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Mise En Place: Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Mise En Place - Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Life in a commercial kitchen can be fast, hectic, and stressful.

Having a well-stocked and organized kitchen can go a long way to ensure the kitchen's smooth operation, which will ultimately lead to happier guests and greater profitability. One way that commercial foodservice operations can optimize for efficiency is by preparing stations with mise en place best practices.

What is Mise En Place?

Most lovers of food will agree that cooking is an art, and it requires the same amount of intentionality that a painter would bring to a creation. Mise en place is a French term that translates to "to set up" or "to put things into place." In practice, mise en place is the preparation of food and organization of equipment before a chef begins to cook. Mise en place serves a crucial role in the cooking process, similar to an artist who sets up his palette with different hues of paint before beginning to work on a canvas.

It is unclear how long mise en place has been around in the culinary world, but it likely dates back to the late 1800s. Regardless of when it originated, it is a strategy that chefs take incredibly seriously. Some go so far as to call it a religion, while others have it tattooed on their bodies.

An effective mise en place strategy allows culinary professionals to coordinate labor and materials while promoting focus and self-discipline. To get the maximum benefit out of mise en place, a chef should be able to navigate his or her workstation blindfolded.

Preparing Mise En Place

Every chef in a commercial kitchen will have their own strategy for executing mise en place. At its core, however, this plan will center on ensuring that kitchen tools and ingredients are prepared and organized in the most efficient way to prepare food.

The first step in creating a mise en place plan is to prepare a list. The list should include all the steps, ingredients, and tools necessary to execute the kitchen's tasks. It should detail prep tasks necessary for execution of the dishes.

Next comes organization and preparation. While the exact preparation will depend on the menu, it could include:

  • Gathering and organizing all cooking implements, such as mixing pools, knives, and pans;
  • Washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables;
  • Trimming and portioning meat;
  • Deboning and filleting fish;
  • Measuring spices;
  • Portioning liquids such as broth

Finally, mise en place should include a focus on cleanliness. An organized station will allow chefs to clean as they go.  This ensures that all tools and implements are clean and accessible when they are needed.

Benefits of Mise En Place

The most critical benefit of mise en place is its ability to bring efficiencies to commercial kitchens. Some of the ways mise en place maximizes efficiency include:

  • Planning work in advance: Preparing ingredients and work spaces allow chefs to spot any items that are missing or low in inventory and can plan necessary modifications ahead of time;
  • Streamline the work process: Having all items for a dish prepared and in one location reduces the amount of time a chef must spend moving about the kitchen;
  • Promoting ownership: In a kitchen with multiple stations, each chef can feel in control of and take ownership over the preparation of their station; and
  • Keeping things clean: The theory of "clean as you go" is important in many professional kitchens. Having an organized station allows chefs to more effectively plan for cleaning throughout the cooking process.

Institute Mise En Place in Your Operation

If you are looking to institute or improve the mise en place method in your foodservice operation, Lakeside has the equipment that will allow you to create the most effective and efficient workspaces. Our products including action stationsutility carts, and stationary and mobile kitchen support equipment – all which can be configured to optimize the flow of a commercial kitchen. Contact us today to find out how we can help or check out more on our mise en place cart below.

 

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The Importance of Flexibility in Foodservice

Flexibility is a great way to create happy customers, and it's an even better way to increase profits.

All across the landscape of food and beverage, we're seeing certain types of operations go beyond their traditional services as they look for greater potential. C-stores are becoming more like coffee shops. Coffee shops are gaining fast casual characteristics. Fast casual restaurants are taking on more fine-dining type elements. And all across our industry, cross over is becoming commonplace.

Essentially, it's up to operators to think outside the box. How are they doing this? For starters, they're rethinking common conceptions about food and beverage service times and are coming up with some creative alternatives.

Just because an operation thrives as a high-end coffee shop during the day doesn't mean it has to close its doors at night. A serving cart that provides pastries and cereals for breakfast can also double as a dessert bar at night. Omelet stations for brunch can shift out their service to a pasta station at night. That coffee shop we mentioned? What if it doubled as a cocktail bar at night?

The key here is flexibility -- flexibility in thought, flexibility in concept, flexibility in execution, and the flexibility in the equipment it takes to pull it all off.

MENU VERSATILITY

When it comes to flexible serving options, the first thing to consider is the ability to serve multiple types of menu items from the same location. This means a given piece of real estate can be attractive to customers and guests for greater periods of time. This is the ultimate in flexibility and profitability.

MOBILITY

The next step in flexibility is having the ability to take foods and beverages to the guest instead of the guest needing to come to the operator. Mobile serving stations are an easy way to transform the point-of-sale from point-to-point.

USABILITY

The final aspect of flexibility is to find equipment that is known for its usability. How easy is it to transform a serving cart from breakfast service to lunch? Are carts easy to move? How long does it take to clean? What about service and maintenance? The bottom line is flexibility is only implemented by staff members, so equipment needs to be easy to use.

MISE EN PLACE

For the ultimate in flexibility, consider the Lakeside Mise En Place cart.  It easily transitions from a back-of-house helper to a front-of-house money maker.  Explore ideas and get inspired with more information here.

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Foodservice Equipment Options to Enhance College Foodservice

College and university campuses are big places that require a whole range of different foodservice options.

From students who are on-to-go and short on time to alumni functions that can be so important to fundraising, the ability to provide foodservice to a variety of people in a number of diverse ways can help a college or university stand out. Service isn't always easy, though, and sometimes requires some innovative service solutions.

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The Benefits of Theater Cooking

Theater cooking and open kitchens are becoming a prominent and popular feature in the foodservice industry.

There are many ways that restaurants can incorporate elements of theater cooking, from a completely open kitchen to implementing action stations throughout the restaurant. Here are some benefits to incorporating theater cooking into a dining establishment, as well as some considerations for making this happen.

Highlighting the Dining Experience

Theater cooking brings with it a number of benefits, all of which can result in increased engagement and satisfaction from patrons. As younger demographics place more and more value on experiences, these items will become more and more important.

Provide an Experience

It is not surprising to see experiential dining increase in popularity given the focus Millennials place on dining out and documenting their dining experiences. Theater dining allows visitors to get more than just food for their money. They’re able to engage with the chefs, learn a bit about cooking, and have easy and engaging conversation topics to share with their fellow diners.

The icing on the cake is that theater dining makes for great social media content – for owners and patrons alike. Simply put, with open-style kitchens, dining can be as much about the entertainment as it is about the food.

Be Transparent

Theater dining is more than an experience. It also provides diners assurance that their food is being cooked in a skilled manner and in a clean environment. It also increases engagement between the chef and diners. A study has found that by allowing chefs to view the diners, they become more committed to providing quality food. The ability of chefs to feel the appreciation of the diners increases the quality of the food they produce. 

Save Space

Adopting an open kitchen can provide valuable, additional real estate, which can be critical given the costs of purchasing or renting a restaurant space. Open kitchens eliminate the wasted spaces between the kitchen and dining spaces, which can potentially lead to additional seating around the kitchen. This space-saving can mean the ability to serve many additional diners during each service.

Enhance Appetites

It has been found that seeing and smelling food can increase an individual's appetite. Putting your restaurant’s great food front and center will allow diners to be tantalized by the delicious smells and tempted by all the great food they see being prepared in the kitchen. 

Setting Up Your Open Kitchen

While it’s clear that theater dining can bring valuable benefits to a restaurant, setting up an open kitchen or action stations requires different equipment considerations than a traditional restaurant kitchen. You will need to decide whether to open up the main cooking area or create smaller action stations throughout the restaurant that feature specific food preparations. Operators also need to decide where to locate dishwashing and other functions that aren’t desirable for display.

Once the format of the kitchen is determined, the next step is to analyze the types of foods that will be prepared along with what equipment is required to execute the menu. For example, pizza, bread, and pastries could be well-served by a wood burning oven. A wok range could service a large variety of cooking styles, including Asian, Middle Eastern, and Italian. If you are serving Mexican or traditional American food, a grill or griddle might be a better option. Be sure to consider any regulations for your local areas, such as sanitation and ventilation. Just because you open up the kitchen, this doesn't relieve you of complying with these requirements.

Action stations can also provide a similar type of open-cooking presentation. The difference between action stations and bringing the back-of-the-house to the front is one of mobility. It’s hard to move a kitchen, but action stations can be relocated.

Lakeside Can Help:

With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside is perfectly situated to help you create a theater dining experience perfect for your restaurant. Lakeside offers a diverse product line that supports all your needs, including storing, heating, cooling, and display. We focus on collaboration with customers to find the perfect product solutions.

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Rethinking Counter Space in College Foodservice Dining

Are you maximizing the point-of-sale potential in your college and university dining facilities?

This is the question all foodservice directors should consider, as the point-of-sale is the ideal place to help drive impulse purchases and drive sales. But how? Whether it's a serving line or a pop-up location created to attract those students who don't have a lot of time on their way across campus, there are a few important things to consider when optimizing the point-of-sale.

START WITH APPEARANCE.

Appearances matter. Though the flavor is ultimately the most important factor, it's hard to impress students with flavor unless they're selecting your foods in the first place. The easiest way to do this is to remember we first eat with our eyes.

When you spruce up your countertop and serving lines with décor, seasonal ambiance, or attractive displays, students will be more apt to buy. Try to highlight concepts like freshness and cleanliness.  Use items that are interesting and texturally different, or props with enhanced, current styles that they can identify with.

Lighting can play a big role, as well. When you use high-quality lights like LED overhead lighting, food colors will look sharper when compared to lighting that is muted and dull. Lighting showcases your product and makes it appetizing. And remember, we live in a world of #instafood. Amongst today's demographics, this isn't just reserved for fine dining.

USE SIGNS.

Signs can serve multiple purposes. First and foremost, they provide direction. Where does the line begin? Where do I pay? What are they serving in this kiosk? These are all basic questions that students ask, and with signs, they can be answered from across the room allowing students to focus on the real decisions -- menu selection -- once they're in closer proximity.

Signs also create ambiance, tone and style. More and more, college and university dining is going away from the stereotypical serving line. Where are the trends heading? Food courts, food halls, and anything that helps make a location look like an off-campus restaurant. That's what signs can help achieve.

SAVE SPACE FOR MERCHANDISING.

Lastly, don't forget about the power of merchandising on your countertops and pop-up, kiosk-type spaces. Think about how foods are arranged. Make sure they're organized and not overcrowded, but still maintaining the appearance of abundance that's so important in food displays. The neater and more organized, the easier it will be for time-strapped students to find what they're looking for, and even not what they're looking for. In other words, go for the impulse sale.

When it comes to merchandising, don't forget the beverages, either. Beverage displays or dispensers can lead to add-on purchases, or they can be the reason for the visit in the first place. Either way, beverages are an important part of the overall merchandising strategy.


Are you looking for more information on how to maximize the potential of your college and university pop-up dining spaces? Lakeside can provide great insight into some other things to consider, as well as some equipment options that can help put them in action.


Get the Top Tips that Turn Your Underused
Spaces into Revenue Generating Venues!

Your student body is always busy, always on-the-go.  From tests and papers, to attending the "big game," and even participating in sports at all levels, they barely have time to get a decent meal.  When it comes to foodservice, you need to catch them in places outside of your normal venues. This is where our set of quick tips can help you out.  This brief guide will get you thinking "outside of the box."  You'll be able to see hidden, underutilized spaces where you can bring foodservice to new places on your campus. Download it today!

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Does Your College or University Foodservice Program Include These 7 Components?

Does Your College or University Foodservice Program Include These Six Components?

For college and university foodservice programs to succeed, they should consider seven important components.

After all, college students have enough to stress about as it is. Finding a high-quality, convenient place to eat should be the least of their concerns. Chewing on pencils just isn't going to cut it.

In terms of foodservice, it's critical for college and university directors to consider the actual needs of the students, including where, when, what, and how much time a student might have. Essentially, putting themselves in the shoes of the students they serve.

According to the National Association of College and University Food Services, this translates to seven different components in a campus foodservice operation. Let's briefly go through each of them here:

DINING HALLS

Dining halls are the standard-bearer when it comes to eating in college. Typically, they include several serving counters, are organized in buffet options, and provided a variety of choices to hungry diners. But whether you're serving John Belushi at Faber College or a current student at your local state school, the dining hall is critical as a place for choice and as a gathering spot.

FOOD COURTS

Speaking of choice, a food court is the evolution of the dining hall concept. They are similar because they offer choice and variety, typically in a tray-service type environment. They are different, though, typically in terms of branding and name identity. While a dining hall is often branding singularly as a university foodservice operation, a food court might contain popular fast casual chains or at the very least have food options displayed in a more branded fashion.

MARKETPLACES

Think of a marketplace as the retail option where students can go on campus. Typically, these will include foods to be prepared in the dorm room kitchen, but they don't have to be just prepare-at-home foods. Like grocery stores off-campus, prepared foods have a place in campus marketplaces, as well.

EXPRESS UNITS

Express-type options are typically kiosk, grab-n-go locations that eliminate traditional point-of-sale barriers. Designed for students who are running to catch their next class across campus. They're designed with time in mind.

COFFEE SHOPS AND JUICE BARS

More than any other type of foodservice component on this list, coffee shops and juice bars exist for academic purposes. Essentially, they're like on-campus libraries with a more vibrant atmosphere, and with food and beverage options. Like express units, they're designed with time in mind but for the exact opposite reasons. Aside from the quick cup of joe, students in coffee shops typically have time.

SIT DOWN RESTAURANTS

It's parents weekend. Students want to take their moms and dads out for a nice sit-down restaurant. Why should they have to leave campus? The answer is, they shouldn't. A sit down, full-service restaurant provides students with a nice place to take their parents, where faculty can take visiting guests for lunch, and were students can splurge when they have the tie and money.

CONVENIENCE STORES

Last but not least, we have the on-campus c-store. Typically smaller than a campus marketplace but larger than express units, the convenience store as a quick place -- nearby -- that provides students with all the basics, including limited prepared food options.

Does your college or university foodservice program offer all seven of these components?

Providing such a wide range of service greatly enhances the probability that students will stay on campus and participate in a campus foodservice program. The goal is to provide food options that are convenient in terms of location, menu options, and time.

Because these options are so different in terms of their delivery methods -- from grab-n-go merchandisers to buffet serving lines and pretty much everything in between -- the equipment required to make them successful is also different.


Download Your Copy of Our "C&U Tips Sheet" Below!

Your student body is always busy, always on-the-go.  From tests and papers, to attending the "big game," and even participating in sports at all levels, they barely have time to get a decent meal.  When it comes to foodservice, you need to catch them in places outside of your normal venues. This is where our set of quick tips can help you out.  This brief guide will get you thinking "outside of the box."  You'll be able to see hidden, underutilized spaces where you can bring foodservice to new places on your campus. Download it today!

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One Key Factor to Successful College Dining Programs

To understand what makes a college and university dining program successful, we should probably take a quick visit to a college campus.

Specifically, let's go to Princeton University, where two psychologists conducted an experiment with the students in the seminary school. Essentially, they were trying to determine what motivates people, what are the driving forces behind our actions, and why we choose one option over another.

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4 Factors Impacting College Foodservice

More than just about any other industry, foodservice tends to change in shorter periods of time.

Changes in college and university foodservice operations are no different. Like restaurants, hospitality, and other types of foodservice operations, college campuses are prone to trends, shifts in demographics, and all the other factors that impact our industry.

So what are the influences that are changing the landscape of college and university foodservice? What do directors need to consider to stay ahead of these changes? And, ultimately, what can programs do to keep students on campus for dinner?

Let's take a quick look at a few ideas:

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS MEAN CHANGING MENUS.

As we've already detailed in a different blog, demographics are changing on college campuses. With a more divergent student body population stemming from a more diverse nation, in addition to the numbers of international students many colleges and universities host, menus need to reflect the demographics of those they serve. To generate more relevant and appealing menus, use a survey to help understand where your students are coming from and what they prefer to eat.

Beyond ethnic preferences, directors also need to consider health challenges. Religious dietary restrictions as well as the rise of food allergies, intolerances and food-related illnesses like Celiac disease makes it imperative that foodservice operators provide ingredient-sensitive options for those students who can't eat certain foods. Gluten free, nut free, dairy free, and dietary restrictions aren't just a matter of preference. They can actually be a matter of safety and well-being.

LABOR IS A HUGE CHALLENGE.

It's becoming harder to find, train, and retain great foodservice employees. This also holds true for college cafeterias and dining halls. Sure, there's always a pool of college students looking to pay tuition or just wanting some extra spending money, but often they can make more by working in the restaurant across the street.

To make jobs more appealing, C&U operators have become very creative in offering benefits for working on campus. Many schools offer free meals, discounted meal plans, scholarship opportunities as well as career incentives and student management programs.

Increasingly, technology is also playing a huge role in spearheading these challenges. From online ordering and delivery, to digital touchscreen menus on-site, technology and automated kitchens are helping operators deal with these various new labor challenges.

STUDENTS DEMAND TRANSPARENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY.

Today's student populations are more connected to their food supplies than ever before. They care about where food comes from, how it's grown or raised, and how it impacts the environment as a whole. Health is a keyword when it comes to today's students, but it can be taken in different contexts. Health means eating healthier foods such as a more vegetarian-focused diet, as well as environmental health in reducing the impacts dining can have.

"They [students] care about where food comes from, how it's grown or raised, and how it impacts the environment as a whole. Health is a keyword when it comes to today's students, but it can be taken in different contexts.

 

AFFORDABILITY WILL ALWAYS MATTER.

There's an oversimplified way to look at college and university foodservice, but it's true nonetheless. The more a university invests in its foodservice delivery, the better its service will be. At the same time, it's extremely challenging to keep foods affordable.

General convictions say a college should keep foods as low-cost as possible in order to accommodate student populations, but because of some of the menu preferences and requirements listed above, operations are not always as low-cost as they used to be.

One way to combat this is to provide levels of service that not only speak to a diverse student body, but also to the locations and the times that students are able to eat. To meet these student dining demands, it's important to utilize other profit centers like on-campus convenience stores or grab-n-go kiosks. Adjusting services and hours of operation during different day-parts is another way to control costs and still provide the services expected.

There are many factors that are already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our College and University Trends Report that lists all of the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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How Demographics Are Impacting College and University Foodservice

Gone are the days of a college dining programs expecting to attract students just because it's located on campus.

Today's college students have smarter, savvier culinary preferences, and it's causing university foodservice operators to change their game to keep them on campus instead of crossing the street for something better. C&U operators understand that many students have the disposable income to dine off-campus.  Therefore, they must be competitive with both the variety and quality of their food offerings to keep them on campus.

However, what does "better" mean, and how do demographics drive it?

For starters, it's all focused on Generation Z, the largest demographic segment in the history of humankind. Based on Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data, Gen Z will comprise roughly one-third of the entire global population this year, edging out Millennials as the largest demographic for the first time.

Depending on which source your reference, a quick scan of the internet shows the following Gen Z character traits:

  • Less use of television
  • Hyper aware - they know what's going on all of the time
  • More focused on products versus experiences
  • Entrepreneurial and competitive
  • Motivated by security
  • Digital natives, having grown up with connectivity
  • Diverse and multicultural

So based on just a cursory review of Gen Z, how do their likes and dislikes, and general characteristics translate to college and university foodservice? How are they changing menus and service delivery? What hot flavor profiles do they crave?

Let's take a look.


If you're interested in the trends that will impact your foodservice program the most this year, download our e-report today!

 


ETHNIC FOODS

If Gen Z is the most diverse and multicultural generation in our nation's history, it goes without saying our college dining centers should reflect that. Additionally, college and university campuses are often filled with international students and faculty, giving on-campus dining facilities a greater reason to include ethnic and multi-cultural menu options. Flavor trends will certainly change from year to year, but the fact they're becoming more diverse will not.

PLANT-BASED FOODS

Gen Z is eating healthier for themselves and the world at large. They're looking for better ways to engage in sustainable practices, and food choices are a large part of those efforts. From salad bars to meatless burgers, college and university foodservice directors enjoy a growing list of products and ingredients that make it easier to provide meat-free meals. Plant-based or vegan menus also assist in keeping food cost at a reasonable level. Animal proteins are typically more expensive than plants and plant-based menus are better for the planet.

SUSTAINABILITY

Yes, we just mentioned sustainability to some degree by mentioning plant-based meals, and yes, we've already talked about sustainability on college and university campuses in a previous blog, but we cannot overstate how important sustainable practices are to Generation Z. From fresh and local sourcing, to sustainable seafood and antibiotic-free proteins, this generation cares about clean, sustainable food more than any in history.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Though some say Gen Z is more concerned with a quality product than a quality experience, when it comes to dining, experiences still matter. Eating isn't just about feeling full or accessing nourishment; it's about finding a place to unwind, to socialize, and having a sense of community, an important aspect of college life that can often be so difficult to find for those who are new to campus.

"There's school or work and there's home, but how do you create this kind of third-place getaway?" asks Costel Coca, a design principal at Anaheim-based Webb Foodservice Design in an article in Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine. "That's what companies like Starbucks have done so effectively, and that's where much of college and university dining is headed," he says. "When we start thinking about kitchens and foodservice, we're now starting with the experience and the story we want to tell in the facility before getting to its functional aspects. It's about a couple of key factors. One is a desire to create a neighborhood vibe, and that's being done, in part, via micro restaurants. We're designing restaurants more than we are food stations, and there's a heightened focus on the aesthetic value of the facility."

TECHNOLOGY

Generation Z is one of the digital natives, essentially meaning they were raised with smartphones from the very beginning. They've been "connected" their entire lives. With this level of technology usage comes an expectation that technology should make our lives easier, and this mentality extends to foodservice. From mobile ordering to convenient pick-up, the next generations expect technology to play a major role in how they eat. Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Demographics is just one of many factors that's already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our e-report that lists the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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Webinar: 7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice

In this 30 min. mini-webinar (20 mins. with 10 mins Q&A), Nancy Lane discusses the top seven trends that will impact college and university foodservice programs in the upcoming year. Here are the topics she covers.

7 Top Trends

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

Recording of Webinar


 

PDF of Presentation

PDF of Our "C&U Foodservice Trends & Solutions" e-Report

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched the 7 top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  For additional ideas, download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!