My first recollection of a cycle menu was in 1971 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. I was enrolled in the Restaurant Management Program. I learned that a cycle menu was used in almost all of the institutional food facilities.
My next experience was the following year when I graduated and was hired by ARA Food Service. I was assigned to a cafeteria in the basement of the Security National bank in Santa Ana. It was an employee cafeteria. I was a Chef Manager and did the cooking as well as the paperwork which was a weekly operating report due every Monday. It was a two person operation I had an employee who worked there for a number of years. (She taught me a lot and I listened to her.
We served about 75 people a day and I had to have a four week menu for the client and my supervisor to approve. It was strange at first. I wrote it on a notebook paper and had to have a page for each week. Luckily I only had to do lunch. Learning how to create cycle in school helped me. I had to do 1 Entrée, 2 Sandwich and 2 salads and 1 Dessert. Going back over the pages to insure variety and the other basics of a cycle preparation (Color. Flavor, Cost, Texture, Seasons, Acceptability etc.) I was glad I was taught the basics.
I was promoted to Lever Brother employee cafeteria and had to do a more extensive cycle menu. It had to be a full breakfast and Lunch menu. This was a little more work. It had to be for six weeks.
Now I had six pieces of paper with with 5 columns for each day of the week and each week had to be different and it was a challenge. I had to work very close with my supervisor because it was difficult. Luckily I was exposed to the Book “Food for Fifty” which was a big help. I did get through it
I was then assigned to a hospital in Huntington Park. It was a 99 bed facility, mostly regular menu, however I had to do two cycle menus one for the patients and one for the employees, This was the start of my involvement in cycle menus.
In the early eighties when the personal computers came out I learned to use a spreadsheet. I was able to put my cycle menu on separate sheets. What a time saver.
I then started to get into computers and decided to learn databases. I created my first Cycle Menu Program in the mid-eighties and used it every where I was assigned, Hospitals, Cafeteria and schools.
It wasn’t until the late nineties when I was consultant that I decide to modify to program to enable me to sell in on the internet. I called it Cycle Menu Pro. I also added Production Sheets.
Kenny Arone is a restaurant consultant and partner in Cost Genie Menu Costing and Cycle Menu Pro Software. www.costgenie.com