Traditionally, stainless steel has been one of the most widely-used materials in commercial kitchens. And there's a reason for that.
What steps should you take to ensure the safety of your foodservice operation?
COVID-19 Basics in the Food Industry
In the midst of this global pandemic, it is critical for our customers to be aware of COVID-19 and what it means for our industry. The coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 disease has made its way across the globe, and it’s having impacts on the foodservice industry that have never been seen before.
First, it’s important to know the coronavirus is spread through direct contact of person to person and airborne droplets. If the virus makes its way onto a surface, it can live anywhere from 24-72 hours.
If someone touches a surface that has been contaminated by someone else with the virus, they can contract it if they do not wash their hands immediately. Washing your hands before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes will kill the virus and the best type of prevention.
More details and guidelines can be found here from the CDC.
When it comes to foodservice on campus, one of the biggest assets is versatile equipment.
What does that mean, specifically? Units that can be moved around, from inside service to events held outside on the quad. Units that can get larger or smaller depending on the crowd size or the available space. Units that can stand up to the wear and tear of campus life while still looking upscale.
The Retail X-Tension from Multiteria is a foodservice counter that can achieve these objectives and more, whether it's on a college campus or outside a high school gymnasium. Let's take a look.
The Multiteria Retail X-Tension allows operators to serve a variety of menu items in a variety of locations. With chalkboard signage, those displays are obvious and enticing and can change from one service to the next. Along with easy setup, which takes 15 minutes or less, operators can move from grab-n-go breakfast in the morning to lunch service in the afternoon to a concession stand outside the basketball game at night.
Snacks, beverages, fruit, and even food warming are all possible with the Retail X-Tension. This menu diversity, when coupled with locational diversity the unit provides, means underused spaces can be turned into profit centers quickly and efficiently. Courtyards, corridors, hallways, outdoor sporting venues, verandas -- they can all become profitable locations.
In terms of design, the Retail X-Tension will fit through any standard-sized doorway, and the extension counter slides out with ease to create an easy setup. As with any foodservice display, lighting is important, and the Retail X-Tension comes with LED overstructure lighting that helps illuminate your food and beverage items. An optional bracket will hold a digital menu monitor for an even more enhanced display.
Ready to speak with an expert about the Multiteria Retail X-Tension? Schedule a free assessment with one of our reps today, and discover all the final benefits to see if they're right for your service.
As you look at the organization of your commercial kitchen, you likely have mise en place front of mind.
This French term for "to put things in place" is a method that helps chefs prepare ingredients and organize equipment in anticipation of a busy service.
In order to execute an effective mise en place strategy, it is important to have the right equipment. With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside offers a diverse product line. This product line, along with collaboration with end-users and foodservice consultants, allows Lakeside to provide its customers with the equipment they need. Lakeside offers three mise en place solutions to help set your kitchen up for success.
Read on to learn more about how our mise en place stations can help optimize your kitchen's efficiencies.
Lakeside Mise En Place Carts
Lakeside's three mise en place stations offer a number of great features. Each model includes a stainless steel top frame built to hold a full-size pan. It can also accommodate smaller pans with standard inserts or a cutting board.
The cart has integrated handles on both sides, allowing it to hold a 1/3 pan or two 1/6 pans. A detachable speed rail with an integrated towel bar allows you to use the carts to arrange and hold the ingredients for your mise en place, including spices, seasonings, bottles, and sauces.
All models are ADA compliant so can be used by any member of your staff.
This model can be moved and adjusted as needed for your space. It includes a cantilevered H-base with four small casters that are all-swivel with brakes. This enables the cart to roll under ranges for optimal use and storage options. Adding to its versatility, Model 140 is 21x38 inches but has an adjustable-height top, so it to be modified to suit your needs.
This mise en place cart is Lakeside's classic model. It has an overall size of 17.5 x 38 x 35 inches and includes four 3.5 inch casters that swivel.
If you are concerned about shipping costs and are confident in your assembly abilities, you can consider opting for Model 145. This offers the same, classic set-up as Model 146 but comes unassembled, reducing costs associated with shipping and storage. We know some people just like building things, so with our easy-to-follow instructions, it should be a sinch!
Benefits of Lakeside Carts
Each of the Lakeside mise en place carts assists you in providing menu innovation without compromising the existing kitchen layout. Efficient layout will allow the chefs in your commercial kitchen to organize ingredients and equipment in a way that makes the most sense for their process. The carts are also versatile, perfect for tableside meal prep and customization.
Lakeside mise en place carts will enable chef and staff in commercial kitchens to:
- Organize cooking equipment and utensils;
- Peel, wash, chop, or dice vegetables;
- Trim and portion meat;
- Prepare fish fillets; and
- Keep spices close at hand
The above are just suggestions. The beauty of Lakeside mise en place carts is that how they are used can be unique to each member of the kitchen staff. In addition to organization, mise en place carts also promote menu planning, inventory management, and kitchen cleanliness.
Contact Lakeside Today
Whether you know exactly which mise en place carts are right for your kitchen or you need help strategizing the best fit, Lakeside is here to help. If you don't see exactly what you need, we are happy to work with you to develop exactly what you need by modifying a standard product or specially designing a product for your unique application
Uniformity is important when it applies to the food coming out of your commercial kitchen. You want everyone to experience the same beautifully plated food and your diners expect food that tastes the same as it did the last time they tried it.
Unfortunately, the people preparing that food are not uniform in size and stature. The same countertop that is comfortable for a 5' 6" prep cook can cause a 6' 2" cook to hunch over in pain. The one-height-fits-all set up typically found in commercial kitchens isn't ergonomically sound. In fact, it's frequently the cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain.
The High Cost of Poor Ergonomics
Muscle strain resulting from a hunched position may result in employee absences or even Workman's Compensation claims. According to a study done by the University of California's Ergonomics Project Team, food preparation was one of the five areas chosen as being at most risk of ergonomic-related injuries. Those injuries were very common and often severe due to the nature of working in a kitchen. It's frequently quite physical, involving awkward positions, physical exertion, and repetitive motions. All of these factors increase the chances of employee injuries.
The Ergonomics Project Team based their choice of the five areas on:
- Analysis of the various tasks being performed
- Direct observation coupled with front line experiences at different locations
- Analysis of Workers' Compensation claims
- Literature review
One of their suggestions for reducing the risk of ergonomic-related injuries was to: "Adjust the height of work surfaces to better fit individual employees." Wow, we could have told them that! So could any kitchen worker whose height doesn't match that of standard countertops.
Uncomfortable Workstations Impact Productivity
It's hard for employees to focus on the task at hand if they're in pain. Just being uncomfortable can negatively impact their efficiency and productivity. It can also increase their chances of injuring themselves. A user-friendly kitchen keeps employees' comfort and efficiency at the forefront of its design.
Designing workstations that make your employees' comfort and safety a priority improves workplace morale while increasing efficiency and productivity. Providing workstations that are as varied in height as your employees will make many jobs easier to accomplish and more comfortable. That, in turn, can reduce employee stress.
It will also improve productivity since ergonomic design is all about helping employees complete the most tasks in the shortest time with the least amount of effort. An ergonomically-designed kitchen is better for your employees and better for your bottom line!
Finding the Right Solution
At home, you can simply stack cutting boards or stand on a step stool as a temporary solution to an uncomfortable counter height. However, neither of those home kitchen hacks are feasible for a busy commercial kitchen. In fact, they could be downright dangerous!
Solutions for commercial kitchens involve creating workstations of varying heights. These can include the standard countertops, perhaps installed at varying heights. Mise en place carts, work tables with adjustable legs, and utility carts of different heights are other options for flexible workstations that will fit a range of employee heights and statures.
Any height differential solution should also include Lakeside's cutting board riser. This stainless steel riser elevates a prep station to a comfortable working height. Slide a waste pan into the open end for easy cleanup or use it for storage. The cutting board riser even features a handy recessed lift handle to make it easier to move between stations. Its sleek, stylish design allows it to double as a culinary display riser when it isn't needed in the kitchen. Having several of these versatile risers on hand will allow you to make full use of all of their great features.
Cutting Board Riser
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 stations, utility 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!