Building a menu for kids and determining kitchen equipment

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by lunchboxrat, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. lunchboxrat

    lunchboxrat

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    hi guys, so I recently got hired at a charter school who is starting a new food program. the kitchen is small and empty sans an oven and a dishwashing sink.

    basically I'm asking for any sort of advice on what sort of equipment i would initially need to order to get the ball rolling. from pans to utensils, i need everything.

    on top of that I need to build a menu and the employers have so far been pretty vague in terms what they're looking for. the only thing they've said has been heathy and creative.

    it's a small operation and they're estimating roughly 250 children.

    it's going to be buffet style with maybe 2-3 options for entree, a veg and starch side and maybe a salad bar?

    recipes and meal ideas would be great.
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    Hey listen, I'm not trying to sound snarky but how did you get hired to run a school kitchen if you have no idea what equipment you'll need, how to write or do a menu and all that? 

    They've been vague because they have hired you to run the kitchen, and they expect you to design the menu and run it and know what to order. 

    What sort of budget are you operating with? Are you doing a local restaurant supplier or ordering online? How much time do you have to set up the kitchen and get it operational before you are cooking for the kids? Do you have a staff or just you? You say children but there is a large range of ages for "children." Are we talking elementary school, middle school? They will have different tastes and different needs. 

    The list of stuff is quite extensive...

    Do you have a stove? A fryer? Prep tables? Sounds like no...if not you'll need to look into that. 

    What about handwashing sinks? health departments going to want to see those. Check your local codes concerning air gaps for sinks, prep sinks/hand sinks/dish sinks...how they tie into the grease trap...What about your hood vents? Floor drains?

    A meat slicer for sandwiches is a good idea. Blender, food processor, mixer are all pretty much necessities. 

    You'll need shelves/storage. Metro racks would probably be best. You'll need to take measurements and buy shelving that fits in the space you have. You'll need a separate space for your chemicals, keep in mind. Designate and area away from the food (preferably even outside the kitchen) for your chemicals, mop sink/bucket, etc. 

    Don't forget cutting boards. Trash bins. 

    I assume you have refrigeration? Or does that need to be purchased? Walk in fridge or reach ins? Freezers? If you don't have those, you'll need them. You'll need storage racks/metro racks for the walk in too. 

    Pots and pans are a gimme. Probably one large rondeau, one large-ish stock pot (for soups, stews, stocks, etc). Many smaller pots and pans for cooking. Saute pans...etc. Maybe some large roasting pans for doing large batches of things like roasted veggies.

    Sheet pans, both full size and half size. 

    Probably at least 1 speed rack (even a half size one might work)...you'll want a space to stack items as they come out of the oven and need cooling. 

    Hotel pans for storage and for holding in the buffet. 600, 400, and 200 full size and half. Maybe get a few with some perforations for steaming and whatnot. 

    Mixing bowls...a good set of various sizes. 

    You'll need cambro storage containers...2, 4, 8 quart. A few larger ones, like 5 gallon buckets too. 

    The list of small wares is extensive...wooden spoons, stainless spoons (slotted and solid), tongs, ladles, bench scrapers, bain maries, peelers, pastry brushes...

    I could probably go on. I'm sure there are a 1000 things I didn't even mention. 

    It would help to have more details about the space and what your plans are so far. You should get with your health department early in the process so that there are no surprises when you go for the final inspection to open. 
     
    meezenplaz likes this.
  3. lunchboxrat

    lunchboxrat

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    first thanks for the reply and all the suggestions.

    second I don't have no idea whatsoever, i've worked in other schools, hospitals and nursing homes for a few years.

    i should rephrase what i'm asking. i'm inexperienced when it comes to starting up a food program from the ground up. i know what the kitchen needs, i guess i'm just wondering what people who have had experience working in kitchens from the start would prioritize when ordering equipment, i guess? i'm just looking for a little focus i suppose, and want to make sure i'm not forgetting anything essential.

    also i apologize for the lack of info. i don't have much info yet myself, because i haven't started.

    thanks again for the reply, i'm going to reread your post and see what extra info i actually do have to share right now.
     
  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Not wanting to spend the day perusing various federal and state websites for the exact info I will just leave you with this.
    Good news is you will have help with the menus re federal and state laws and regulations.
    Bad news is you will have help with the menus re federal and state laws and regulations.

    There is very little autonomy once you enter the domain of education in the US.
    Seems like every entity has at least one finger in the pie.
    Huge budgets tend to entice those who like to leave their mark on things.

    As federal law usually defers to state law I would start with your state and work up from there.

    mimi
     
  5. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    is it lunch or also breakfast?

    cost to kids?

    what age range of kids?

    rough idea location...Maine, New Mexico, Vancouver, Fiji...?

    length of school year?

    what months open/closed?

    what did kids do for meals prior to this new food program?

    is new program mandatory or voluntary?

    ?
    ?
    ?
     
  6. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    The buffet part sends up a red flag.
    I imagine something in the way of a law stating who is allowed to touch the food.
    Kids also waste....a lot.
    Imagine what pizza day would look like lol.

    mimi
     
  7. lunchboxrat

    lunchboxrat

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    it's dinner, i know i'm being a tad vague but i'm not cooking school lunch. it's an after school program

    unsure what the cost is to the kids honestly

    i believe the age range is more elementary school children

    totally voluntary and i'm in jersey
     
  8. someday

    someday

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    Your first order of business I would assume would be to do some measurements and settle on kitchen basics like refrigerators/freezers, sinks, storage rack, stove, prep table, etc. The small wares (utensils, pots and pans, blenders) would follow once you have a place to store them. 

    You should also figure out your budget for setting up the kitchen, brush up on the health codes (a pre-construction walk through might be helpful) and do some research for used equipment dealers in your area. 
     
  9. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Agree number one consideration is budget. In order to set up a working,

    legal permitted kitchen, if all you have is a sink and an oven, your employer is

    going to have to spend some money. REAL money. Even more so if theres

    no exhaust system in place. If there is, what goes on is quite dependent ON

    that system, it's size and specs.

    Sanitatary practice is a big consideration in the food industry at large, but like

    our Mimi said, with public schools and serving minors it becomes a HUGE

    consideration, which always amounts to more dollars.

    Yep, Finger PIe is likely to be the order of the day.

    As someone who has done several, I can tell you setting up a kitchen from

    scratch, or even mostly scratch, is a LOT of time and a LOT of work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
    someday likes this.