How to Run a Smart and Efficient Kitchen

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The hospitality industry is cutthroat. Every day a restaurant will shut its doors only for another to spring up and take its place. And while many factors can play into whether a business is a culinary hit or miss with diners, there is one aspect that must be central to a plan for success and an efficient kitchen.

In addition to improving the food quality and service, having specific processes can assist with minimizing waste, reducing cost, and increasing customer satisfaction.

But how do you go about making sure your kitchen is organised and running like a well-oiled machine?

Esteemed Chef de Partie Claudio Simone has been working in the chef event space for nearly eight years. 

He has worked for one of Italy’s most well-respected wedding venues, the Borgo del Mastro in Somma Vesuviana, Campania, the luxurious Augustine Hotel in Prague, and The Westgate Hotel in San Diego, California.

Simone has also held the position of Senior Chef de Partie at The Farnham Estate in Cavan Town, Ireland. In his roles as Event Manager and Chef de Partie, respectively, he has had to oversee the organisation and roll out of events, menus and course delivery for hundreds of people in a sitting.

He says there are specific ways to guarantee your kitchen is driving your business in the best way possible: “The first step in running a smart and efficient kitchen is to plan ahead and be organized. The more you have planned, the easier it is,” reveals Simone.

“Schedules for your kitchen staff, ordering supplies in advance, and having a system in place for food preparation and storage are all important to making your work at its best. When you are in the middle of a service, it can have a huge impact on time-wasting, as well as helping to minimize mistakes.” 

Simone adds: “There is nothing worse when serving very large groups than having chaos. It just heightens the stress for those behind the scenes as well as the staff front of the house.”

He says that while many chefs have a reputation for being hot-headed, calm is needed for successful organization:  To run a good kitchen, you need to be empathetic to your crew. It’s all about passion. I’ve been in many kitchens in my life, and it’s a job that requires being mentally strong, especially when you are in charge. There is no room to be stressed. Harmony is important, and you just have to continue to do the job properly. All you need to do is be professional and friendly. Staff should be treated with respect. And even more importantly, they should feel like they are having fun.”

Simone adds another very important thing to consider is minimizing waste: “One of my goals is to run a completely green and environmentally friendly kitchen with a very small footprint.

“I am not just talking about where food is sourced from, but also the energy used to serve it, as well as trying to keep leftover food which goes unused to a minimum.

“It is a shame that in some of the countries I have been privileged to work in, it is not allowed, due to health and safety, to give perfectly good food which has gone uneaten to those in need. Then we just have to throw it away, and it seems even more wasteful to do that. I also want to reach a point where we use minimal foil and cling wrap.” 

Some tips Simone has implemented include composting and recycling programs, reducing portion sizes, and using reusable containers instead of disposable ones.

He adds: “I also keep a vigilant track of inventory and food waste to identify areas where we can continue to improve and reduce waste.”

Simone has also seen better efficiency in kitchens through technology: “There are plenty of apps and software systems you can use to assist with scheduling and management. 

“Gone are the days where you write everything down! Technology can help streamline processes and reduce the potential for errors or mistakes. Then you don’t end up ordering 10 carrots instead of 100!”

He also believes in continuous learning, as well as investing time and energy in training staff properly.

Simone says: “This can help streamline your efficiency later. Did you know that some kitchen crew don’t know how to handle food properly or understand food safety regulations? Never assume your staff have the knowledge to do the best job possible.  I have made a point of making sure my kitchen crew have access to ongoing training and education to keep them up to date with the latest industry trends and techniques.”

Simone is not alone in implementing some or all of these processes to make a kitchen, and in turn, service and business more efficient.

Chipotle use a “Food With Integrity” policy, which focuses on using sustainably sourced, organic, and locally grown ingredients. They also have a system in place for food preparation and storage, with strict protocols for handling and storing ingredients. 

Additionally, they have an app that allows customers to order ahead and skip the line, reducing wait times and improving service.

Meanwhile, Sweetgreen, a restaurant chain that focuses on using fresh, healthy ingredients, has a system in place for ordering and food preparation, with a focus on minimizing waste and reducing its carbon footprint. They also use technology to streamline processes, including a mobile app that allows customers to order ahead and pick up their food without waiting in line.

Simone says: “The most important advice I ever got was every kitchen is different. And you are dealing as much with the people as with the food. They are both equally important. It’s incredibly important to me to always strive to be better so we can make the dining experience better for the diners.”

Alexander Catanoiu is the Head Chef at The luxury Farnham Estate in Cavan Town, Ireland. He worked with Simone when he was the Senior Chef de Partie at the hotel and golf resort. 

He has witnessed these processes in action: “I was impressed by his way of managing the stressful situations and shift. Claudio is always available to help, and he can always make give performances in the busiest moments.  Claudio has the ability to improvise and solve problems. He makes the job easier and creates a good atmosphere at the workplace.


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