As a commercial baker, I have spent many hours in the hot kitchen baking hours upon hours and making numerous mistakes. I love to share what I learn with others so they do not have to go through making the same mistakes and save themselves time and money with a special of saving frustration on the side.
There are many things you can do as a commercial baker to make your job easier and safer but there are 5 important tips I would like to share as a commercial baker myself. I love watching the Gordon Ramsey cooking shows he has such as “Kitchen Nightmares” “The F Word” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” Although these shows are entertaining, they are quite educational. There is a very good reason why he is one of the number one chef’s in the world. Based on my experiences and what I have learned from other cooks and chefs there are five tips I would like to focus on: cleanliness, cross-contamination, hydration, ventilation, and multitasking.
Being clean in your kitchen is of utmost importance, that is why it is listed here first. Keeping every square inch of your kitchen clean from ceiling to floor to refrigerator to oven is important for a laundry list of reasons. You can create places for bacteria or molds to grow which is very bad for food industries and help you flunk health inspections; you can cause cross-contamination which could result in allergic reactions in your customers and possible law suits; and your kitchen simply looks unappealing when it is messy and dirty. Having things grow or gunk up on your equipment is not recommended because they can begin to malfunction or drop some of the build-up into the food you are cooking. This will ultimately change the flavor of your food.
The routine I tend to follow is to clean before I start, clean while I work and clean when I’m finished. I wash all surfaces before I begin, making sure there isn’t even dust on an overhead fan that can fall into my recipes. I wash my dishes and counter tops as I work to prevent anything from getting in the foods I am preparing to keep the foods accurate and rich in flavor. You do not want to mix flavors from one recipe into another recipe; the results could be disastrous.
Be sure to wash your hands between handling each step if possible and wear gloves and a hair net. You wouldn’t want an unsightly hair falling in the food you plan to serve. That would not promote repeat business. Also, you never know when you will have a guest in your kitchen so keeping it clean and surfaces polished makes you look like a hero and a clean cook. I personally wash and polish all surfaces in my kitchen when I’ve finished to make everything sparkle and shine, literally. It makes cleaning so much easier and quicker when it’s done daily and saves time.
Food allergies are a big deal today. any more people have allergies today than they did 20 years ago. The types of food allergies are getting worse and more obscure. I myself have food allergies that make it very difficult to get certain proteins in my diet. I also personally know someone allergic to mint. Whatever the case, you don’t want to end up with a lawsuit on your hands that might put you out of business. Your best bet is to develop certain practices in your kitchen. One practice I use is to have a different spoon, bowl, and spatula for each individual cookie batter I make. I do not switch spoons or rinse spoons. Once I have finished that batter, the spoon goes straight into the dishwasher and does not get hand washed. I also make those recipes that do not usually have food allergies first so the odors of other foods such as nuts do not contaminate them. Some people are so highly allergic they can have a reaction to the smell of the food. Making these batters first then sealing them and putting them away also helps prevent spatter from contaminating. Just try to look at the baking situation from the perspective of a person with allergies and make adjustments where you feel you need to.
Kitchens tend to get stuffy and hot. Heat can ultimately cause dehydration. Dehydration can be a problem resulting in exhaustion and dizziness which can lead to mistakes or even accidents. As explained earlier, accidents such as cross-contamination can be a fatal mistake. Making a mistake of not cleaning while working properly can also cause problems of raw food materials and ultimately food poisoning. Again, not a good situation to get yourself into. My best suggestion, get yourself a sport bottle that you can’t spill into your foods and keep it away from your immediate work area but still within reach. Drink plenty of water and fluids to keep yourself hydrated properly and thinking clearly.
Ventilation goes along with hydration because ventilation helps keep the air moving, flowing and keeps the heat down to a reasonable level. Too much heat can lead to dehydration and mistakes or accidents. Moving the air around and reducing the heat helps minimize these problems. A ceiling fan works well to move the air and a range hood for your stove moving the air outside of the building works great to keep the heat out of the kitchen completely. Be sure these devices are kept clean and dust free because you don’t want contaminants in your foods. Another good reason for ventilation is to keep the smells to a minimum. Heavy smells in the kitchen can actually flavor your foods. Smells are constructed of tiny, microscopic particles of that object. For example, if you smell Marsala sauce, there are actually tiny particles of that sauce floating in the air and drifting into your nose allowing you to smell it. Keeping this information in mind, if your baking a Belgian chocolate mousse pie, but you smell peanut butter in your kitchen, chances are the flavor could deposit itself into your pie. This is another reason for cross-contamination precautions I use by making basic batters first then making my peanut butter or white chocolate macadamia nut batters last.
Multitasking is important in any commercial baking situation and is a key element to being able to function in this environment. Having to make so many recipes in so little time can be daunting but done right can maximize profits and minimize stress levels. My best suggestion is to start small and get that routine down to a science before adding more. Slowly, add one piece at a time until you are sure you can handle what you give yourself. If you can only handle three items at a time, take it for what it is worth and stick with three at a time. Too much can lead to mistakes and lost profits. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do twenty things at once. At least your still making a profit and churning out quality products. Remember, one of the most important things to sell your product is quality and not so much quantity. As you perfect you routines, you may find tools that can help you improve on time and increase the quantity without letting the quality suffer.
I hope you have found this article useful and keep watching for more in the future.