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Defining Menu Courses

While not every meal you create will include multiple stages, anyone with a serious interest in cooking should understand the basics of menu courses. Although the courses can be broken down in a variety of ways, here's what a five course menu might look like.

Culinary Arts

Appetizers

  • Also called starters or hors d'oeurvres.
  • The first course of a meal and served in small portions.
  • Often used at parties to tide guests over until the main meal.
  • Fast Fact: Tapas, which are served in some restaurants as a main course, are actually Spanish appetizers.

Salad and Soup Course

  • Salad and soup may be served together or as separate meal courses.
  • Salads and soups are sometimes served as appetizers
  • The type of soup or salad served may depend upon the season and should complement the main course.
  • Fast Fact: In some European cultures, it's traditional to eat the salad course after the entrée.

Main Course

  • Often referred to as the entrée or, more casually, as the main event.
  • Usually consists of the largest portion of food and features a protein.
  • Sometimes the main course may be broken up into multiple entrees, such as a fish dish followed by a meat dish.
  • Fast Fact: The word entrée first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1759 and was defined as a roasted ham.

Cheese or Dessert Course

  • If cheese is being served, it is usually done after the entree and before, or in lieu of, dessert.
  • A cheese course can be as simple as one piece of cheese or as elaborate as a sampling of numerous cheeses served with accompaniments such as bread, fruit, and nuts.
  • Desserts are traditionally sweet dishes served with a complementary beverage such as wine.
  • Fast Fact: Food&Wine Magazine lists carrot cake, Georgia peach pie and chocolate cupcakes among the most popular desserts in the country.

Mignardises

  • Mignardises are tiny, bite sized desserts like cookies, candies, or tarts.
  • Presented at the end of a meal as a final small treat and may be served along with coffee or tea.
  • The term petit-four is sometimes used interchangeable with mignardise.
  • Fast Fact: In anticipation of an upcoming movie, LA restaurant Faith & Flower began serving Star Wars-shaped mignardises.

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            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

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            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students. The institution offers career-focused curricula with increasing rigor from the certificate through diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. Throughout those curricula, the university seeks to promote the development of critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, computer literacy, and teamwork as well as an appreciation for life-long learning, cultural diversity and the expression of professionalism in all activities. At the graduate level, the university also seeks to promote a culture of research.

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            Virginia College , Birmingham
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