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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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6 Things You Can Learn from Thomas Keller

We've all heard the story before about the famous chef who got his or her start as a dishwasher. Even the country's most decorated chef can tell that story.

In a recent article in Forbes, Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame sat down to discuss his past and how it has carried him into the future. Like so many in the foodervice industry -- and even those in the workforce at large -- Keller worked his way up from a small, entry-level position, and he learned a lot along the way.

Starting as a dishwasher, or the "dish pit" as Keller calls it, he put in his time and learned some valuable lessons that eventually led him to culinary immortality. Those lessons were summarized by Shep Hyken in the Forbes article.

STAY ORGANIZED

Even in the "dish pit," it's important to develop and adhere to a process. When things get busy, you'll be happy you have a system in place. The other option is to get behind and fail. Know where everything belongs. Even dishwashers can have a system of mise place.

BE EFFICIENT

Rooted in organization, efficiency is often data-driven. How many plates can you clean in an hour? Being efficient is to get the most out of what you have, and this will ultimately save you time, effort, and money.

LISTEN FOR FEEDBACK

Feedback is much more than just positive or negative affirmations. It can also be a lesson as to how to become more organized and more efficient. Feedback isn't just external, either. With an honest and critical eye, we can also self-evaluate in ways that will lead to greater success. Be disciplined enough to be honest when you can do better work.

BE CONSISTENT

Rituals are an opportunity to define habits that are rooted in discipline. Doing the same things day in, day out provides an element of consistency that can translate to how well we do our work. There's even ritual in the process of dishwashing.

RINSE AND REPEAT

Both literally and figuratively, repetition is critical -- and it's different from ritual. Repetition is the act of doing the same thing over and over again, the actual task. Ritual is a larger set of processes in which a task is repeated. As Keller says, many say practice makes perfect, but "perfect practice makes perfect" might be closer to the truth.

BE A TEAM PLAYER

Every single staff member is part of a team. Everyone depends on everyone else, even the dishwasher. Especially the dishwasher. Though a clean plate in a fine dining establishment like The French Laundry might be expected and often unnoticed, you can be sure a dirty plate would garner some attention. Everyone has an important job to do.

These are lessons for the kitchen and for life.

Every foodservice operation, every organization, and individual within would be wise to consider these nuggets from Thomas Keller.

 

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