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.
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.”
Unless you’re eating sushi, no one wants undercooked fish. The amount of time it takes to cook fish depends on the type of fish you’re cooking, the size of the fish and the method that you’re using.
Methods, such as baking, sauteing, broiling, poaching and steaming, follow a 10-minute rule. For baking, set the oven to about 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Determine how thick the fish fillet or whole fish is at its thickest point. For every inch, plan for 10 minutes of cook time. So, if your fillet is 1/2 inch thick, you’ll need about five minutes.
Use the 10-minute rule for stuffed or rolled fish, too. Simply measure right before you put the fish in the oven, when the fish is completely prepped.
Turn the fish approximately halfway through the cooking time. But, if the fish is thin — less than 1/2 inch thick — turning is unnecessary.
The fish is safe to eat once it’s reached an internal temperature of 145 F when you insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest portion. Thin fillets — such as sole — can be visually inspected for doneness.
For fish that’s cooked en papillote, wrapped in foil or parchment paper, or in a sauce such as curried fish, add five minutes to the cook time. If you’re cooking fish straight from a frozen state — double the cook time. For example, a 1/2-inch steak needs 10 minutes.
A fish with pink or white flesh will appear opaque rather than translucent when fully cooked. The flesh should feel firm, but still look and feel moist. If you’re not sure, use a fork to break into the fillet. The meat should easily flake. Avoid overcooking fish as it dries out easily.
Fish steaks, including salmon and swordfish, respond well to grilling. They’re firm, so they stand up to the grates and this less precise method of cooking.
Preheat the grill. Ensure your grill is clean or you’ll risk having the fish stick and fall apart during the cooking process.
Place the fish steak directly on the grill in the hottest portion. Sear the outside for1 to 2 minutes per side.
Move the fish steak to a slightly cooler section of the grill to finish cooking. Use the 10-minute-per-inch rule.
If you’re grilling fish that still has skin attached, such as whitefish or coho salmon, place a greased layer of foil over the top of the grates and grill the fish, using the 10-minute rule.
To cook fillets on the grill, wrap them along with seasonings in foil and use the 10-minute rule. You should also wrap whole fish — and the 10-minute rule applies as well. Enhance the flavor of grilled fish with a flavorful marinade.
The pizza market is a huge slice of the restaurant industry, reaching over $38 Billion in 2015 according to PMG Pizza Magazine. Pizzas are flying out of the ovens at an incredible rate as the restaurant industry is forecasted by the NRA (National Restaurant Association) to continue to grow. Millennials are leading the way in pizza purchasing power and Mintel is projecting them to account for 30% of all U.S. retail sales by 2020.
Millennials are a generation of foodies who want pizza, and they want it now. To keep wait times down and quality up, many pizza restaurants are using pizza warming cabinets. These pizza hot boxes are designed to keep pizza hot while maintaining a high quality, service ready product. The millennial foodie is aware of the quality products that are available; They know and seek out new, intense flavors, and textures of artisan dishes.
It’s paramount that pizzerias keep the high-quality product that they are turning out of their kitchens all the way through the sales processes. The investment and efforts that are put into the staple menu item should not be neglected in the few precious minutes before the customer bites into the slice. 80% of what makes that product great, is what happens between the oven and the plate.
Specially designed foodservice equipment such as pizza warmers, or holding cabinets, are made to maintain safe food temperatures while keeping the pizza as hot and fresh as it is right out of the oven. To do this, companies such as FWE / Food Warming Equipment have figured out the ideal temperature and humidity settings specifically for pizza. FWE has found that maintaining and holding pizza at 150°F – 160°F with a relative humidity* of 15% – 20% will keep the pizza at an optimal serving quality.
FWE’s hot holding pizza cabinets come with something very unique in the industry; They have a small removable water pan located by the heating elements and an air circulating fan, that allows for just the right amount of vapor to lift out of the water and humidify the cabinet. This heated holding environment is made with your pizza in mind. Being product specific when designed means they have engineered the correct wattage for food temperature, along with the correct air to moisture levels to maintain product consistency.
As the pizza industry is sure to continue to feed the generations following the millennials, the consumers are going to seek faster service and higher quality. Foodservice solutions are available to help as labor becomes difficult to find, and as customers become more informed and picky. Something as simple as a pizza warmer cabinet can help you get and keep that slice of pizza industry business.
* the amount of water vapor present in air expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature.
Maintenance is being treated as more than an afterthought in today’s restaurants, especially the big chains, and that’s a good thing. The well-maintained restaurant is seen by all as a cleaner, safer place to eat and work.
Here is a Top 10 List to get you on your way to having a properly maintained kitchen:
Read the warranty information supplied with each piece of new equipment to learn what the manufacturer recommends.
Put all literature supplied in a three-ring binder.
Assign the binder to managers and require new managers to review it.
Prepare a one-page maintenance sheet and post it where it will be seen.
List appropriate clean dates and a box to initial and date when cleaning is completed.
Insist that managers pay attention to maintenance schedules.
Post a list of local service agencies, their phone numbers, and which brands they cover.
Upon start-up of a new facility, place a list in the front of the binder containing make, model, serial number and date, along with the service and warranty period for each piece of equipment.
Set up service, cleaning, and inspection programs for all operational equipment with servicing agents.
Set up a regular exhaust hood and duct cleaning program to prevent fires.
It is critical to get staff members involved in your company’s efforts to care for the equipment.
Here are just a few ideas:
Reduce the damage caused by carelessness, abusive behavior, and vandalism by holding the staff accountable for the condition of the equipment when they complete a work shift.
Eliminate dents and gashes caused by carts and mobile equipment by providing adequate clearance around equipment. It’s not smart design to have people transporting items through what seems like a maze.
Protect equipment with rails, guards, and bumpers, which are offered as accessories, for both fixed and mobile appliances.
Catch little problems before they turn into big ones, with a weekly or monthly check of all kitchen workstations. Look for missing screws, damaged or worn wires and cords, bent panels or hinges. Get them corrected promptly.
Make your staff aware of what maintenance costs the restaurant. Make maintenance the topic of some staff meetings, in addition to training sessions. Solicit opinions from the staff about improvements that could be made.
Make an effort to get “clean” utilities—that is, do everything you can to protect equipment from power spikes with surge suppressors; treat or filter incoming water and air.
Katsigris, Costas, and Chris Thomas. Design and Equipment for Restaurants and Foodservice: A Management View. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. Print.
George Zawacki, senior associate, Cini-Little International, Inc. First appeared in Equipment Solutions, a publication of Talcott Communications Corp., Chicago, Illinois (March 2004).
There are less and less bodies coming through that revolving door to staff your kitchen. It’s not just your operation; it’s all over the industry. Skilled labor that not only comes to work but stays at work is rare. You’re probably already trying to figure out how to do more with less because frankly you are forced to. The quality employees that you do have are performing more and more tasks as fewer team members are around to pick up the slack. Stress is boiling over and the bad moral is showing its effects. If you can’t fix the lack of labor issue, you may want to consider looking into foodservice equipment that can cut down on labor time, stress, and save you money while doing it all.
It will take an investment, so when you make that investment, do your due diligences. Find equipment that has a low operating cost, that has been tested for energy efficiency and will cut down on waste and pay for itself over time. Energy efficiency seems like it’s the last thing that you need to be worrying about, but think about it, if a piece of equipment is designed to earn you more money the longer it’s on, it had better be energy efficient right? In fact, holding cabinets are some of the most energy efficient of any category of major kitchen equipment. Cook and Hold Ovens, Retherm Ovens and hot food holding equipment have a major impact on streamlining your production process of a foodservice facility. Having your menu items ready and on hand to serve, eliminates spikes in production and labor stress during your peak periods of service. The result is less staff hours and lower labor overall costs. Preparing large batches of food ahead of time reduces the employee skill level needed to achieve the same menu as a cook to order production. The longer you can maintain high quality, flavor, and texture of your food while holding, the longer you can utilize that food product without sending it to the waste. This means less food waste due to degradation of food quality and happier more satisfied “yelp friendly” customers as a result.
Large or “full-size” holding cabinets can become a key cog of a reduced touch or reduced labor foodservice production process. There is a whole spectrum of holding cabinet sizes available that will assist you with the different applications in your operation. Pans of food can be removed from fryers, steamers or ovens and be placed directly into holding cabinets in order to avoid a cook/chill process.
Cooking with the intent to hold results in a more efficient production that often eliminates the need for some additional cooking equipment and staff. The staff that is on hand, are now free to focus on service, so more orders can be taken with less labor during peak meal times. Foodservice labor issues in commercial kitchens are forecasted to continue for the foreseeable future. Stay positive and explore your options, your employees and pocketbook will thank you.