Running a “scratch kitchen” takes a lot of work, planning, and preparation.
The term “scratch kitchen” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean to be a scratch kitchen? And how practical is it in today’s clubs and resorts?
Typically, a scratch kitchen is one where all recipes, dishes and products are produced from raw ingredients. This means every element of the dish, including the tasks necessary to produce it, are executed start to finish without shortcuts.
If the stock takes three days, you’d best plan ahead.
That said, there is some ambiguity when it comes to what “raw ingredients” qualify for scratch cooking. Many club chefs rely on speed scratch and convenience products to save time and labor, while still yielding a high quality final dish.
When you look at the scale many club and resort chefs have to serve, especially in banquets, being 100% scratch, where even the puff pastry is made in house, is rare and often impractical. Instead, most clubs consider themselves scratch up to a certain percent, meaning most á la carte dishes are traditionally scratch, while other volume items are not.
The rise of speed scratch products—meaning semi-prepped or semi-prepared ingredients—introduce an element of time savings that uniformly assists cooks and chefs in every culinary genre and at every level of culinary expertise. Pre-cut vegetables, shredded cheese, and protein portioned into the perfect size, for example, offer valuable labor savings by eliminating time-consuming, even tedious, prep tasks.
This allows club and resort chefs to focus on more mindful culinary elements, like skillful cooking techniques, building flavors, and creative plate-scaping, while still maintaining a recipe’s integrity.
As quality continues to be the driving force behind nearly all club and resort menus, scratch cooking, and various iterations, will continue to gain momentum.