All chefs will have experienced the feeling of an evening or lunchtime rush where time seems to be against you. It seems like nothing is finished and every task becomes more and more laborious.
Improving your efficiency in the kitchen will not only help you and your skillset, but it will improve the speed of service for your whole team. Here are some of the best ways to work on this.
Optimise your menu
While complex dishes look impressive, sometimes they can be the biggest burden on a kitchen team.
Ensure your menu fits with your budget and skill set to improve the pace and quality of which the dishes are cooked.
The ingredients you purchase must fit into this budget and be made the best they can be. Choosing a selection of dishes that use the same base ingredients or herbs and spices could also improve efficiency as these can all be prepared ahead of time and in bulk.
Assign prep tasks
Prepping your ingredients can be the make or break of a good dinner service. It would be considered a waste of time to peel every single carrot needed individually.
Instead, assign prep tasks daily, twice weekly or weekly (depending on ingredient and shelf or fridge life).
In doing this, all your herbs, veg and sauces will be ready to cook or serve on the night, reducing your time taken to create a dish by a long way.
Create an employee guide
Making sure everyone is working to the same standard is important in a kitchen. An employee guide should cover all the necessary elements of kitchen practices – how long to cook specific ingredients for, how to clean particular materials and more.
This way, it is easier to manage time and stay organised throughout service. If you’re boiling potatoes for 20 minutes, your spare time can easily be used preparing and undertaking other activities to really maximise the efficient running of your kitchen.
Work on communication
An essential part of running a kitchen, communication can make the efficiency of the kitchen better almost instantly.
Confirming individual tasks and who will complete them leaves no accidental overlap during service, and everyone is sure about what they must complete.
Following from this, if somebody has spare time and nothing to fill it, it would be important to communicate this to see if any other colleagues have tasks they could use assistance with.
Regarding timings, communication is key. If a certain ingredient takes 5 minutes to cook and another takes two minutes to cook, it is important to communicate when the first ingredient has begun cooking as this will directly influence the time at which your colleague may put the second item on to cook.
Maintain your equipment
Unusable or damaged equipment can severely harm efficiency. You could end up spending more time fixing or trying to use substandard equipment than cooking.
It is crucial to ensure that you use well maintained and quality equipment to save time and efficiency in your kitchen.
It is possible to arrange your kitchen setup to best complement your way of working to improve kitchen efficiency.
Think of your kitchen as different zones. You’ll more than likely have the prep zone, the cooking zone, the plate up zone and the cleaning zone.
Try and group all your equipment according to these zones – prep zone would include knives and cutting boards, the cooking zone would consist of utensils, oven, stove and pots and pans, the plate up zone all of your crockery and the cleaning zone the sink and chemicals.
In organising your kitchen as such, you will save time and improve efficiency as everything everyone on each station needs will be in one place, saving the time used having to find the utensils you may need.
Clean as you go
This one may be a no-brainer, but it is important to clean as you go when the opportunity arises. There’s nothing worse than looking for a piece of equipment to find it dirty and then having to go and clean it before you can continue with your work.
Try your best to clean as you go to avoid this situation and prepare our kitchen as much as possible in the interests of improving efficiency.