New Kitchen Nightmare, bit of help required!

Joined Jan 10, 2010
Hello Everyone!

I have just started with a new company to revamp their menus, sort out the kitchen and train their chefs.

It is an out door catering company for the most part, doing dinner cruises and bush dinners.

from 4 pax to 800pax.

Their set ups look great,, they have put a lot of money into decor, but absolutely nothing into the kitchen.

I can honestly say it is the most disgusting kitchen I have ever been in, and is so poorly equipped! And I have been in some very bad kitchens!

The site kitchens, and boat kitchen is literally two wooden tables, and they use chiffon dishes to reheat the food and then plate it. 

Temperatures are out of control, eg, Pan fried chicken breast cooked at 11 am, and sitting in the dish till 7 pm. not chilled, or anything. plus the walk in temp reads 20 degrees C!

My first mission was to be getting the food safety and kitchen hygiene sorted.

Then equipment, transporting and at the very end, menus and new food Ideas.

They want the WOW experience with food, and are currently serving the, meat, three veg and starch thing.

I have tried explaining that they have to fix the kitchen issues first, before food, but they are not too keen on that and want me to focus on the food first.

There is no stock controls atm either.

The cooks seem really eager to learn, but i'm not sure this is worth it unless I can get them to pour a s**t tonne of money into the kitchen,

Any way I can go about this?

Joined Oct 31, 2012
What equipment do you have?  Why reheating in chafing dishes? No stove? 

If the staff are eager to learn, then teach them what you can. 

Do you have cleaning supplies? 

Start with what you have. Not every kitchen has to stocked with show room quality equipment. 

If the walk-in isn't up to temp, get it serviced or call the health department. 

Proper food preparation and storage and safe food practices are all independent of the equipment 

and can be addressed immediately. 
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Uh. Wow. 

Listen, your #1 priority, above anything else, is to serve SAFE food. Not delicious food, not beautiful food, not "sexy" food, but SAFE food that won't make someone sick if they eat it. What good is great meal if it sends you to the hospital after you eat it?

Your ownership needs to understand that in order for you to do your job correctly some changes have to be made. You CANNOT continue to serve food while ignoring fundamental food safety procedures. Having the fridge at that high a temp is unacceptable (You seem to know that, I don't understand how your bosses don't). 

Your first mission is the right one. You need to get the ownership on board with it ASAP. 

I have to ask, did you not see the kitchen and the setup before you took the job? You should be able to quickly assess what is needed in the kitchen before you the future, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you get a look at the kitchen make some assessments, and talk to the ownership about what you'll need BEFORE you start the job. Make it a contingency for them to hire you, because as it stands they are setting you up for failure if this continues. 
Joined Jan 17, 2015
I agree with SOMEDAY, you have to make your food operation SAFE first because now that you have taken the job it is YOUR responsibility! After that you can think about WOW. You can design your menu around the equipment you have, we all do it but walk in at 20 C is a disaster waiting to happen, as well as wastage which will affect your margins. This is an issue that needs to be addressed ASAP! Just think about it, it's your reputation that is on the line!

Also sorry to say this but taking a job without looking at the kitchen is a bit naive although I am sure you will not do it again! If it was me I would be looking at the owners to fix refrigeration immediately if not I would probably walk. If a food poisoning or similar was to happen you will be as much to blame as them. Sorry to be so blunt. Good luck brother!


as all said before safety first then chip away at the other things 

if the ownership does not understand the concept of spending money to make money then this will not go anywhere 

if they are fighting you on spending money to get the refrigeration to the proper temp they will fight you when you try and make the jump from select grade beef to prime or use asparagus instead of broccoli

the challenge could be well worth it if you can right that ship but keep an eye out for mismanagement of funds and always make sure your paycheck will clear 
Joined Nov 16, 2016
Hey mate sounds like you have a massive up hill battle there. As all other posts have stated food safety has to come first.

My advise would be to put the seriousness of the situation into a language the owners would Carry out a proper risk assessment and outline the detrimental impact a death or mass food poisoning would have on their business. Try to outline a loss in revenue if the worst case was to eventuate.

Also on a personal note you should consider the outcome of a food poisoning outbreak. Can you prove to a health inspector your food safety procedures are within guidelines? Are your temp logs accurate? At the end of the day you are the one responsible for the safety of anyone eating your food, this includes the very young and elderly.

If things don't improve immediately, walk away.
Joined Mar 3, 2016
To my eyes, it looks like money.
As said above, you need to spend money to make money. If your owner doesn't have capital, you are going to be on struggle street.
You should do everything you can to make things work, but as an addendum to the advice given above, I would hope that you understand that if guests become ill from your kitchen, your personal reputation may suffer amongst the chef community also.
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