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Catering and Commissary Design Consultant: Catering (on-site or off-site) and Commissaries Foodservice venues follow the same food production processes. Menu items are prepared and cooked in large quantities and kept cold or hot for a later service, when they plated and served.
Maverick Consultants has worked with catering halls, commissary kitchens and banquet halls, schools, hospitals, developing the cooking and serving processes that allow these venues to offer and serve the best food consistently, with minimum waste and labor.
The challenge of consulting on the development of catering and commissary food production is how to design a kitchen that can produce large quantities of many menu items, hold them hot or cold, and when needed, rethermalize or finish cooking to then be plated for a rapid service.
The consultant has to understanding the cooking processes, the physics and chemistry of what happens to the different ingredients when they cook, as this knowledge is needed to then define the equipment, and the cooking programs that will be required.
In many of a menus recipe, in the cooking one is trying to accomplish two things simultaneously, cooking and finishing:
- Cooking: Defined as the temperature a product has to reach and held at for a period of time, to transform that product to the cooked state one desires. In the case of meats, this temperature is between 135 degrees and 165 degrees. These temperatures are dictated by the doneness one desires, and the food safety codes. The time at temperature, is not only a food safety requirement, but also the time at that temperature that that meat requires to denature connective tissue and make it tender. All food products have these time temperature reactions, which is what cooking is.
- Finishing: The process that creates the foods outside coloring, flavoring, texture. In the case of a steak, the browning, grill marks, firmness and flavors
In traditional cooking methods, these two processes are done simultaneously, balancing times and temperatures to get the best result.
In catering and commissary foodservice kitchen, the ideal design is to have the correct equipment and cooking cycles to separate these processes, and as a result have perfectly cooked food. Understanding these dynamics and processes will give the commissary design consultant the tools necessary for a good layout.
The second challenge is then on how to get it plated and keep the perfect quality. Defining how food is chilled, rethermalized, held hot or cold are critical in been able to get the food to large number of customers quickly and of a perfect quality.
Health and Safety code requirement vary from country to country, as well as from state to state. Food safety codes also depend on whether the food is made and served by the same company (in which case in the USA it then falls under the state food safety code following FDA guidelines. If the food items contain meats, and these are sold to a third party for serving, then the facility producing them falls under USDA (in the USA). This difference is significant, as the cooking time/temperatures of FDA and USDA are not the same.
The food safety challenges require the proper temperature and handling of food to keep it 100% safe. Controls and checks, as well as traceability of product require a HACCP plan or equivalent, with the proper training of all team members to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Maverick Consultants Case Studies for commissary and catering (link) :Google+