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How to Infuse Speed Into a Scratch-Made Menu

May 6, 2019
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With healthy and sustainable eating trends on the rise, many chefs are replacing traditionally store-bought ingredients with homemade and homegrown alternatives. This movement, often referred to as hyper-local sourcing, means that more and more restaurants are growing their own produce, brewing their own beer and whipping up kitchen staples the old fashioned way — from scratch.

While this all sounds fine and dandy, even the most experienced chefs would question a homespun, handcrafted menu if it slowed operations significantly. But, it doesn’t haven’t to be that way. If you’re considering a scratch-made menu, the below tips will help accommodate your need for speed!

Take food prep up a notch.
You’d be hard pressed to find a kitchen that doesn’t do some level of food prep before breakfast, lunch or dinner service. Scratch-made menu or not, the practice of “mise en place,” or putting everything in its place, helps chefs and their staff get plates out the door faster. And, when you can’t rely on pre-packaged or store-made ingredients, you need all the extra time you can get. Plan ahead to ensure you have the headcount and time for all that extra chopping, par-cooking, mixing, and other ingredient prep.

Beyond this, take extra measures to ensure your scratch-made menu doesn’t slow you down. For starters, get your inventory right. By prepping the right amount of food in advance, you can prevent staff from scrambling to re-prep ingredients in the middle of service. Also, have an organization strategy. Logically store prepped ingredients by lining them up in the order they go into the dish, making sure you keep all tools and food within reach. Lastly, keep your space tidy, so you’re not zig-zagging to find what you need.

Put training time in upfront.
There’s more to smooth and speedy service than what’s happening in the kitchen. You also need to support the front of the house by educating them about the menu. For example, take the time to do a proper menu rollout where you share information about ingredients, techniques and pairings. Let waitstaff, bartenders and managers taste and experience the food first-hand. While this takes you out of the kitchen momentarily, it’ll save you time in the long run by cutting down on the number of questions and interruptions that come flying into the kitchen.

In addition to educating staff on the menu, you’ll want to lay down a few ground rules. Whether you advocate for more training or you have someone in-house to lead the charge, make sure that front-of-the-house staff has the skills and know-how to keep operations humming along on their end. After all, you can’t spare a hot minute remaking food that sat on the line too long or doubling up on orders that went into the system wrong.

Have the right equipment.
Anyone in foodservice knows that it takes a village. Without hard-working and knowledgeable staff, the food (scratch-made or otherwise) would never make it to the customer. But to support the people that make the whole restaurant business go round, you need to arm them with equipment that’ll help them work more efficiently.

When purchasing new kitchen equipment, look for speed-inducing features like programmable cook settings, easy-to-operate controls, and high-power technologies. Also, consider the versatility of a piece of equipment. If you can accomplish more at a faster pace with one piece of equipment, why wouldn’t you? Take our multi-cavity oven, the Double MiLO®, for example. With its independent top and bottom temperature controls, you can save time by accomplishing two different cooking tasks at once. Talk about multitasking!

Have a need for speed?
At Ovention, we are proud of how we’re revolutionizing the way chefs cook. By bringing an unmatched quality, speed and consistency to cooking, our ovens triple outputs and reduce cooking times by 57%. But that’s not all! Learn more about what we’re cookin’ up by visiting us at oventionovens.com today!