Tips to make a menu that sells itself!

You’ve heard a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s true but words are still good too. By using words that are descriptive you can paint a picture in customers minds of ‘the experience’ of eating the food, not just the food itself.

Use lot’s of detail

The way you create this image in the mind of the reader is done by using as many descriptive words as possible. To do so you must describe as many aspects of the food as possible. This begins with colour, texture, smell, taste or even how it ‘behaves’. For example if a dessert is hard but filled with a soft centre that oozes out once cracked, describe that!

Make it informative

Often people buy things because it solves a problem. Customers might be eating together for a fun happy occasion but there is still the ‘problem’ or the ‘how’ of food. How can we feed all these people great food that they will like? And many times the answer is catering, great for us! But how do we keep everyone happy?

Listing the ingredients helps, sometimes when we become familiar with something we know it too well and we forget that others don’t. It’s important to be clear about your dish and state what it is and whats included.

Not only does it help sell the dish it helps potential customers make an informed decision. For instance you may include a side dish that goes with a menu item or some fresh herbs, so make sure they know.

Here’s an example; if you are listing a curry that comes with rice don’t let the customer wonder whether they will get rice included or worse not order thinking they wont! Instead include a note stating ‘served with rice’.

Tell a story

This could be the history of this dish, where your recipe comes from, the first time you tried this dish or simply why you love to cook this dish. This backstory will tell the customer why this is on your menu and build trust that you will cook this with passion and care.

Ok now let’s look at an example of how to create an enticing, descriptive menu.

Let’s begin with a plain description first

grilled fish & chips – this is a very basic description and while it may be the best fried fish ever this won’t tell the customer that from reading this.

Ok here’s one that’s a bit more detailed

grilled john dory with chips and aioli – this is much better already the customer can see they get fish, chips and a sauce to go with it, they know what type of fish and a basic explanation of how it’s cooked.

Alright here’s how the pro’s do it

Fresh John Dory sourced from Sydney Fish Markets – flour dusted and grilled, served on a bed of rocket, Spanish onion, avocado and pine nut salad with crunchy golden fries w/ a side of tangy home-made aioli.

Now that’s pretty good if we don’t say so ourselves but you don’t need to make it something it’s not. The important thing is you present your menu the best way you can while still being clear about what the customer is getting.

Let’s break down what is good about this description.

1. It’s very descriptive. Fresh, crunchy, tangy it uses several descriptive words describing the ingredients (fresh),the texture (crunchy) and the taste (tangy). On a physical menu in a restaurant it can be too much writing but for listing your menu with dishme more detail is great.

2. It’s informative. It clearly states all the ingredients and aspects from the contents of the salad to the condiments included so we know what we’re getting.

3. It has a very basic story. On dishme you have the opportunity to explain a bit about yourself and your cooking, your story. And when listing the menu itself you don’t necessarily need a story every time but it helps. In this case simply stating the supplier can work. By saying this we now know where it came from (a big plus when selling certain foods especially fish) and that it is fresh.

Now add your own flavour and see what you can do!