The importance of planning in the restaurant industry.

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The phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts rings true to me especially when considering that one of our restaurants covers 300 seats on the prestigious strip in Dubai. All the elements of the restaurant have to work in harmony and one of the most important aspect is the delivery – from the kitchen.

As a chef, my advice is to plan, plan and plan some more in the kitchen. Restructure the equipment layout, count the delivery capacity of the equipment, plan the crockery and cutlery. Whilst it is difficult to cover all aspects in this article, let me highlight some of the key functional aspects. 

Take the equipment for example. The manufacturers provide handy guides to showcase what the delivery capacity is for each of your equipment and you have to cross reference that against your menu. It is important to note what equipment you need and what you don’t, this, I believe, is a common mistake in most new restaurants. A very practical approach in the initial planning would be to involve consultants, chefs, costs sheets, menu planners – this is worth the effort to optimize your delivery. 

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Staffing is essential. Staff skills should be planned accordingly when it comes to operating the technology in the kitchen during peak delivery periods. Whilst this may sound like common sense, many overlook this aspect of co-relating skill sets against the planned menu during a full house. I have seen instances when kitchen staff run helter-skelter due to bad planning on someone’s part. The onus then lies with the head of kitchen operations to restore order to the chaos. You don’t want your kitchen to represent a scene from Hell’s Kitchen and have tempers flaring.  Another important area that I am particular fond of is crockery. It can diminish a good dining experience due to poor choice of crockery especially when you haven’t catered to a full house. Things start making sense when you break down elements into smaller, more manageable parts and assign clear roles. Repeat trainings and reminders are a must for a well-oiled kitchen. I would highly recommend chefs to visit multiple kitchens and learn from different layouts. Learn what the latest technology can do and constantly update yourself and this can be done by visiting Expos. Thankfully the industry is very supportive with trainings, talent management and learnings. Connect and make your own industry group and share knowledge.

Nigel J Lobo
Nigel J Lobo is currently the Executive Chef and Group Culinary Administrator at the Royal Orchid Hospitality Group in Dubai. Prior to this, he was the Chef de Cuisine at The Eloquent Elephant at the Taj Dubai. Nigel holds a Bachelors degree in Tourism Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Kitchen Management from the renowned Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD). He spent his formative years training at Miramar under Michelin star Chef Paco Perez, at Compartir under Chef Mateu Casanas in Spain; Attica in Australia under Chef Ben Shewry, La Vie under Chef Thomas Buhner in Germany and at a local tapas bar in Valladolid-La Tahona under Chef Jose. Nigel remains passionate about Modern European cuisine and being born and raised in the UAE, he has harnessed the locally available produce to create successful menus which he has rolled out across all the group’s outlets. Keen to share his experiences to educate and guide young chefs or students who are looking at starting a career in the Food & Beverage industry, Nigel recently launched his website (www.nigeljlobo.com) which has different sections breaking down complex F&B terminology into simple, understandable lingo. A career that started in his late teens, Nigel has developed his skills over the years and currently oversees the operations for ten of the group’s restaurants – from efficiently controlling the logistics of services and supplies, pricing the menus for various segment and portioning the plates, to training staff and maintaining consistency in product offering across all restaurants. A sports and music enthusiast, Nigel enjoys playing squash in his free time and has been a lifelong supporter of the English football club Arsenal FC. Nigel is also a trained pianist and now admits that playing the instrument, something that used to be a chore whilst growing up, is now his best remedy to unwind and destress.