It’s no secret that technology for chefs can have a massive potential to increase productivity and simplify workflows. If you work in a restaurant front of house, you’ve seen these benefits in action. The past few decades have seen a major boom in the number of POS Systems available and a similar increase in reservation management applications. Despite these substantial increases in available technology, enter any restaurant kitchen, and you’re likely to see a notable lack of tech.
While the Front of House sees more and more options for integrating technology into the flow of service, the Back of House has lagged behind. However, the tide is changing, and new opportunities are available for chefs to incorporate technology into their operations.
Why Tech? Why Now?
Restaurants often operate on slim profit margins, and it may be easy for chefs to write technology off as another expense. In reality, integrating technology is a crucial investment that can actually increase profits.
A 2015 study found that the average restaurant only uses 6.3% of its IT budget on Back of House technology. Meanwhile, the same study found that the top drivers of IT efforts are “business efficiency,” “enhanced guest service,” and “employee productivity.”
In the Back of House, chefs know that even though their work is only visible to guests as a final product, their performance is essential to a guest’s experience every step of the way, from recipe innovation to cooking and plating the food. So why are kitchens still forgotten when it comes to technology?
Small restaurants in particular often lack IT administrators, which can limit their ability to find and implement tech throughout the restaurant. Even when restaurants know technology is critical, they are more likely to focus on more established technology like POS systems, and the Back of House remains underserved.
The tech is available, and the time to invest in your kitchen’s future is now. Technology has never been more affordable and user-friendly. With the right software, you can integrate tech into your Back of House operations with or without a dedicated IT administrator.
But first, you need to know what to look for.
Culinary Software: Four Things to Look for
Not all culinary software is created equal. When searching for the right tech for your kitchen, it’s important to know what to prioritize. This means knowing your kitchen’s specific needs. If you have an IT administrator working with you, your priorities may be different than a chef who is looking to integrate new technology by themselves, but some priorities are standard across the industry.
Using binders and clipboards to keep track of essential documents creates inconvenience and inefficiency. Binders can only be in one place at a time, and if someone else is using the one you need, you either need to disrupt their work or postpone yours. On the other hand, relying on memory for something as important as a recipe can result in inconsistency.
When you rely exclusively on paper documents, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. Integrating technology into your kitchen can solve the issue of accessibility by giving your whole team immediate access to important documents from their phones. Digital accessibility also means you’ll have the ability to keep these documents updated from minute to minute.
When keeping accessibility in mind, ask the following questions: do you need your whole team to have access to your documents or just a few people? Do you want to go fully digital, or do you want to keep some binders around? Which documents do you want to digitize?
With any big shift in operations, speed is also imperative to keep in mind. Look for software that will help you transition quickly, and make a plan to keep the process as smooth as possible.
2. Recipe Management
In kitchens, it’s impossible to divorce accessibility from recipe management. Recipes are some of the most essential assets a restaurant has, yet so many kitchens rely on hard copies.
If a recipe changes, that means adjusting the document on a computer and printing it out again, and if your restaurant has frequent menu adjustments, the accumulation of past recipes can take up a significant amount of space. Furthermore, having multiple versions of the same recipe around can result in confusion and mistakes.
Moving your recipes to a digital space will free up space in your kitchen and your brain. Digital recipe management can make organizing your recipes a breeze, and many software options allow you to scale your recipes.
Here are some questions to keep in mind when looking for technology with good recipe management: how many recipes do you want to digitize? Does the software have a limit on how many recipes you can upload? Can the software help you scale your recipes? Will the software help you import your recipes, or will you do this yourself?
Regardless of what other functionality you’re looking for, recipe management is indispensable when adding technology to your kitchen.
3. Team Management
Recipe management is just the beginning of what technology can do for your kitchen. In the end, any restaurant service succeeds or fails on the strength of its team. Good restaurant technology gives you tools that will support your team and help you manage them.
Among the most important things you can do for your team is to have clear, transparent communication. The right recipe management software is the beginning of streamlining communication between you and your team, but good culinary technology takes it further. If communication is a priority for your team, look for technology that will streamline your conversations.
Keep these questions in mind: Do you want to keep team communication in a centralized application, or do you want to use separate apps for recipe management and communication? Do you want to be able to communicate with your whole team at once? Is direct message functionality necessary?
With the right technology, you can keep your recipes and your team up-to-date, all in the same place.
4. Ease of Integration
We know you’re dedicated to your kitchen, but you don’t have to work overtime to integrate new tech! Even if you don’t have a dedicated IT administrator for your restaurant, don’t despair. Technology is more user-friendly than ever, allowing chefs to choose the right software and integrate it into their kitchens—without having to work overtime to make it happen.
However, if you know that you’ll be incorporating new software into your kitchen without help, be sure to prioritize choosing an application that makes this process easy. Between choosing the right application, installation, learning the software, and teaching your team, the hours can add up. Ease of integration is the key to a smooth transition.
Questions to ask: how much time can you dedicate to learning the new software? Does the software provide demos or tutorials? What technology does your team have access to? Are you willing to install new hardware in your kitchen, and do you have the space? Does the software have a team available to answer questions as they arise?
Prioritizing an easy transition will help you reap the benefits of integrating tech into your kitchen even faster.
How opsi Changes the Game
Now that you know what to look for when searching for the right tech for your kitchen, meet opsi, the culinary app designed by chefs, for chefs.
Tested in real kitchens, opsi is a culinary workflow app designed to increase efficiency, boost operations, and empower your kitchen team. Chef and co-founder James Passafaro saw the need for an app that supports chefs in their day-to-day tasks and designed the perfect app to meet all your Back of House needs.
Read on to find out how opsi changes the game.
Digital Recipe Book
Bringing opsi to your kitchen means first and foremost means digitizing your recipes. Digital recipes are accessible from any device, and opsi can also provide real-time recipe costs. With opsi, you can get rid of your binders, but if you want to keep them, the app allows you to easily print your recipes, synergizing with the systems you already have for maximum accessibility.
Task & Prep Lists
At opsi, we believe that digital recipe management is only the first step in using technology to empower your kitchen. Opsi also provides digital task lists, allowing you to increase team engagement and ditch the clipboards. Like the recipe book, task and prep lists are easily updated and printable. Plus, you can also see task progression in real-time, allowing for more accountability in your kitchen.
Having clear, consistent communication with your team is the backbone of any efficient kitchen, and opsi can make communicating with your team even easier. Opsi has a centralized communication channel and direct messaging functionality so that your whole team can hear you even if they’re on the other side of the kitchen—because a team that’s on the same page, gets the job done.
We know the switch to digital is a big transition, which is why we’re here to help. Our team is on hand to help you import your recipes and get started with the app, and we’re available to answer any questions you have along the way. Even before you sign-up and download the app, we can help you decide if opsi is the best fit for your kitchen: just request a demo to chat with our team and see the technology in action.
Some restaurant technology requires the installation of expensive hardware, but opsi takes advantage of the technology you and your team already have. The transition is easy, and the benefits will speak for themselves.