Hello! I’m Chris Burton, head of kitchen and chef instructor in culinary arts at Les Roches Marbella. I have been working in the hospitality industry for many years and I would like to share my experience with you by relating the events that unfold during a typical day of kitchen operations at Les Roches Marbella.
In the hospitality industry gastronomy is very important. When we talk about gastronomy, normally we think about restaurants but hotels, hospitals, resorts, casinos and many other hospitality businesses depend on a kitchen operations department.
So, what is involved in a day working in the kitchen?
To answer this question I am going to describe how some of the craft-based learning classes at Les Roches Marbella are carried out. In our school there are three different types of restaurants, “El Olivo” (formal dining concept) “Le Marche” (Buffet) and “Café Bistro” (casual and snacks). Each one operates under a different concept and each has their own distinct needs, which means lecturers impart the classes in a real world setting. They also manage the student teams across the different restaurants to ensure they acquire the practical skills they’ll need to become successful professionals in the hospitality industry.
Craft-based learning starts bright and early. At 6:30am the students arrive and prepare breakfast. Some will be in the kitchen or in the bakery baking bread, pastries, and cutting fruit while others will be busy setting the breakfast buffet and serving to their fellow students. Still, others will be supervising and organizing their teams at a management level. And once the breakfast service has finished, they learn how to prepare the “mise-en-place” (also known as MEP) for the next day’s breakfast.
In this fast-paced environment everything needs to be well-organized because there isn’t much time between one service and the next. After organizing the fridges, checking the MEP requirements for the day and revising the inventory of the stock room it is time for the students to prepare lunch service for two of the restaurants. With supervision from Les Roches Marbella professors, they prepare and serve a unique daily lunch for the entire school – that’s more than 300 people every day! Ask any of them and they’ll surely tell you that this is a big job that requires good management and skilled workers to carry it out successfully.
To get everything ready in time the “Marche” student teams begin their work right after breakfast wraps up at 7:30am. Others arrive later to work in service where they divide their time into three different shifts at 11:15, 12:30 and finally another at 1:30. When lunch is finished, once again they prepare the MEP for the following day. Although they are usually exhausted after lunch, it doesn’t take long before they realize the importance of the MEP task when it comes time to serve such a large number of guests successfully and efficiently.
But the fun doesn’t end here! We still have one more restaurant that falls under the kitchen operations department and by 9:30am the “Olivo” student team begins class by preparing a la carte meals and service for forty more guests. Then, once all of those meals are served and completed in the El Olivo restaurant, it’s time to clean up the kitchens to leave everything in order for the next day.
Finally, once the day’s work is (almost) complete, the professors sit with the students and give feedback so they can learn what they are doing correctly and what needs to be improved.
As in a real world context, the kitchen operations department is always on the move. It never stops and as such, there is another group of students in the evening who take part in theoretical classes in the demo kitchen. Here they learn menu planning, kitchen concepts, and computer applications that facilitate the organization of these operations.
Still more, there is yet another team preparing dinner service in either the El Olivo or Marche restaurants where they learn both a la carte procedures as well as buffet arrangements for around a 150 more people.
Exhausting, wouldn’t you say? Well, after such a long day of hard work the last service finishes at around 9:00pm and it’s time to rest and restore energy for the next grueling day to come.
So there, now you can see there is never a dull day working in kitchen operations. But remember, this is exactly how it is in the real world and you’ll appreciate this experience during your internships. Having a solid understanding of the work that a kitchen operations department entails will give you an added edge and meanwhile, you’ll also learn to appreciate that a long day’s work can also be an enjoyable day if you approach it with enthusiasm.