Employee eateries

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by bstephens, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. bstephens

    bstephens

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    Hello all! I am new to this site and in need of some help. Recently, I took an administrative role and am running the employee dining rooms in Yellowstone National Park. There are 9 all together, feeding an average of 2500 people per meal every day. As you can imagine, this is an interesting task, as you can never please everyone! However, I would like to try. Most of the employees here are health-conscious active people. There are the few who would be happy with french fries and burgers every day, but I really want to bring about some changes. Most of our facilities are cafeteria-style, with 6 steam wells, salad/sandwich bars, dessert areas, etc. I'm not exactly sure what I want to do yet, but am looking for ideas from experienced people in this area of the industry. I've done everything from line cooking to working as a pastry chef, but this one is new to me. How do you get people excited about cafeteria food while maintaining a decent budget? One of the biggest problems for employee retention out here is spanned from the crappy food served in the EDRs. I would greatly appreciate any help one might choose to give. Thanks a bunch! :chef:
     
  2. chefruth

    chefruth

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    I have no experience with serving that many employees, however, my sister in law is in charge of a dining room at Grinell College in Grinell, IA. She serves an extensive menu from meat eaters to completely vegan. I can get some recipes from her that are for large quantities. (vegetarian, vegan, ect) I know that cost of serving healthy food is higher but if you can prove employee retention....it costs a bundle to hire/train new employees.

    I know that the dining rooms have wells, cold and hot buffets for the students. It sounds like you might have to market this idea?! Start out slowly, see the response and build from there.

    I too, have been a line cook-pastry chef- exec. sous chef.

    Let me know if you are interested in some recipes.

    Ruth
    www.northwoodskitchen.com
     
  3. bstephens

    bstephens

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    Thanks Ruth,
    I would definitely be interested in some recipes. Right now, I'm just brainstorming so any help would be beneficial. Thanks a lot!
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    not sure what your customer base is but Asian Fusion is hitting hard on the coasts and making it's way inland.
    Like a noodle station where they select broth, noodles, dumplings, veg, meat and it's compiled for them to their tastes....obviously cool condiments important.
    Sushi/tempura so you get the fresh, vegan, as well as junkfood fried guys .

    I'm working with a University on a "local foods" cafe for the RD/CC to run as part of their practicum. Will be an interesting project for many reasons.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Another good choice would be Indian food. Many of the ingredients are pretty inexpensive, and many dishes are stew-like curries, which are a natural for "steam-table service".
     
  6. mike

    mike

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    Its got to be done fast & with minimum fuss & effort, get your core Hot meals to a tee & do a godd cold buiffet nboth fruit n veg & cold cuts. Get enough staff to keep it all replenished at a minutes notice . The washing up is a ***** . Can help with recipies too, Ive done 150 banquets , 5 courses on my own in an hour & a bit. Post any problems there are a lot of pros here to help. Got a great recipie for curries too.
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    You serve 2500 meals a day. You should be able to get good prices and a truck every day of the week. You will be purchasing over a $1.2 Million in food a year, and if you do non-food items which is "normal" for the chef to do also (why does it get tossed into the chef's job anyone know?) then you can get even better prices.

    You will have to decide whether you want a comissary style kitchen or separate independent operating units. The second route requires more accountability but may require better trained staff. The first requires very detailed management and assembly line staff out front. The first requires less involvement in training and more checklist style management, the second requires more training up front and less hands on management. The second model is more competitive and allows you to better track the success of individual units without having to individually inventory every line item at the end of the day. It's also easier to make changes during low census because then you can just shut it down... like on Friday afternoon or something when everyone's out. It's difficult to make successful changes doing things the other way because you really don't know what to cut.

    I prefer the second method. This way you can actually track and see what's popular and what's not. You can test ideas quickly and implement them almost on the fly if needed.

    The absolute one thing you need is to create a little mini economy. To be really successful, employees have to pay for their food in some form or other. You will never really know how an item does unless you demand money in exchange. So either use a coupon system or discount the meals. This may be out of your control, but bring it up anyway.

    I'm also available for consultation. Email me if you need to.

    Kuan