The kitchen can be an intense environment. Order after order getting placed. The mad scramble for the right ingredients to make the perfect dish. The head chef giving orders to ensure that everything tastes exquisite.
In such a rapid and frantic work environment, it’s easy for things to go wrong or not be done with the greatest efficiency. Food ends up getting spoiled and thrown out and the inventory isn’t maintained as well as it could be. With such a cycle between customer and cooking, it can be difficult to keep track of ingredients, meaning that a signature dish can end up getting 86’d much to everyone’s disappointment.
With the intensity and the speed of the kitchen, everything is more difficult to keep track of. So, you’ve walked into your kitchen and completed all of your tasks before customers start walking in and ordering a wide array of good food.
Then the first customer walks in and it’s still slightly relaxed, their order can be made a little slower, but still to the same perfect level that you’re used to. You get the right ingredients, you start frying, everything is going well.
After this something changes.
Five minutes ago you were happily cooking someone’s stir fry and now the heat is unbearable, the speed is faster, someone’s breaking down into tears, there are thousands of orders stuck everywhere. Something has happened. The rush. Which is the best onion to use, now? The one you reach first! You don’t have time to think about the fridge’s temperature, that’s a problem for when everything calms down. You’re running out of pies, how can you be running out of pies?
Then all of a sudden, as soon as it began, it’s over. A single orange rolls across the kitchen floor. A silence descends upon the equipment. The dust and the flour settles. It’s time to tidy up, ready for the next day where it’ll all happen again.
Time in a kitchen either feels plentiful or fleeting. There is no in-between.
So what are the actual problems when everything turns into a mad rush? What’s getting left behind or temporarily forgotten? When the rush happens, getting the food out and making sure everything is safe and clean are the priorities. Certain things can fall by the wayside and plummet down the priority list, only to have to be picked up again later and potentially forgotten about.
Food waste and hygiene
The first thing that may work, but could be done more efficiently is choosing which food to use. If all of your vegetables are in a bag together, you’re more likely to pick up the first ingredient you reach.
If you do this, however, the life cycle of the food hasn’t been tracked as efficiently as it could be. More food spoils which creates more of a hygiene issue. Not only this, but the more food you throw out or compost, the more money wasted on ingredients that never get used.
Also, if the life cycle of food isn’t tracked the consistency of food may differ. There’s “ripe” and there’s “perfect for cooking” and if food is bought in batches but the freshest and best ingredients aren’t always used, you can be left wondering why the lady on table 27 is saying it’s the best meal she’s ever had but the gentleman on table 12 is complaining that it’s too solid.
Keeping track of equipment
Another issue is that there are two different worlds when it comes to maintaining a restaurant. There’s the frantic and exciting cooking for the customers where flames are leaping around and spices are getting pinched and thrown, but there’s also the nitty-gritty of day to day maintenance.
Nobody becomes a chef or opens a restaurant because they like checking a freezer’s temperature or because they like how the ANSUL fire suppression systems work. However, these are still things that need time, effort, and consistent attention.
When the kitchen is quiet, time needs to be spent on updating when a “PAT test” (Portable Appliance Test) is required, whether or not the kitchen is safe in the event of a fire, or if the fridge and freezer are running at the right temperature. This not only takes time away from the cooking and the running of the restaurant, but it can also take away some of the excitement.
Now for the one thing that’s arguably more important than the food. Hygiene. If the cleanliness isn’t up to par, the food will suffer and so will the business. Whether it’s customers not returning or the restaurant itself getting shut down.
While you can clean workspaces as you go to help create healthy and safe meals, there are bigger cleaning maintenance jobs that need to be addressed at times other than rush hour.
These can be difficult to keep track of, whether it’s cleaning the vent hood, the grease filter, the deep fat fryer, or even the floor. While it’s still better to clean something twice rather than not at all, there are still time constraints on how perfectly spotless your restaurant can be. Then, of course, after rush hour everything that was sparkling will now be covered in grease and need cleaning again.
What’s the solution?
So, if the problem is needing more time and energy when it’s time to fire everything up and feed the people, the solution is quite simple: asset management.
With asset tracking software, such as itemit, you can easily track when the next PAT test is, when the last time you cleaned the grease filter was, and how fresh your food is. So, not only can you keep track of your larger equipment and how well maintained it is, keeping everything faster and more efficient, you can also keep track of use by dates ensuring the best quality meals possible.
Instead of a mad scramble for just any piece of fruit, therefore, after a quick check, the most suitable ingredient can be chosen and used. This means better tasting food, but it also crucially means less food waste. With less food waste, not only are you saving money on what you’d normally have to replace, but you’re also helping the environment.
If you’ve ever thought that you simply need more time to wash and maintain equipment whilst also keeping track of ingredients before the rush happens and after it settles, or if you want to save some more money in order move your business forward, asset tracking can help you do both.
Because in the end, energy alone isn’t the problem, it’s where it’s focused. With asset tracking and management, energy can be focused more efficiently and in the right place for the right amounts of time.
Instead of wasting time or money on maintenance, all you need is a smartphone and some durable QR codes or RFID tags which itemit can provide. Before long everything will be running a lot more smoothly and you can start spending more time on every reason you’re in the kitchen in the first place.
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