Kitchen is the heart and soul of a hotel; a well-designed kitchen enhances its efficiency. To have an efficient and effective kitchen, the priority is to have a well-managed kitchen brigade.
What is a Kitchen Brigade? It’s a hierarchy structure in a kitchen to run things smoothly. It must work like a well-oiled machine to deliver the best food and customer experience.
Nisar Ahmed, Corporate Chef from MAYFAIR Hotels & Resorts, tells about how to structure a brigade and manage it well. He has chefs’ career spanning over 25 years. He has also worked in all 5 major metropolitan cities of India (Delhi. Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Bangalore) and almost 7-8 States of India and a few years stint abroad.
“I have done successful pre-opening and opening of 6 hotels, which is always a new exciting thing to do,” said Nisar. “For managing kitchen brigade of any new upcoming restaurant, it is most important that restaurant kitchens to be planned professionally so that the brigade working can give their best without hindrance or facing any operational hurdle.”
A small omission in planning or layout affects overall utility and functioning, affects staff efficiency, hygiene and sanitation, work /health safety, environment safety and food safety.
One should keep in mind the essentials while planning a kitchen, Space Planning, Employee Movement, work and motion study (workflow), Health and Safety standards, Equipment layout / Placement, Ergonomics and Energy efficiency are given a thorough thought, and this thought process ultimately facilitates managing kitchen brigade effectively.
Once a professionally planned kitchen is in operation, it is more important to run it efficiently by keeping in mind a few points:
- Listen to Your Employees
One should not believe that way we as leaders run the things is the best and only way, listen to your employees and have a willingness to see the process through their eyes and their recommendations. Being too authoritative can backfire, teach your staff to work independently, ensure they take ownership which will lead them more invested in their jobs.
- Efficient Menus
Most chefs love to impress their guests with complex, unique dishes, but one might not always have the right ingredients, equipment and skilled staff to do so. The menu should be streamlined in such a way that the brigade can deliver well it with no complications, and ingredients for selected recipes should fit into the scheme of things as for as availability and budget are concerned.
- Kitchen Operational Manual
To operational efficiently, it is of great importance to have standard operating procedures in place and constantly reviewed for any further change with passaging time or because of changed circumstances. The staff has to be trained as per the Statement of Purpose’s so that there is consistent quality in work processes and product.
- Adequate Inventory Control
It is of vital importance to establish an efficient inventory control system to have the kitchen operations smooth and hassle-free. If one suddenly runs out of key ingredients in the middle of the meal rush, it causes unorganized operation.
This can be avoided by having a good inventory system where it notifies on restocking. Regular reviewing of standard orders will help the kitchen identify ingredients that are used in rare controlling food wastage.
- Need for Human Communication and Talent
Technology has become a vital part in our world that it has also seeped into the kitchen. One should remember that whether it is in the form of new artificial intelligent automation for cooking or state-of-the-art point of sales system, it is a friend to a chef or manager. This does not mean that traditional human communication or Skillset is pointless.
It does not matter how expensive equipment can be. The kitchen still needs a human interaction or a skilled chef to fulfil guest expectations in creating a masterpiece. It is well-known that technology may have a lag in its server or crash. It is quicker for servers to communicate changes in orders to kitchen staff and update your system later as it is vital for the kitchen staff to have the knowledge regarding the information.
- Different Work Stations in the Kitchen
To have an efficient workflow and to prevent bottlenecks from happening in the kitchen, it is better to make clear workspaces for different prep and cooking jobs and separate areas specified for storage purpose and ready meals to go out to the customer. Carving out different work stations ensures that the food stays safe and not contaminated, and staff have the same space and equipment at the same time. This can control the cross-contamination of food, which can be a serious concern for guests with food allergies.
Creation of different work stations will facilitate easy and comfortable access for chefs to perform their jobs.
- Invest in Your human resource
The most important factor for an efficient and successful kitchen is a highly skilled and hard-working human resource. Management must invest time and money in hiring and training the best kitchen brigade possible. If the staffs feel that they can rely you on and will help them be the best in their jobs, they will work hard for you and remain loyal.
The prospective candidate must have formal culinary training or have a diverse culinary background with required qualifications. An upcoming chef should have a passion for cooking, great positive attitude, self-motivator, a team player, ability to work a flexible schedule, able to handle stress, Food safety knowledge or certification, Know-how about good food handling practices, relevant expertise of the restaurant cuisine getting recruited.