When individuals choose to eat at a restaurant, certain expectations come with their dining experience. One of those expectations is to have a reasonable waiting time from when they arrive to when the food gets to the table. Finding ways to prepare food faster in your restaurant can allow you to not only meet but exceed your customers’ expectations and help grow your business.
Use these 15 simple tricks below to get the food cooked faster for both your dine-in and take out customers:
1- Train the chef to be well organized and efficient.
2- Prepare ingredients before you begin cooking.
3- Prepare popular dishes in advance.
4- Place lids on certain foods to help them cook faster.
5- Use foil to speed along specific cooking processes.
6- Chill certain foods before slicing.
7- Use sizzle platters to speed up cooking.
8- Season and taste food during each step of preparation.
9- Keep pans and ovens preheated and ready to use.
10- Precook meats and other foods that can quickly be reheated.
11- Keep the knives in the kitchen sharp.
12- Use the right-sized pans.
13- Cut food into smaller pieces.
14- Freeze sauces, butter, and stocks in advance.
15- Salt boiling water.
No one likes waiting longer than average at a restaurant for their meals. Read on for details on how to perfect these 15 simple tricks.
Train the Chef to be Well Organized and Efficient
The chef in a restaurant is the one behind the scenes running the kitchen. To get the food to the customer promptly, you will need to have a chef that is extremely organized and efficient. A chef should be able to multitask without neglecting a cooking meal or losing track of what the kitchen staff is doing.
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Here are a few ways to help your chef excel in the kitchen:
- Set clear expectations.
- Have the chef trained in different culinary techniques.
- Find a maître d’hôtel that works well with your chef and will meet your expectations.
- Have a properly trained staff that interacts well with the chef.
- Teach the chef to delegate and not micromanage.
- Provide an organized workspace.
- Employ a chef who knows the preparation and cooking order and is able to multitask.
Prepare Ingredients Before You Begin Cooking
“Mise en place” is a French phrase that refers to the technique of cutting, measuring, and preparing ingredients in advance and having them set out before you begin a recipe. Having someone in the kitchen prepping food in advance will save time during the cooking process. Restaurants should spend time preparing all the ingredients on their menu, especially popular dishes, before they open or before their busy times.
Prepare Popular Dishes in Advance
Successful restaurants will keep records of popular dishes for certain times of the day and begin to prepare them in advance. For example, if chicken alfredo is a popular dish at dinner time, after the lunch rush, begin preparing the sauce, chicken, and noodles. This way, when 20 orders come in at 5:00 pm, the chef can get them cooked and assembled in no time.
Place Lids on Certain Foods to Help Them Cook Faster
Covering certain foods while they cook can speed up the cooking process. However, depending on the recipe, some foods need to be cooked without a lid or cover to have the right texture or color. For example, placing a lid on a casserole dish such as macaroni and cheese will allow the dish to cook faster, but it will prevent it from browning and bubbling on top for that crispy finish.
Listed below are a few reasons why covers speed up cooking times:
- Covers will trap in heat.
- Lids decrease air circulation allowing the trapped air in the pot to heat faster.
- Tight lids can increase air pressure, which speeds up cooking time.
- A cover or lid will trap in condensation and return it to the food you are cooking. This added water can allow the dish to heat and cook more evenly.
Use Foil to Speed Along Certain Processes of Cooking
Using foil during or after cooking can cut down on cooking time and keep the food warm longer. Foil traps in heat and moisture, which help shorten cooking time. The foil also allows you to cook certain foods in advance, like a baked potato. Once cooked, wrap it in foil and keep it warm until ready to serve.
Chill Certain Foods Before Slicing
Preparation, such as slicing, dicing, and chopping, can be a time-consuming process. A great trick to speeding up this process for soft, slippery foods, like cheese, bacon, or butter, is to chill them in advance. If you can firm up these foods before slicing, they will hold their shape and make the slicing process go faster.
Use Sizzle Pans to Speed Up Cooking
These small, oval-shaped pans are a great way to speed up the cooking time of certain foods. They work well for toasting nuts, melting cheese, and broiling foods. Use a sizzle pan for a quick finishing touch on a dish.
Season and Taste Food During Each Step of Preparation
Not only will seasoning your food through the preparation process fill it with layers of flavoring, but it can also prevent mistakes and save time. As you season then taste, then season and taste again, you will keep yourself from over seasoning the dish and having to start over.
Keep Pans and Ovens Preheated and Ready to Use
When the restaurant opens for the day and customers start to arrive, you want to have your ovens, grills, and stoves hot and ready to go. Prepping the food in advance won’t do you much good if you must wait for the oven to preheat or the pan to get hot before you can begin cooking.
Preheat Meats and Other Foods that Can Quickly Be Reheated
Having the pans and grills hot and ready to use also allows you to quickly bring to temperature any previously assembled dishes that just need to be warmed before serving. For example, a restaurant that serves steak can precook the steak and refrigerate it until an order is placed. When the order comes in, they pull it out of the fridge, quickly sear it to temperature, and then send it out to the customer. Obviously this is not to apply to all kinds of dishes but want to be a piece of inspiration and can be adopted especially when you serve meat dishes with sauces.
Keep the Knives in the Kitchen Sharp
Not only is a dull knife a safety hazard, but it can slow down food preparation. Dull knives won’t cut as quickly as a sharp knife. After each use, a chef should hone the knife to keep it sharp and allow them to easily cut, dice, and slice food faster and more evenly. Keeping all the knives in the kitchen sharp will also save a chef from having to waste time hunting down a sharp one. To speed up slicing, chefs can also use a mandoline instead of slicing by hand.
Use the Right-Sized Pans
Make sure the size of the pan fits the amount of food. Large pans can take longer to heat and don’t always heat evenly, so for smaller amounts of food, use a small pan. For larger amounts of food, use wide, shallow pans. The wider the pan, the more of the pan’s surface is exposed to the heat, allowing for more food to meet that heat for it to cook faster.
Cut Food into Smaller Pieces
If it works with your recipe, cut your food into smaller pieces, so it cooks faster. Smaller pieces of food allow for more surface area of the food to be exposed to heat, helping it cook faster than large pieces of food. You also don’t want to overcrowd the cooking pan. Too much food in a pan will take longer to cook.
Freeze Sauces, Butter, and Stocks in Advance
Rather than having to spend extra time each day cooking a new batch of sauces or stocks, prepare more copious amounts at a time and place them in the freezer. Make sure they are in freezer-safe containers that will keep out freezer burn. Place dated labels on the containers so that you can keep track of how fresh the food is. This can also be done with jellies, butters, and other similar foods.
Salt Boiling Water
Adding salt to boiling water will make the water hotter by increasing its boiling point from 100 degrees celcius to almost 106 degrees. The hotter water will allow you to cook your food faster and helps the food cook more thoroughly.
There are many ways that you can quicken your food preparation to keep your customers happy and your kitchen working at a comfortable pace. The tips in this article are a great place to begin!