Eyes at the back of your ...

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by verensem, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. verensem


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    I have a question on the use of technology in a restaurant. More specifically, the use of video/camera in a buffet setting.

    Instead of having staff monitor the replenishing tables of food, would it be better if the kitchen staff, or more specifically: the chef/cook could eyeball what needs to be cooked or prepared in order to replenish whatever items needs replenishing? (or would that be too troublesome? expensive?)

    All done through some sort of live recording. (anyone know of... ??) This could also work on bussing tables, where technology gives you a better overview on the work that needs to be done.

    Also, what if front and back-line staff could communicate with each other instantaneously through some sort of walkie-talkie device. Say a customer has a question on the food, the server would just press a button and reach the chef/cook, instead of going back and forth through all the commotion.

    Dunno... has anyone ever experimented with this ?? :crazy: :smiles:
  2. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Professional Chef
    I love technology. I think that computer POS systems are one of the greatest achievments in the restaurant business, but I think technology can only go so far. I think video could be used to help monitor a buffet line, but it will never replace a human. First of all you just don't have the definition with video. Sure you can tell when food is out, but can really see if it is looking a little old, crusty or dried out with video? Plus you still need someone to monitor the video so why not just have someone on the floor. You would need numerous cameras so that you could get a close enough view of the food and a cook doesn't have time to monitor that, flipping through the different views. Having someone, physically, monitor the buffet also adds the element of human presence, which I think is very important. Sometimes there is just no replacement for human presence. The same goes with using video to help bus tables. Sure it can be used as a supplement, but it can't replace human presence. Can video tell if a customer has a question, needs something not immediately appearant, or tell if a guest needs help?

    Finally, the walkie issue. It has been tried before and I don't really see that it works well. If all the servers are not provided with earpieces then the dinning room becomes rather noisy with a lot of walkie chatter. But even if they are provided with earpieces, I, as a chef, would hate it. I get bombarded with things all service long and the last thing I need to distract me is yet another way for people to talk to me and ask questions. I don't need that constant chatter in my ear while I am dealing with cooks, managers, and other waitstaff.
  3. metrakay


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    It depends on the situation. The camera makes a good tool, but it doesn't replace real human contact. It might be helpful for extra busy situations where your server doesn't have time to come tell you they will be needing another tray of something soon.

    Here's how I use a camera: At the b&b, I get a lot of through traffic as guests come in and out. To avoid "hovering" over them and making a pest of myself as they come in, and to allow me to greet people that need greeting, I put in a webcam and connected it to my PC. I did have to buy an adapter to make a usb cable longer than 15', but I can now see who is coming in before they open the door, and decide if I greet them or not. If they are checked in, but start looking around for something, I go see if they need anything, just in case they're looking for me.

    The setup was pretty quick, I did buy a $20 piece of software that worked better for me than the one that came with the camera. Total cost, not counting the computer and monitor, was about $179 ($59 for the camera, $20 for the software, and $100 for the cable adapter).