After six weeks of learning in the kitchen lab, I found it’s a big challenge about how to deal with the waste management. Wasting anything means losing money in vain. The goal of running a business is to make profit, so wasting too much is an enemy of business owners. For bakery owners, they always try to minimize the waste in their kitchens. As of my observation, the waste in kitchen can be divided into three categories: time, ingredients and energy waste. And I have some ideas about how to control them.
As students, if we don’t have a plan before the class, we will have to spend some time on thinking or planning after we get into the lab. We only have five hours in lab everyday. I saw some classmates glancing over their recipes to search the products they wanted to make, or calculating the amount of ingredients required. They were supposed to do those things before class. I always plan what I’m going to do for the next day’s class. That’s why I am able to start my work immediately. Likewise, bakery managers should make detailed work plans, and must make sure to let their employees understand the plans and prepare for them very well. In that case, their products can be served to customers in time. More satisfaction from the customers, more profit they can earn.
Another kind of time waste is bad organization. For example, we know that breads need long time to be fermented, proofed and baked. We have to complete three items on one learning day. We should prepare the bread dough first, and let it ferment on the bench so we can do other things parallel and make sure we can put the breads into oven in time when they are ready. In our lab, we faced a troublesome problem once. There was some bread still in the oven when we already cleaned up and waited for dismissal. Can you imagine that happens in real bakery business? Customers have been waiting for a long time, and the foods are still in the process of making.
It’s usual to see some flour or sugar on the floor. Our instructor said she even saw some banana scrap on the floor. If we take ingredients more carefully, they won’t be dropped. Like we learned that ingredients are liquid assets. Wasting materials means throw the money down the drain. For us, a good method to take ingredients is to bring our bowls to the storage bins. In that way, we are able to put what we need in our bowls immediately. We not only save the ingredients, but also save the time. Sometimes, we have to get the ingredients back and forth several times.
Another kind of material waste is to use too much ingredient on a certain products. Let’s assume that one box of chocolate pecan cookies’ unit cost is $1.00. If you double the amount of chocolate, you will increase the unit cost but the sell price stays the same. A similar episode happened to one of my classmates. He put too much pecan in his pecan pies. It took me a while to find out why his digital scale showed the right numbers even it’s so obvious that the amount of pecan wasn’t right. The reason is that his scale was put on a book. The digital scale works right only when it is placed horizontally.
I think the biggest material waste happens during the process of baking. Since we are students, we aren’t familiar with the doneness of every type of baked goods. Sometimes, we set the temperature wrong. At the end, the baked goods lost their designed shape. Or, we baked the goods for too long time and burned them. No one wants to buy failed goods, so we lose money on ruining products. For bakery owners, they should avoid those things happen a lot. They can train their workers seriously, or hire conscientious and skilled employees.
(photocopied from namelymarly.com)
In the lab, we use electricity a lot. Almost every machine in our kitchen needs electricity. Even though our instructor told us close the door of walk-in fridge as soon as possible, I still found some classmates didn’t follow the rules. Some people even like to look for ingredients in the walk-in fridge with the door open widely. Or some classmate forgot to close the door after they got out. If I were a bakery owner, I would demand my employees form a good habit to close the fridge door after them. The longer the refrigerator is opened, the more electricity power is wasted.
The ovens need a lot of electricity, too. So, a good organization of using the ovens is essential. For example, we can put five muffin pans instead of three at the same time.
The five pans can be baked together. In other words, we can bake more products with the same amount of power in the same period of time.
When we use the rack oven, we should put in products with same temperature and baking time requirements together as many as possible. It’s better to push a full rack of trays into the oven rather than just one or two trays on it. Also, always turn off any machines that we don’t need. Like proofer, packaging machine, and some layers of deck oven.
The competition in bakery industry is very intense. If we want to be a winner, we should pay more attention to waste management. It’s controllable and I hope I can learn more about how to reduce waste in the future’s learning. Sometimes, we lose the profit like the sand which leaking from our hands without our being aware of it!
(photocopied from visualphotos.com)