Chefs climbing the ladder live by the simple mantra that you make use of the space you have. They earn their stripes by doing incredible work in less-than-ideal spaces.
But when they have a string of hits under their belt, the purse strings are loosened and it’s time to shoot for the moon with their dream kitchen, how do they do things differently?
Highly creative top chefs evolve their menus organically using more fresh, local and seasonal ingredient sourcing. Cooking gear is generally chosen for maximum flexibility versus highly specialized production, with the space itself designed to accommodate creativity and experimentation.
Experimental chefs often favor a large center island kitchen design concept. Expansive, flat work surfaces hold stockpiles of ingredients for testing, and facilitate face-to-face group collaboration. During dinner service, abundant flat surfaces accommodate plating demands found in high-end kitchens.
While large kitchens may stoke large egos, most top chefs emphasize economy of movement and flow over sheer size. Productivity is driven by clear spatial delineation of job function and superior ergonomics honed from years of experience. Spaces are designed to minimize bending, reaching, walking and twisting that put stresses on the body and rob productivity. With a place for everything and everything in its place, confusion, chaos and frayed nerves are kept to a minimum.
Most top chefs have been through at least one failed concept, and have witnessed the sad spectacle of expensive equipment sold off at a loss. While it might seem more glamorous to write a check for top-of-the-line equipment across the board, most top chefs would rather get critical, quality pieces in place at opening, and allow for upgrading of budget equipment once the concept gains traction. Savvy equipment consultants can keep chefs in the loop on which brands offer exceptional value, and introduce them to new, money-saving technologies. Smart choices strengthen the partnership between top chef talent and investors, and make it more likely dollars will flow again if a concept fails.
Most top chefs have figured out where their talent adds the most profitable value to the dining experience. To focus every minute of their talent where it makes the biggest impact, they often turn to automation, like using combi ovens to handle overnight cooking duties. This frees the time and talent of chefs and their staff to focus on creating distinction influential diners will appreciate, and reduces stress during day part prep and dinner rush.
Investors have a saying that if your business is 100% reliant on your unique talents, you don’t have a product, you have a practice. Individual doctors, lawyers and—in the restaurant business—top chefs who insist on doing all their own cooking, may run an extremely successful business, but multi-location expansion is seriously curtailed.
Top chefs who want to continue to grow their personal brand rarely open a restaurant without carefully considering their exit strategy from daily production. Like great chess players, they’re always thinking at least two moves ahead. This means choosing equipment that will allow staff to operate effectively in their absence, and avoiding gear that fits their highly specialized personal preferences, but no one else likes to use.
Choosing an equipment outfitter like Horizon with experience in all aspects of the foodservice business can help you wring every penny out of your budget and keep the cooking front-and-center during the design-build process. Don’t expect architects, interior designers and general contractors to be up on the latest cooking technology and the intricacies of running a successful foodservice operation. For that, you'll need a trusted consultant who can offer holistic, street-smart advice.