The shortage of skilled kitchen staff won’t end anytime soon and wages will never come down. So stop waiting for miracles and change the way your kitchen operates. How can two cooks do the work done by three? Or two kitchen hands handle the work of four? You’ll also need to take a hard look at your menu and redesign laborious processes. Here are some of the options.

Utilise your combi oven

With different sizes available, combi ovens increase the quality of roasts, function menus and all the food you serve on a busy shift. The combination of heat and moisture cooking reduces waste and provides total control when it comes to time and temperature. Plus, pre-set controls mean almost anyone can use them. Ask the supplier to send out their chefs who will be able to show you the maximum potential of the machines.

Consider a conveyor oven

It’s hard to go wrong with a conveyor oven and they can be used for a lot more than just pizza. Consulting chef Paul Rifkin says they are his number one recommendation for handling a busy kitchen with semi-skilled staff. Bear in mind that menu items will need to be designed around the equipment.

Invest in a speed oven

These ovens create hot meals from cold ingredients at the touch of a button. You’ve seen speed ovens at work toasting rolls at Subway — they’re a combination of a microwave and a convection oven. The timer makes ensures nothing gets burnt and most food is ready in 30 seconds.

Clean smart

Cutlery polishers will halve the time it takes to dry and polish knives, forks and spoons. One staff member can do the work of three, and everyone goes home earlier. The same applies with reverse osmosis or self-polishing glass washers. If you’re doing large numbers, the latest conveyor dishwashers include a pre-rinse setting to help lift stubborn stains.

Control workflow and timing

It’s time to make the POS ordering process visible in the kitchen and say goodbye to paper dockets. Large screens that show orders together let you track the flow and production time — the whole process is available in one view. Individual screens can be made available for different sections. Data shows where managers should make roster changes and identifies bottlenecks.

Separate preparation and service

Do you still expect prep to be done during the morning shift? If you have the volume, work your space 20 hours a day with a special 4am production shift that gets all the slicing, cutting, desserts and baking done before the day shift arrives. The service shift can arrive fresh and ready to serve food without having to worry about prep — different skills for different tasks.

This story originally appeared in Hospitality’s March issue. Subscribe here.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *