– Ayshwaria Lakshmi
“Ironically, when I first stepped into hotel kitchens, it was not much happening place back in the 1970-80’s. Especially in India, the definition of conservativeness was different. Every student aspired to become an Engineer or a Doctor, occasionally opting law as their career profession,” said Chef Sundar Sundarsan on his Initial days. He has over 35 years of experience in the Kitchen. He spent 10 years as executive chef in carnival cruise lines and fifteen years in the Oberoi group as executive chef in all the iconic hotels of the group. Currently, he works as a corporate chef in Planet Hollywood Resort Group.
With globalization as the new horizon, especially in the 2000-2020 food trends in Commercial kitchens have adopted an up-trend. Technology has taken over a significant part of the day-to-day activities in the Hotel Industry.
“I hope I am not sounding pessimistic if I say that the most expensive resource in the Hotel Industry is the expenditure incurred on staff. This is one reason companies are now adopting the latest technology. This is to reduce human labour and allow more accuracy in the delivery of food products,” added Chef Sundar.
Technology does not mean introducing a microwave oven or an ultra-modern refrigerator into the kitchens. It is a bit more than that. Hotel Kitchen operations now use equipment like chapatti makers, instant ice cream makers, robot-driven self-cooking modes which also generates accurate printable reports.
Even washing utensils or thousands of expensive crockeries after a massive banquet requires tens of hands to tidy up. Technology plays its role at this juncture to do this job at a rocket speed in an hour’s time and in an eco-friendly way. This leads to serving guest state-of-the-art food product in an absolute bacteria-free sterilized crockery.
“Today, many of the traditional roles within the kitchen brigade have been made redundant by more efficient supply chains or technology. It is because an efficient supply chain makes the best use of its resources — financial, human, and technological or physical by doing so minimizes costs. All technological advancements in kitchen operations are based on the best work practices and internal processes tuned to those technologically high graded gadgets,” said Chef Nisar Ahmed, Corporate Chef from MAYFAIR Hotels & Resorts Limited. He has also worked in all 5 major metropolitan cities of India (Delhi. Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Bangalore) and almost 7-8 States of India and a few years stints abroad.
As change is a constant process, so with the advancement in technology there will be a lot more to come into kitchen operations, wherein some more roles will definitely be brought under the purview of automation. It is also vital that the kitchens adopt new technology advancements in Kitchen operations.
The emerging trends of automated kitchen operations are going to be the future of culinary Industry. But it is also important to understand the technology, and the difficulties come with. Not all innovation applies to the kitchen. As there even talks of Robots taking over the cooking, the taste cannot be a mechanical product. It needs a human touch. The technology can actively play an important role in the pre-processing and reduce the time consumed for it.
Training the Chefs is very crucial. There are accidents reported because of uninformed usage of the technology. These advancements provide for a better environment to work, but ignorance has costed life.
“It is in the hands of the employer to empower his employee to be well-equipped with the technologies in the kitchen. This would help with lesser accidents than with a completed human kitchen.” Said Sathish Nair from EssEmm corp, a kitchen equipment manufacturer. “It is also vital to invest in the right advancements with safety controls.”
A firm belief that these new technologies have made few menial jobs redundant is not entirely true. There is a shortage of human resources to do these works. Advancements have also increased the quality of education in the Kitchen.
There are newer trends coming up. Some companies have introduced systems like tweeting or texting and emoji of their food item, and the kitchens pick up the orders by default.
Many digital programs are now linked with block-chains and also called as beef block-chain where when a guest picks up the digital menu card on their table, it has the complete digital information of the origin, source, breed and age of the animal.
Many Westerns Countries have already started implementing “Artificial Intelligence”, the latest trend where you do not interact with human beings when ordering your food. You order using an app or OR code on the table.
Some Michelin starred restaurants in the UK play music relevant to the dish order placed by the guest. For example, if a guest orders Fish & Chips, the micro speaker which is fitted to the table plays the music of winds/waves in an ocean with dolphin grunts/squeaks. This is to offer a unique ambience to the guest while having a certain dish.
Many players within the industry have now realized the importance of adopting these trends and have already taken up the challenge in order to attract more people.