Co-owner and founder of Underground Food Collective in Madison, Wisconsin
With four thriving Madison businesses – Underground Meats, Underground Catering, Forequarter Restaurant, and Underground Butcher – Chef Jonny Hunter needs to focus on efficiency without sacrificing quality. To get the caliber of food his team wants to serve, he notes, “We need to be really efficient about prepping it.”
A Centralized Approach to Prepping
The co-owner and founder of Underground Food Collective in Madison, Chef Jonny Hunter takes a unique approach to kitchen prep. He and his team support four businesses – Underground Meats, Underground Catering, Forequarter Restaurant and Underground Butcher – with a centralized commissary. It's a place where managers bring fresh produce from the farmers market and staff work side by side chopping vegetables, curing meats, and baking breads.
“The commissary has become the centralized hub for how we function as a business,” he notes. “It allows us to streamline and utilize talent in a really creative way but also gives us a way to keep quality centralized … and oversee it much more efficiently than having to run around to all the different businesses.”
It’s a necessary approach not just for 35-seat Forequarter Restaurant but also Underground Catering, which has the challenge of executing meals everywhere from wedding halls to farm fields and parks. “We can’t be as technical as we can at the restaurant, but we can focus on flavor and put out really delicious food,” he says. “And super seasonal. That’s something that we’ve always really cared about.”
With a full team back at the commissary supporting those in the field, Chef Hunter and his team can achieve the goal they have at both locations. “When the food hits the plate, we don’t want people thinking about how it was cooked. We really want them thinking, ‘Wow, that tastes great.’”
Problems & Solutions
PROBLEM: In a busy kitchen, cooking meats to guests’ preferred temperature typically takes constant focus.
SOLUTION: Sous Vide – Immersion Circulator (40861) Sous Vide allows you to cook meats to precision, ensuring a tender and juicy result, and then easily sear on the stovetop for the finishing touch.
PROBLEM: Getting a consistent cut is a challenge for even the best chefs – especially when they need to work quickly.
SOLUTION: Redco® Instacut™ 5.0 (55000) The Instacut slices and dices fruits and vegetables three times faster than by hand and produces beautiful, even results.
PROBLEM: Guests increasingly expect handmade products – from artisan sausages to fresh corn tortillas.
SOLUTION: Vollrath Grinder (40743) A grinder breaks ingredients down quickly and consistently, from meats to grains.
PROBLEM: Budgets are tight at any restaurant, and food waste is a constant concern.
SOLUTION: In-Chamber Vacuum Pack Machine (40833) A vacuum pack machine extends the shelf life of foods, and it can also be used to prepare foods for a sous vide machine.
Vollrath Brand Book
Read more about Johnny Hunter in our Brand Book feature on Kitchen Prep (starts on page 7):
Download Vollrath Brand Book
Recreate Chef Johnny Hunter's kitchen prep methods with these products from Vollrath:
Comes standard with a dough hook, wire whisk, flat beater, stainless steel mixing bowl and safety guard; can accommodate Vollrath Meat Grinder and vegetable slicer attachments
Proprietary nonstick coating reduces drag and makes the slicer easier to clean
Vollrath's new generation of NSF Certified can openers, EaziClean®, gives the cleanest and most hygienic cut ever. For parts information, please refer to the user manual for this product.
Available in a wide range of sizes and capacities with interchangeable dividers and risers
New models now include best in industry vacuum pump.
Slice, dice, wedge, and core with simple pop-in, pop-out blade accessories
Largest slicing area in the industry – slices even large tomatoes evenly
Dome elements transfer energy directly into the water bath
STRONG. 22 gauge 300 series stainless steel pans, with newly designed pour corners up to 300% stronger, will resist dents and dings in the toughest kitchen environments.
Color Coded: Red-raw meat, Yellow-Poultry, Blue-seafood, Green-produce, White-dairy