Comparing Food Service Options

Modern kitchens in all areas of NZ’s hospitality and food service have the same key drivers  albeit they support a variety of different service approaches. These are of course: food quality, deliverable on time and to be cost effective.

Many large establishments in the hospitality, healthcare sectors have adopted with some good success  a cook chill food service process whilst the remainder of the market predominantly use cook serve.

If your kitchens or your service delivery equipment need to be replaced you really should  review which food service system bests suit your needs now and for the next 20 years.

There can be a lot of things to consider in making the evaluation and specialist assistance  is recommended. In many ways there is more flexibility and better leverage of volume  using a cook chill meal solution but they do require a lot of discipline and focus on process  management than the traditional cook serve model.

It is also very important to be cognisant of the need to re-educate all staff of key changes that are rudimentary to the success of this changed food service approach. The alternatives:

  • Cook Serve – The food is cooked fresh, held hot in bain-maries and or holding ovens. The food is then plated and served to the customer or alternatively transported to satellite servery points and then plated and served to the customer. The longer food is held warm the more it looses nutritional and presentational qualities.
  • Cook Chill – The food is cooked and quickly chilled to below 3C, held for up to 5 days  (Open Cook Chill) or 28 days in vacuumed, sealed pouches (Closed Cook Chill). The reheating process can be achieved as a bulk unit or as a plated meal. This means that   the meals can be prepared in advance and if necessary transported, prior to the quick reheat process.
  • Cook Freeze – The food is cooked as for cook chill and then snap frozen. This allows  for storage of up to 3 months between initial cooking and rethermalisation. If being considered as a large-scale food service solution it does seem to require massive  volumes to cover the significant setup cost.

I have considerable experience in the use and evaluation of different food service systems and service equipment and can help identify opportunities and solutions in all areas of your evaluation and or implementation of any food service or kitchen change.

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Mark Collins