The first frozen flakes of snow have already begun to fall for some of us in the chillier states. On my recent business trip out to the intermountain states of Idaho and Utah, the mountain tops were beginning to wear their beautiful caps of pearl white snow. I would get a good chance to view the unique scenery as I joined my local Sammic representative
Chef Zach Barker of IFE Intermountain Food Equipment, on a four-day sales seminar that was loaded with cooking demos. Being the new guy on the block at Sammic, I had a lot to learn about all of the unique solutions that the global leader provides the restaurant and hospitality industry. I could think of no better person to learn some of the more advanced cooking skills for vacuum sealers, sous-vide, and vegetable preparation equipment, than from Chef Zach. Our first order of business was prepping our food for our first demo scheduled for lunch the next day. This is where Sammic first stepped in to make my life a whole lot easier. By using the right tools for the right job we were able to get things done fast and consistent. Setting up our CA-311 vegetable preparation machine with a dicing grid and slicing disc made fast work for our potato sides we were making. What really made me happy was the fact that once all of the potatoes were cut, in a matter of seconds, I didn’t need to add them to water or spray them with an acid like lemon juice to keep them for oxidizing. Nope, all I had to do was bag them up and vacuum seal them.
That was a huge timesaver alone, but what we really needed to do was precook, or par-cook, our root vegetables. We were also going to serve infused carrots for lunch and those needed a little longer cook time than we were going to be able to pull off on site. That’s where Sous Vide cooking really came through for us. We had two options, cook and chill the food the night before, essentially softening the product enough to where we just needed to get it back up to serving temperature, or cooking the product the day of service by dropping it in the sous vide bath well in advance of the lunch where we would only need to remove it and serve it at our convenience later. Because in this case, we were acting more like caterers, we went with cooking the day before and reheating for service the day of service.
We made Pork Roulade, infused carrots, roasted potatoes, sous-vide pineapples, and they were ready at a drop of a dime.
The combination of quick prep work with the vegetable dicing and vacuum packing, mixed with cook-chill cooking and sous vide retherming, really made for an exciting lunch that could be pulled off for a large group of people in a matter of minutes. Now that I knew the ropes, we started cooking for the rest of the demos where we served everything from stuffed chicken breast to BBQ ribs, and all of our sauces and sides. All of our guests were very happy to enjoy the wonderful food that Sammic had to offer.
Needless to say, I had a great time and owe special thanks to Zach and all of the team at IFE for all of their hard work. They have been Sammic representatives for years and do a great job spreading the word about how Sammic solutions can help save time and money in a kitchen will upping the food game to whole new levels. I look forward to my next journey and will definitely come hungry… Thanks for reading!
Many people think a garbage disposal works like a blender, with spinning blades chopping and breaking down the waste. In reality, garbage disposals work in a different way – and there are NO blades involved.
Instead, impellers, or lugs, mounted on a spinning plate use centrifugal force to continuously force food waste particles against a stationary grind ring.
The “grind ring” breaks down the food waste into very fine particles, virtually liquefying them. After they’re ground, the running water flushes the particles through the “grind ring” and out of the disposer and into your waste water pipe.
From there, it flows to a wastewater treatment plant or your septic system.
The honest truth is that Will It Blend? started with us fooling around. I mean, we had an objective, but YouTube was brand new and at the time we didn’t really see the “marketing” side of people posting silly videos on the Internet.
George Wight, the marketing manager at the time, asked me to set up a shoot where Tom would blend a bunch of things (marbles, rake handle, can of Coke, Big Mac meal, etc). George got that inspiration from watching Tom test the power and durability of blenders by blending 2x4s down to sawdust. My job was to film Tom and make it interesting.
If you watch the first 10 or so Will It Blend? episodes, you’ll see Tom with almost no comedy, no lines, no gags or sound effects. Tom basically said, “Here are some marbles; I think we’ll blend these.” That’s it.
The “don’t breathe this” line came from a joke I did during the first shoot. Tom had blended a ton of items the first few days we were shooting. I think we cranked out 6–10 episodes. When Tom got around to blending marbles (the first blend we posted), he joked that we shouldn’t breathe the demolished marbles because they were made out of pure glass, and if we were to breathe in the particles, we could get silicosis.
To be funny, I copied Tom’s warning from the marbles video and pasted it into the following episodes. It was an inside joke but eventually became a staple of the series.
Whether behind the bar or in the kitchen, we all want to be a little bit more efficient, to do more in less time. It can get hectic during service no matter how seasoned a professional you are, and moving faster can often seem easier said than done. Here, four women who’ve conquered speed bartending competition Speed Rack — which not only showcases women behind the bar, but also raises money for breast cancer research and educational initiatives — break it down for us and share their keys to success.
1. It all starts with the set up
Whether opening your own bar or working in someone else’s, set up — both daily and long-term — can make or break your quest for working speedier.
“It starts with how the bar is actually built, where you put the sinks…how high your rail is, how deep everything is, all of that stuff is super integral to being able to work quickly and efficiently,” says Caitlin Laman, a bar consultant and former bar manager at Trick Dog in San Francisco (and Miss Speed Rack 2014).
Yael Vengroff, bar director at The Spare Room in Los Angeles (and Miss Speed Rack 2012), agrees. “I think that, too often, we see these bars being designed by the contractors, or the architects, or the design team, and it’s not someone that’s actually been behind a bar before. That’s where you run into a lot of issues where it’s like, ‘oh, you know, we didn’t think about putting a sink here,’ and that’s ultimately the most important thing,” she says. “Do you have the ability to clean your tools right away, and next to you? Because if you can’t clean your tools, you’re gonna walk all over to the other side of the room, then the longer it’s going to take for you to be ready to make the next round of drinks.”
Beyond the construction phase, organizational choices can similarly let you work at your quickest or slow you to a crawl.
“[A] lot of your POS systems, you can run summary reports at the end of the week and you can see what are your highest selling items, highest selling spirits, highest selling cocktails, highest selling beers… those are the things that you need to have close to you,” says Brittini Rae, bar manager at the Venice Whaler in Venice Beach and Miss Speed Rack 2015. “[I]f you sell a whole bunch of Bulleit bourbon, but Bulleit bourbon is on the third shelf all the way on the left, you know, you’re constantly going to pick up that bottle, but you sell it 68 times a night, why? It may look beautiful there, but if that’s the case, then have one in the well and have one on the back bar, so it always looks pretty, but you have it close to you.”
A place for everything and everything in its place, as your mom or grandma probably told you once or twice. According to Eryn Reece, who was crowned Miss Speed Rack in 2013 and is now starting up the bar program at New York’s Sons and Daughters, opening at the end of the month, it’s true behind the bar as well.
“[E]verything has [to have] a home,” Reece says. “Because the minute you’re having to stop and search for something, it’s going to become a huge issue. Especially when some of these people have a more expansive cocktail menu, it just makes sense that everything goes back in the exact same place every single time,” Reece said.
How your well is set up can also make a difference. Don’t force yourself to stick to the same old, vodka, gin, rum, tequila format, adds Brittini Rae. She and Reece both suggest switching it up and organizing or grouping by cocktail, rather than a predetermined rule. It helps remind you what’s next, too, in case you’re so busy you forget.
2. Don’t put extra things on top of the bar
We’ve all seen the stacks of napkins and coasters, container of straws and little box of maraschino cherries and lime wedges on the bar right in front of where the bartenders are working—and the guests are sitting or standing. In some ways those are convenient spots for them, but when you’re going for speed, extra odds and ends can just get in the way.
“A lot of times they have their POS systems on top of bars, right in front of guests’ seats, where we’d be sitting, and bartenders are constantly trying to reach around,” says Brittini Rae. “If you’re trying to reach around anything on top of the bar, whether you’re trying to deliver a drink, or you’re trying to clean up a spill, or just wipe a table down, you’re automatically adding seconds to your night because you just put something in your way.” She adds that garnish stations are a common obstacle. “I know the glass garnish station has been very popular, which is great, but that needs to be on either end of the bar or it needs to be so far in the bar that it’s not in the way,” she says. “[T]here’s a bar I went to once that has, like, a beautiful bitters tower, like a Lazy Susan but with bitters on it, but it’s three shelves high. It’s beautiful, but it’s right on top of the bar and bartenders have to constantly move it,” said Brittini Rae.
3. Teach yourself to be ambidextrous
It’s not just a crazy thought: some speedy bartenders really are ambidextrous, and it helps them move even faster.
“I’m right-handed but I bartend left-handed because that’s how I was trained,” says Laman. “It makes me really able to do a lot more things because my dominant hand is not activated as much as my non-dominant hand, so I have the ability to do so many more things because I have that dominant hand free, in a sense. And so, if you set your bar up in a way that kind of trains you to use your non-dominant hand more, it frees up your dominant hand and gives you the ability to do a lot more things,” she says.
For bartenders—or anyone—wanting to try? “[I]t takes about three months for you to finally get used to it,” Vengroff says.
4. Know your stuff
Recipes are crucial, and on busy nights there’s not much time to slow down and think. Make sure you know your recipes and your techniques—it’ll boost your confidence.
5. Think ahead and take only one step
“[A]lways just think about what your next step is,” says Brittani Rae. “I think that’s kind of a no-brainer, you know, don’t step more than once and always think about what your next step is and doing it in your head before you get to it. When you’re making cocktails, if you’re making three drinks and they all have lime juice, you shouldn’t be picking up that bottle of lime juice three times… if all three drinks have lime juice, you should be able to put lime juice in all three tins and then go back to finish building the first one. You should never have to pick up a bottle twice on an order — ever.”
6. Don’t look down on batching certain ingredients in advance
“We batch the spirits in a cocktail, so we’re able to provide these complicated, complex cocktails to the guests, but we can still get them out quickly because it’s only a three-bottle pick-up instead of seven,” says Vengroff.
“I feel like in the past, it may have been a little looked down upon, but we’re at a certain point where people don’t want to wait 25 minutes for their cocktail anymore — they’re over that,” adds Reece. “There are so many places they can go for good drinks these days, they’re like, ‘oh, this place takes too long, I don’t want these 12-ingredient cocktails,’ but there’s easy ways to smartly batch out a blend of, like, a quarter ounce of three different syrups that make your cocktail a little bit more interesting and have a little bit more level of flavor,” she says. “If you’re batching out a quarter ounce of ginger, orgeat and cinnamon, you put it in a 3/4-ounce pour. It’s just such a quick little thing.”
Ultimately, getting the basics down (and with that, your confidence up) is the best place to start, says Brittini Rae. “Once you’re confident in that, and you feel that you have that second nature to designing drinks, then, speed is going to come, because you’re just going to keep getting better and better.”
Generally speaking, a foodservice consultant is an independent professional advisor who, for a defined scope of work and related fee, works as an advocate for their client in achieving their goals through the design and implementation of foodservice facilities and/or operations/management systems. Consultants provide expertise, knowledge and experience to provide assistance that does not exist in-house, or by providing resources not available at the time. As independent professionals their primary focus is the welfare of the client organization that they serve.
Very knowledgeable in the foodservice and hospitality industry
Provides specific/specialized expertise
Usually involved for limited, specified period
Brings high degree of industry experience
Advises and educates clients on wide range of topics
Provides independent, objective advice
Facilitates between project team and foodservice operations professionals
Acts as an advocate for foodservice operations
Enhances client’s business
COMMON FOODSERVICE CONSULTANT SPECIALITIES INCLUDE:
Accounting & Finance
Beverage System design
Dietary & Nutrition
Food Safety & Hygiene
Mgt Recruitment & Development
Operating Procedures & Systems
Operator RFP Selection/Monitoring
Strategic Financial Analysis
Workshops and Education
Energy & Environment
Food Production Systems Design
IT Systems, Sourcing/Mgt
Legal Advice/Litigation Support
Marketing & Promotion
Operations Review & Re-Engineering
Waste Management Design
HOW CAN I TELL IF I NEED A FOODSERVICE CONSULTANT?
A decision has been made to undertake a development/design project involving construction of new foodservice facilities.
Ownership/Management have made a decision to renovate existing foodservice facilities
Ownership/Management had identified a need to have an evaluation of existing facilities conducted as part of a long range capital budgeting process
Ownership/Management has identified the need for a master planning exercise
A decision has been made to develop or re-engineer a foodservice operation/concept
Ownership/Management believes that operational performance could be improved but is not sure what to do to make those improvements
Ownership/Management does not have the specific knowledge and skills necessary to solve an identified problem
Ownership/Management has the necessary knowledge and skills but does not have the time necessary to solve the problem
Ownership/Management requires an independent, third-party opinion, either to confirm a decision or to provide alternatives
Ownership/Management’s efforts have not produced the desired long-term results
HOW DO I FIND A COMPETENT FOODSERVICE CONSULTANT?
You can seek referrals from a variety of sources for help in finding and selecting a competent foodservice consultant. Your network of professional colleagues, your trade association and the local restaurant association are all good sources of information. You may also choose to turn to the Foodservice Consultants Society International for assistance. We have an online consultant search function on this web site or you may contact one of our administration offices closest to you.
When considering a foodservice project, a FCSI consultant should be your first choice. FCSI is the only such consulting society that operates on a worldwide basis. FCSI maintains a global focus with members in over 45 countries dedicated to providing the highest quality of service. FCSI consultant members must abide by a strict Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. They work efficiently to achieve total client satisfaction and always maintain independence from the supply side of the industry.
Consultant members are required to participate in the FCSI Continuing Professional Growth program by attend educational seminars that focus on cutting edge developments in the foodservice industry. Members also have the benefit of networking with other professionals in the foodservice industry during Society sponsored events and activities. In order to gain acceptance into the Society, members must meet strict criteria assuring their experience and over all professionalism.
HOW DOES AN FCSI CONSULTANT OPERATE?
Foodservice consultants operate as independent business people with firms ranging in size from one person to large operations with multiple offices around the globe. Some consultants work primarily close to their home base while others are spanning the globe with projects on several continents.
– Independent of the supply of goods to the industry
Does not supply/sell equipment
Does not work for a commission
Serves only the best interests of the Client
– Negotiates a fixed fee for a defined scope of work prior to beginning an assignment
– Could work directly for owner, operator, developer, or architect
– Normally has several clients concurrently
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE:
There are a few factors to consider when selecting the correct foodservice consultant for your undertaking:
Ask colleagues and other well-informed industry executives for several referrals. Check each one’s credentials and give each candidate the same criteria for your project.
Ask for references and follow up on them, asking:
Were you satisfied with the services performed?
Would you hire this consultant again?
Did they meet your deadlines?
Did the consultant coordinate properly with other specialists on the project?
Ask each consultant to describe their best approach to your situation. This isn’t asking or details – just a general description of the problem-solving process.
Visit and inspect some of their projects. If that’s not possible, call the operators and talk frankly about their level of satisfaction with the consultant’s performance.
Attempt to interview each finalist in person. Face-to-face meetings are invaluable.
The two key parts of your restaurant are the production area, where the food is prepared, and the public area, where your customers either dine or make their carryout purchases. The major factors to think about in terms of a restaurant’s design are the size and layout of the dining room, kitchen space, storage areas and office. Dining space will occupy most of your facility, followed by the kitchen and preparation area and then by storage. If you have an office on the premises — and you should — that will most likely take up the smallest percentage of your space.
The customer service area is important because it determines the first impression your restaurant will make on your guests. It must accurately convey the atmosphere of the restaurant in a way that takes advantage of the space available. Your customer service area should include a waiting area for customers, a cashier’s station, public restrooms and a bar, if you choose to have one. Other than fast-food or quick-serve establishments, most restaurants have bars or at least serve beer or wine.
Most upscale restaurants don’t have a cashier area where patrons walk up and pay. Instead, the waitstaff typically collects the payment at the table and takes it to the bar cash register. They then bring the change back to the table or return with the credit card slip to be signed.
You can use your cashier’s station as the host or hostess station, or you can set up a separate station at the threshold between the customer service and dining areas. A host or hostess stand usually consists of a small wooden podium with a ledger or computer keyboard and monitor for recording the names of waiting guests.
The waiting area itself should have a few benches lining its walls. Don’t skimp on these seats. They should be cushioned, unless your theme dictates otherwise, so your customers are comfortable during their wait. If the wait turns out to be long, and if your seats are hard and uncomfortable, chances are you’ll lose customers and generate some bad word-of-mouth.
In many restaurants, a bar will generate a good portion of the operation’s revenue. Generally speaking, you should have one bar seat for every three dining seats. For example, if you have 150 dining seats, your bar should have about 50 seats, including bar stools and seats at tables. Allow about 2 square feet of floor space per stool. Your tables should have about 10 to 12 square feet per customer.
A bar also provides an additional waiting area for your restaurant. It’s a good place for your customers to relax and enjoy themselves while their table is being prepared. You can also serve food at the bar, which is especially beneficial when you have a long waiting list. Also keep in mind that many restaurants either take a guest’s cell phone number or provide an electric electronic pager to contact their waiting guests.
This is where you’ll be making the bulk of your money, so don’t cut corners when designing and decorating your dining room. Much of your dining room design will depend on your concept. It might help to know that studies indicate that 40 to 50 percent of all sit-down customers arrive in pairs, 30 percent come alone or in parties of three and 20 percent come in groups of four or more.
To accommodate various party sizes, use tables for two that can be pushed together in areas where there’s ample floor space. This gives you flexibility in accommodating both small and large parties. Place booths for four to six people along the walls.
The space required per seat varies according to the type of restaurant and size of the establishment. For a small casual-dining restaurant, you’ll need to provide about 15 to 18 square feet per seat to assure comfortable seating and enough aisle space so servers have room to move between the tables. People don’t like being crowded together with other diners. Keep in mind that while you want to get in as many people as possible, you also want return customers. It is often said that 80 percent of business comes from return customers. If people are crammed in and don’t enjoy their dining experience, they won’t be likely to return.
The furniture and fixtures in your dining area should match your concept and be appropriate to the market you’re trying to attract. For example, a family-style restaurant needs to have comfortable tables and booths that can accommodate children’s booster seats and highchairs. A fine-dining establishment should be more elegant, with tables situated to provide your patrons with privacy.
Regardless of the type of operation you choose, the quality of your chairs is critical. Chairs are expensive, and how comfortable they are — or aren’t — is the second most common source of environmental complaints in restaurants (the first is noise). But while your seats should be comfortable, they shouldn’t be too soft, either — you don’t want customers falling asleep. They should also allow for ease of movement. Diners should be able to get up and down easily and slide across seating surfaces without tearing clothing or hosiery. And they need to be sturdy. When an overweight customer sits down or even tips a chair back on one or two legs, the chair shouldn’t break. Also, choose materials that can tolerate abrasive cleaning products as well as the abuse of being stacked and unstacked.
Develop a uniform atmosphere all through the public areas of your restaurant. That means the décor of your waiting area, dining room, bar and even restrooms should match. Also, be sure your waiting area is welcoming and comfortable. Whether your customers are seated immediately or have to wait awhile for their tables, they’ll gain their first impression of your operation from the waiting area, and you want that impression to be positive.
Too often, the production area in a restaurant is inefficiently designed, and the result is a poorly organized kitchen and less-than-top-notch service. Your floor plan should be streamlined to provide the most efficient delivery of food to the dining area.
Generally, you’ll need to allow approximately 35 percent of your total space for your production area. Include space for food preparation, cooking, dishwashing, trash disposal, receiving, inventory storage, employee facilities and an area for a small office where daily management duties can be performed. Allow about 12 percent of your total space for food preparation and cooking areas.
Keep your menu in mind as you determine each element in the production area. You’ll need to include space for food preparation, cooking, dishwashing, trash disposal, receiving, inventory storage and employee facilities, plus your office area.
The food preparation, cooking and baking areas are where the actual production of food will take place. You’ll need room for prep and steam tables, fryers, a cooking range with griddle top, small refrigerators that you’ll place under the prep and steam tables, a freezer for storing perishable goods, soft drink and milk dispensers, an ice bin, a broiler, exhaust fans for the ventilation system and other items, depending on your particular operation.
Arrange this area so everything is only a couple of steps away from the cook. You should also design it in such a way that two or more cooks can work side by side during your busiest hours.
You’ll want to devote about 4 percent of your total space to the dishwashing and trash areas. Place your dishwashing area toward the rear of the kitchen. You can usually set this up in a corner so it doesn’t get in the way of the cooks and servers. Set up the dishwashing area so the washer can develop a production line.
To make your production area as efficient as possible, keep the following tips in mind:
Plan the shortest route from entrance to exit for ingredients and baked goods.
Minimize handling by having as many duties as possible performed at each stop — that is, at each point the item or dish stops in the production process.
Eliminate bottlenecks in the production process caused by delays at strategic locations. When things aren’t flowing smoothly, figure out why. Be sure your equipment is adequate, well-maintained and located in the proper place for the task.
Recognize that the misuse of space is as damaging to your operation as the misuse of machinery and labor.
Eliminate backtracking, the overlapping of work and unnecessary inspection by constantly considering possibilities for new sequences and combinations of steps in food preparation.
Set up the dishwashing area so the washer can develop a production line. The person responsible for washing dishes should rinse them in a double sink, then place them into racks on a small landing area next to the sink. From the landing area, the racks full of dishes are put through the commercial dishwasher, then placed on a table for drying. The size and capacity of your dishwasher will depend on the needs of your operation.
Receiving and inventory storage spaces will take up to about 8 percent of your total space. These areas should be located so they’re accessible to delivery vehicles. Use double doors at your receiving port, and always keep a dolly or hand truck available. Locate your dry-storage area and walk-in refrigerator and freezer adjacent to the receiving area.
Because most food-service businesses require employees, you should also have a private room for them that includes a table, a few chairs, a closet or garment rack (to hang coats and street clothes after staffers have changed into their work clothes), lockers for safe storage of personal belongings and valuables and a restroom. The staff facility should not take up more than 5 percent of your total space.
You’ll also need a small area where you or your manager can perform administrative tasks, such as general paperwork, bank deposits and counting out cash drawers. This space is essential even if you have another office at home where you do the majority of your administrative work.
Casters are special housings that include wheels and they facilitate those wheels being attached to equipment. Many people interchange the terminology of wheels and casters as meaning the same thing and for the most part that works out to be accepted. However, when we want to really analyze the subject of casters, it is important to break them down into all of the important components. Components such as the wheel, the tread of the wheel, the barring that make the wheel spin, the mounting plate, and even how the wheel locks and swivels are important to know and understand.
A caster is simply designed for mobility of equipment. The equipment needs to be mobile, whether it sits in a corner of a commercial kitchen and only needs to be moved for easy access for cleaning, or if it’s a large banquet cabinet that needs to be loaded onto trucks and moved to off-site locations. These two applications require different consideration when it comes to wheel tread, hubs, and bearings. A caster that supports equipment without being moved very often can tend to get flat spots from sitting still, so a wide dense tread with bearings that require little to no maintenance is best. Adversely, equipment that will be pushed over thresholds, bumps and gravel, roll well with a soft tube-less semi-pneumatic tread, with Zerk grease lubricated raceways and bearings.
The environment the equipment is in can play a large part in your purchasing decision as well. The bulk food warming cabinet that hangs out in the corner of a commercial kitchen needs a caster that can roll on the smooth surfaces of the kitchen floor while being resistant to the cleaning agents that are used when cleaning those floors. Some applications, such as in healthcare patient meal delivery, need casters that can roll around hushed environments on equipment that must be as quiet and tranquil as possible. These delivery cabinets, in the highly sanitized healthcare facilities, are commonly spray washed inside and out. Without the properly sealed bearings, the casters will become corroded from the cleaning.
Size matters but bigger are not always better. If the cabinet is one that will be sliding in and out from under a counter, being sure to pick the correct size caster will be paramount in your decision. It should also be known that typically the larger the wheel diameter is the easier it will roll. Remember this terminology for the size of your caster; Wheel Diameter – This is the distance measured vertically from one side of the tread to the other, Tread Width – The distance measured laterally across the tread, Overall Height – the total distance the caster raises the cart of the ground from the tread to the fastener plate. Generally, the larger the casters are, the higher the load capacity they can carry. This becomes spread out across all of the casters, so if you have typically four casters on your cabinet, you will divide your total weight across the four casters. Assuming you have a cabinet that weighs 100lbs and it has a load weight of 900lbs, your total weight would be 1000lbs. As stated before, this weight will be divided by each caster giving you a total of 250lbs per caster.