In researching my story about kitchen design for the May issue of HOTELS, it was especially interesting to talk with chefs about their kitchen wish lists and bold ideas for the future.
One chef who shared his thoughts with me was Truman Jones, the recently named executive chef at Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, whose experience also includes time at The Ventana Inn & Spa in California as well as various Ritz-Carlton properties.
Ann Bagel Storck: What is your favorite feature in your current kitchen, and what presents the biggest challenge?
Truman Jones: The kitchen at Lake Placid Lodge is the equivalent to driving a Maserati every day. It’s an incredibly luxurious kitchen and performs at a top level. Our kitchen takes up approximately half of one full floor of the hotel and is stocked with all the best equipment and chef toys. We are fortunate to work in such a nice environment.
The best feature is our Garland cooking suite. It is accessible from 360 degrees with four French-style flat tops, four ovens, 12 burners, a grill, a fryer, three salamanders and tons of BTU power!
Our biggest challenge is the design of the entry and exit of the kitchen to the dining room, which causes a bottleneck at the expo line. It can get a little crazy with the traffic.
ABS: What kitchen feature is at the top of your wish list?
TJ: I am always in need in of more prep-centric refrigeration. Also on our wish list is building a new separate kitchen to service one of our restaurants in a space currently being utilized as a culinary teaching area. You did say “wish.”
ABS: What is the most unconventional kitchen you have worked in, and what made it memorable?
TJ: I would say Lespinasse in Washington, D.C. Every piece of equipment and design element had form, function and cleanliness in mind. Every day, twice a day, we cleaned the kitchen with a spray hose mounted in one wall. We could close all the stainless-steel waterproof cabinets, spray down the entire kitchen, soap and scrub the entire place, spray it down again and then squeegee everything into floor drains that ran the length of all the equipment. And this was only one cool design feature the place had! It was small, compact and full of uber-functional design in all areas.
ABS: How have you seen hotel kitchens evolve during your career?
TJ: Hotel kitchens have changed dramatically over the course of my career. The kitchen is now a part of the guests’ public space, and it is being designed with that in mind. Kitchens are no longer hidden away but placed out for guests to see, experience and participate in as an amenity. This has led to extremely innovative and beautiful kitchens to work in for chefs — a far cry from the windowless boiler rooms they used to be.
ABS: If you could invent anything for the hotel kitchen of the future, what would it be?
TJ: Anything? A “Star Trek”-like transporter for room service food so the food would look exactly the same in the room as it did on the pass when we made it! Until that happens, maybe perfect cappuccinos for more than two people at a time would be nice.