Upscale restaurants

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The most traditional segment of the restaurant and foodservice industry is fine dining. Historically the idea of an upscale restaurant included certain key organizing principles: efficiency in the production of freshly prepared food and professionalism in service. Prices are typically the highest of any segment, because the food is almost exclusively ‘hand made,’ not unlike a Rolls Royce automobile or a man’s tailored suit. Fine dining is defined by having a well trained and professional staff of waiters, usually including a dining room managed by someone in the role of Maitre d’ Hotel. This type of restaurant will almost always have an extensive wine list, as well as a full range of other alcoholic beverages. Meals are most often created by a culinary artist called an Executive Chef with dishes best described as consisting of elaborately and freshly prepared food.

For more than a century the kitchen production system and the dining room service system have remained basically unchanged. The fabled French chef, Auguste Escoffier, designed the hierarchical structure of the kitchen. His colleague, the eponymous Cesar Ritz, an equally legendary Maitre d’ Hotel, designed the dining room. Escoffier took what was essentially a loose, craft based system and turned it into a paramilitary food production factory. At the top of the line is an Executive Chef, supported by a battery of sub chefs, cooks, and stewards called a ‘Kitchen Brigade.’ Each has a well defined role, often specializing in just one part of the otherwise complex menu; for example, the Saucier makes all of the soups and stocks, while the Poissonier is responsible for anything to do with fish. Dining room service is just as efficient as the kitchen’s, with Captains leading teams of waiters, busboys, and food runners, supported by Sommeliers (wine stewards) and other various players.

References

Spang, R. L. (2000). The Invention of the Restaurant. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Kuh, P. (2001). The Last Days of Haute Cuisine: America’s Culinary Revolution. New York: Viking Publishers.

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