Equipment issues.

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by rivitman, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. rivitman

    rivitman

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    My main one is, I dont have any.

    My restaurant can seat up to 70, and in the tourist season we do about 100-120 covers a night.

    Our menu is middle of the road fine dining for the most part.

    I have a six burner, a flat top, a convection oven, and a standard oven that doesn't work well. And 2 non commercial grade microwaves.

    That's it.
    No deep fryer.
    No steamer.
    No steam kettles.
    No tilting braizer.
    No deck ovens.
    No char broiler.
    No salamander.
    No steam table.
    No warmers.
    No mixer.
    No lowboys.

    My Mise en place is in plastic buckets in bus tubs full of ice.

    Am I being unreasonable when I pine for more equipment?
    Or should I just cowboy up?
     
  2. alexr

    alexr

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    Even without looking at your menu, I would venture to say that you are under-equipped!
     
  3. rivitman

    rivitman

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    I didn't think I was hallucinating.
    Sometimes I think its a bad dream when I look at my 10" saute pans, every one carbon encrusted on the exteriror with bottoms warped to wok dimensions.
    Seriously, we are a small place in the country, and it's had the same owner for 30 years. So he must know something about staying in business.
    But it's an uphill battle coming up with items that I can produce with sufficient speed in my walk in closet sized workspace.
    I hit the wall at around 80 covers in the dinner service, and from then on it's a battle of survival.
    It honestly makes it very difficult.
    I'm just trying to figure out how much of an issue I should make of it.
    Assuming anyone really wants to be in the restaurant business, and run a professional kitchen, a minimum toolset is a must. And when I look at the average fast food joint's kitchen and feel envy, I think something's wrong.

    So to other chefs out there, what would you NOT be without?
     
  4. chef_bob

    chef_bob

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    I have to say I could not live with out a Salamander. I call it my "Oh my god" tool. The list of problems a salamander can help you get out of is huge not to menton the job is was designed to do, it does so well. Imagine a world with out golden brown cheese on onion soup, the perfect parmesan crust on pommes dauphine, oozing blue cheese on a piece of tenderloin...... oh I could go on for ever. I once told a restaurant owner I was consulting for that I would take a salamander over an extra cook on line any day of the week. That may be a slight exageration, but maybe not! Yes from Steak to Sole, from a properly heated cast iron pan to lightly toasted almond slivers and so much more, I do love my salamader.
     
  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess it all depends on your menu. I could do it, "middle of the road fine dining" if don't have to turn the tables every hour.

    The plastic buckets is lame man. Go buy some 6-pans at least. That way if you want to you can set up a bain on the flatop for premade sauces. I don't think those plastic buckets are NSF anyway.

    Now don't tell me you do dessert and soups/salads off the line as well.
     
  6. rivitman

    rivitman

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    Ceasar salads and french onion soup (blowtorched) off the line, yes.A couple of hot apps as well.
    No the buckets aren't NSF, and six pans don't hold enough ice (or meez for that matter)to make it through the service period.

    My flat is usally 1/3 to 1/2 coverd with bains already.
    I give up 1 burner for a shock pot,another for steam, leaving me with at best 4.

    If the purchasing decisions were mine, there would be no problem.

    And there is a pretty large gap between what's possible, and what's desirable from a quality standpoint, as well as not burning the Chef out standpoint.
    There is a bit of grim pride involved in being able to do what I do with so little, but I think in the end run, it's no good for either the business, nor myself.
     
  7. rivitman

    rivitman

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    Since there hasn't been a response lately I though i'd throw in another factual wildcard.

    I am the chef.
    I also do most of my own prep.
    At the hight of the season there are only 2 of us on the line, myself, and my side cook, who plates starches and veg, does the apps and salads, and garnishing.

    I do everything else, except bake bread and pies. Everything, including managing the kitchen, ordering, food costing, menus etc. I split the cleanup with the side cook who on some days doubles up as the dishwasher.

    I don't have a desk, chair, or lamp. No file cabinet. I use my own PC at home.

    Not that I'm complaining. Well, not much. Withing the bounds of time and budget I have about 85% creative controll over most every food item that goes out.
    I just wonder what other chefs and cooks think of my predicamant.
     
  8. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    We're all in your predicament! Well, to a lesser degree somewhat. I've done it before like you but at a place which served maybe 200 dinners a week plus I had a cold side and a separate kitchen on the other side of the facility. You can purchase pieces one at a time, small pieces, if you can fit them into the food budget. 1-2 pans, a blowtorch at the hardware store maybe, who knows.

    You can also get used stuff. Tons of restaurants are going out of business. Lots of the stuff is sold at auction as lots.

    The other way to go is talk to the owner about expanding the place or even buying the restaurant. He's been there for years and maybe it's time to hand it over.... :)
     
  9. rivitman

    rivitman

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    It's a cozy little place, it just seems that over the years the kitchen has always been last in line for improvement. Regulation will eventually force upgrades on certain items, but I'm afraid I might covering up deficiencies by pulling off the type and number of meals I do.
    There is just no way to sandbag it to prove a point, and I would never do that anyway. I push the level of the food as high as time and cost permit, but it's a bit of a strain at times.
     
  10. hipjoint

    hipjoint

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    when i used to "do" the restaurant circuit (i knew a lot of line cooks back
    then) i was surprised at how many "italian restaurants" had chinese cooks
    putting out very authentic italian dishes using a peking wok!! just notice
    that a wok looks a lot like a saucier pan and go figger.
    it is amazing how versatile a wok can be ... just check out iron chef chen
    or ming tsai or martin yan adapting a wok to a variety of cuisines and i think
    the wok and a good salamander will do you good.
     
  11. lukeygina

    lukeygina

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    Good for you! You needed to leave that place... Good luck with the new one! Did you go to school before working?
     
  12. rivitman

    rivitman

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    Yes, I went through the culinary program at the local tech college using the educational assistance available for displaced aerospace workers.

    I graduated the 22 month program in 14 months on merit and competancy.

    My school Chef is a CIA man, as is my advising chef.
    With a combined 55 years of experince in hotels, restaurants, and as catering and restaurant operators. One was a corporate chef.

    I'm not shy about asking for guidance either. They are a phone call away, and I pick up that phone.
     
  13. botanique

    botanique

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    we could all be like dogs. Don't you think? Forgetting about competition but loving the fight?