There's no doubt things have changed for restaurant owners over the past few months, and the scrutiny over labor costs is higher than ever. Fortunately for operators, there are some simple ways to free up kitchen labor simply by using different food products. Take, for example, french fries.
There’s a certain level of pride some operators take in saying they hand cut their french fries in-house, but hand-cut french fries are inconsistent and costly. Just how costly became clear to Chef Andrae Bopp when he made the switch away from hand-cut fries a few months ago.
Bopp is the owner/operator of Andrae’s Kitchen, a unique eatery inside of a gas station in Walla Walla, Washington, that’s since been the subject of rave reviews for upscale applications of french fries and other fan favorite items.
Here we take a look at all of the ways Chef Bopp and his business have benefited from using frozen fries, starting with a reduction in labor costs.
Bopp estimates french fry prep previously took two different kitchen workers two hours a piece—or four total hours of labor—per night. Even if the task is being done just six nights a week, that’s over 1,200 hours of labor per year.
“It was pretty amazing to look at how much time our staff was spending handling raw potato product, prepping it, and putting it into storage,” Bopp says. “Since we’ve been partnering with Lamb Weston and using different frozen varieties that they have, we’ve effectively been able to cut out 25 percent of two employees’ prep times per week.”
Hand-cut fries simply aren’t going to be more consistent than frozen fries, Bopp says.
“I’m always just amazed by how consistent each Lamb Weston fry is,” Bopp says. “There are no blemishes, and all of the fries are the same size, which when you think about it, makes for a more consistent frying process where each fry is getting equally cooked.”
Andrae’s Kitchen is known for its unique french fry offerings, including various versions of "loaded fries." That means it's important to have a nice, durable french fry, and one of the Lamb Weston varieties Bopp views as a solve for this are the new Seashore-Style Flats.
“This is a sturdy, flat fry with a nice crispiness to it,” Bopp says. “Sometimes with something like poutine the fries are soggy by the time you get to them, but this is a fry that holds up with the dish.”
Chef Bopp menus some standout french fry dishes, including Duck Neck Poutine, a Breakfast Benedict Poutine, or Voodoo Fries, which are topped with cajun spice, pulled pork, pickled peppers, and Crystal Hot Sauce aioli. That’s in addition to standard french fry offerings on the side of the dozens of handheld options at Andrae’s Kitchen.
“For all of those dishes, Lamb Weston’s Seashore-Style Flats work great,” Bopp says. “So here’s an item that you can use in all of these different ways with little to no prep or waste.”
Above all else, Chef Bopp and his staff appreciate the quality of Lamb Weston’s products.
"What sold me on Lamb Weston was their story more than anything else," Bopp says. "I was able to go and spend some time on site where they grow their product—and we are now able to say that we are using a locally grown product—and there’s an attention to detail you won’t find elsewhere.”
“Our entire staff is on board,” Bopp continues. “Nobody feels like this is an inferior product to the hand cut fries we used to have. If anything, it’s better quality, and we’re providing it to our diners with less labor, less waste, and more consistency.”
For more information on how to try a free sample of Lamb's Seasoned® Seashore‑Style® Flats, check out their website.