Chiquito has described the significance of harnessing the right kitchen set-up to its business following a major menu change and an ongoing emphasis on freshly-made TexMex food.
More than 128,000 customers are now passing through the 88-strong restaurant chain doors every week, with the recent menu re-launch helping to boost its appeal. The menu change has led it to raise the bar, with skilled chefs getting hands on in the kitchen and a huge focus on daily preparation using vibrant, authentic ingredients.
David Peevers, head of food development for leisure at The Restaurant Group, which owns Chiquito, told FEJ: “We are also doing a lot more pan work now, so there is more prep space at the back because obviously we are not just buying everything in frozen. 86% of the menu is made on-site, so prep space is really important for our menu, as is the right storage. Where it used to be a smaller fridge and a big freezer, now it’s the other way around.”
Chiquito could open up to nine more sites this year and Peevers admits that creating an effective engine room boils down to getting the flow of the kitchen spot-on.
“Our kitchens are normally about seven metres, side to side. You have to really make sure that there is only one yard step each way for the chef. The most important section in Chiquito is the grill and the grill has got to be able to be of great quality, it has got to be able to turn the food out properly and give the taste you want. You need a charcoal grill, you wouldn’t want to go back to the old electric type grills where the food doesn’t grill properly in that way.
“Having enough space to plate the food and enough space on the pass is important because when you are busy you are never going to get the food out in time if your pass isn’t big enough,” he adds.
One of the biggest changes to the new Chiquito menu has been the addition of a ‘Street Food’ range, which takes its inspiration from the traditional and lively markets of Mexico to offer spicy chicken, crispy tacos, sweet chorizo croquettes with sweet jalapeño jelly and a five bean tortilla stack.
A further highlight has been its Hero Burger, with its ultimate toppings of slow-cooked pulled pork, sliced chorizo, red jalapenos and Monterey Jack Cheese.
And in a bid to take the public’s love for burgers to the next level, Chiquito has introduced a ‘Build Your Own Burger’ option, offering guests the chance to choose from a dozen different toppings to create their own ultimate, personalised burger.