It's been a long day of swimming and sunbathing and blended margarita drinking for your guests, and now, as the sun begins to set, they're ready to eat. Lucky for them, they don't have to travel far as your hotel offers several dining options, ranging from a fine dining restaurant to a casual patio cafe to pre-made sandwiches at the hotel convenience store.
Certainly, you've got a lot on your plate with monitoring the temperature of almost every point in your hotel, from the pool to the gym, but when it comes to food storage and safety, you can never be too cautious.
After all, you don't want to be responsible for a food born illness outbreak that ruins the vacation that your guests have been planning for months. We promise that this is not a shout out on Yelp or a review on Travelosity that any hotel owner or manager wants to read about their hotel.
Don't let the fancy linen napkins, spotless wine glasses, and impeccable service mask potentially poor practices in the back of house. All the polished silverware in the world can't possibly make up for unsafe refrigeration and storage practices of your dining establishment. Actually, the cleanliness and attention to detail in the in the front of house should be a reflection of the standards and practices of the back of the house, not a cover-up.
That's not to say that just because the pre-made salads that are sold in the lobby store must meet lower standards because of their less-than-high-end packaging and presentation, because actually, the truth is, that they were probably made in the same kitchen as the Duck a l'Orange that's served in the high end dining room. The bottom line is that safe food storage and refrigeration practices must never be comparable to the dollar amount on the price tag. Salmonella is salmonella, whether it's contracted in at your five star restaurant or your casual lobby convenience store.
As a hotel owner or manager, it's your job to make sure that your guests are consuming safe food, because it's not worth the consequences that could erupt if safe practices aren't adhered to.
In a previous blog post
, we discussed the complexities of temperature monitoring in hotel kitchens. It's obviously crucial that hotel kitchens practice safe, clean and cold storage of perishable food items. But as a hotel owner or manager, there's a lot more to think about in terms of temperature in your kitchen. It would be simple if food safety and storage were all you had to think about in terms of of temperature, but the truth is, it's just the beginning.
A commercial kitchen, whether in a hotel or not, is a complicated environment of machinery and manpower. If you've ever been in the back of house of a restaurant kitchen, you might have noticed how hot it runs. It's a concern, not only because of the potential that food is sitting in temperatures that are qualified as unsafe, otherwise known as the “Danger Zone”, but also because of how hot kitchens can affect staff productivity, employee turnover and, consequently, profit loss.
You may not even realize it, but temperature has the potential to greatly affect productivity. Research has shown that when temperature increases of up to 10° F above comfortable levels, employee productivity was shown to drop as much as 30 percent! Imagine having to staff your kitchen with extra bodies, increasing your payroll, just to make up for that 30 percent of work that wasn't able to be done with the staff you already had because of poorly maintained ambient temperatures. It's an easy problem to fix that can save you space in your kitchen and dollars in your payroll account.
But beyond productivity losses in your kitchen, which let's be honest, your large-scale hotel with hundreds of rooms full of hungry, and perhaps impatient guests can't afford, high temperatures in the kitchen have been shown to contribute to high turnover rates. If you were working in temperatures that made you sweat like you were running on the treadmill when you were really just tossing a salad, we wouldn't blame you for wanting to quit. It can be difficult enough to retain kitchen staff, as on average, four people a year are hired and trained for the same job. Did you know that according to the National Restaurant Association the single most critical issue facing the restaurant industry is hiring and retaining professional kitchen staff? It seems like a no brainer that if all you had to do was simply set and monitor ambient temperatures in your hotel kitchen to minimize turnover rates, you wouldn't hesitate to do it.
When money is being allocated to the constant hiring and training of unproductive kitchen staff, it seems like an obvious waste of time and resources that could be easily avoided with the simple adjustment of the air conditioner thermostat. But with the radiation of heat from multiple ovens, stove-top burners and other kitchen appliances, it's more complicated than just setting the thermostat and walking away. Still, that doesn't mean that achieving ideal temperatures in your kitchen needs to be a nightmare either. Although temperature monitoring is frequently overlooked, it would be unwise to overlook the effects caused by lack of monitoring. However, this is when a fault-tolerant system comes in handy.
A fault-tolerant, automatic, and continuous alert system would be able to alert you of temperature issues before they arise.
Not to mention, it would alleviate the pressure of frequently hiring, training and holding on to staff, when there are, without question, more important things you could be doing with your precious time. And what's more, is you'll be running a kitchen that's much more energy efficient, cost effective and productive. As the smart hotel manager or owner that you are when it's as easy as setting thresholds that will alert you when temperatures fall out of range so that you can take preventative action, why wouldn't you?
Kate Hofberg, Epicurean Essayist
Temperature@lert’s resident foodie from sunny Santa Barbara, Kate Hofberg, creates weekly blog posts, manages the content database, and assists with the marketing team's projects. Balancing a love for both the west and east coast, Hofberg studied at University of California Santa Barbara, where she received a Bachelors in Communications, and Boston University, where she is currently a Masters candidate in Journalism. Before coming to Temperature@lert, Hofberg trained in her foodie ways through consumption of extremely spicy, authentic Mexican food with her three brothers and managing a popular Santa Barbara beachside restaurant. Through her training and love of great food, she brings fresh methods of cooking up content. When Hofberg is not working on Temperature@lert marketing endeavors, she serves as a weekly opinion columnist for the Boston University independent student-run newspaper, The Daily Free Press. If time permits, Hofberg enjoys long walks, reading, playing with her cat, and eating pizza. Her ideal temperature is 115°F because she loves temperatures as hot and spicy as her food.