Article Summary: "It's not just tasty food and
a few cuts with a razor-sharp knife! Learning your fractions is an understatement.
Chefs can not prepare meals properly unless they know what portions of an
ingredient need to be added to the recipe. The have to fully understand
fractions, because they must be able to multiply, add, subtract, and divide
fractions in their head."
So you want to be a world class chef? Learning your fractions is an understatement. Chefs can not prepare meals properly unless they know what portions of an ingredient need to be added to the recipe. The have to fully understand fractions, because they must be able to multiply, add, subtract, and divide fractions in their head. They typically do not have time or the paper handy to calculate fractions for recipes.
Let's look at an example: A chef needs to double the recipe that has 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of cumin, 2 1/2 cups o flour, 1 1/4 sugar, and 2/3 tablespoon of vanilla extract. If you do not know your fractions this can be a challenge to double the recipe. However, if you do then it is a snap. The doubled recipe is 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, 5 cups flour, 2 1/2 coups of sugar, and 1 1/3 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
One reason it is important for a world class chef to learn fractions, is that world class meals are prepared on the spot and not in advance. So the chef has to be able to know what he/she needs now. Customers do not want to hear that their meal is late because the chef is still working on the recipe due to not remembering fractions. Fractions are part of everyday cooking when preparing meals.
Another use of fractions by world class chefs is when they have to divide a food product into equal portions. For example: dividing a cake into 16 equal parts so each slice becomes 1/16 of the whole cake. Why to do they use such precise measurements? They do this because of uniformity of the cake served to the customer and for ensuring that the appropriate profit is returned on the cake to the restaurant.
Chefs not only cook the food for their customers, they are usually the owner of the restaurant and they want to make a living. They have a building to pay for, food supplies to pay for, and employees to pay. A world class chef likes to cook and he/she wants to ensure they make enough money to have a good life in the process.
This is another reason why they need to know fractions. Food tastes better when the correct amount of ingredients are in the recipe, results in customers liking their food and coming back. When they come back for their favorite dish, it will taste the same, because the chef used exactly the same ingredients as he/she did last time.
A world class chef has to determine the price that he/she wants to charge for each item of the menu. Guessing will put them out of business quickly. They need to know what it cost for each item on the menu. Let's take the slice of cake as an example. The ingredients in the cake costs $4.50 (1/4), employee costs are determined a complicated formula and for the cake it is $4.50 (1/4). Then there are the costs of the building, cleaning supplies, electricity, gas, water, and trash. Using another formula it is determined that the cost for the cake is $2.25 (1/8).
Now the chef wants to make a profit so he/she has determined that a good profit on the cake is 3/8 of the total price for the cake. So if a customer was to purchase a whole cake they would pay $16.00. The profit for the chef is $6.75 (3/8) and if the cake is divided into 16 equal slices then each slice will sell for $1 and the chef will get the $16.
The world class chef uses the same method for determining the price for each item on the menu. As you can see being a world class chef requires a thorough understanding of fractions.