The Operator of the Year for Innovative Kitchen Design award, sponsored by Ceda, recognises the significance of a well-designed kitchen to achieving a happy team of chefs, impeccable service and outstanding food.
This category aims to recognise multi-site operators that have invested in new kitchens and spent time identifying the right design and lay-out to ensure operational excellence.
We are delighted to announce that the 2019 shortlist includes the following operators:
Fuller’s chefs have met the rising trend for healthy eating by doubling the number of vegetarian and vegan dishes in their repertoires over the past year, with the chain supporting its push for great food with high levels of investment in high-end kitchen equipment and training. The company leverages a core menu of traditional dishes but essentially offers more than 200 menus as each site is encouraged to own their food offer, with 70% of its food supply chain British and local. Integrated recipe and stock systems are now in operation across the business, which has delivered improved visibility of food stocks and margins and helped it minimise food waste without impacting creativity and innovation.
Las Iguanas makes no secret of the fact that the structure of its kitchens is very different to your standard operator and that is one of the main reasons it has been able to remove complexity from its set-up while proudly giving chefs the tools to produce more than 30 different sauces and salsas in-house every day. Carefully-crafted kitchen templates support a philosophy based entirely around efficiency, ensuring teams can build and execute quickly without compromising quality. A willingness to embrace new cooking platforms and methods of regeneration means its kitchens are not averse to incorporating alternative technology if it means the chain can support its goal of delivering authentic South American cuisine to its customers.
With 500 sites that get worked incredibly hard during peak service periods, Pizza Express has focused on creating a kitchen platform that promotes operational simplicity and consistency – allowing its trained pizzaiolos to work with fresh ingredients and adapt easily when new menu changes are introduced. Kitchen efficiency supports the chain’s focus on freshness, quality and credible CSR while still supporting the volume demands that its core product lines require. A new set-up at its Oxford Circus site, meanwhile, is set to be rolled out to other locations and will see the kitchen repositioned to take centre stage at the heart of the restaurant, bringing the theatre and authenticity of its pizza-making to the fore.
Taco Bell has got the design of quick-service kitchens down to a fine art, making optimal use of prep areas and specialist equipment to achieve ultra-high levels of productivity. International growth has enabled it to experiment with kitchen layouts that differ to its traditional US set-up, with the UK very much flying the flag for open-plan design. A string of UK openings within the past year has demonstrated Taco Bell’s ability to successfully blend core prep and hold equipment with new innovations, particularly around beverage, to deliver value and consistency for customers. Its front-of-house systems are programmed to interact with the kitchen so that customers can add, adjust and remove any ingredient they want, providing genuine real-time customisation.
With more than 85 restaurants to its name, TGI Fridays is well-versed in building kitchens that can serve up classic American fare during extremely high volume periods. Over the past year it has invested considerable time looking at how it can use the latest preparation equipment to ease the workloads of its kitchen teams. The trial of Hallde prep machines in 15 restaurants has already shown that it can save approximately 15 hours prep per store every week. The focus on labour saving has also extended to other parts of the kitchen, including the cookline, where the chain has rolled out Synergy Grill, which has delivered improvements for the business in terms of energy consumption, functionality and cleaning.
The 2019 FEJ Awards ceremony and gala dinner takes place on Tuesday 4 June, the first evening of the Commercial Kitchen show, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.