Accurate and efficient service is important all year round, but it can be a challenge to achieve at Christmas. In this article, Mike Hardman from catering equipment suppliers Alliance Online shares his tips for coping with the busy festive period, including Christmas day.
Did you know that restaurant bookings on Christmas Day have risen by 240% in the last five years (verdictfoodservice.com)? Between 2016 and 2017 alone, reservations jumped by 14% and a 2018 poll of 20,000 people found that 10% plan to enjoy their Christmas dinner in a pub or restaurant, compared to just 3% in the previous year (thecaterer.com). The increase is particularly prevalent among older age groups, with 60% of those planning to eat out aged over 55.
To make sure your restaurant is prepared for the extra custom, and to get ready for all the extra challenges this holiday can bring, these four ways can help you prepare your kitchen for Christmas Day service.
On a day as important as Christmas, the last thing you, your customers, and your staff want is for your equipment to fail and slow down your service. That’s why it’s important to make sure all your appliances and utensils are up to date, working efficiently, and thoroughly cleaned in the run up to Christmas day. Doing so can help prevent build ups of dirt and grime that can cause your equipment to break down — or even catch fire.
Make sure your staff are on top of doing their daily wipe downs of cooking surfaces and utensils and consider organising extra training if you think they’re not up to code. A dirty or out-of-date kitchen can also affect cooking times and the quality of food you produce, so make sure you schedule a deep clean before Christmas if you haven’t already and upgrade your appliances.
While some members of staff might not be celebrating on the 25th of December for a variety of reasons, most are probably being kept from their friends and family by agreeing to work at this time of year. Many patrons will be sensitive to this, but they still expect an exceptional Christmas day service and positive, cheerful staff who can help them celebrate the holiday.
Encourage and motivate your employees by offering them support and incentives. The majority of places will offer at least time and half pay for working Christmas day, something to consider if you’re struggling to find volunteers among your workforce or if you want to keep morale high. You should also consider providing snacks, drinks, small gifts, or games in the staff room as a treat for those working the Christmas shift.
You should already have a full list of allergen information for each dish on your menu, highlighting options for people with coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, and nut allergies among others, as well as for vegans and vegetarians. However, at this time of year, it’s especially important to make sure there is no risk of ruining someone’s Christmas by serving them something which can make them ill or having nothing on the menu they can eat.
Despite the busy nature of Christmas day, it’s important your menu caters to a range of needs and your kitchen staff can make adjustments where necessary. Cross-contamination is another risk factor, so ensure you have enough equipment for staff to use for different ingredients and remind them of the importance of using clean equipment throughout the day.
Health and Safety
Following health and safety procedures in the kitchen is always important, but it becomes especially crucial during busy periods such as Christmas as staff rush to complete orders and provide a swift service. Before the festive rush, it’s important to organise your food storage to make sure there are no trip or fall hazards, particularly if you plan to order in and store extra ingredients to cope with demand. Considering structural aspects of safety like having the correct shelving and flooring can also help to reduce these kinds of accidents in your commercial kitchen.
Making sure you have enough staff in the kitchen to help prepare meals for your customers can help make sure no one on the team has to work faster than is necessary, reducing accidents caused by knives as well as burns and slips from spilled food. Not only that, but the quality of your food will improve if each team member has time to prepare each dish properly, impressing your customers.
The tips in this guide can help you prepare your kitchen for Christmas Day service. Remember to take extra care cleaning and organising your kitchen ahead of the rush, and make sure your staff are well-motivated for the challenge.