When an executive chef or culinary directory of a multi-unit operation crafts a new menu, whether it be seasonal, limited time, or just a shift in direction, trying to stay consistent across all units can be a challenge. The same is true of brands forming aggressive growth strategies, where maintaining signature flavors can make the difference between thriving and failing to leave an imprint with fresh audiences.
Chef Benjamin Leingang, the corporate chef at Henny Penny Corporation, believes the solution can be found in technology, where modern cooking methods can provide programmable and replicable systems that, while not placing one chef in multiple locations at the same time, might just be the next best thing.
“A work of art may or may not be great if you can’t replicate it,” Leingang says. “You want to be able to give diners the same experience week in and week out.”
Henny Penny is a foodservice equipment supplier of fryers, holding cabinets, combi ovens, and other cooking and food prep solutions. Leingang says the products offer customizable and smart technology, such as the FlexFusion Platinum Series combi oven that has a 7-inch touch screen with up to 350 custom cooking programs and apps for cooking, serving, convenience cleaning, and more. These include apps like PerfectHold, which switches to hold mode after cooking and makes sure dishes aren’t overcooked.
“If you do have access to this kind of technology, you can let it do the work and take the headache out for somebody,” he says. “It’s the idea of setting standards and following through on them. Why do we have recipes? If we have recipes for our dishes, shouldn’t we have recipes for everything else?”
Leingang, who has 24 years of culinary experience, including management roles with Compass Group North America and a variety of executive chef positions, will be presenting his ideas and solutions in a webinar for FSR at 2 p.m. [eastern] on October 15. He says the concept applies to all operators, even independent units trying to navigate the time-draining logistics of a single-chef concept.
“If you’re a one-man operation and you never want to have a day off, that piece of equipment you’re used to using is great,” he says. “If you want to have a day off and you want the food to be the same while you’re not there, or you ever want to have a vacation, then computer controls, filter tracking, these sorts of things become of the utmost importance. Because we can train people, but people are fallible by nature. We all make mistakes. And when we utilize computer controls that ensure the food is the same every single time, I think that’s really key. … You place it in the objective, not the subjective.”