A little background on myself. I’ve been a chef now for 22 years and a lot has changed in the culinary world. I‘m currently the Executive chef of two of the busiest restaurants in the major cities of Ireland. Like many people being a chef wasn’t on my radar and I fell into it while doing work experience in transition year. There have been good times and bad times. Being a chef has taken me around the world and through it I met my wife. Right now I’m very happy in my current role and have great work satisfaction. I want to write on how technology has made my life much easier and hassle free, when balancing a team of 40 people from all over the world. Initial costs are of course expensive but for any chef managing a lot of people and all that comes with it, these apps will make your life much more manageable and help you achieve the all important work-life balance. There are many similar apps available in the industry, but below are the ones that I use personally.
The first area I want to discuss is scheduling. We use an app called “Bizimply” which links into both restaurants. From anywhere, on my phone, I can see who is working, what time they started, were they late, etc. Making rosters is a simple process and with click of a button the roster is sent to all. Hours are calculated immediately making budgeting much quicker. Another benefit of the app is reporting. At the end of every shift, the chef in charge has to write a report of any incidents/complaints etc. It makes staying in touch with both sites much easier. We also have a maintenance section built in. With so much equipment, it’s easy to forget and lose track of repairs.
HACCP and its mandatory recording was once a big ordeal. I’m sure many kitchens have forgotten to enter records and panic reigns when the EHO arrives at the door. I use a system called “Kelsius”. Basically it's a cloud based system where a lot of the work is done for you. It is completely paperless. Fridge/freezer temperatures are automatically taken every hour. Any units with high temperatures I’m notified by text and email. For food temperatures such as “first cooks”, “reheating” and “cook to cool” for example we use probes that are linked to tablets in each kitchen. Simply select the first cook option for example and the temperature is recorded. The tablets are linked to printers which gives a professional looking label recording date of production, use by date and batch codes. Any rare incidents of suspected food poisoning can be dealt with quickly as with Kelsius you can trace an item from delivery to storage to cooking or reheating and hot holding.
Another area where Kelsius is great is for cleaning records. At the end of their shift a Kitchen Porter has to sign off that they’ve completed their daily tasks. Great to have on record with EHO visit.
The app of biggest significance for me personally is “MarketMan”. It’s our inventory app and handles all purchasing, stocktaking, stock transfers and menu training. Ordering is done by the app on your phone negating the need to call the supplier or email them. Once set up with the appropriate supplier codes and prices the order - its a breeze. The order has to be approved by me before going to the supplier. For accounting purposes, you even take a photo of a received invoice and it will read what was ordered and enter it for your end of month reports. Month-end stocktakes are completed on the phone. The app is linked to our POS systems which gives live reporting on what’s selling etc. When costing a new menu its a simple matter of entering the new dish components and it will immediately cost your dish. Menu training is another great tool for FOH and BOH. You complete the dish on the app, which includes photos and method. This is a great advantage for new staff or when a customer asks FOH a question about included ingredients. Allergens are also noted. This app cuts hours from my week.
Finally more of a front of house tool but we use a system called “Resdiary” for our bookings. This is useful for the kitchen as it allows quick visibility of bookings and any information we need to know for specific tables such as allergens or birthdays, etc.
All these apps and tools make my life so much easier and makes me more productive. Of course, a word of advice, we all need to switch off when at home. One caveat of all this is that it can be difficult to not check up on what’s going on at work. On some occasions of course you need to be connected but the show does go on without you. It’s important not to spend your down time wondering how much chicken you’ve sold today and what is the temperature of the hake your chef has just cooked….
ABOUT JOHN OLIVER O'MAHONY
John is the Executive Chef of two busy restaurants with a third coming soon. He works in The Spitjack Brasserie which is an awarding winning restaurant with a huge breakfast, brunch and dinner trade focusing very much on their Rotisserie.
From Ovens, John worked locally in Cork as well as Australia.
He is married to Kinue who is originally from Tokyo and they have four children to keep them very busy.
*NOTE FROM CHEF NETWORK: Apps and software mentioned above are recommended by the author and not affiliated with nor endorsed by Chef Network