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For many foodservice operators, the holiday season is one of the most profitable times of the year.
A comprehensive foodservice program helps set this new resort property apart from its competition.
Orlando, Fla., home of Walt Disney World, is one of the most competitive hotel and resort venues on the globe. This past October, Wyndham Hotel Group opened the 13-story Wyndham Grand Hotel as part of the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, a 500-acre property containing six other buildings with 1,149 timeshare units. Many of the hotel’s 400 guest rooms overlook the property’s 10-acre lake and Walt Disney World parks.
“The hotel’s Spanish Mediterranean exterior compliments the resort’s timeshare buildings, providing a seamless visual impression of all the buildings when one looks across the lake,” says Mark Davidson, senior associate, senior project coordinator, for Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock (HHCP). “Our firm’s intent was to provide the owner with a versatile hotel with upscale amenities that maintains the aesthetic values of the entire resort.”
This property gives attention to detail unlike most new hotels but reminiscent to older upscale hotels. For example, each restaurant is designed with a theme that is carried through from the design to the menu. In addition, like the resorts of old, each public room in the hotel has a unique interior design with a selection of couches and chairs that don’t appear anywhere else in the property. The hotel’s owners and managers are trying to set the bar of service and offerings higher than anywhere else in Orlando by offering elegant, professional service designed for everyone from families on vacation to businesspeople attending meetings. Service is interactive rather than stuffy or formal. Managers are hired for their specialties and teamwork.
Although it was designed six years ago, the Wyndham Grand Orlando finally opened October 1, 2011. Construction began in April 2008, but soon after, the owners delayed the project due to the economic downturn in the United States. In the fall of 2010, the project started up again as a flagship Wyndham Grand. The hotel’s “grand” designation required designers and a new management team to rethink the foodservice operations, including the kitchens, and come up with new specifications. “Originally, each foodservice venue had its own self-supporting kitchen,” says Thomas Galvin, FCSI, principal, Galvin Design Group, Inc. Galvin began working with the architects from the project’s inception in 2005. “The new plan called for a centralized receiving, requisition and self-supporting kitchen that offers better control of products coming in and out of the operation.
Within 12 months, new menus were selected, and some kitchen areas were redesigned. “We had only two months to rework all the areas before the plans were rebid and sent to the contractor for re-permitting,” Galvin says. “In addition, the foodservice equipment budget was cut by several hundred thousand dollars to $2.5 million.”
The hotel opened with a panoply of food and beverage venues serving hotel guests and timeshare owners (see Design Capsule for more details). The hotel can accommodate thousands of guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the foodservice options include:
Food deliveries arrive at the loading dock of the main kitchen, which supports the restaurants, coffee bar, pool bar, room service and banqueting areas. Staff store products in nearby dry storage areas and place refrigerated and frozen items in the main kitchen’s walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers and refrigerators and freezers. Each chef requisitions products for his or her operation, and staff deliver these products to them as needed. In order to accommodate the new requisition system that was adopted after the original kitchen was designed, large walk-in dairy and meat coolers and a walk-in freezer will be installed in 2013. These will contain a reinforced floor and 48-inch sliding doors so pallets of food can be brought in and distributed to each kitchen as needed.
Staff at each foodservice operation requisition products from a requisitions manager located between the main kitchen and the receiving area. “At the end of the month, executive chefs and managers can see who ordered which items and see the costs,” says Galvin. “If a unit’s food cost is higher than the chefs expected, they need to know immediately and correct the problem with their purchasing orders or perhaps by adjusting price points. Controlling purchasing is also about getting the proper yield, which requires a good flow of product from the moment it is received until it is cooked, chilled, stored, labeled, heated and served.” The hotel chefs agree that the flow here is excellent and keeps products safe.
Staff prepare cold items, including garde manger and salads, in a temperature-controlled room in which they must wear jackets and gloves. Equipment in this area includes a vegetable washer, food processor, slicer, mixer and prep tables. A remote compressor rack system and exhaust and supply fans sit on the roof.
In the hot cooking area, Galvin chose equipment before the menu had been specified. “I took the Noah’s Ark approach — two of everything. Later, when we had menus, we adjusted.”
On the first line for preparing bulk food for banquets and the employee dining table, staff use a 60-gallon kettle to prepare soups and sauces; two four-burner ranges to sauté shrimp scampi and balsamic portabella mushrooms; two tilting skillets for soups and fajita fillings such as Spanish and black bean rice, and for browning chickens before roasting; and two large fryers for coconut fried shrimp and lobster lollipops.
“All the cooking equipment is on casters so it can be pulled out for cleaning,” Galvin says. “Chef managers can stand anywhere in the kitchen and see the entire operation.”
On the opposite side of this hot prep area are one trolley combi oven and two double-stacked combi ovens for roasting meats (including hams, which many other hotels purchase cooked) and poultry, braising meats such as short ribs, and steaming vegetables and rice. Adjacent to the combis, staff prepare prime steaks and free-range chicken on the charbroiler and griddle. Products cooked in the combi ovens sit on trolleys that staff take out of the oven and place in the blast chiller, which is adjacent to the griddle. “This system allows staff to meet HACCP standards,” Galvin says.
In the banquet plate-up area, cutting boards cover recessed areas used for ice baths or hot steam wells so staff have ample prep space when needed. On either side of the plate-up areas, electrical outlets allow carts to be plugged in, which enables staff to keep food at proper hot temperatures throughout plating.
Also featured in the kitchen are hard plastic cutting boards that are placed across sinks when staff need more prep space. “We put in double overshelves whenever we could so there’s ample space to place small wares and plates,” Galvin says.
For catered banquets, staff deliver food to service kitchens. Meeting rooms contain induction cooktops that are set into stone counters.
Another hot cookline for room service, which also serves as a backup for banqueting, contains a reach-in refrigerator, broiler, griddle, eight-burner range, mobile table, fryer, reach-in freezer, convection oven and conveyor oven. Across from this line are pan chillers and hot wells. The room service area sits next to the service elevators to support quick delivery. “Unlike many hotel kitchens that use a restaurant’s cookline for room service, this operation has a dedicated line for room service,” Galvin says.
The dishwashing area sits separately, keeping the flow of dirty dishes in and clean dishes out, orderly and away from all other activities so staff can adhere to sanitation standards. A trash area is positioned to eliminate cross-contamination from dirty dishes and food prep.
A glass washer for glasses in the guest rooms was put into the laundry area. “We located the glass washer where the room make-up cart comes down to drop off dirty sheets to be sure that they are washed properly,” Galvin says.
Designers considered the positioning and function of each food and beverage venue for labor efficiency. “Each area is designed to function in peak and slow periods,” Galvin says. “For example, the equipment layout was carefully designed so we could run each food venue with full or reduced staff.”
Designers also considered energy savings. “We examined each piece of equipment and part of the selection consideration was the short- and long-term energy efficiencies,” Galvin says. “Four large water filters process 600 gallons of water per hour, which cleans up all the water going to each piece of equipment. This way the equipment runs more efficiently and has a longer life cycle.”
Tesoro Cove and deep blu
The main kitchen provides a few bulk items to the two large restaurants, Tesoro Cove and deep blu, yet staff prepare most of the menu items in on-site kitchens. In both restaurants, expo kitchens with cooking islands allow customers to see the cooking activity and interact with chefs. “Each cooking island was
designed like an erector set, which will allow the operators to make equipment changes as the menu changes,” Galvin says.
In Tesoro Cove, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, staff complete all the prep work on the side and back chef’s tables in full view of guests. There is no back-of-the-house prep area. Staff members hand prepped items to a culinary staff member who prepares meals. The front chef’s table is set up for buffet service or plate-up service.
A pass-through pizza oven is the workhorse equipment in this restaurant, designed so it opens from the front and back of the oven so staff can work from both sides during peak and slow hours. Staff use the oven to bake casseroles, flatbreads and freshly baked bread in addition to pizza.
The high-end seafood restaurant, deep blu, offers dinner service in the evenings and serves as a cooking school in the afternoons. The chef’s table wraps around the cooking island with a fresh seafood display and was designed with antibacterial stainless steel. Culinary staff here prepare mise en place at a chef’s table that has a raised panel door (Spanish design) and removable stainless steel kickplates to hide plates and garbage. “It looks like one stainless steel counter,” Galvin says. White, hard plastic cutting boards are segmented into 36-inch pieces so they can be placed into the dishwasher.
Staff take ingredients to the cooking island, which, unlike many traditional islands, is designed so chefs can trade out equipment at any time if the menu changes. The cooking island has a charcoal chrome finish with brass trim, which ties in with the hotel’s Spanish-themed architecture and décor, to hold 1/9 pans for spices. Each door on the chefs’ tables has a Euro-style door finish to also be compatible with the Spanish theme.
“The only place the charcoal gray chrome finish could be produced was at an automobile parts plant,” Galvin says. “The stainless steel had to be dipped in large vats.”
On one side of the island sits the grill where culinary staff use different grates for fish, steaks and other cuts of meat. The various-sized grates allow chefs to accommodate the different proteins. A conventional oven beneath keeps dishes warm. To the right of the char grill, the fry station contains one large fryer that can handle three baskets so chefs can speed production by producing three orders of fried items. “Each fryer has its own melt cycle to accommodate the chefs’ preference for either the best liquid shortening or less expensive solid shortening,” Galvin says.
Fryers also contain a bracket that is mounted on the inside door with a removable 1/9 pan that catches drippings before they fall to the floor. Pans are later washed in the dishwasher. Across from the grill and fryer, a refrigerator and freezer provide support for the staff. Plates and a dry storage unit also sit under a work counter.
On the opposite side of the island, chefs use a six-burner range to heat sauces and to sauté vegetables and Cuban black beans. A pasta cooker sits next to the range. Adjacent to the pasta cooker, a 24-inch plancha cooks fish and sears meat quickly, sealing in juices. A dipper well sits to the right. “The dipper wells at each location use very hot water so the utensils are properly sanitized,” Galvin says.
Two overhead broilers sit above the range, pasta cooker and plancha. “We put extra incandescent light inside the hood so the entire area glows,” Galvin says.
Covering the entire island, a hand-pounded copper hood controls exhaust and serves as a decorative element. “The hood is designed like the back side of a ship, which corresponds with a bar designed like a Spanish ship that sits in the middle of the lake,” Galvin says.
After chefs prepare the food, it is sent to the staging area in the middle of the island. Quartz heat lamps hang from a metal shelf above, giving proper light to the expediting chefs. Induction units at the right and left allow chefs to sauce from both sides. Movable countertop ticket rails allow chefs to place these rails at the busiest stations to enhance efficiency. “Moveable rails, compared to overhead ticket rails, give staff more flexibility to use these when orders are high in a particular area. This is a show kitchen, so we didn’t want tickets to be hanging from above over the action areas.”
Behind the island, and not visible to customers, chefs use a steamer, a four-burner range with oven beneath, a tilting skillet and a convection oven to prepare sauces and meats that chefs use on the island cooking suite. A dishwashing area is also out of the guests’ sightlines and is positioned to keep noise at a minimum.
Another feature of deep blu is the sushi area. While guests look on, a specialized chef prepares the fish products throughout the meal service.
As the Wyndham Grand settles into Orlando, guests will have many opportunities to sample the various amenities. A lot of work has gone into differentiating this resort property from its competitors. The dining venues will continue to be a prime attraction and, if all goes as planned, will give guests a taste of service and menu fare that brings them back for more. FE&S
Opened October 1, 2011, the 13-story, 400-room Wyndham Grand Hotel and Spa and six timeshare buildings with 1,149 units comprise the Spanish-style Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. The hotel can accommodate thousands of guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel offers a variety of foodservice options: