American Restaurant Kitchens are Unique
Just as America is a melting pot of cuisines and cultures, so too is an American restaurant kitchen concept. Almost every classically trained American chef will tell you that the foundation of their cooking style may be rooted in classical French technique, but they style is strictly American in execution.
No restaurant exemplifies this better than the American restaurant kitchen design concept at the American Bounty Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York. I can tell you from personal experience that as a student at the CIA, there is no bigger thrill than to realize your next and final class will be held in this world-renowned restaurant.
Perhaps I am a bit partial to my alma mater, but the design and operational efficiency that was implemented in this American restaurant kitchen, is one that is done so well that we frequently emulate this style for clients intending to develop a fine dining American concept.
American Restaurant Kitchen Design Concepts
When most of the world thinks about American cuisine; they immediately envision large portions of burgers, fries and chicken wings. While it is true that these items are very popular in American food culture, by no means should they considered the hallmark of a cuisine that has evolved from a mix of cultures that spans the globe.
Many American restaurant concepts today tend to fall into the Fast Casual Restaurant Kitchen category, but for those looking to develop a fine dining concept, it is important to stay true to basic culinary fundamentals when beginning the restaurant kitchen design process. This means following the classic kitchen brigade system that you might find in a French Restaurant Kitchen design concept, but the stations that comprise the brigade for an American restaurant will more often be based on menu category than culinary technique.
American Restaurant Kitchen Stations
Unlike the classic brigade system, where the commercial kitchen design is organized according to ingredients or culinary techniques; such as the fish, vegetable or garde manger stations, the American restaurant kitchen design organizes the kitchen according to menu category in order to accommodate the wide range of techniques and ingredients used in modern American cuisine. The list below is comprised of typical stations you will find in an American restaurant kitchen design project.
It is safe to say that every American restaurant kitchen project will have some form of sauté station added to the layout. Whether the menu offers pasta or pot stickers, the sauté station can be one of the most versatile for any restaurant kitchen design budget. Many American menus may offer a small number of items that may not justify the cost of adding additional equipment such as a pasta cooker or steamer so the sauté station is where classic cooking techniques combines with culinary ingenuity to provide the chef with a myriad of cooking options.
Depending on the scope of the menu, most often the grill and roast stations will be combined to speed execution and consolidate kitchen space. Most American restaurant kitchen concepts are developed with the expectation that larger items are not cooked completely on the grill, but are only seared or marked, and then finished in the oven to the desired level of doneness. This approach allows for a smaller grill to be used, and helps to reduce the amount of “char” on the food items.
Again, depending on the number of fried items on the menu, this station may be designed to be stand alone, or be potentially combined with the cold or pantry station. The rationale behind combining these stations is that particularly in fast casual operations, most menu items will have components created on each of these stations to comprise the final dish. An example being a Buffalo Chicken Finger Salad.
Cold or Pantry Station
Reminiscent of the classic garde manger station, this quintessentially American restaurant kitchen station is responsible for all cold food preparation. Sandwiches, salads, cold appetizers and many desserts are executed by chefs and cooks to supplement the hot food offerings to patrons. The configuration of this station will vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant, but regardless of the organizational layout, this station is one that requires great care to design properly in order to ensure the cold station chefs have everything they need to execute their dishes quickly, efficiently and consistently.
Unlike cuisines who span several centuries of tradition, no two American restaurant kitchen concepts will be the same since each will impart the unique “flavor” that represents their geographical location. Our restaurant consultants have years of design and hands on culinary experience that help restaurant owners create efficient concepts that are customized to be as unique, as the customers they serve.