Delivering Consistency Efficiently

America might has popular fastfood chains such as McD, KFC and Pizza Hut, but Indonesia has its own fastfood: Padang restaurant. Food trends may come and go, but Padang food is here to stay. Among all of the leading Padang restaurant names, Marco Padang might be the only one that focuses in serving home style Padang cuisine in a modern way in malls. Since its inception in Setiabudi One on 2009, Marco Padang already has 6 outlets in leading malls in Jakarta.

Marco Padang was born due to some people’s complaints on traditional Padang cuisine’s concept; some of them are the health and hygiene issue. Behind the rich flavor and fast serving time, Padang food is notorious for being unhealthy because the cooking process was conducted way before the serving time. Some food such as the gulai soup may even be reheated over and over. It gave Padang bad reputation and being responsible for the high cholesterol level in many of its fans. In Marco Padang, everything is served ala carte to ensure the hygiene and freshness.

“The point is, we bring home style, family menus in Marco Padang. I learn about the Padang recipe from my mother. The problem is, when she’s asked about the amount, she always replies, ’as you like’,”said Chef Marco Lim, chef owner of Marco Padang. According to him, his family in Padang is good at cooking because there was no catering service back then. “When we held feasts, we have to cook for ourselves, from butchering the chicken to lamb. When the dishes were done, we called our grandma and aunties to try, so I knew exactly the taste,” he recalled.

Nevertheless, Chef Marco need months of research when he set his mind on running his own restaurant business. “I even spent 8 months just to do research on rendang. I call my friends from regions in Padang such as Bukittinggi, Pariaman, Solok, just to know their rendang versions, and then I took the best from those versions. Sometimes, when I got the perfect recipe in Padang, the taste and aroma was totally off when I make it in Jakarta using local ingredients,” explained Chef Marco.

Chef Marco’s Assistant
After the first outlet in Setiabudi One, Marco Padang keeps opening new outlets in Jakarta’s leading malls. He was faced with a new issue. “If we are to cook in every outlet, we’ll have different quality levels, it’s hard to control. Finally we decided to invest on a central kitchen in Tomang, Central Jakarta, to make it easy for us to distribute to our 6 outlets,” said Chef Marco. The central kitchen also allows Marco Padang to send the supply twice a day to maintain the freshness of the dishes.

For some menus such as rendang, Chef Marco still relies on traditional cooking method, the conventional furnace and wood fire. However for the 80% of the menus, he depends on Rational Self Cooking Center 201 G. “I used to spent 51 litre of cooking oil a day to fry menus such as fried lung and fried shallots. With Rational’s dry heat technology, I only use 17 litre,” explained Chef Marco.

Rational also acts like Chef Marco’s assistant because with the combi oven, he doesn’t have to be in the central kitchen to monitor the whole cooking process. “I don’t worry that the consistency of the dishes will suffer because we have the automatic setting, I only need to find the correct temperature and duration in the beginning for every menu, and for the next one, I can use the previous present,” said Chef Marco.

Of course, it was a challenge in the beginning, both for Chef Marco and Rational’s technical team. As a German made machine, Rational didn’t have the specific presets for Padang food. The process to synchronize the machine’s settings and Chef Marco’s will to get the result he wanted took up to a month. However, now the supplies for the 6 outlets can be met by a single Rational Self Cooking Center 201 G.

Chef Marco admitted that Rational Self Cooking Center 201 G helped him greatly because the combi oven doesn’t need extra monitoring process so he can focuses on other things. “The type of food that benefitted by Rational is definitely the fries. Let’s take fried lung for example; I can set the temperature, humidity, and the duration. In conventional way of cooking, we rely on feeling. This is quite risky, especially when it involves new employees. With Rational we work faster, and I don’t need extra labor to check the results, we’re way more efficient now,” said Chef Marco.

Aside from that, because it’s capable of doing various things, the combi oven can save lot of space in the central kitchen. Regular western restaurants often feature the standard menus such as steak, pizza, and grilled salmon. The three of them require different equipment, from saucepan, oven, and griller. Rational can replace all of the equipment and it’s capable to cook three of them all at once. It’s a solution for a compact kitchen without sacrificing menu variants.

Another example is when you need to grill 1000 satays, of course we need many satay grillers, labours, and plenty of time. With Rational, the whole process can be simplified into 10 minutes. To get a more authentic result, Rational can even gives the grill mark, there’s also smoker that can be added with wood chip to get the distinct aroma from grilling satay in traditional way.

With all those features and technologies, of course some chefs are often felt intimidated the Rational sophistication. In the end, Rational is just a combi oven that can simplify many processes with its automatic programs. For Marco Padang, the adaptation process took 1 month. However, look at how much burdens were lifted from Chef Marco’s shoulder when he used Rational Self Cooking Center 201 G, so he can focus to open more outlets in near future.