For a generation that’s grown up watching Iron Chef and considers dining out a necessity, the restaurant experience needs drama, action and stagecraft to stand out. While open kitchens and display cooking are not new concepts, more operators are giving guests “a peek behind the foodservice curtain.”
A moving experience
Display cooking is all about movement, dramatic lighting and setting the stage. Rotisserie ovens deliver perfectly prepared poultry, the visual of spit rotation, plus plenty of sizzle and aroma. Traditional open-hearth brick ovens create an old-world atmosphere, as well as gourmet pizza, artisan breads and planked salmon, prepared to order. While vertical spit and ladder European rotisseries are showstoppers when clean, U.S. models are easier to clean, load and unload.
Hot off the griddle
Watching a skilled cook work a griddle is impressive, but adding razor-sharp knives and samurai moves makes Japanese teppanyaki griddles a great gathering place to watch the show. Drop-in type griddles are designed to mount in custom worktops. The drawback: chefs must always look professional, wear clean whites and maintain a spotless work area.
How suite it is
Chef suites are the penultimate playhouse and a great way to showcase the controlled chaos of a busy kitchen. First developed abroad, some Euro-designed suites offer a sculpted oval design, trimmed with designer colors and brass accents. Most U.S. manufacturers offer modular chef suites with a choice of ranges, ovens, griddles, broilers, fryers, refrigeration and storage options. Some add a plancha (Spanish-style griddle) to the mix. Take note: chef suites require lots of space and ventilation.
Better buffet cooking
In the past, small liquid fuel or propane/ butane stoves were the heat-of-choice for buffet service. Today, operators can lose the flame with induction ranges. These compact, glass top units use electricity to power a magnetic coil that heats the iron atoms in ferrous metal pans. Spring USA has introduced a smart induction range with a logic chip that can sense pan size and ferrous metal content and adjust voltage to deliver the heat level desired, with a variety of pan types. Their SmartScan technology can also be programmed for automatic temperature settings and one-touch recipe settings.