Streamline Your Kitchen

sk-miguelSubstitute recipe items with things you use to save on cost, waste, and space. Instead of purchasing breadcrumbs, use crackers or ground oats. Herbs and spices can be expensive and rarely used, so instead of buying saffron, use turmeric. Substitutions may change the flavor a bit, but who knows, you may even enjoy it more!

Miguel De Jesus
partner, 1885 Grill

sk-acropolisStart a small herb garden to keep from having various bottles of dried herbs in your pantry. Start off with rosemary, sweet basil, flat leaf parsley, and cilantro. At the end of the growing season, you can always dry any excess herbs, or move pots indoors to warmer temperatures. You’ll be happy this winter when you have something fresh and homegrown.

Nick Kyriakidis
general manager, Acropolis

sk-mikeWe have checklists that we use at Blue Orleans, and I try to follow the same process at home. The fry station, the sauté line, the dish pit – everyone has a checklist that they follow on a day in and day out basis. That is what helps us to maintain cleanliness and expedite what we are called on to do either in prep or in dinner service.

Mike Adams
chef, Blue Orleans

sk-ruthA place for everything and everything in its place, otherwise known as “zoning.” I’m pretty good at multitasking, but sometimes I’m not the most organized person in the world. Since I opened the café and applied zoning there, that all changed. Zoning requires a little time, a label gun, and commitment – but it’s all worth it.

Ruth Oehmig
owner, Café on the Corner

sk-taylorEveryone has that dreaded utensil drawer that you have to dig through to find what you need. I love having rails and racks on my kitchen walls with hooks that I can hang my utensils on. Much like in our commercial kitchens, I have set up my home kitchen to have pots, pans, and utensils on display so they are organized and easy to find.

Taylor Monen
co-owner, Taco Mamacita, Urban Stack, Community Pie, Clyde’s on Main, and Milk and Honey

sk-mtvernonWe offer seven entrées in addition to our a la carte menu, plus eight fresh vegetables, on a daily basis. To keep us from running around like chickens with our heads cut off, I have a daily powwow with the kitchen staff so that we can be prepared to move food at the utmost efficiency. Each cooler is stocked with its designated items so that we always know where to go to grab what we need.

John Lopopolo
chef, Mt. Vernon

sk-greerEliminating extra steps ensures efficiency and consistency. I treat my stove as the central command. This is where I spend most of my time, therefore all items needed should be as close to that area as possible. I’m right handed so all spoons, spatulas, whisks, etc. are within reach… on my right side. My cutting board is one step away and right next to my sink. Equipment like blenders and food processors are all considered prep equipment, so there’s no need to clutter your workspace with them. Store them away and keep things like spices or oils closer.

Jason Greer
project manager, Boathouse and Sugar’s Rib

sk-robLabel, label, label…you can never label too much in a kitchen. We have a culture of masking tape (we use green) and a black sharpie. Team members turn the ends of the masking tape down on the labels for easy removal. If you stock/prep it, label it! It sounds goofy and simple, but we all preach and live by this.

Rob Gentry
creator of Blue Plate, Local 191, and ROBAR

sk-adamI suggest washing produce when you get home from the grocery store and prepping vegetables, fruit, and meat in advance to cut down on time when cooking. I also recommend having ingredients that you use regularly on the stovetop or counter and keeping spices organized alphabetically in your pantry to cut down on time searching for the ingredients.

Adam Roe
executive chef, Broad Street Grill at The Chattanoogan Hotel

sk-billyMany of us have a shelf full of cookbooks in the kitchen just collecting dust and taking up valuable space. But for me, there is one book that never needs dusting: The New Food Lover’s Companion. Now in its 5th edition, this book is indispensable for professional and home cooks alike, containing more than 7,000 definitions of ingredients and techniques and dozens of charts. Whether you are stumped by an ingredient or you want to find out what you just ate at a nice restaurant, this is the only resource you need.

Billy Sparks
culinary experience director, Café 7

sk-kevinPreparing food in the kitchen is a dance and the rhythm is essential. The magic of streamlining a kitchen begins with envisioning the dishes you intend to create and then organizing the flow. A sharp knife is the most important tool, but equally as important is having all of your tools within quick reach. I have found that there is not one magic way to set up a kitchen; however if you maintain an “everything in its place” attitude then you are able to discover when and where things need to be changed to create the magic.

Kevin Dunlap
general manager, Canyon Grill

sk-jasonWe use the time before we open to have as many key pieces in place as possible. Being prepared and keeping important items within reach ensures that when we’re open our entire focus is on providing great service. The same can apply at home – having all ingredients chopped and at hand before you start cooking will let you focus on creating a great meal.

Jason Gill
operations manager, Mojo Burrito

sk-tonyThe keys to an efficient and streamlined kitchen are consistency and organization. In essence, everything in my kitchen has a place, and I make sure that after I use any ingredient or utensil that it goes back where it belongs. Consistency breeds habit. Now it’s second nature, and the whole kitchen staff knows exactly where to find what we need.

Tony Parys
head chef, Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria

sk-brionWhen setting up your kitchen, make sure it flows in one direction: from fridge and pantry to prep station, then on to cooktop and oven, and finally to the table. Tackle all tasks at each station before moving to the next. Minimizing your movement around the kitchen will substantially cut down on the time and effort you spend cooking meals.

Brion Voges
pizzaiuolo, Fiamma Pizza Company

sk-tomAt Lupi’s, we’ve always used a peg board in our kitchens. It puts your tools right at hand and makes them readily available. It works so efficiently, we use one at our house too.

Tom Maynard
assistant general manager, Lupi’s Pizza

sk-georgeMaking simple “inventory checklists” for each family member and keeping them on the fridge works wonders. Put a “minimum par” amount next to each item (i.e. Bobby’s Protein Bars, 6), so that when your family member gets to that level, they then add a check mark on the list signaling you to buy them on your next grocery run. If you go twice a week, set your pars to the level that will comfortably get you through that time period.

George MacEwan
chef de cuisine, Two Ten Jack

sk-jonA great way to save space is to invest in a quality chef’s knife, and then learn to use it correctly. There is no need to spend extra dollars on a fancy knife set – almost everything you will need to do in a home kitchen can be done with an eight inch chef’s knife. You will have less clutter on your countertops and less cleanup too!

Jon Riede
general manager, Rodizio Grill

sk-timOrganizing is a top priority for me. To keep my kitchen streamlined and to cut back on clutter, I clean out the cooler regularly. I keep a trash can nearby with several layers of bags, so that I can toss old items quickly and easily, and once the bag fills up, I can simply remove it and have another one at the ready.

Tim Bishop
chef, Bones Smokehouse

sk-chrisWhile organization in a restaurant kitchen is important, setting up the kitchen to have all tools and ingredients at the point of use is equally important. In reducing steps and movement,
you increase productivity.

Chris Wootton
General Manager, Hennen’s

sk-nabeEvery ingredient, tool, and utensil has its place in our kitchen, which comes from taking the time to prepare accordingly. The same can be said for home kitchens. Before making a great meal at home, divide out the necessary portion of each ingredient and bring them within easy reach. Also have utensils, pots, and pans organized to create an efficient cooking environment.

Yasushi Wantanabe (owner, Sushi Nabe) and Taizo Watanabe (sushi chef, Sushi Nabe)
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