This is how we do it - Part 2
by Tze Khaw - Tuesday, September 06, 2011
When it comes to food, we do just about everything in-house. It’s a point of difference I like to reinforce because many other centres buy in large amounts of pre-prepared food and some even outsource their catering.
Here we make our own stocks and sauces and prepare every meal from scratch. There are a few exceptions, of course, which help to keep our costs down. Some of our vegetables are supplied peeled and cut to our specifications, for example. And we buy in bread rolls (except in Regattas) because we use so many that we’d need to put in an extra overnight shift to make them all!
Our kitchen expertise is awesome and there’s nothing our chefs can’t magic up (you wouldn’t read about some of the requests we get.) Exec Chef Tze Khaw is a specialist in Asian and European cooking; our patisseurs have years of experience and a bunch of awards between them; and we have specialist sauciers, a team of cold larder and garde manger chefs (Google that one), experts in modern Australian cuisine – and more.
Of course the chefs make the food but it wouldn’t get to the guests without a small army of food service people – waiting staff, dishwashers, cutlery and crockery sorters and counters, glass polishers and table setters. Don’t underestimate the importance of those who monitor and sort the tableware, or lay the tables. Running out of forks at a buffet or being one place short at the head table is simply not acceptable!
Our inventory of implements is pretty impressive. We have cutlery and crockery based on 9000 settings and equal amounts for back up. For a banquet the setting could be anything from 7 to 10 pieces of chinaware, 4 to 6 glasses and 10 to 12 pieces of cutlery. A dinner for 1000 could use up to 9000 glasses.
Our cooking equipment is awesome. Of course there are steamers and hotplates, ovens, fryers and grills. But there are also really clever machines like blast chillers that can drop the temperature of 200 plates of perfectly seared prawns from barbecue-hot to 4C in fifteen minutes. These chillers are a large part of the secret of cooking in bulk and ahead of time.
Food can be cooked hours ahead, almost instantly brought to a safe temperature, retaining flavours, colour and freshness, then stored in refrigerators the size of small rooms until just before its moment of glory.
Next time, I’ll explain how we get it all to the table – hot and on time.