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Mass Production

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Now, we have all dealt with the issue of prep cooks and the transient nature of the restaurant world, however what if you really want to just do away with that problem. For instance: if the owner expresses a desire to franchise the restaurant, then the chef is in a unique position to begin investigation of how to mass produce the recipes.

I am in such a position.

I have struggled with prep cooks for years: some are great - as we all know - and some give you the "seemed like a good idea at the time" feeling after hiring them. Others, still are downright criminal.

If the owners want to franchise then I need to develop a way to produce all of our mainstays through mass production.

One way would, of course, be to set up a satellite kitchen and staff out a crew. This would be great because we would reap the whole return on investment from franchisees who have to buy our product.

The other idea is to have a company that already does such things produce our products. This option requites significantly less initial investment however I don't even know where to begin.

I need to compare these two ideas but I do not know where to begin outside producer aspect. I can figure out how to build out a production kitchen but the only way to truly know how to handle this is to have a full picture of both options.

Any advice?? Anyone been down this road? Anyone here work for a company that will make my food for me? Let me know. I can't wait to hear back from you all.
post #2 of 12
Most large meat purveyers will tumble or marinate meat for you.
Also brine and inject. You are probably going to need to find some large
companies such as disney or any large airline and find a contact
at the sous or exec chef level. You are right in thinking a commisary
is the best route. One group of people making all of the bulk products.
You then fall into category that will demand additional licensing and
strict transportation guidelines. You will probably have to have at least
five locations doing substantial business to make it worthwhile. In smaller establishments it makes more sense to hire one extremely competant cook
to produce all the dressings, sauces etc. 5 days a week 8 hours a day.
That cook can train an additional person in case of sickness or during vacation. When you get into hiring a company to produce products for
you, it becomes cost prohibitive. You have to be an extremely large company. Good news is, some companies do knock offs of really great
chain products. Good luck......
post #3 of 12
Ah yes, not from scratch though. I worked at a place where all the signature items were out of a bag. Developed in house a long time ago and then produced elsewhere. The company IMO did a very smart thing to save the tradition. These had been bestsellers since the 70's and were still bestsellers.
post #4 of 12
This sort of upsets me. Sorry but it does.
Chef's don't open boxes.
Chef's cook.

In my local area, all manner and type of chain store restaurant has opened. They remain full based on hype, location, and parking, not the quality of the food. They force independant restaurants wither out of business, or into sections of town that fail to meet their corperate design criteria/demand for space/esthetics.

These chains seek to not to reduce labor, they seek to do away with cooks. Period. You and me. If they can put a high school kid with zero experience on the line to rip open those bags and boxes, so be it.

They aren't real cooks, and that isn't real food. It's corperate america IN YOUR FACE. It's culinary wal-mart. It's cheap, bland, charachterless, and void of tradition and care.

It's my personal satan.

And I think the French are very correct in fighting it tooth and nail.
post #5 of 12
Now thats a little harsh. I personally think america would be better
off eating at home the majority of the time, but, that wasn't the question
he posed. When you have multi outlets that rely on many of the same
finished products, making them at one location is the only way to insure
a quality, consistent product. It doesn't mean it will come out of a box or
be pasteurized. To make things in mass takes just as much skill and care
as making things in small batches. You, are making assumptions. Don't mean
to get carried away, but, for goodness sakes, this fellow is just trying to make
a decent living and thinking of the best way to serve his customer base. They will never go away, so, the most any COOK or CHEF can do is to try
and enhance the end product in as positive a manner as he can!!!!!!!!!
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

well actualy...

While I greatly appreciate your opinion Stephen, I think you got me wrong in my initial post. I am trying to come up with a solution that allows this restaurant to mass produce food that would be applicable to a franchised restaurant, and would allow my owners to mass distribute food around New England. He is right, chain restaurants are bad for food in general and the tradition.. sure.. but at the same time Stephen is right about me: I am just trying to make a living and I am a chef, getting to make food, and as we all know it is a hard job to do and still be able to feed yourself.

Yep, I am trying to find a solution that allows me to run a number of restaurants with untrained labor. Yep. No doubt about it. That being said, I have worked for James Beard recognized restaurants; four diamond restaurants and have owned my own operations - though I did not aim for the high end market. I work very hard and reject your assertions that by seeking such a solution I would fall into the category of your own personal Satan. Will if help if I add that part of our objective is to compete with Olive Garden type operations while using organically produced supplies? Does that change your opinion? (By the way, I don't care if it does change your opinion.)

Frankly I don't care if you consider it wrong, and could not care less what the French think of the American food landscape. You know, for two centuries they have not cared one bit for what we have been doing with regards to food and have relegated American culinarians to the back corner. Now, we have launched onto the world stage and all of the sudden they take umbrage at McDonald's et al... fine... I am not a big McDonald's fan either, but... the French use it to attack everything we do with regards to food and beyond. It is baseless, narrow minded blather and they can keep their opinions to themselves.

Further, I am not Ferran Adria... I am not Thomas Kellar... I am a working chef who gets his pay check and rushes to make my car payment. If I am provided with the opportunity to create good food - while continuing to receive that pay check, or increase it - and it means that I get to solve the puzzle of how to mass produce my recipes: so be it. I am all for it.

In short, I am tired of people on their high horses telling chefs that they need to cook in some French tradition of small, private restaurants. The cast majority of chefs in this country are not Thomas Kellar types. That is a good thing: there are only so many people who can afford Per Se; but many who want to eat out.

So...what was I saying? Right: Stephen I think the Airline idea is a good one. I will try to find contacts in that industry to give me advice. You wouldn't happen to know anyone would you?
post #7 of 12
The one thing that is going to make or break you is the quality of the kitchen managers. You're going to need at least one guy at the commisary full time, and one putting out fires at the satallites. Buuuut since you are going to be a franchiser you may not have that much control. I think in general, the more skilled labor at the end of the chain, the better quality you can achieve.

You may also consider re-specing your recipes, so you can take advantage of some of the good convience products out there. One example is mayo, there are a lot of good mayo's out there. Take this into consideration when you put together the approved vendor list for your franchises.

You're also going to need to learn alot about food science. Since you're in New England, take clam chowder. If you make from start to finish the traditional way and ship it out, you're going to have a curdy pot of sh*t in a couple of days. (Did you know that you have to use a special kind of pepper in food manufacturing? Apperantly the regular kind has too much bacteria in it to be safe! I just found that out last week.)

Also the chilling equipment you'll need will be very expensive, but you probally reallized that.

It depends on your menu, what you can safely outsource/respec, and how much control you want to give up, and how often your commisary will deliver.

Braised items, are a natural if you do it sous vide.
Soups, good also.
Base sauces, can be good. A lot depends on the startch used, the age of the sauce, how long its going to be held hot, and how its finished.
Dresssings, good for making in house, or re-specing.
Desserts, especially good for a commisary. Breads, use a local place.
Marinated meats. Even Stepen had the right idea about having your meat guys vacu/tumble marinade your meats. You can have them inject your meats but your meats but you have to use extracts and coloress spices, otherwise you'll have streaks in the finished product, as well as clogged needles. In lieu of that, you can make the marinades yourself and ship it to the franchise, or marinate the meats your self.

Have I blathered on enough?

A couple of good links:
Food Product Design - Home (site seems to down for the night)
Also go to the food shows, the vendors there can be very good contacts.
post #8 of 12
Hi cwf, what an exciting time for you, yes? Tincook had some great ideas! I wish I could remember the name of this commercial kitchen/food manufacturer I saw on FoodTV but it was part of the "Unwrapped" show where they go behind a product or company and explore it's roots and production etc.

There is a very well known (not by me <blush>) company that private labels recipes for other companies. Sounds like that is what you are looking for to quote out versus actually maintaining your own commissary. This company I'm sure knows the ins and outs of what you must do differently to package and hold foods over a longer period of time and through shipping. I would go online and call Food/TV and ask about that episode. I bet they will help you.
post #9 of 12
Can't really help you with contacts in you area, as I am in the South.
Contact the most successful Meat and Dry Goods vendors in you area
and they will put you in touch with the rep for the airline or airlines. Usually that rep will represent only the airline,no other accounts. Good luck. Didn't
mean to sound to critical, but, the world needs ditch diggers to. Not everyone is meant to be a rocket scientist. Every person has a specific
God given talent. Ours would be the ability to be extremely flexible, solve
problems, get along with all different types of people, multi task at a high stress level, work long hours, and view situations in many different ways and
at many different levels, all the long looking for the sweet spot in providing the best experience for our target audience while utilizing everything given to us in each particular circumstance. I would suggest doing what chick filet does. Use others research. For example, disney has a whole line of enhanced protiens that are cryo packed. Believe it or not, some are prepared with fresh garlic and herbs. Not saying you don't have to use some
stabelizers and certain ingredients, but, the works already been done. Good
luck and keep up the good fight. Don't know about you, but I have a stay at home wife and three kids all under 8 years old. I love what I do, but haven't always been able to love it every minute of the day. If I had to , I would work at the Awful Waffle, in fact, growing up I did. Do you think Chef Keller can put out 300 breakfasts in a matter of 3 or 4 hours? Can everyone out there toss eggs at high volume level. Its the best training for evening saute
in my opinion. Have seen many Chefs thrown into busy breakfast after call ins and laughed so hard I cried...............
post #10 of 12
So very true. That's what we do. :cry: :cry:
post #11 of 12
THe very second I feel the need to sell out history, tradition, skill and talent, and especially my current cooks and all those that simply want to persue the life and are working hard trying to, I'll quit. I'll find another way to make money that doesn't take a giant dump that which is important. If I can't help keep it alive then I won't participate at all.
post #12 of 12

I have several customer plants that could do what you're looking for.
It's exactly what they do, make customized products based on your formulated recipes. Several high end and casual restaurant chains use this process. It guarantees consistency across the board. The only quality issue is your commitment. If you're willing to pay for quality, they are more than happy to produce it for you.

Feel free to email me if you want more details.

Cat Man
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