Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kitchen designers

Sorry for my absence but I have been experiencing a bit of writer's block.  I am on about half-block right now so I think I can come up with something for you.  I am working on a number of blogs that require some research but my blog needs some attention so here you go.

As I have done in past blogs I want to continue to give you an inside look at the crazy (but lovable) world of hotels and restaurants. Today I want to tell you about a challenge every chef will deal with most of the time during his or her tenure in professional kitchens; poorly designed kitchens.

Often, kitchen designers have never worked in a kitchen.  Yes, I know, it makes no fucking sense but it is true.  The way I would summarize my experience in a professional kitchen regarding this topic is like this.  "Expending vast amounts of energy to make something inefficient, efficient."  You can ask any chef and we will all tell you the same thing, "just give us a smart kitchen that works."

When I opened the Grand Hyatt in Bombay one of the restaurants I was in charge of had a beautiful open kitchen with a Molteni range.  For those of you not in the business, Molteni is like the Aston Martin of ranges.  It is elegant in its simplicity.  Anyways, one of the other features of this kitchen was refrigerated drawers.  I think there was about 30 of them and I had to get copies of all the kitchen keys made. There was no proper locksmith in Bombay, nor was there any key machine in the city so it's not like I could have just gone to the local Home Depot (there wasn't one) and had keys made.

I spoke to the purchasing manager and asked him to get me someone who can make keys for me.
A day later some homeless looking dude came up to me who I thought was going to ask me for money but he asked, "you need keys?"  I said, "yes, are you the key master?"  I was thinking of that line from the movie Ghostbusters.

I showed him the keys I needed copies of and he then proceeded to sit down with a bunch of metal pieces he then cut into keys.  Since he didn't have a mechanical key cutter, he used an assortment of tools that looked like a bunch of chisels and was just chopping away at those little metal pieces until he had keys...or what resembled keys.  Actually, it looked more like a bunch of metal he chewed on.

What I didn't realize at the time was that every damn drawer needed a different key. I don't know what the idiot kitchen designer was smoking at the time while designing this but it must have been some good shit.  Hell, I don't do drugs but I wanted to try whatever he was on. To make matters worse, once I finally got the keys, I had to fool with each one to get each drawer open. Because they keys were not cut with a machine using them felt more like fitting a square peg in a round hole. My Indian assistant had some trick to get all the drawers open quickly but anytime I had to go and open up the kitchen it took me like 20 minutes to open all those fucking drawers.  Brilliant design assholes!

What was also funny about this kitchen was the design of the restaurant itself.  We had four restaurants in the hotel and one of them I was in charge of was downstairs with an open top.  The design was like a hole was cut into the ceiling and you look up and you could see two of the other restaurants up above you.  There was a glass railing along the edge above so the people sitting along it could look down into this restaurant.  The idea was nice in principle, but on those rare occasions someone dining above dropped their plate, glass or whatever down into the lower restaurant, once on a guest, it ceased to seem to be a good idea.

The design of the upper restaurants was open, no walls which didn't exactly help in creating character for each restaurant.  You could sit in one restaurant and look over at the other ones.  These restaurants were situated near the front desk and corridors leading to guest elevators and the shopping mall as well.
The lower restaurant was a grill so you can probably guess there were a lot of grilled items on the menu. That is all fine and good except for one small problem; whenever the restaurant got busy, the exhaust couldn't cope with all the smoke coming off the grill because it wasn't designed to handle that much smoke. (another brilliant design idiotic kitchen designers) What would consequently happen is the smoke would rise (as it normally does) and blanket all of the upper restaurants and lobby.

To be continued


  1. Hey you forgot to mention the vegetarian options on he menu at the restaurant,sunday brunches.. and your coke with lots of ice......much more :)

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