Behind the chef's counter, the 34-foot custom-designed cookline stands out with its unique R'evolution red powder coat, a feature the executive chefs requested from the manufacturer. "All the stations are efficiently self-contained with a salamander, convection oven, range, refrigerated drawers, shelving and a computer screen that displays orders," Tramonto says.
On the cookline is a fryer station with a spreader table for breading ingredients that staff cook in the two fryers and dump station. Specialties from the fryer include beer-battered crab beignets with four rémoulades, crawfish boulettes served with crawfish-stuffed flounder Napoleon and artichoke and oyster stew, and french fries.
Next to the fryer station, staff use two six-burner ranges and two convection ovens and a hot well for making appetizers, including sautéed foie gras with peaches, truffle risotto, and sweetbreads.
Following the appetizer station, a pasta station features a pasta cooker that supports the staff's production of linguine and Manila clams, oysterman's spaghettini, sheep's milk ricotta gnocchi with lobster and goat cheese torelli.
Next, the line contains a plancha for cooking fish such as red snapper and flounder at very high temperatures. "The plancha allows us to sear in the juices of the fish and keep it moist," Tramonto says.
Adjacent to the plancha, a hot-top range holds saucepots and keeps equipment and food warm during production. Another hot well holds potatoes and other vegetables.
Next, staff use a double-deck broiler to cook steaks, lamb chops and other meats, then a charbroiler to sear them. A three-tier shelving system allows chefs to hold cooked grilled items at different temperatures until served.
For the cookline, the contractor had to extend and relevel the existing curb to prevent burners and other equipment, such as the salamanders, from slanting. In addition, Bennett says, "the chefs wanted to use existing kettles, and we had to provide proper drainage. However, we couldn't cut into the floor or the drains because they would hit a joist that supports the building. Therefore, we had to extend the legs on the kettles and raise them up and elevate the trough drain pan to run above ground for the length of equipment. This isn't a traditional way to drain equipment."
Behind a wall supporting the cookline is a production line with a pair of 40-gallon kettles for making stocks; and a 40-gallon tilting skillet for making short ribs, shrimp, stocks, Creole Louisiana snapping turtle soup, seafood gumbo and "death by gumbo" with roasted quail, andouille, oysters and filé rice. Staff use the smoker for meats and salumi; a stockpot range for stocks or anything requiring a flame; and a stacked convection oven for roasting chickens and bones. Also on this line, a 20-quart kettle allows the pastry staff to make ice cream bases. In addition, staff use a fryer on this line for fish.
Across from kettles, the fish-cleaning station contains a stainless steel sink and a cutting board that overlaps the sink for complete cleaning. Adjacent to that is a meat table for cleaving and butchering meats.
"We didn't have a full back cookline at Tru, and here we have segregated stations for butchering, sauces, fish cutting and smoking," Tramonto says, "and this came out very well. We need a full kitchen in back for not only the restaurant's dinners but also to handle brunch, parties in the restaurant (the hotel has its own banquet kitchen for events at the hotel), room service that we'll eventually provide, and appetizers for the Mayfield Jazz Playhouse here at the hotel. We'll also be introducing multicourse tasting menus for our wine room and the chef's office space."
After staff cooks the menu items to order, they send the food forward toward the expediter table to keep the dishes warm before servers pick them up and deliver to customers. "The beautiful wood expediter table contains trays that slide in, underliners and retractable heat lamps, which is extremely useful," Tramonto says.
On the second floor above the kitchen sits a glass-enclosed office where chefs can look onto the main line. "This is a great feature because we're always able to stay in touch with what's going on in the kitchen," Tramonto says. "Up here we can also offer a chef's table for diners who enjoy watching the action from above."