CxRA Addresses New Catering Demand With State of The Art Facility

Most chefs would love to design their own kitchen, but few actually get to make it happen. This episode of “BUILT.” highlights Tim McLaughlin, the head chef of CxRA, and his vision for the catering company’s new facility in New York City.

CxRA is a custom caterer and part of the renowned Restaurant Associates family. Tim McLaughlin is both the company’s head chef and vice president of culinary services. He manages the sales, marketing, service, and design of CxRA. After a nine month search, McLaughlin selected a brick building with over 15,000 square feet of space—including a spacious parking lot perfect for housing CxRA trucks—that now comprises the catering company’s foodservice operations.

He then asked Christine Gurtler, the design director for Jacobs Doland Beer, and Thomas Mango, the senior project director for ENV, to help him create the blueprint design for the new kitchen.

“I know Tim and Restaurant Associates from work on other projects where they were the operator and we were the foodservice design consultant,” says Gurtler. “This was the first time we worked with Restaurant Associates where they were the client.”

CxRA has enjoyed steady growth since its inception—so much growth, in fact, that the company outgrew its first kitchen much more quickly than McLaughlin ever anticipated. This space would need to be functional and flexible.

THE CHALLENGE

While the space was largely a blank canvas, McLaughlin wanted to keep its industrial feel. He envisioned an open-concept kitchen filled with natural light that could meet the needs of the company’s ever-changing requirements. The design also needed to keep the loading dock easily accessible, as it serves as the beginning and end point for products.

“We needed a space that was going to be mobile at all times,” he explains. “We could be doing dinner for 100 one day, and the next day serving boxed lunches for 5,000.”

Mango and Gurtler were up for the challenge. “A lot of clients don’t always know exactly what they want,” says Mango. “Tim had a direction that really helped us.”

The goal of the design was to ensure that the company’s 107 cooks would be able to perform their day-to-day tasks in “as few steps as possible,” adds Gurtler. “Looking at the relationships between functions was critical during the design process.” The kitchen was to be employee-focused rather than office- and event-focused to ensure a comfortable working environment where the staff could meet the growing consumer demands of CxRA.

McLaughlin also wanted to avoid the problems of the old CxRA kitchen, knowing that in the catering world “you’re as good as your last party.”

“We can create a lot of smoke because of the amount of production we do,” says McLaughlin. “We wanted to make sure you can leave here and your clothes aren’t going to smell like food.”

McLaughlin followed Gurtler’s advice and had the Halton system installed—a decision he has not regretted since day one. The results have been life-changing in terms of flexibility and performance.

The result? A beautiful blend of brick, wood, and stone. With over 2,000 events a year, CxRA needed a place that felt inviting while still remaining functional.

The kitchen looks entirely different during the day compared to at night, allowing for unique design and event opportunities. The large, industrial-sized windows also provide an amount of natural light uncommon to most New York City kitchens. And whether for crafting pastries, chopping ingredients, or completing general prep, every space serves a purpose.

This episode is brought to you by Halton. . M.A.R.V.E.L. is the only technology able to adjust the exhaust airflow rate of every hood, independently and in real time, while keeping the balance between exhaust and supply, whatever the number of cooking zones or the number of fans. It reduces the exhaust airflow rates by up to 64%.

Research by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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Rich's Versatile Product Can Help Caterers Extend Hold Times for Tasty Treats

On this episode of Foodable’s Smart Kitchen and Bar, our guest host Chef Dave Mack, Director of Culinary Operations & Development at Tastebuds Catering, will discuss the role of desserts in catering and the challenges caterers have when it comes to hold times and upkeeping visual appeal. He will be creating two sweet treats using Rich’s On Top® Whipped Topping.

“So what’s great about this product is that it takes on flavor so well,” says Chef Mack. “...But the best part about [it] is you can be able to pipe something ahead of time and it will still hold for when you need them.”

The two desserts he covers in this episode are a Tropical Trifle with fresh fruits and a Boston Creme Puff with a chocolate ganache.

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Tropical Trifle

Ingredients:

  • Rich's On Top® Whipped Topping

  • Strawberries

  • Mango

  • Kiwi

  • Blueberry

  • Blackberry

  • Balsamic glaze

  • Mint

Directions:

Cook down fruits with sugar to make individual compotes. Mix each fruit with the whipped topping to make colored fillings. Layer in rainbow order, top with plain topping.

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Boston Creme Puffs

Ingredients:

  • Rich's On Top® Whipped Topping

  • Rich's Premium Custard Base

  • Dark Chocolate Bars

  • Heavy Cream

  • Green and White Sprinkles

  • Cream Puff Shells

 

 

Directions:

Chocolate Ganache

  • Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler and combine with Rich's On Top® Whipped Topping.

Cream Puffs

  • Mix Rich's Premium Custard Base into the On Top® Whipped Topping mixture. Pipe into creampuff shell. Top with chocolate ganache.

How to Leverage Third-Party Partnerships and Technology to Increase Off-Premise Profits

We are halfway through the first season of The Takeout Delivery and Catering Show and have covered the foundations for making sure your off-premise strategies are making you money. If you are struggling with the off-premise paradigm shift, if you feel like your catering and delivery channels are not working as effectively as they should, if you see the potential of off-premise but your bottom line is not reflecting the vision, then make sure to listen to the first half of the season to learn how to make your off-premise strategies smart, discoverable and profitable.

There are so many option and so many players, it's a challenge to figure out what is the right blueprint for off-premise success.  The fundamentals of your off-premise strategies are crucial to your future success. In today's episode, Valerie and Erle speak with Richard Hodges, Vice President of Operations Services at La Madeleine. La Madeleine has had 6 years of consecutive growth in the off-premise space. Richard Hodges shares their industry leading strategies like how to leverage third-party partnerships, using the technology to reach customers on multiple platforms, and streamlining the technology to maximize efficiency and profitability.   

Show Notes

14:46 - Free the data!
16:33 - Loyalty intergration.
21:07 - Negotiating with third-party service providers.
25:36 - Please send us your questions and comments at producer@foodabletv.com
 

01:54 - Meet Richard Hodges, Vice President of Operations Services at La Madeleine.
02:26 - Le Madeleine's history in the off-premise space.
04:35 - The importance of differentiating your off-premise channels.
06:58 - Using technology and partnerships to increase efficiency and profits. 

 

This episode brought to you by:

 

Welcome to The Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show

Today, we are seeing an off-premise paradigm shift and operators need a plan or they risk being left behind. To navigate this new landscape, we have brought together Erle Dardick, a foodservice takeout, delivery & catering expert and CEO & Founder of MonkeyGroup, and Valerie Killifer, editor of Catering Insights. Both know a thing or two about helping multi-unit restaurant executives create successful off-premise revenue channels and are dedicated to bringing content showcasing the best practices in the off-premise industry. The Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show will provide you, the operator, with strategies and insights that will help you leverage your brand and make your off-premise initiatives smart, fast, and profitable.

In the first episode of The Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show, we discuss the off-premise paradigm shift and how operators need to distinguish the business logic behind catering, takeout and delivery, and why it is important for restaurants to also distinguish between the three  operators more effectively handle their off-premise business.

Show Notes

  • 11:49 - The magic of differentiating between takeout and catering

  • 13:49 - The 5 pillars of successful restaurant catering, takeout, and delivery

  • 17:46 - Signing off

  • 0:30 - Meet your host Valerie Killifer

  • 1:45 - Meet her co-host, Erle Dardick

  • 05:19 - We help restaurant operators grow sales and increase profits.

  • 05:45 - The off-premise paradigm shift

  • 08:10 - What is the business logic behind this shift?

 

This episode brought to you by: