be to have custom software developed, perhaps as part of a larger restaurant management system. This software could provide a user-friendly interface for entering and retrieving recipes, integration with other systems such as inventory and point-of-sale (POS), and advanced features like AI-assisted recipe scaling and substitution.
PROMPT: How can ChatGPT be used with Excel or Google Sheets to do this?
ChatGPT’s ability to integrate directly with Excel or Google Sheets is limited as it doesn’t interact with software in real-time, nor does it perform actions within them. However, it can be used in a consultative manner to help organise, structure and manage your spreadsheet data. Here’s how:
- Data Organisation: ChatGPT can suggest optimal ways to organise your recipes in a spreadsheet. It can provide advice on which fields to include (such as recipe name, ingredients, quantities, preparation time, cost etc.), how to categorise and structure these fields, and the best practices for data entry to maintain consistency.
- Data Entry Guidance: ChatGPT can assist in guiding you on how to enter data in a consistent and structured manner. For example, it could suggest entering all weights in grams and volumes in millilitres to avoid confusion.
- Formulas and Calculations: ChatGPT can help you create formulas to automate calculations in your spreadsheet. For instance, it could help you create a formula to calculate the cost of each recipe based on the cost and quantity of each ingredient.
- Data Analysis: You could ask ChatGPT how to use the data in your spreadsheet to gain insights. For example, it could help you figure out how to use filtering, sorting and pivot tables to analyse your recipes, such as identifying which ones have the highest cost or use a particular ingredient.
PROMPT: Re #4 in the first list, how can ChatGPT convert recipes to vegan without compromising flavour?
Converting recipes to vegan versions is a creative task that ChatGPT can assist with, thanks to its large training dataset, which includes plenty of information about food, cooking, and recipes. However, it’s important to note that results may not always be perfect and adjustments might be needed based on taste tests. Here are a few general substitutions ChatGPT might suggest:
- Meat and Fish: For meat, fish or poultry, there are a variety of plant-based alternatives available in the market, like tofu, seitan, tempeh, or commercially available substitutes. Mushrooms can also provide a meaty texture in some recipes.
- Dairy Products: There’s a vast array of plant-based milk options, like almond, soy, oat, and coconut milk. For butter, a vegan margarine or oils like coconut oil could be used. Cheese can be more difficult, but there are vegan cheeses available, or nutritional yeast can sometimes give a cheesy flavour.
- Eggs: Depending on the role of eggs in a recipe (binding, leavening, or moisture), various substitutions can be made. For instance, flaxseed or chia seeds mixed with water can serve as a binder, mashed bananas or applesauce can provide moisture, and a mixture of vinegar and baking powder can act as a leavening agent.
- Honey: Agave nectar, maple syrup, or other plant-based sweeteners can be used as a substitute for honey.
In each case, ChatGPT can provide these suggestions based on its understanding of the textural and flavour profiles of these ingredients and common vegan cooking practices. While these substitutions can mimic the properties of the original ingredients, there might be some variations in the final product. Therefore, experimenting and fine-tuning is a necessary part of the process when making such changes to a recipe.
PROMPT: Re #6 on the list, how would ChatGPT assist with Menu Planning if I gave it a copy of my existing menu?
If you provide a copy of your existing menu, ChatGPT can provide advice and suggestions on how to enhance it or propose new dishes based on various factors. Here’s how it might assist with menu planning:
- Assessing Balance and Variety: ChatGPT could review your menu to assess whether there’s a good balance and variety of dishes. This includes considering factors such as different types of protein (meat, fish, vegetarian, vegan), a range of flavours (sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter, umami), and a variety of textures. It could then suggest additions or changes to improve balance and variety.
- Suggesting Complementary Dishes: ChatGPT could suggest dishes that complement the ones already on your menu based on its understanding of flavour profiles and common food pairings. This could enhance the dining experience by offering customers dishes that go well together.
- Identifying Seasonal Opportunities: ChatGPT could suggest dishes or modifications to your existing dishes based on seasonal ingredients. Using fresh, in-season produce can improve the quality of your dishes and appeal to customers.
- Incorporating Trends and Customer Preferences: ChatGPT could propose new dishes or modifications that align with these trends or preferences by providing information on current food trends or customer feedback.
- Dietary Restrictions and Preferences: ChatGPT could provide advice on how to accommodate common dietary restrictions and preferences, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or low-carb options. It could suggest modifications to existing dishes or propose new dishes to cater to these needs.
- Cost and Profitability Considerations: Based on the cost information of the dishes, ChatGPT could help you identify the most and least profitable dishes and suggest changes accordingly.
- Thematic Consistency: Finally, ChatGPT would consider your restaurant’s overall theme or style and ensure that any suggested dishes fit within this theme. For example, it wouldn’t suggest adding sushi to the menu of a traditional Italian restaurant.
By providing such analysis and suggestions, ChatGPT could assist in creating a balanced, appealing, and profitable menu for your restaurant. However, it’s important to remember that any AI’s suggestions should be considered in conjunction with professional knowledge and judgement, and ideally validated through trials and customer feedback.
PROMPT: Re #7 on the list, how would ChatGPT help improve Labour Productivity for my existing menu and for future menus?
ChatGPT, with its extensive training dataset and capabilities, can provide strategic insights to help improve labour productivity in your restaurant. Here’s how:
- Process Efficiency: ChatGPT can suggest ways to make your cooking and preparation processes more efficient. This could include suggesting methods to batch-prepare certain components, recommending a more effective order of operations, or identifying tasks that could be done in advance during slower periods.
- Staffing Levels: While ChatGPT doesn’t directly predict business volumes, it can help create staffing strategies based on your historical data. For example, you could feed the AI your business data (like covers per shift, hours worked, sales, etc.), and it can then recommend strategies for optimal staff allocation to manage peak times efficiently.
- Skills Training: ChatGPT can aid in the training and development of your staff. It can provide tips and techniques to speed up the cooking process, explain culinary terms, and even offer advice on plating and presentation. A well-trained staff is more efficient, which can greatly enhance productivity.
- Menu Design: ChatGPT can help balance complexity and cost when designing future menus. It can recommend straightforward dishes or use many of the same ingredients to limit preparation time and reduce waste.
- Equipment Use: ChatGPT could suggest changes to your kitchen layout or equipment use that could increase productivity. For instance, rearranging the kitchen to reduce movement or using specific appliances to speed up cooking times.
- Cross-Training Strategies: It can suggest cross-training staff members so that they can fill in for each other as needed, which can keep operations running smoothly even when someone is sick or on holiday.
- Reduction of Waste: By offering suggestions to reduce food waste, ChatGPT can help streamline operations, save costs, and make the kitchen more efficient. This can be done by suggesting dishes that utilise leftover ingredients, or by advising on proper food storage techniques to increase the shelf life of ingredients.
Final words from ChatGPT: ‘Keep in mind, while these insights can be quite valuable, they are best used in combination with professional expertise and judgement. AI can provide recommendations, but the implementation of those ideas should always be considered in the context of your specific operations and circumstances.’
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