Sammic Kitchen Bridge

Sammic kitchen bridge

Recently I had the truly amazing privilege to be a part of a culinary culture “bridge”, put together through Sammic, a worldwide manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment and innovations.  As Sammic says in their blog about the event, “A bridge is the nexus that links two paths, two worlds or two cultures; it is an element of communication that brings two distant or opposing points closer together”.  In this case, they successfully built a bridge between the Basque culinary culture, American Chefs, and European manufacturing.

As the name of the program suggests, the goal is to form stronger relationships between industry partners.  The participants of the program ranged from acclaimed chefs, powerhouse foodservice design consultants, to manufacturer representative professionals.  Everyone involved is a culinary leader or trendsetter in the foodservice world.  And here I was, soaking up everything I could under the warm Spanish sun, many times with a cool sweet Bodega K5 Txakolina (Spanish white wine) in my hand.

Sammic HeadquartersSammic began the program with a tour of their factory headquarters in Azkoitia Spain, a small town of about 11 thousand people, located in the autonomous community of Basque Country.  The first impression you have is how absolutely stunning the views are that surround the building.  I’m more familiar with factories in the locations that are less desirable for residential building thus being a bit less attractive in nature.  Location may not have the same impact on actual production as many other factors do, however, with Sammics average length of employment being 20 years, the retention rate sure does show how enjoyable it is to work here.  The employees here have a lot of pride in the products they manufacture,Sammic Sous Vide Training and to ensure a high standard is kept up, the workforce is self-managed and has employee ownership.  As the group strolled through the many areas of the building, showroom, R&D labs, production, engineering, and sales offices, it was very apparent that the culture of Basque Country lives strong at Sammic.  The employees here are proud hard working professionals who find joy in providing quality equipment around the world.

Once the formalities of the tour ended, the fun began.  Chef Enrique Fleischmann heads up the culinary team at Sammic, he is the executive chef of two highly rated local restaurants and a leading culinary resource for Sous Vide cooking.  Chef Fleischmann greeted the team in the culinary innovations center of the building.  Sous Vide circulators, vacuum machines and an assortment of Sammic food preparation equipment was being operated by his team of professional chefs who are integrated with the development of new Sammic products.  Their chefs engaged with demonstrations on sous vide techniques and gastronomic techniques.  The food was incredible and the education was second to none.  Many times, when cooking via Sous Vide, chefs become almost hyper-focused on a particular way of doing things.  Enrique and his team showed a plethora of ways to accomplish refined menu ideas.  As the demonstrations were winding down, Sammics management team presented the acclaimed chef’s, Josiah Citrin, Paul Kahan and Ilan Hall, a gift of custom engraved Smart Vide 8’s, the most top of the line Sous Vide calculators available.  The circulators have Bluetooth HACCP tracking capability, remote wireless operations, precision probe capability, and the most durable stainless steel design on the market.

Sammic

Now that the appetite has been peaked, it was time for lunch.  The group was now shuttled through the beautiful Basque countryside to a Gastronomic Society in Azpeitia.  The theme of sharing good food and enjoying time with family and friends is at the center of everything here in the Basque Country.  A Gastronomic Society reminds me most of something between a midwest supper club, and a classic cigar club.  A small kitchen and dining area are owned by a privet group of people, usually men, who share in cooking together and enjoying each others company.  It’s almost like a Sunday dinner with the family but rather than just mom cooking, everyone is in the kitchen sharing in the experience.  Since food is so important in this region, sharing it with guests is so very intimate of a process.  As we sat down to a large table that was filled end to end with delicious bite-sized portions of food called Pintoxs, more commonly known as tapas in the states.  This was the first time we all as a group of chefs, consultants and manufacturers had a chance to sit down and get to know each other.  You could not dream of a better icebreaker than wine, fresh anchovy, and my new favorite food, tortilla.

TortillaA tortilla in Basque Country isn’t the same as you expect from the US, it’s actually a Spanish omelet.  These omelets are most commonly made by softly cooking, almost boiling, onions and potatoes in oil until they are soft rather than fried.  Once they are finished you remove them from the pan and remove most of the oil, leaving just enough to cook a load of beaten eggs and the potato and onion mixture.  Again, cooking at a lower softer temperature unit the eggs begin to set.  Once they have reached this point, about 5 minutes in, you flip the whole omelet over using a plate to cover the pan and slide the omelet back into the pan from that plate.  Finish cooking for a few minutes and cut it into small shareable servings and you are ready to present your first pintxo!

The pintxo experience is one that will live with me forever, it is as welcoming of a way to eat than you will ever have.  Just like our tortilla pintxo, these small servings are easy to pick up and eat, a common statement in Spain is “eat little bites, a lot!”.  The restaurants and bars in this area all have pintxos out ready for people to enjoy.  This is how it goes, you walk into a small three or four table place with a tiny bar, a few chairs, and are warmly greeted.  You order a beer or wine for a couple of euro, more than likely unable to keep your eyes off of the plates of food displayed out over the bar.  If a particular item looks good, you ask for one and they hand it over.  Each is only a few bites so you can inexpensively taste so many great things while sipping your wine.  The key and I can’t stress this enough to anyone new to pintxos, is to find the best of many places.  You don’t need to spend all of your time in one place, get one or two pintxos and a glass of Txakolina and head next door to the next place.  Meet and greet everyone you see and bathe in the loving culture of Spain.

martin berasateguiAfter our long lunch and tours around the local area, filled with laughter, wine, and bite-sized local delicacies, it was time to get ready for dinner at the three Michelin star restaurant Martin Berasategui.  By this point, our group has been tasting our way through Basque Country only to end up at one of the worlds top restaurants.  In fact, only a few days later, it would be named No.76 on the Worlds Best List, ahead of the famed Perse, and French Laundry.  What was even more special about the meal wasn’t that it luckily landed on my birthday, which it did, but the menu was The Great Tasting Menu 25 Year Anniversary featuring the best and most popular signature dishes of the last 25 years.  13 courses of incredible plates that pushed the boundaries on all of the senses followed by three incredible desserts to finish.  The meal included some amazing personalized touches from the chef such as signed chef coats for our famed chef guests presented by Martin Berasategui himself and a special birthday dessert for me.  An absolutely incredible culinary experience I will cherish for life.

The Kitchen Bridge Program was an extraordinary industry experience that helped build lasting partnerships and friendships while educating us on so many facets of the hospitality world.  I thank Sammic for this experience and look forward to one day returning to Spain to enjoy some more of the culture!

martin berasategui

Advertisements

The Essentials to Consider When Designing and Equipping Your Restaurant

Source: The Essentials to Consider When Designing and Equipping Your Restaurant

OCTOBER 12, 2016

The following excerpt is from The Staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Start Your Own Restaurant and More. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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.

Related: What You Need to Know Before Starting a Food Service Business

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.

Dining area

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.

Related: How to Start a Restaurant

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.

Production area

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.

Related: The Ingredients of Restaurant Success

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.

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory? : The Salt : NPR

The stripped-down look of exposed brick, poured cement floors and Edison light bulbs is popular in restaurants across America. One reporter dares to ask, “Seriously, why?”

Source: Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory? : The Salt : NPR