Hard Rock Cafe’s new Rational ovens are music to its chefs’ ears

Hannes Kasbohm, sous chef, Hard Rock Cafe, Hamburg

One of the Hard Rock Cafe’s busiest European restaurants has outlined what it takes to keep its kitchen operations in full swing – and the importance of new Rational technology to optimise service.

The St. Pauli Landing Bridges branch in Hamburg has previously been named as the chain’s best franchise cafe and features the all-day menu and walls adorned with rock and roll memorabilia for which it is renowned worldwide.

Chef Hannes Kasbohm and his 20-strong brigade typically prepare between 500 and 800 meals a day, with burgers, spare ribs, spring rolls and Caesar salad among the favourites.

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And while you might not expect it from a chain restaurant like the Hard Rock Cafe, all of it is “homemade”, from the barbecue to the salad dressing to the seasoning mixtures for the meat. Even the spring rolls are hand-rolled.

Hard Rock Cafe customers have certain expectations when it comes to food selection and quality, which is why Mr Kasbohm sources his recipes from headquarters.

There are precise specifications for everything, including ingredients, cooking processes and even plating techniques.

Reliability of kitchen equipment is vital to the operation, prompting the branch to invest in two Rational SelfCookingCenter in January.

He worked with Rational’s regional head of sales to test, optimise and approve processes for each dish. Now those processes are stored to the units, ready for anyone on the team to access.

“I first discovered Rational through my previous employer. Now I can’t imagine being without them,” he said.

The kitchen used to have a separate smoker but all smoking is now done by the VarioSmoker on the combi steamer, packing marinated ribs tightly into the spare rib grid before fitting them into the SelfCookingCenter.

As well as smoking, the combi oven is used to bake cheesecake, fry eggs, prepare mise en place with pulled pork and chicken, and produce bacon for breakfast and burgers.

Mr Kasbohm said it is twice as quick as the previous processes it used. “It makes a real difference in terms of work hours and energy consumption,” he said.

Like everywhere, Hard Rock Cafe’s Hamburg branch has felt the effects of qualified staff shortages. Each team member has to spend two weeks at each station in the kitchen so that they’re prepared to cover any position.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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