When you work in a kitchen you know the holidays usually mean big sales, big meals, and long hours. You depend on your management, staff, and vendors to help the holiday rush go smoothly and profitably. But there are certain things you can to do help things along. Here are four restaurant food prep tips so you’ll be ready for this holiday season and beyond.
1. Meet with Your Vendors
Your suppliers are a vital link to ensuring a smooth running holiday season rush. Meet with your wholesale sales representatives to discuss:
- When your deliveries will arrive
- How many times per week you can expect deliveries
- Their cutoff times for placing orders
Remember, this is their busy time too. The more you communicate your needs, the better prepared they will be to fill those needs in a timely manner. Now is a good time to see if you can lock in some special pricing on more expensive items you’ll need during the holiday rush, like beef tenderloin, shrimp, steaks, chops. Your vendor may be willing to negotiate prices with you, and if you lock that in before there’s a large demand, you can avoid paying higher rates. If you prefer wholesale clubs as your preferred vendor, plan a trip to your favorite location with your chef and sales team to scope out what is readily available and check on prices.
Once you have those needs addressed, take advantage of your vendors’ online ordering options. That way you don’t necessarily need to track down a salesperson whenever you want to place an order. You can focus on ordering on whatever device you use, and at off-hours without the regular kitchen distractions.
2. Prep Food Now to Save Time Later
If you work in a scratch kitchen, now is the perfect time to start preparing and freezing some of your most popular appetizers. Most appetizers survive well if sealed and frozen for a short period of time. If you know you sold 5,000 pieces of a certain appetizer last year, you can start your restaurant food prep during your slower period. And then when you need them later, you can just pull them from the freezer. Make them in batches of three dozen at a time, a number that’s easy to configure for most catering jobs.
You may also consider using a vacuum sealer on your meats, sauces, dressing, and condiments for future use. As Nation’s Restaurant News, this kind of packaging can help streamline your process, keep your kitchen organized, and add efficiencies to your back of house.
3. Schedule Preventative Maintenance.
Your restaurant food prep will be difficult if your equipment breaks down during the rush. Before the holidays hit is a good time to call your supplier to perform preventative maintenance on your kitchen equipment and refrigeration. The last thing you want is a freezer malfunction with all your newly prepped items. And, of course there are added costs for replacement of anything that breaks, no matter when it happens. It’s better to know in advance if you need to order any parts. If you require any repairs, it’s better to take care of them early rather than having them pop up on your busiest catering day.
While you have the time, also do a deep clean of your kitchen. Focus on the exhaust for your units, clean coils, and check burners and lights. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your refrigeration and storage areas are clean and organized.
4. Offer Morale Boosters For Your Team
Don’t overlook your most important asset during the holidays and all year. You cannot operate without your team. The atmosphere in a kitchen can be tense during the stressful holiday season, so try to offer your team some morale boosters, when you can. Order in lunch or dinner for your staff the week you are swamped with orders. Or, if you can, reward good habits. Offer gift cards for people who come in early or work late. Even small gestures go a long way to show your team you appreciate them. If money is tight, try to keep things fun and light in the kitchen. Maybe encourage everyone to wear a unique hat some day that lets them express themselves in a different way. But at the very least, express your gratitude whenever you can. That works every time.