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Can a Commercial Food Processor Replace The Need for A Prep Cook?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Just curious to those who has experience with commercial food processors in their kitchens. Can it replace the work of a dicing/slicing/julienning/cutting prep work of a line cook?

Obviously, a food processor is faster but how about quality? Pros and cons?

post #2 of 27

Machines are very useful but they still need humans to feed and operate them.  Just what are you asking? Certainly a dicer is a lot faster and more uniform than having a prep cook dicing peppers, tomatoes, etc.  No one in their right mind would julienne french fries by hand (as an example) unless the place was very very small.  I'm not sure how to answer exactly.  You will still need some prep cooks but having the right equipment can reduce labor by a fair amount.

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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #3 of 27

Question doesnt make much sense...even a prep-only cook does far more than a food processor can, 

and if the prepper is gone, who's gonna run and clean the FP? The current line cook, taking them

away from the line just that much more. I've also never seen a food processor run to the walk in cuz

we suddenly ran out of something. :lol:

post #4 of 27

Odd question coming from a "pro".

post #5 of 27

When your robot coup motor burns out at a very bad time- then what?

Always need a back up.

These equipment manufacturer promise the world.

Really good powerful equipment requires a huge investment.

Thats what makes this all  so challenging-managing the people you have to have to run a food business.  EMPLOYEES! and  more than you'd even  like to have. 

post #6 of 27

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sincerely hope this day never comes....

post #7 of 27

To me this is kind of like asking if a good quality stove will replace a poor cook. 

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Sorry everyone, I should have been more clear. I'm very new and want to start a meal delivery business (not a pro) but was hoping to get some advice from you pros. I guess I should have rephrased my question. I'm not looking to replace the prep cooks (I would still need to hire a team) but I know we will need to cut a lot of vegetables (i.e. many salads) and am wondering if there is good enough equipment out there I should purchase to help with this task. I'm doing everything out of my own savings so I trying to be mindful of costs, which is why I'm asking everyone here.

 

Any thoughts on the good equipment to help what I'm trying to achieve? And do you think the quality of the cuts would be good as a prep cook (basically my original question)?

post #9 of 27

For dependable, quality work, walk right past any table top food processor/robot coupe.  Anything with a plastic housing or bowl/chute will become landfill within a year of moderate use.

 

Get yourself a cast iron beast, a 30 qt or larger Hobart mixer.

 

Then get the shredding attachment, and get the slicing blade along with the shredding/julienning blades you want.

 

For larger julienne, or for any size dice, you get another attachment called the power dicer that hooks on to shredding attachment..

 

None of this stuff is cheap, but no one says you can't buy it used.  This equipment is bomb-proof and can be used 18 hrs/ day.  The mixer won't burn out after 1 hr of use, nor will it dance off of the table, nor will you have to replace crappy plastic bowls/switches/covers/chutes or the like.  

 

Oh, and the mixer itself comes in pretty handy too....

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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #10 of 27

Hah!  No, a food processor is just for processing stuff the way you need it processed.  All other cuts can be done quicker by a good cook.

 

Just look for some youtube videos.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWsFNORwDnU

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Interesting, I haven't looked into these attachements. Are the cuts (dice, julienne...etc.) higher quality with thehobart attachment vs. a commercial food processor (even assuming a high-end non table top food processor)?

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 

And thanks kuan - that is one impressive video! Could you elaborate when you say a food processor is just for processing stuff the way you need it processed? Would these processors work well for julienne cuts for example?

post #13 of 27

OK, I actually read the thread this time.  You want to start a business.

 

A processor doesn't cut.  It shreds, pulverizes, purees.  Even if you get it to make a julienne shape it will have rough edges.  You are better off using a mandoline for julienne.

 

If you cannot affod a prep cook then you must make it work in order for you to stay afloat.  You would probably need to figure out how to scrape together enough cash for your startup to afford precut veggies and portioned beef, or to buy a food processor and use it to your advantage.  Don't serve julienne veggies, serve savory carrot halwa.

 

You also need to know what a prep cook is capable of doing and what you need the prep cook to do.  Some places do a million bucks with one prep cook, some will require three.  It all depends on what you want done.  If all you need is someone to cut veggies then the position is closer to dishwasher.  If you want someone to put together your shepherd's pie then the position is closer to banquet line cook.  

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonfields View Post

Thanks! Interesting, I haven't looked into these attachements. Are the cuts (dice, julienne...etc.) higher quality with thehobart attachment vs. a commercial food processor (even assuming a high-end non table top food processor)?


Look, you'd want a Hobart for 2-300lbs of shredded cabbage per day, or 2-300 lbs of french fries per day. In thesevtwo scenerios, the cut quality reallybisn't
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post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 

Got it, thanks!

 

Kuan - I'm looking at pieces of equipment that do cut/julienne/dice (i.e. Robot Coupe R2 Dice food processor). Are there better pieces of equipment out there to help prep my veggies? I've tried a mandoline before (only the home version) and never felt like they did a great job.

post #16 of 27
Well, that post didn't make much sense.

What I wanted to say, is that a machine does the grunt work, they are great for coleslaw or shredded carrots, but a dull blade spinning at 1750 rpm doesn't do the same job as a sharp knife handled by someone who can adjust pressure, speed, and space in a nano-second.

P.s. Any machine other than a Hobart power dicer relies on the operator to shove/jam the vegetable through a grid. For carrots, this isn't a big deal. For larger veg like potatoes or squash, it is.
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post #17 of 27

    I'll agree with foodpump. Nothing beats a Hobart and attachments for quantity production.  I've used all of the attachments for veg prep. Used equipment stores will have them for far, far less than buying new. They always seem to collect in various boxes so you may have to poke around a bit but worth the effort. You can really work the hell out of them and get tons done in little time. 

However, overall I'll say you should buy a professional quality stainless steel mandolin as well as a Hobart. The professional version is also a work horse for what it does although you need to be nice to it and not bang it around. The home version just isn't the same. 

     The difference in cuts is one of style. Once you own both and have used both, you will find which to use for which purpose. Neither eliminates the need for a prep cook with a sharp knife and good skills but having all three makes you much more adaptable as you go along. I'll go out on a bit of a limb here and foresee the future. What you start your business doing will not be what you will always be doing. Client requests and your own increased awareness of possibilities means your production needs will change somewhat depending on the occasion. 

     So I'd plan on the Hobart first to get serious production underway, the mandolin is about $100, although cheaper if the used equipment place has one laying around, and then make sure the prep cook has sharp knifes. 

post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 

That's very helpful foodpump & chefwriter. I'm looking into all of your suggestions and this makes more sense to me. Would you find that a hobart slicer attachment or power dicer provide higher quality cuts than something like a continuous feed on a robot coupe r2n dicer? Or how about the hobart attachments on the mixer vs. the hobart food processor fp100-350?

post #19 of 27

     You need to see them all in action to understand. It isn't about high quality cuts versus low quality. They all cut well. It really becomes more about what you want and you won't know that until you see it. The cuts from each will have a slightly different look. None are better or worse. 

Go talk to a restaurant  or foodservice venue that uses one and ask to see it in operation. Once you can see what the end product looks like you'll have an idea what you are looking for. 

post #20 of 27

I have read all the lines in this thread and wish to add my 2 cents.

From what the OP has told us, they want to prepare meals to be delivered.

 

Assuming firstly that the OP has all the right legal preparations taken care of so they can cook in a sanitary and structurally sound environment, I guess I'd want to question something that no one has yet done. That being the quality of the cut that these Hobart attachments produce.

 

I worked as a Chef in many food production facilities putting out tons of food in places like hospitals and college food service. I was an Executive Chef myself that equipped a large production kitchen for banquets, and personally looked into food processors. The cast dyes that do the cutting aren't bad for things like shredding cabbage for cole slaw or the slicing dye for things like potatoes or onions.

I even had a wonderful machine called a "Buffalo Chopper" that was a spinning bowl with a very sharp bladed propeller that spun in time with the bowl spin.

It would make soup of an onion in a moment and could cut through many types of vegetable with ease.

But herein lies my other concern.

When I sit down to eat a dinner and see the vegetables in my soup looking like they had already been chewed on and put back in the soup, I've got to wonder about quality.

 

ToJonfieldsi....is it your intention to chop, julienne, slice and dice so that the product looks good in an eye appeal sort of way or is it your intention to simply do the same just to get it done without regard to how it looks?

 

If it's uniformity you want you can simply purchase already sliced, diced, and julienne vegetables from your food service provider.

If you intend to do it yourself you can make the choice from the 2 options I've listed above.

Either way, I agree with the others in that a food processor can not replace a human as it only does one thing.....processing food.

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your 2 cents Chefross. That's helpful and I agree with you that it won't "replace a human" but I'd like it to help with the food processing aspect of things.

 

To answer your question, I would like the product to look good in an eye appeal sort of way (i.e. salads), and I've never seen a commercial food processor in action, which is why I;m asking. It sounds like the vegetables would "look good" if they are something hardy like cabbage or carrots, but less so for other vegetables. Is that correct?

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonfields View Post
 

Thanks for your 2 cents Chefross. That's helpful and I agree with you that it won't "replace a human" but I'd like it to help with the food processing aspect of things.

 

To answer your question, I would like the product to look good in an eye appeal sort of way (i.e. salads), and I've never seen a commercial food processor in action, which is why I;m asking. It sounds like the vegetables would "look good" if they are something hardy like cabbage or carrots, but less so for other vegetables. Is that correct?

Yes, using a food shredder or food processor for hardier vegetables is good in my book. For soups, (other than cream soups) stir-fry, or any other preparation where the vegetables are front and center, I believe they should be cut by a human person with a knife.

post #23 of 27

My Turn....

No matter which way you look at it, you're not going to replace your prep cook especially if it's you..lol. The first question you want to ask yourself is, How do you want your product to come out looking? Anything done by hand, if done properly, is going to come out looking better. If you don't mind it coming out looking like hack, run with the food processor. No matter which way you look at it, when you use a food processor, whatever you dice or shred (specifically Carrots) for the most part will come out looking rough. Oh ya, you'll save time and labor cost, but then you might as well take a look at already prepped produce in 5# bags from you distributor. Personally, I world bring in bags of shredded cabbage (Slaw Mix) to make cole slaw and already diced potatoes in water for chowdah, but thats about it. 

Now as far as the machinery itself. Robocoup's are expensive but worth the investment. I have one that's into it's 12th year and have never had a problem with it, knock on wood. Get all the blades possible and the largest size possible. Ya you'll pay out the ass for them but well worth the investment in the long run. Residential food processors in a commercial kitchen are just a waste of money. I've worked with a few owners who thought they would take that route just to find out 4 or 5 months down the road that it just doesn't work. Buffalo Choppers have but one purpose, to hack the sh*t out of something. If your chopping shrooms for a duxelle or celery of a tuna salad and don't care about the semetrics of the cut, go for it. I like having them in the commercial kitchen, but would never think of one for my residential kitchen. Mind you, it's quite a dangerous machine if you have an older version without all the safeties on it...nevertheless don't be sticking your hand in it when it's running ....Duh....I also used a brand of Processors called Manhart. Top notch, heavy duty and definitely a line made for a commercial kitchen. I've worked with several sizes and they come with many different blades. If you're opening a high volume kitchen or work in a banquet hall, that be what to run with for the bulk processing and the Robocoup for the smaller tasks. Hope this helped.....BTW, a well trained prep cook who does the tasks the way YOU want them done, is at times invaluable...just my opinion

post #24 of 27

I would like to know what type of meals you want to prepare.

post #25 of 27

If a machine could have replaced some of my cooks I would have done it years ago. The machine never gets sick, never a no-show, never comes in drunk or high and never gives me any bullshit. 

post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 

Super helpful everyone. Realy appreciate the detailed thoughts @Justa Chef. What do you usually use your RoboCoupe for? Pureeing sauces and such? Or shredding carrots / julienne vegetables? I also thought carrots would be one of those vegetables that would be shredded pretty nicely with a food processor like a RoboCoupe. Guess not?

 

@chefbuba - I'll be preparing a lot of salad dishes and some soups as well. I figured a food processer to help julienne or shred carrots or other vegetables like cabbage would be helpful for the salads in particular.

post #27 of 27


I'll use it to emulsify dressings or marinades, things I want to roughly chop and don't care about finesse like carrots for cole slaw for instance. So it's not that I won't run carrots through it for something they are going to be "In", but if I was going to put them on a salad bar for instance or as a garnish in an asian dish, I'd use a mandolin. you see where I'm going with it?. I'll also use the attachments to make pie crust in or a small batch of pizza dough.  I always make my pestos or chimichuri sauces in them but my salsas I do by hand because I need the finesse of the cut for presentation. For big time chops like A large amount of mushrooms for duxelle or chopping chicken for my buffalo chicken egg rolls, leeks for soup I'll go to my Buffalo chopper. 

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