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Menu Progression, a Symphony of Flavours.

Full course meals are celebrated in various cultures, each with a distinct array of food and traditions. These meals have a fascinating history, shaped by the ever-changing trends in cuisine across different regions. In the Western world, a full course meal often invokes images of extravagant dinner parties or indulgent dining experiences at upscale restaurants. However, serving full course meals requires understanding the number of courses included in a traditional full course meal and the composition of each course. This resource provides essential information about full course meals in Western culture and explains the typical sequence of meal courses.

Have a look at a few menus that I have shared below, then I will go on to explain how this works.

A tasting menu is a collection of several dishes in small portions, served by a restaurant as a single meal. The French name for a tasting menu is menu dégustation. Some restaurants and chefs specialize in tasting menus, while in other cases, it is a special or a menu option. Tasting menus may be offered to provide a sample of a type of cuisine, a house specialty, or to take advantage of fresh seasonal ingredients.

Coming to the mainstream in the 1990s, tasting menus evolved into elaborate showcases highlighting the culinary artistry of the chef. The trend traces back centuries, but some trace the latest evolution to the mid-1990s and two highly lauded restaurants, Chef Ferran Adrià's El Bulli in Spain, and Chef Thomas Keller's French Laundry, in Napa Valley, north of San Francisco in the U.S., that offered tasting menus of 40 courses or more!

A tasting menu is a prime opportunity to demonstrate your team’s culinary expertise and the innovation that sets your restaurant apart from your competition. In the execution of tasting menus, your team needs to also demonstrate a higher skill level required for these more technically advanced dishes, precise plating, and careful timing.

Unlike an a la carte menu, a tasting menu is a cohesive experience through which the guest is guided by your chef. Each course needs to seamlessly flow from the previous plate and into the following dish. Consider incorporating a theme or your chef’s inspiration to help link the courses into one memorable dining experience.

With a 10- or 12-course menu, there is a risk that your guests could leave your restaurant feeling bloated rather than pleasantly satisfied. Even a four-course menu could be too filling if the portions are too large or every dish is too rich.

Tasting menu courses have inherently small portions, but heartier flavors can fill you up faster. If your guests are too full halfway through the tasting menu, you could end up with wasted ingredients and dissatisfied customers who felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth because they couldn’t finish every course. Consider balancing the menu with some lighter courses to cleanse your guests’ palates and prevent overindulgence.

Generally, not unlike a symphony, a menu will start out with bright lively flavours, with lighter foods. It typically progresses with bolder flavours and more substantial selections, and then begins to soften in flavour and texture as it finishes with desserts, cheeses and so forth.

This is a pretty general introduction to menu development for multi course tasting menus. It requires a well trained Chef to execute something of this nature. Costs in Michelin style restaurants for such menus can range in the hundreds of dollars per person. At Dinner Thyme we can offer you a softer, gentler price for 6 or 9 course tasting menus, and you don't have to fly to Paris, New York or Milan to experience it! Give us a shout, we are currently booking fast for the 2023 holiday season in addition to the Spring/Summer of 2024.

Cheers, and have yourself a wonderful day!

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