There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching a busy restaurant’s kitchen gear up for the dinner rush. Every chef and restaurateur knows that thorough preparation is the only way to effectively combat the chaos that is a kitchen during peak dinner rush. And that’s why the kitchen starts prepping hours before the guests arrive. Vegetables and garnishes are cut. Potatoes and meats are pre-sliced and prepared for quick cooking or frying so that popular appetizers can go out quickly. Everything has its own bin and is ready to go when the tickets start coming in.
The amount and type of prep work varies from restaurant to restaurant according to their menus and the ingredients used, but some standard principles apply across the board: consistency, quality, speed, and portion control. Any chef will tell you it takes work to train staff to the point where they know how to prep the various ingredients used on the restaurant’s menu consistently without wasting food product.
High turnover rates means this training is a constant chore. Maintaining consistency and quality without waste in a high stress environment is a lot to ask of new and inexperienced staff. This is where investing in some simple yet very effective food preparation equipment can really streamline your kitchen’s operation. Let’s revisit the principles of food prep:
Consistency. Manually operated slicers and dicers cut your food product the same way every time – no matter who is pushing the handle – a green newbie or a 10 year veteran. Some popular options include tomato and onion slicers, chicken slicers, and lettuce cutters.
Speed, safety, and comfort. Good food prep equipment will cut the amount of time it takes your kitchen to prep ingredients significantly. And because your staff isn’t dealing with a very sharp knife and a cutting board, one of the most common safety concerns in a busy kitchen goes away. French fry cutters and wedgers also take typically difficult product like potatoes and make preparation easy and extremely fast, which is key to getting your popular appetizers out fast. Finally, good food prep equipment is designed for easy operation, which reduces staff fatigue, enhances comfort, and reduces injuries.
Portion control. Apart from improving the quality and consistency of your product, and increasing the speed with which it can be prepared, food prep equipment is a great way to control inventory and reduce food waste. There’s three main reasons for this:
- Greater consistency means product is sliced or cut the same way every time to exact widths, minimizing oversized portions
- Mechanized slicing uses all of the available product, eliminating the tendency to throw away ends or extras that could be used
- Food prep equipment greatly reduces human error, which often leads to incorrect portion sizes or incorrectly prepared product
Over the years more and more specialized food preparation equipment has become available, allowing you to get several different machines to perform a variety of tasks in your kitchen. Here’s just a sample of the food prep equipment now available on the market:
- Tomato slicers
- Onion Slicers
- Onion Blossom Cutters
- Lettuce Cutters
- Potato Cutters
- Manual Slicers
- Chicken Slicers
- Can Openers
- Specialty Slicers
No matter what kind of restaurant you run, your kitchen can benefit from the consistency, speed, and portion control a piece of food prep equipment can afford you.