Open the New Year as you experience the future of culinary technology with The Penthouse Zurich’s Executive Chef, Frederic Faucheux

As the end of the year approaches and FIVE Zurich is set to organise five end of year events to take place in their hotel, we sat down with Frederic Faucheux, Executive Chef at FIVE Hotels and Resorts’ most popular rooftop lounge, bar, and club, The Penthouse, to hear his thoughts on what we can expect on culinary technology.

What will the professional kitchen of the future look like?

The professional kitchen of a five-star hotel in the future will likely be highly automated and keenly streamlined – more than ever before. It will encompass high-tech equipment, including advanced ovens and stoves as well as automated dishwashers and methods for food preparation.

Kitchens will also likely be equipped with voice-activated ordering systems, automated inventory tracking, and other innovative tools from Sewage Treatment Plant operations, right up to installing and successfully running an Effluent Treatment Plant, it will help reduce wastage of water. A proactive maintenance of all equipment, to avoid any excessive energy consumption and ensure a higher life for machines. Kitchens of the future will also employ Robo-Chefs to produce high volumes of food at a quick speed with consistency of taste, quality and cleanliness. As soon as AI technology becomes readily available for kitchens, most of the restaurants will invest in these solutions to take advantage and make the entire process (from ingredient preparation to table service) more efficient. Additionally, as the world continues to look towards environmentally conscious practices, so will chefs in kitchens. Adopting food waste technology systems that provide AI analysis of the wastebin will inform smarter procurement strategies. Likewise, installing scales integrated with a digital platform will allow kitchens to track the waste leaving their operations, providing a data-driven approach to goal setting.

What changes will it have to cope with?

Chefs and kitchens will face an increasing demand for vegan meal options: As the trend towards veganism increases, five-star hotels will need to adapt their menus to offer more plant-based meal options. At The Penthouse Zurich, we offer a number of vegan dishes including 12 and 24 pcs vegetable nigiri, Miso Seaweed tomato salad, Wok fried vegetables, Spicy Edamame, Grilled Asparagus with Wafu dressing.

Dining venues will also need to invest in cutting edge automated systems to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs.

Hotels will also need to find ways to manage their food costs while still providing guests with premium dining experiences that are also sustainable by way of managing to reduce waste and energy consumption. At FIVE Zurich, we source locally and ensure waste segregation is effectively implemented in the Penthouse kitchen. In fact, our kitchen work stations are integrated with food waste disposal systems that work with the culinary team in moments of high intensity, providing seamless segregation at the source. Our local waste management partners collect our processed food waste and produce bio-gas allowing FIVE Zurich to engage in the circular economy. We are proud of our integrated system of food waste technology and our trained colleagues ensuring implementation in line with Switzerland’s world-class sustainability culture.

Another important factor is to be mindful of the use of the latest technology to assist in food preparation and presentation – all while complying with the latest food safety regulations – in order to ensure the wellness of all guests.

What major issues do you see with regard to the kitchen of the future?

As kitchens get futuristic, finding the right talent to work with automated kitchens can be challenging. Chefs will be required to hone a different set of skills than those required for traditional kitchen work, such as programming, coding and staying up to date with latest dining trends. It can also be difficult to find kitchen talent who are comfortable working with automated systems or willing to learn the necessary skills, as many people may be resistant to working with technology.

What would you have implemented in the kitchen in terms of planning/construction?

The kitchen should be designed and laid out ergonomically to maximize efficiency and safety. This means considering workflow, storage and equipment needs, and allowing plenty of space for staff to move around.

High-end kitchen equipment is essential for a five-star gastro kitchen. This includes commercial-grade ovens, cooktops, fryers, mixers, blenders, food processors, and refrigeration/freezer units.

Sufficient storage space is essential for a five-star gastro kitchen. This includes pantry and dry goods storage, as well as refrigeration and freezer space for fresh ingredients.

Proper ventilation is also crucial for a five-star gastro kitchen. This means the installation of a range-hood and exhaust fan to remove smoke, steam and other airborne contaminants.

And most importantly, adequate safety and hygiene measures must be in place to ensure a secure and healthy working environment. This includes non-slip flooring, proper sanitation of surfaces and equipment, and the use of protective clothing and equipment.

All of which are maintained and kept in check by the Engineering team at FIVE Zurich.

What has long been superfluous?

Undercounter ovens are much more cost-effective in the long run, saving space and offering multiple coming functions. They are also more energy efficient than traditional ovens, and can be used for baking, roasting, steaming, and more – which is in line with FIVE’s sustainability initiatives. The FIVE Kitchen at The Penthouse Zurich is equipped with three combination ovens – one in the pastry section, one in the sautée section and one in the grill section.

In what respects could/should the restaurant kitchen be rethought?

Diners prefer to opt for venues that offer more than just the menu on offer. Guests like to interact with Chefs over integrated dining experiences. This also enables Chefs to be at the front and centre of culinary offerings.

The Penthouse Zurich offers ‘FIVERs’ an immersive dining experience, which goes beyond just the food – one that is complemented by high-energy entertainment, live music by international DJs and world-renowned champagne shows.

What do people in the kitchen need to bring to the table in order to be able to deal with new technologies, processes or hierarchies in the kitchen of the future?

Chefs need to be able to quickly learn and adapt to new technologies, processes, and hierarchies in the kitchen. Creative Thinking Skills are also very essential and Chefs must be able to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas and solutions to evolving problems.

It is essential for Chefs to be equipped to effectively communicate with, and educate, team members, other hotel departments and guests in order to ensure a smooth transition to new processes and hierarchies and to hone strong technical knowledge.

Head Chefs must be able to lead and motivate their teams in order to ensure a successful transition to the new technologies, processes and hierarchies, when required.

For The Penthouse’s New Years Eve event, Chef Frederic Faucheux will provide the ultimate dining experience alongside the team of professionals at FIVE Zurich.

Guests can immerse themselves in the splendour of exquisite Japanese innovative cuisine set against the breathtaking backdrop of Zurich’s skyline, complemented by city fireworks, live entertainment, and a vibrant DJ spinning tracks in their lively bar and dining area.

To end the year, Chef Frederic has curated a 5-course set menu, showcasing the finest selection of gourmet Japanese dishes. Indulge your taste buds with a specially crafted menu, including scrumptious sushi, exquisite seafood, and premium meat cuts that promise to elevate your dining experience, all accompanied by the most exquisite bubbles.