Not all hotels offer meals; some only serve breakfast. Others have one or more restaurants integrated into the hotel and offer room service as well. Small hotels can survive with not much more than a household kitchen provided, of course that it meets the health and safety regulations of the state. Bigger hotels need bigger kitchens and more equipment. Whatever the size, every hotel kitchen needs the basics – somewhere to prepare the food, somewhere to cook it, somewhere to store it and a place to clean up.
The bigger the kitchen, the more carefully it needs to be planned. Large kitchens serving hundreds of dishes a day need to have different stations for each function, each with its specialized staff, equipment and supply line. At the same time, the ingredients need to move smoothly to where they need to be and the finished dishes need to move out as soon as possible after they are ready. All this needs to happen without the salad chef tripping over the dishwasher, or the pastry chef bumping into the grill.
The complexity of the arrangement will be affected by the complexity of the menu. A restaurant that offers a large menu may need several ovens, a range, a deep-fryer, a sauté station, a grill, coolers and freezers, as well as the smaller pieces of equipment like blenders, pots and pans and cutting tools.
Here are 10 tips for an efficient hotel kitchen:
- Plan, plan, plan. Visit other hotel kitchens and see what works and what doesn’t. Imagine where the different stations will go and how staff will move from one area to another. Determine the line dishes will follow from chef to table. Pay careful attention to preparation and clean-up areas. Know what your menu will be so that you can include sufficient stations.
- Buy the best equipment you can afford, but don’t buy more than you need.
- Recruit and train excellent staff. Again, don’t hire more kitchen workers than you need.
- Only invest in gadgets that actually enhance your efficiency. Some favourites among chefs are:
- Top choice among chefs is the popular grater inspired by a basic woodworking rasp. It is an easy way to grate hard cheeses, chocolate, ginger nutmeg and garlic.
- Knives of all kinds. Some prefer serrated edges, others prefer ceramic knives. They must be durable and easy to keep sharp.
- A digital scale, which offers easy and accurate measurements, essential for consistent quality of recipes.
- A spice grinder for the freshest, most authentic tasting spices.
- Colour-coded flexible cutting mats. By using only blue mats for fish or yellow ones for vegetables, and so on, the chefs can avoid possible cross-contamination while easily transferring chopped materials to a bowl or cooking pan.
- Chefs prepare, chop and measure their ingredients before starting to cook. Small glass dishes are perfect for this task. Many are needed.