dcsimg

Appetizers

Appetizers

The appetizer, or the first course of the meal, is the specialty of garde manger and pantry chefs. An appetizer is the perfect way to whet the diner's appetite and to give a preview of what to expect from the rest of the meal. In the restaurant world, appetizers are not only put on a menu for the pleasure of the guest, but it in fact, serve several functions from the kitchen's perspective as well.

Appetizers are the part of the menu that allows the chef to show the most creativity and experimentation. Because there are often a greater number of appetizers than entrees on a menu, the chef has room to be playful with ingredients and flavors and can often cross culinary and cultural borders to create new dishes. Entree menus tend to be limited to the standards--meat, fish, poultry--and can allow for one or two more unusual additions, but mostly need to provide something that appeals to everyone because just about everyone who comes into a restaurant orders an entree.

It is not necessarily the case, however, that each customer orders an appetizer and if even they do there is usually a green salad or simple soup tucked in among even the most creative of appetizers that appeals to just about anyone. The trend of featuring small plates or tapas on the menu seems to be continually growing. Many diners are applying this concept to regular restaurant menus by ordering multiple appetizers in place of the standard appetizer-entree combination. Ordering in this way allows the diner to sample more dishes for roughly the same price and presents an array of diverse ingredients and flavors, which makes what many consider to be a more interesting overall dining experience.

Because appetizer portions are smaller than entrees, chefs are able to use more intense flavors and interesting combinations. They can also use expensive ingredients, like foie gras and caviar, because they are using less of them. One of the biggest issues that affect a restaurant's profitability is its food cost. Food that is wasted has already been paid for and instead of making back the money spent on that food plus a profit, the restaurant that wastes food simply loses money. Often entire sides of meat and whole birds are purchased because it is less costly to buy animal products this way, and break them down into different cuts and portions, than it is to purchase each cut individually.

Sides of meat and whole birds do include parts that are not necessarily desirable if put on a menu as they are, such as meat and fat scraps and chicken innards. When combined with other ingredients, however, these less than desirable parts can be transformed into something magical. Delicious terrines and rillettes are made from beef and pork scraps and chicken liver pate and duck leg confit are made from less commonly used parts of poultry. A few simple techniques can transform parts that are often regarded as unusable into something not only delicious for the customer, but also profitable for the restaurant. These items, and many more like them, have their roots in the garde manger of long ago when food was scarce and people learned to use every part of an animal so that they wouldn't starve. In the restaurants of today that same concept of usage correlates to profit.

About the Author

After receiving degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the Culinary Institute of America, Andrea Rappaport moved into a full-time career in the restaurant business. For over 12 years, she worked in various culinary jobs, including as a cook for Wolfgang Puck at Spago, and ultimately as the executive chef and partner of the highly revered San Francisco restaurant Zinzino. For the past seven years, Andrea has worked as the private chef for one family in the San Francisco area, and continues to expand her culinary portfolio by catering, teaching, and consulting.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            Virginia College , Fort Pierce
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid