Foodservice Equipment & Supplies


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The conference center kitchen staff reports process efficiencies have greatly improved since the space underwent a kitchen storage makeover. B ehind any kitchen upgrade lies the drive for greater efficiency. Many chefs dream of a complete renovation. Not every operation, though, can fund an extravagant redesign in the back of the house. Such was the case at Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center, a historic 163-year-old property in Lake George, N.Y., near the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. With a constant list of items in need of repair, the board of entrepre- neurs that owns the property must pick and choose where to allocate funds. Areas most visible to guests tend to receive fund- ing first, with back-of-the-house spaces often taking a backseat. "It's hard to fund it all," says Dan Palmer, executive chef and food manager at Fort William Henry. Two years into his tenure at the property, he was looking to jump-start things a bit more when along came the chance with the Metro-sponsored Kitchen Storage Makeover Contest. Metro provided more than $50,000 of storage and productivity solutions to the challenged operation. Before the contest, the hotel's storage areas were primitive, looking almost like they dated back to the original construction. In fact, Palmer noted some areas were still in original condition with plumbing and electrical showing. Other areas clearly did not meet code. The problems were many — as were the op- portunities to take an outdated, underperforming space and turn it into a well-planned-out kitchen. And that's exactly what the Metro team accomplished. Assessment Day First, the Metro assessment team, including an ESP Pro™ specialist, someone trained on maximizing storage capabilities, toured the facility to under- stand the process and workflow of the kitchen and its staff. "I start by looking for any- thing that's been jury-rigged," says Metro's Ben Lee, CFSP, of the assessment process. "Then I ask if that's ideal or if we can make it more efficient. The goal is to find ways to improve upon what they are already doing — to make things more functional." Understanding the needs of the kitchen staff also meant un- derstanding how the conference center kitchen supports the entire property. The kitchen space totals roughly 4,800 square feet and divides into two complete kitch- ens within that square footage. The conference center kitchen supports every food concept at some level, extending as far as three-quarters of a mile away to a building that serves as a rustic wedding and event venue. Since that event venue has no kitchen or sprinkler system, staff cannot cook on-site. Instead, they trek all food from the kitchen in the conference center, pushing hot boxes and rolling racks across the complex, rain or shine. Including banquets and catering events, nine different foodservice profit centers exist on the property, and the conference center kitchen supports the majority of them. Lookout Café serves as the property's busiest profit center in the summer. A 200-seat à la carte eatery, Lookout Café is a patio concept that operates via a walk-up service model. Popular menu items here include burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Staff make a lot of items from scratch, relying on the confer- ence center kitchen for all prep. The primary cooking equipment at the Lookout includes a 4-foot and 2-foot griddle, a six-burner stovetop oven with an overshelf, 63

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