The Kitchen Scene
Food arrives at a loading dock in the back of the building in a space that is adjacent to the kitchen. A receiver/purchasing manager checks in all deliveries, and staff then take the food into one of two walk-in coolers or a freezer. Culinary staff at each of the three main areas in the kitchen – the main kitchen on the south side and the breakfast and banquet sections on the north side – requisition products from the main storage area. Staff transport these requisitioned items to each kitchen area and place them in dedicated refrigerators, freezers and dry storage. "This kitchen is heaven to work in because of the storage space and flow," says Rick Pestana, executive chef at the hotel.
In the cold prep area for the complimentary breakfast service, staff wash, peel and cut fresh fruit; slice cheese; and assemble breads, cold cereals and other cold items before placing them on a cart for delivery into the breakfast servery the next day. Staff also assemble mise en place for the hot items such as omelets and fried eggs that two cooks prepare to order in front of guests, using two flat griddles.
Staff use the same equipment and an adjacent area to stage room service preparation.
The breakfast prep area connects to a dedicated cookline, which contains a hot prep line with two griddles and ovens beneath for staff to offer guests omelets, fried eggs and pancakes, as well as other hot items. The griddles are separated by a refrigerated rail that holds ingredients. Cooks face guests and have an opportunity to interact with them while they prepare orders. A waffle iron sits nearby for staff to prepare this popular breakfast item. A copper cover positioned at an angle over the standard hood provides a pleasing visual image. Extra incandescent lights provide illumination so guests will gravitate toward this area.
When designing this space, Galvin wanted to assure its labor efficiency. "One or two chefs can operate this area, depending on traffic," he says.
In addition, two adjacent and identical serving areas, each with five recessed bain maries, hold hot items throughout service. "We also added flexibility by providing stainless steel covers for these areas if the culinary staff wants to host something completely different like a Thanksgiving or other holiday display and need counter space to place desserts and appetizers," Galvin says.
Two identical service stations with granite counters sit in the middle of the room where guests can help themselves to cereal and make their own toast using a conveyor toaster. Each station contains a Lucite display box that holds pastries. Guests can easily reach the refrigerated counter, which is angled at 20 degrees, and staff can use the area to merchandise food items such as fresh fruit. Beneath the counters, storage holds napkins, serviceware and risers. These stations also double as service areas for evening receptions.
The banquet area is equipped with ample equipment to handle large events, because the hotel anticipates enormous convention and meeting business. At the hot prep line, staff use an oven that functions almost like a rotating oven but contains round holes in the back so the back plates move to create a counterclockwise movement of air. "There are fewer moving parts on this oven than a rotating oven, so there is less downtime," Galvin says.
Also on the banquet prep line are convection ovens to roast meats, bones for mirepoix, cedar-planked salmon, prime rib and pork loins. A double broiler cooks steaks and chops, the 6-burner range allows staff to caramelize onions and heat small amounts of soup when using the larger kettles doesn't make sense, such as for parties of 30 to 40 people. Staff use a griddle in this area to prepare appetizers and garnishes.
The line also contains tilting braisers for cooking rice, sautéing vegetables, slow-braising menu items such as Caribbean-style pork as well as beef and chicken for Mexican stations featuring quesadillas and other dishes, heating marinara and Alfredo sauces, cooking stocks overnight and scrambling eggs. "What's great about the tilting braisers is the ability to control heat and moisture," Pestana says.
At the end of the line, staff use the steam kettle to prepare sauces, shrimp for cold appetizers and salmon for salads. "When we're in a bind, we pre-steam potatoes and finish them on a flattop," Pestana says.
For delivery to the banquet areas, staff place hot prepared menu items in bulk into mobile warmers, which they use to transport food to the banquet hallways and plug them into the electrical outlets. "There's no shortage of electrical outlets," Pestana says. "They are positioned about every three feet." Staff use the hallways for staging before taking food into the banquet rooms.
For cold food, staff fill mobile racks with salads, cold soups and desserts and transport the racks directly into this preparation area's dedicated walk-in cooler, which opens to the kitchen on one side and to the banquet area on the other side. Staff serve as needed.
When staff serve plate-up-style banquet events, they plate food up in the kitchen, put the plates into hot carts and transport them into the banquet area where they are held until served. "The food warmers we're using contain chambers that can hold hot food at two different temperatures," Pestana says. "They also can hold half the full capacity so we don't need to use so much power."
The Restaurant Kitchen
In the restaurant area, culinary staff work at a long prep area with cooking equipment to the left and a chef's counter on the right with refrigerated rails, counter prep space, refrigerated drawers beneath the counter and double shelving. A microwave sits above the dessert prep area, which contains two dipper wells to provide separate ice cream containers for those who want and those who don't want nuts added as a topping. The stainless steel panels above the counter are kept down so serving staff can't reach in and help themselves to garnishes or other ingredients.