The Operator of the Year for Innovative Kitchen Design award, sponsored by Specifi, 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 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 2021 shortlist includes the following operators:
Burger King has proactively planned for changes in the way that the fast food sector operates by ensuring it is set up to fulfil multiple modes of delivery. The most significant operational change for the chain has been the roll-out of its much-anticipated open format kitchen set-up, which provides customers with more accessible views into the preparation area. The modular template can incorporate internal and drive-thru collection points, ensuring speed of service is guaranteed irrespective of how customers choose to order and obtain their food. Equipment has been fully specced to meet the highest hygienic and operational standards expected of a multinational brand, with bespoke fabricated equipment designed into kitchens where the size or configuration of the kitchen space poses a particular challenge.
Camile Thai Kitchen
The fast-growing Thai food chain revels in its reputation as a first mover, delivering its menu by drone earlier this year and teaming up with one of the largest ghost kitchen providers in the USA to take its concept across the Atlantic. A fundraising campaign planned by the company is geared towards supporting its tech-centric strategy, which includes expanding the use of robotics in its kitchens to drive greater automation. The company has explored ways that it can bring more speed and efficiency to the cooking process from the point of order by using culinary robotics. Replacing manual wok cookers with semi-automated equipment, for example, means that staff can be deployed away from the cookline into other areas.
EG Group has taken an aggressive push into rolling out Cinnabon stores in the UK, with a flexible and adaptive process ensuring it can go from choosing a site to opening in just four weeks. The chain has created a template that can be implemented within a small footprint to maximise space efficiencies. Combi ovens and provers are stacked to utilise space under the oven that would otherwise be wasted. A dedicated rolling area allows staff to freshly roll dough to make products in store. At larger sites, central production facilities have been created which then feed smaller stores, taking the pressure off locations where footfall and demand are extremely high. Dedicated pre-launch training has helped it overcome the complexities of going from forecourts to retail settings.
The 80-strong dessert chain has flourished over the past year thanks to innovative menu development and a powerful proposition. Its tried and tested operation, with its own gelato factory and production site, provides franchisees with a national supply chain, economies of scale and a flexible kitchen format equipped around three distinct store models. The company has also ventured into dark kitchens, where it has deployed a range of flexible equipment to reflect a greater emphasis on workflow and processes. In comparison to a typical restaurant, space is at even more of a premium in a delivery kitchen but it has found solutions that allow it to have the same amount of equipment in half the space to maximise productivity.
Connected combi ovens have taken a central role in an ongoing programme of new openings for Gail’s Bakery, which now has 70 sites in London and the south. A key part of the chain’s neighbourhood offer is allowing customers the opportunity to see and smell products being baked as they enter the store. Pre-programmable control panels are tailored to every individual menu item for consistency while data driven cooking has allowed it to analyse modes of use and give kitchen staff the opportunity to produce daily reports for enhanced performance and efficiency. Working with supplier Unox, Gail’s has been able to expand its menu and move into areas such as delivery without creating operational complexity for employees.
The 2021 FEJ Awards ceremony and gala dinner takes place on Thursday 23 September, the first evening of the Commercial Kitchen show, at the Hilton Canary Wharf.