To enhance efficiency, Miles says, "The kitchen has optimal flow with minimal crossover for servers, so they spend less time in the kitchen." Also, the design allows staff to have access through a central hallway from the side dock and basement storage to prevent crossover or high traffic paths in production areas.
Food and supplies arrive several times weekly at the warehouse loading dock, and upon delivery the staff check the products in and take them to walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers and dry storage. Kitchen "storekeepers" requisition food daily for delivery from the warehouse. When they receive the products, storekeepers store, rotate and thaw them in specified areas designated for general kitchen staff production. General staff — pantry, line, prep and employee dining crews — take the products they need for daily production. Need is determined by menus written by the food and beverage director and executive chefs for the season and approved by the National Park Service.
In the cold prep and pantry area, staff use prep tables, sinks, a vertical cutter/mixer, handheld mixers and a food slicer to wash and prepare ingredients such as vegetables and fruit for further food production. A 60-quart floor mixer prepares mashed potatoes, salad dressings, and dough for bread and cookies. Staff use a 20-quart tabletop mixer to prepare sauces and condiments.
A pantry hotline sits adjacent to the cold prep area. Staff here use a small combi oven, five-gallon steam-jacketed kettle, panini-style griddle and single-vat deep fryer. "This allows great menu versatility," says Dean. "This is the only pantry production line in the park with its own dedicated hot production area, so we're still experimenting with systems and menu items."
In the hot prep area, staff prepare bulk food for à la carte dinner service in the Old Faithful Inn's dining room. In the production area, shelving, cutting boards, scales and utensils support staff as they ready food for hot preparation. "The proximity from delivery to storage to prep is very efficient," Dean says. "So is having prep stations so close to the hot production line."
The flow and layout contrast favorably to the old kitchen's arrangement. "In the old kitchen, which was comprised of two floors, with the warehouse downstairs, we were scrambling from one room to another, so this is much better," Dean says.
On the steamline, staff use two 40-gallon steam-jacketed kettles for boiling and simmering pastas, soups and stocks. "Steam feeds into the kettles from the boiler system that feeds the entire building," Dean says.
Adjacent to the kettles, a 40-gallon tilt skillet grills French toast, sears proteins and braises pot roast. "This is a very versatile piece of equipment that we don't use fully because we have many other pieces of equipment to cook similarly," Dean says. "But we know we can increase our usage of the skillet whenever necessary."
Next to the skillet, large combi ovens braise, bake, roast and steam high volumes of proteins, vegetables and baked goods. The ovens also heat high volumes of breakfast pastries and rethermalize sauces and roasted potatoes. "We used to prepare prime rib here, but we were happier with it when it was prepared in a smaller oven," Dean says.
Another feature Dean appreciates is the large hood system. The system's hoods (all of which are variable) are tied together; depending on smoke and heat, exhaust fans ramp up, which helps save energy.
On the hotline, each piece of equipment is a station. Staff use a combi oven to steam vegetables and reheat prepared items if necessary; a griddle to sear trout and chicken; an overhead broiler to bake flatbread pizza, melt cheese on hamburgers and finish omelets at breakfast; a six-burner open range to reheat sauces and sauté pasta dishes and appetizers; a deep-fat fryer for french fries and chicken wings; another griddle with an overhead broiler to increase capacity during busy periods; and a charbroiler for hamburgers, bison burgers and New York strip steak.
Staff pass hot food through a window to servers who also pick up food from the cold line and take it through a doorway into the dining room. Servers also have access to full-line beverage stations.
On the other side of the kitchen, staff prepare food for the employee dining room. Here they use a combi oven, range, griddle and deep-fat fryer to make a large selection of menu items for the employees who work at Old Faithful Inn.