During another visit at Alicia, in Manresa, I had the occasion to spy a kitchen from the inside, and learn from it.
It al started with a chat with Jaume Biarnés on my future projects. After launching with enthusiasm a serie of new projects, some of them utopian but fun, some of them very concrete, he proposed me to go and see how a professional kitchen works. That’s how I met Sergio, the chief cook at La Fonda, one the the restaurants of the St Benet complex, the others being Món and L’Angle (the latter with one Michelin star).
This is the kind of restaurant that works with fixed menus. This means that the clients have a choice over 2 or 3 dishes, and that the cooks can prepare a lot of the food in advance. This is called la mise en place: to anticipate part the work in the hours before lunchtime. This lowers the rush at the moment of serving, which generally happens in those restaurants that work à la carte: with a vast selection of dishes, that have therefore to be prepared at the moment.
Working with a lot of dishes implies having a lot of chefs to cook them when the clients make the orderz. This is the kind of rush you see in restaurants shown in chef Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, but with a reduced amount of special effects and drama. On the opposite, working with fewer dishes, allows you to better organise your work: Sergio explained me that in this kind of restaurants, a single chef can deal with 30-40 clients.
I came back from that day with Sergio with a lot of notes, that took me months to elaborate. This experience gave me more insight of the real work, and where some process can be optimized; because that’s what we’re talking about: optimizing processes in the food industry.