Though Tramonto says R'evolution doesn't quite measure up to his dream kitchen — he set the bar extremely high with Tru's kitchen — he appreciates the size and the way it is equipped to give the culinary staff the ability to "spread out" and work at segregated cooking stations. "The traffic flow works well, particularly from the pastry area to garde manger," he says. One feature that allows the smooth flow is electric doors. "We had these at Tru in Chicago, and it's very useful not to have to kick the door open every time you enter or leave the kitchen."
The variety of foodservice equipment assists the culinary staff in preparing an ever-changing menu that features locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and dishes that the chefs create to support their mission. In the first few weeks of the restaurant's opening, the chefs changed at least three dishes per week. "We want to use the seasonal produce as much as possible," Tramonto says. "Admittedly, making many changes is challenging for the staff."
Some of the equipment featured in R'evolution, such as glass doors on the coolers and elements that allown maintenance and efficiency on the cooking suite, weren't available years ago when Tru was designed. "But we did use many of the same pieces of equipment at Tru, such as ceiling-suspended shelving units."
Another area of the restaurant that Tramonto feels works very well is the beverage station. "It's in the center of the kitchen, and we were able to segregate the bread station from the coffee station and water station from the ice machine so the traffic flow works beautifully," he says.
When food arrives at the hotel's receiving dock, restaurant staff members walk to the area, gather the delivery and bring it to the kitchen where culinary staff break it down and places it into one of three walk-in coolers for meat, produce and dairy. They also place fish into a fish file.
The main kitchen also contains a walk-in cooler/freezer combo for pastry, as well as a convection oven for baking pastries. A batch freezer allows staff to make homemade ice cream.
Counters, including the granite counter in the front, for the three separate pastry, garde manger and prep areas, feature raised-rail refrigerators and integrated pieces of equipment including a 30-quart mixer, ingredient bins, and double overshelves. Granite, marble and wood countertops offer sophisticated finishes to the aesthetics. "With these beautiful elements such as granite, glass, stainless steel and enamel, we're challenged to keep the space clean and maintain high standards of sanitation day in and day out," Tramonto says.
Across the aisle from the walk-in coolers, a stainless steel chef's counter contains a full line of raised-rail refrigerators, refrigerated drawers and hand sinks. The front side of the chef's counter, which has a granite top, holds heated plates, hot soup wells and undershelves for general storage.
"The stainless steel chef's counter equipment was brought in for installation in six large pieces, three for the chef's side and three for the server's side," Bennett says. "They had to be welded together. The refrigerated lines were run so they could connect inside the center of the counter so they are invisible to the chefs and visitors."
"Nearly every piece of refrigeration in the restaurant uses a huge remote compressor rack that measures nine feet by four feet and resides in an underground garage," Bennett continues. "It was quite a task to run all the remote refrigeration lines and ensure that the rack would be sufficiently cooled for proper operation even during the hottest summer months in South Louisiana combined with the heat produced from hundreds of cars in the garage. A huge fan generating enough CFMs in the tiny room had to be added to insure this."
Other refrigeration challenges included running medium- and low-temperature lines to the raised-rail refrigerators near the prep table, repositioning the back-of-house walk-in coolers after all the shop drawings were completed, and shortening the height of the walk-in cooler and ice machine so it could fit around an air-conditioning unit.
Also in the back kitchen, chefs use sous vide equipment to make lamb, slow-cooked butter-poached lobster and gnocchi. "We use sous vide because it can produce very tender meat and seafood," Tramonto says. "It's a very useful toy in the sandbox. It's important to explain that it is only one toy and it isn't for every dish. I don't like to put all my toys in one box, because a variety of equipment is needed to do the type of cuisine we've selected."