Fine Dining Quality Meets Quick Serve Efficiency with Display Tech

By Brian Hinshaw, vice president and executive corporate chef, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants | April 26, 2012

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (CMR) has a diverse portfolio of concepts, including single neighborhood favorites like the Cap City Fine Diner and Bar and multi-location upscale destinations such as the Ocean Prime fine dining restaurants. Often dubbed “The Modern American Supper Club,” the Ocean Prime restaurants average 250 covers per night with more than 500 covers on a peak night. 
 
After implementing a ConnectSmart kitchen display software and hardware solution from QSR Automations in CMR’s sister company, Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern which currently operates 12 casual dining restaurants, CMR decided to see how the benefits may differ when using the technology in fine dining restaurants. 
 
Not just for casual dining
 
The Rusty Bucket restaurants are fun and fast neighborhood taverns, so accuracy, consistency and speed are key. The installation of QSR ConnectSmart Kitchen (CSK) graphical kitchen display software quickly brought ticket time improvements of more than five minutes at Rusty Bucket, and also brought food costs down. Extremely pleased with the results, the CMR team thought it was time to consider kitchen display for the Ocean Prime restaurants. 
 
But speed is not a concern at Ocean Prime – quality is most important. The Ocean Prime restaurants historically rely on chefs with 10 years of experience to masterfully manage the expeditor position so that all food comes up together. So the CMR team asked if QSR’s CSK has a place in fine dining. And the answer was yes. 
 
The CSK ensures the highest quality and greatly lowers the anxiety in the Ocean Prime kitchens, no matter the experience level of the chef running the expo. The CSK makes the expeditor position workable for newer chefs. With CSK, the Ocean Prime head chefs can take a day off and the restaurant managers don’t have to worry because the chefs can rely on the kitchen display screens. 
 
Using the CSK, each item from an order is displayed at the specific kitchen prep station screen responsible for preparing that item based on the cook times of all items that are part of the order. The expeditor knows the status of each order, including each item within the order, with a glance at the expo screen. Along with a number of advanced features designed specifically for table serve environments, the CSK ensures that all of the items, with different cook times and prepared at different prep stations, are completed at the same time and properly plated so that guests receive their meals together, hot and fresh. The CSK also eliminates loud communication and unorganized printer chits, reducing noise and angst in the kitchen. This is even more important in open kitchen environments like the Ocean Prime restaurants. 
 
Fine dining fans
 
Even though CMR had experience installing QSR’s CSK at the Rusty Bucket locations, it required a team effort from the IT, operations, and kitchen professionals to ensure that the CSK was specifically optimized for the Ocean Prime restaurant environment. 
 
Because there are so many modifications to the food at Ocean Prime, it did take a little time to get the menu item times right. The first implementation took about two weeks to perfect, and then the rest of the locations went in smoothly. CMR now feels confident that coursing works for fine dining – a steak comes off the broiler and goes right on a plate and then goes right out because the CSK times everything just right. 
 
The Ocean Prime open kitchens are now much quieter. The chefs no longer have to rely on calls, so there is no more yelling check and chit information. The expeditor knows when items are ready, so pick up and ready talk is eliminated as well. The kitchen display screens also reduce mistakes from misunderstandings and allow the chefs to do their own counts. 
 
The CMR team members all agree that with QSR’s CSK, the casual dining and fine dining kitchens alike are an even better place to work – they just flow. 
 
 
Brian Hinshaw is one of Columbus's most decorated and accomplished chefs with more than 20 years of culinary experience having worked in renowned kitchens in great cities such as Columbus, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. During his time in the Culinary Arts Program at Columbus State, Brian apprenticed under Chef Hartmut Handke, ranked as the 13th top Master Chef in the country. Brian began his tenure at CMR in 1999 as Executive Chef for Mitchell's Ocean Club then opened M as Executive Chef before his appointment to Regional Chef in 2005, and in 2009 to Vice President of Culinary Development. Well known for his creative cuisine and attention to detail, Brian is dedicated to the training and advancement of future culinarians both inside and outside the Company.
 

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