While restaurant owners may come at kitchen equipment purchases from one angle, chefs often offer a completely different point of view. Balancing both of these perspectives can lead to the best outcomes for both front and back of house. Which begs the question: Where do real chefs stand when it comes to kitchen equipment purchases and more? Read on for a roundup of insights from five professional chefs.
1. On outfitting your kitchen with the right equipment:
“Before you start gathering supplies, you need to think about the type of restaurant you’re going to have. Know your niche. Only after that can you decide what you’ll need. For example, if you want to do breakfast, you need a flat top. No question. In order to prepare food in mass quantities, you’ll need a flat top that can knock out a bunch of orders at one time. And every kitchen needs a 4- or 6-top burner stove. Do your research! Learn from other great restaurants, and see what you need to make yours great, too.” — Chef Larry Williams, WebstaurantStore
2. On his “most indispensable kitchen tool”:
“I have thirty of them and they are my staff. Without them, even the best equipment in the world would fall flat.” — Chef RJ Cooper, Vidalia
3. On the degree to which a kitchen’s unique space constraints inform equipment choices:
“But one thing we’ve learned [while ordering kitchen equipment and picking out materials], like the Boka guys and One Off Hospitality have learned, everyone who’s built restaurants and has a couple of them, is there’s a certain unpredictability of how the space influences the experience. And how it has a personality as a restaurant. The space is going to define a lot of things.” — Chef Grant Achatz, Alinea
4. On the advantages of modular equipment:
“I wanted to design a suite that works specifically for not only the restaurant, but the environment and the menu. With [the kitchen] being modular, we are able to move it around so we can change the configuration if we decide to. It is also so compact and clean, it works so well the way it’s designed, and it’s kept all in one unit. It just makes everything more efficient and clean.” — Chef Tom Sellers, Restaurant Story
5. On the importance of collaboration and teamwork throughout the process:
“[My restaurateur partner] is very chef-friendly and is very chef-forward and gives chefs a lot of opportunity to grow. He puts the chefs in charge, and I really like that a lot about him. He wants chefs to get the best product, buys the best equipment, and is there to nurture you in that way. He respects everyone’s opinion and listens to you, and I thought that was great. That’s what I was really looking for in a partner.” — Chef Jason Neroni, Catch & Release, The Rose
The takeaway for restaurant owners? Purchasing kitchen equipment is anything but simple. However, by thoroughly assessing your needs and options, factoring in the various inputs, and welcoming the feedback of others, restaurant owners position themselves to create the most productive — and staff-pleasing — commercial kitchen.