A meal before flying - The challenges of air side cooking
Thursday 23 November 2017
The 1950s are often called the golden age of air travel, but the golden age of airport dining is happening right now. With budget airlines allowing greater numbers of people to fly, and modern security requiring them to spend longer in the airport before departure, a new wave of high-quality foodservice outlets has begun appearing in airports across the world.
Travellers now have an unrivalled choice of pre-flight food options, from familiar chains to unique concepts created by some of the world’s top chefs. After all, what better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a quality meal?
Running a foodservice operation in an airport brings with it additional issues compared to other locations. With long opening hours and a constant stream of passengers that require prompt service, you need reliable equipment. Plus, if your outlet is airside – that is, after passport control - security procedures can delay engineers reaching you in the case of a breakdown.
Williams was recently involved with the creation of a new bar/restaurant at Heathrow Terminal 4. The Commission is a stylish but casual restaurant serving a diverse, modern menu using quality local ingredients. It is open sixteen hours a day, so making sure they have enough storage capacity for all the ingredients they need is vital.
This includes a mix of chilled and frozen storage, along with separate cabinets for meat and fish, a countertop Thermowell unit, as well as a walk-in coldroom for bulk storage.
Trying to maximise the space available is a familiar struggle for most businesses, but in locations like airports especially so, choosing equipment that works well together is vital. Positioning a counter top thermowell unit on a refrigerated counter can create an integrated workstation that provides chefs easy access to ingredients while maintaining the highest hygienic standards. This enables chefs to maintain fast service even during busiest periods.
Walk-in coldrooms can also play a pivotal role in the smooth running of airside restaurants, as it can often be the main staging area for everything brought up from the stores. As such it is in constant use throughout the day with staff entering and leaving it frequently. Despite this regular activity, the integrity of the ingredients should never be compromised – look for models that feature advanced temperature controls that ensure constant temperatures inside.
While you may not be operating under the same restrictions as airport restaurants, if you’re designing a new kitchen it can be helpful to consider how they design their workflow in order to maximise their efficiency.