How Food Concepts Can Dictate Equipment Needs.

Whether it's a ghost kitchen or a hotel restaurant, the food concept behind a brand can dictate more than just the menu. But what represents a good food concept? What does it have to be able to do in order to pay off at the end of the day? And how does that concept impact equipment needs? We sat down with Jim Lund, Director Design & Consultant Resources at RATIONAL to find out!

What do you mean by a food concept?

JL: The food concept is the conceptual idea behind a restaurant, a ghost kitchen or wherever food is offered. You’re really looking at what ties everything together to tell the brand story. Is the focus on vegan and vegetarian dishes? Are you only serving country-specific cuisine?

What would you say is the most important part of developing a food concept for your business?

JL: It is going to depend on a few things but really what you want to be asking yourself is: What is the goal of the business? Take a ghost kitchen, for example. Here, the aim is to prepare as many dishes as possible, as quickly as possible while keeping consistently high quality. And if this ghost kitchen is to work for several brands, it must be extremely flexible or have many small units in which to cook in. This requires completely different production processes and different kitchen designs. I like to start with the end result because from there you can start deciding what your road map looks like. You can then start looking at what you already have in terms of equiptment, what you need to buy, what your space requirements are – once you know what your goal is, you work backwards to get to where you need to be. From there, you can develop the ideal menu, the production set up can be laid out and the kitchen equipment is determined.

How do you determine which kitchen equipment is to be installed?

JL: What equipment you need will be determined by the food concept, the size of the kitchen and the number of meals planned. But you should also look for equipment that is is flexible when possible because you want to maximize the available space while also taking into account the level of training of the staff. We work a lot with concepts that have already been implemented, so when we are working with designers and dealers, we show examples and give ideas that have worked in the past to find the best possible solution.

Why do you want flexibility?

JL: Let's take the example of a ghost kitchen again. If your Tex-Mex or BBQ brand is not selling well, you can pivot with the right equipment to prepare something else like bowls or burgers. Flexibility also can come from the equipment’s capabilities and features. With RATIONAL products, you can have more automation and use less labor. If a customer or brand has several kitchens, RATIONAL units also have the ability to be networked with ConnectedCooking, our cloud-based internet platform. This allows remote control and central access to the cooking systems, for example to transfer the programs needed for preparation or to document HACCP data.

For more information about RATIONAL and kitchen design, visit the Design RATIONAL webinar channel . Webinar and video topics are presented by Jim Lund, Director Design & Consultant Resource Manager, Stuart Schwadron, Manager Consultant Services, and Paul Siekmann, Design and Consultant Resources Specialist for RATIONAL USA.