The man in charge of developing healthy fast food chain Pod’s kitchens insists that getting the flow of the kitchen right is the single most important factor in creating a winning production space.
Food director, Sean Burlinson, who joined the business earlier this year with a remit to improve the chain’s back-of-house operations, believes the only thing more important to the smooth running of a kitchen than the catering equipment that populates it is the lay-out.
“All of the kitchens I’ve worked in, the first thing I have looked at is the flow of people,” he explains. “I want to be able to stand there, turn and have everything to hand. If I take more than three or four steps, my kitchen is badly designed. Those are principles that I have got to apply to the Pod offer and that’s a really interesting challenge for me. It is all about making the engine work. The kitchen can look as great as you want, but if the engine on it is rubbish, it isn’t going to work.”
Pod’s 22 kitchens can vary in size from 30 to 100 square metres, so in some cases the footprint can be incredibly tight, especially when the servery is included within those dimensions as well.
“The challenge is that the big sites don’t come up that often and they are very competitive when they do,” says Burlinson. “That is why we are looking at a ‘small, medium, and large’ kitchen scenario. We need to establish what a small kitchen looks like and how many products we could get into it based on our future plans.”
Prior to joining Pod, Burlinson worked in development chef roles for BaxterStorey, Harris + Hoole and Spirit Pub Company.