itchen equipment must handle volume, maximize efficiency
For the new US$480 million Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine, size matters. At 2.3 million sq. ft. (213,679 sq. m) the property features 1,511 guestrooms and suites; The Lone Star Tower–an “intimate,” 476-room hotel within a hotel; more than 400,000 sq. ft. (37,161 sq. m) of pre-function, meeting, convention and exhibition space, including 70 breakout rooms, an 80,000-sq. ft. (7,432-sq. m) outdoor special-event lawn and three ballrooms; a 25,000-sq. ft. (2,323-sq. m) spa; and a yet-to-be completed 1,000-seat entertainment venue. It also contains 12 food and beverage operations serviced by 11 production kitchens. From banqueting to roomservice and fine dining to sports bars, the decisions the hotel development team made when it came to kitchenequipment focused predominantly on volume. At this property it was not a question so much as what types of equipment were needed, but how many and what capacity each piece of equipment could accommodate.
With such a huge undertaking, the four-month-old resort relied on its name–Gaylord, which with its flag ship Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, and its deluxe mega-resort in Orlando, knows something about scale. This latest resort used Gaylord’s preferred vendors to supply the majority of the kitchen needs, from the flash broilers in the resort’s fine-dining steakhouse to the saute stations at the resort’s Nuevo Latino restaurant by famed Texas Chef Stephen Pyles. What makes these two venues standout from the property’s other production kitchens is their layout–as both are set up as display kitchens (one partially, one entirely).
“Our guests are more savvy about food presentation and offerings, and we wanted to include them in the fun,” says Rick Hopkins, food and beverage director for the resort, of the open-kitchen decision. “We wanted to include the ambience of the kitchen production as part of the meal experience.”
At Ama Lur
Seven primary stations make up the full display kitchen at Area Lur. As this restaurant specializes in tapas, the scheme is different from the traditional cooking line in that each station is entirely self-sufficient–from creating the dish to plating and presentation. “There are no boundaries or walls; people can see every person at every station,” says Hopkins of the nine-person line staff. “The challenge is that all the stations have to work uniformly to send out tapas as quickly as possible.” For a restaurant that typically does between 900 and 1,200 covers daily, that means the layout and set up of each station have to maximize efficiency.
Each station focuses on a different aspect of the menu, such as cold or hot tapas. The line chefs work independently, sharing the wood-burning flatbread oven, which is the main focal point of the display. This kitchen set up is conducive to the type of cuisine the restaurant serves, since tapas are meant to be enjoyed with small plates being presented at different times throughout the course of the meal.
Three of the stations function completely stand alone with their own refrigeration, heat source, storage areas, saute, steamer, wood-burning grill, stacking/ combi-oven and standard convection oven. The remaining four stations work together sharing some pieces, according to Executive Chef David Woodward. who says the convection ovens are the most important part of the set up, as most of the menu offerings are created with that type of equipment. “It’s a very hightech piece of equipment that offers the most versatility,” Woodward says. “it gives us the ability to control the moisture level of the oven, from a very dry roast to crisping the outside of something–it removes the moisture and retains a high heat.”
Even though the restaurant has only been open a short time, Woodward says the layout was so well designed (for functionality and efficiency) that to date he can think of very few changes. He would like to add a griddle for sauteing some of the different meat and fish items, and perhaps open up some of the burners. Cleanliness is his biggest dilemma, though. “With display cooking, keeping it looking sharp and clean at any point in the night is a challenge,” he says, “particularly with the high volume we are doing already.”
The resort’s fine-dining establishment, Old Hickory Steakhouse, was built into a wine cellar. Guests descend into the cellar and have a partial view of the kitchen line. The display area showcases the chefs’ saute stations and flash broilers, which cook steaks at about 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (871 degrees Celsius) “giving them a nice char without burning them,” Hicks says. Here, the broilers take center stage. In fact, the restaurant recently had to add a second unit–a traditional double-stack open grill with flat top–to handle volume since grilled steaks comprise 80% of the approximately 260 covers per night in just tour hours. In addition to the flash broilers, steaks are finished off in combi-ovens.
This restaurant’s kitchen is more traditional in layout, with a linear design and back prep area. “We butcher our own steaks. Otherwise the set up is pretty traditional,” Hicks says. In addition to the flash broilers and combi-ovens, the kitchen features a rack-in, flat-top griddle and charbroiler, where most of the fish items are sauteed, and an eight-burner stove with two salamanders above it for broiling side dishes, vegetables and finishing fish. “Our philosophy on buying equipment is to buy good, solid pieces that are not overly reliant on technology,” adds Tom Fleming, the restaurant’s executive chef. “While the combi-oven is very tech-focused, it is also very versatile. You can do anything with it–from braising meats to making brulees.” Fleming says more challenging than the equipment choice is the sheer volume of business the restaurant is doing already.
Speaking of volume, an F&B standout in terms of production is that one centralized pastry kitchen services the entire resort, including the banqueting business. This 4,000-sq. ft. (372-sq. m) space features a separate chocolate-making room in addition to the traditional mixers, rondo dough sheeters, proofers, ovens, etc. “On average they feed a minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 guests through our outlets and banquets,” Hicks says. “On our busiest days, it’s more like 15,000.” Eleven people work in the pastry kitchen and the biggest challenge, Hick says, is switching from production to plate presentation. “You have to have enough room to both produce the food and then plate 5,000 dessert plates. It’s quite a challenge,” he says.
Warsaw Hotel Finds Innovative Way To Use Induction Technology
The Courtyard by Marriott Warsaw International Airport Hotel’s Brasserie Restaurant is making strides in cooking technology with a new induction heating system used to keep buffet dishes warmer–and fresher–for the benefit of staff and hotel guests alike.
The Brasserie’s induction cooking method works by keeping dishes warm with an electrical current frequenting from 1 to 3 kHz, which circulates within ceramic plates. Placing ferromagnetic cookery in these plates closes the electrical circuit and generates heat in the pans without heating the plates themselves. “The cookware, not the surface heats up; it keeps the whole area cooler, and it’s literally impossible to start a fire,” says Randy Villareal, senior vice president of New York-based Tishman Hotel Corp., which manages the nearly year-old property. “Plus it is much more flexible in terms of temperature control. Meals are warmed without the threat of scorching or overcooking.”
The system was custom-built into the buffet by French manufacturer Bonnet, creating “a clean and sleek look,” Villareal says. The cost was approximately US$22,000 for the entire line. However, the real expense is the investment in the chafing dishes, which have special metal bottoms that induce the current. Still, Villareal says, ROI comes by way of a 60% savings in energy costs. “It’s well worth the expense, especially in the buffet where there is typically so much energy wasted,” he says.
Villareal adds that while induction cooking has been getting greater attention in the U.S. market lately, many hotel restaurants have yet to make the switch. Villareal calls induction “the kitchen of the future,” and adds this is one of the first hotels in Warsaw to use induction–and one of the first of its kind to use it in a buffet line. The hotel also uses more traditional induction cooking at the buffet’s omelet-making station. The management company is starting to incorporate induction cooking throughout its global hotel system.
Case Study: Venting A Problem
CHALLENGE The new London Marriott West India Quay Hotel’s restaurant attracts a business clientele from London’s financial sector. So when designing the space, the goal was to create an upscale ambience, including a display kitchen. However, the design team did not want anything “industrial looking” and wanted to eliminate the traditional hood from the display kitchen where two lava rock grills were to be positioned. London-based foodservice design consultant Cini Little GB undertook the mission “to create a system that would negate the use of conventional material associated with cooking extraction.”
SOLUTION Conventional down draft systems (used in fast-food applications and a variety of Asian-technique cooking schemes) were dismissed because their design capacity was insufficient to employ within the Marriott scheme. A more controlled system was required, and Cini Little looked to design an extraction unit that would capture and contain a 600cfm/linear ft. effluence stream, within a 900-mm (36-in.) working height elevation. This unit would be integrated with surround air systems to create a “frameless cooking concept.”
Finnish manufacturer Halton Systems was approached to design a prototype. The objective was to ventilate the grills allowing the customer to observe the cooking process; and at the same time, eliminate most of the odor and unsightliness of condensation and grease build-up associated with conventional hood systems.
A module was devised whereby two grill units would sit within an “E” shaped, stainless-steel surround. The grills were further divided by a supply air spine designed to run at a maximum of 15% of the exhaust. The bi-directional horizontal discharge through the dividing spine captures the initial escape of effluent as generated on each grill, and by forcing it toward the vertical filter bank, it picks up the main extraction stream. This process reduces dissipation to a negligible amount.
The mandatory wet chemical system pipe work is buried within the 100-mm (4-in.) diameter tubular gantry upright, creating a “nozzle feature” within the minimum discharge height of 460 mm (18 in.) above the cooking surface. Similarly, all other fire suppression components are located under the counter. The control box and containers were positioned to be accessible through the front of the substructure, with the fusible link located under the filters–accessible through the chef’s side.
RESULTS With a US$37,000 investment in this complete down draft system with custom hood, no longer does the awning of a clad-steel box predominate. The new extraction system is more efficient at extracting in an overall system balanced by a single party (as opposed to conventional ventilation schemes in which the hood is balanced by one party and the adjacent systems by another). The system provides an odor-free, quieter, easier-to-clean operation and gives new flexibility to modern show cooking.