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I am newly working as a prep cook at a restaurant, and one of my tasks is to make mashed potatoes. Right now we don't sell that much (rice is WAY more popular), so I just fill a third every couple days. However, tourism season is going to be starting very soon, and everything the prep kitchen does is going to be quadrupled (at least). So I'm going to need a better way to make mash.

Here's the problem - the kitchen isn't really that well equipped. The previous chef almost scuppered the restaurant due to terrible management (despite it being one of the most profitable ones in the city), so all the gear I have to work with that might sort-of do the job are:

  1. a single generic low-quality long-handled masher. Just about adequate to the task of doing one batch in a lumpy mediocre manner with a lot of effort kinda slowly.
  2. 2 big 'ol immersion blenders. The internet tells me this will result in gummy gluey mash, but would be faster and more even.
  3. My own personal potato ricer from home. This does not scale to restaurant quantity very well, but is probably about as fast as the masher, and would be much higher quality.
  4. China caps I could ostensibly use like a tamis? This seems like it would be laborious and difficult, though.

Given all this, despite my knowledge of solid home-cooked mash, I don't know how to make decent mash at high volumes at a poorly-equipped restaurant. If anyone has any advice, it would be highly appreciated.


Thanks for the responses! To respond to some questions:

  1. Quantities currently are a deep third insert needed every day, i.e. a fairly large, but reasonable for a family (with leftovers), home pot of mash. This will be quadrupled within a month when tourist season properly hits.
  2. Stand mixer = no.
  3. They're profitable, but don't seem keen to actually spend any money. This restaurant is owned by a corp that also owns 2 of the other most profitable restaurants in the city. For an example of how shit they are re: money-spending: we have a tomato dicer that's needed a part for multiple months, and we have to make bruschetta in large batches basically every day. Also the prep kitchen sinks don't work now despite them knowing about a problem months ago. I literally collect water in a bus pan and dump it in the toilet, and wash my hands in a bucket I fill with hot sanitizer. It's a mess.
  4. The chef at this restaurant is my actual friend (part of why I got the job with no experience - he just knows I have a breadth of knowledge), and he hates many things about how the restaurant/company is run. He's also basically saving the restaurant and consistently trying to make better/more efficient dishes. I don't think he can make them spend money. He also technically isn't the chef despite having all the duties and being paid the same as a "chef" would be.
  5. I've only been working at the place for a month, and I've had minimal dealing with the GM, so I am just now starting to get comfortable with questioning things. My de facto superior has been working at the place for 3 months. The actual experienced people got poached by the chef who nearly got the place shut down, and was literally stealing from the company. I still don't understand why people left to go with him, but that's apparently the case.
  6. I will ask the chef about dried flakes, but based on him trying to actually improve the restaurant top to bottom, I'm not sure he'll be down with them.
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  • Welcome. What quantities are we talking about?
    – Johannes_B
    Apr 13 at 4:34
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    do you have any sort of a stand mixer? A paddle attachment will get you a consistency like a hand masher (ie, might have a few lumps), which might be acceptable if you’re okay with ‘rustic’ vs ‘fancy’.
    – Joe
    Apr 13 at 4:35
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    How much would a food mill or restaurant-scale ricer cost? If the restaurant is one of the most profitable in the city, they should be able to front up for a tool that'll result in higher quality product for less labour; is there a reason you don't want to ask whoever's in charge?
    – Blargant
    Apr 13 at 5:35
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    The chef is a manager whose job it is to make sure you have what you need. Talk to your chef, there's no point in suffering or making an inferior product.
    – GdD
    Apr 13 at 10:17

3 Answers 3

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Consider instant mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes from dried potato flakes are a lot better than most people given them credit for, and would probably be superior to "real" mashed potatoes made with poor tools in a hurry. More importantly for you, the process of cooking them scales up to any reasonable quantity; you just add the correct ratio of flakes, butter, and milk on the stove and you can make up to 8 liters at a time.

If the chef isn't OK with that, then he should buy you the equipment to do better.

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  • The cost of powder and or flake mash is more than just getting regular potatoes, plus I worked in nursing homes on top of working in kitchens, there is a noticeable difference in instant mash and made from scratch, plus as a customer I wouldn't pay for a mark up like that. Apr 20 at 0:19
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    The restaurant is already compromising quality to avoid spending money; they just have to pick which compromise they're going to make. The choice isn't between instant and well-made real mashed potatoes; the choice is between instant and badly-made mash from potatoes.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 20 at 19:00
  • What I'm saying is if they have immersion blenders as long as they wash enough starch off of the potatoes they can make cheaper good quality mash, the issue isn't the mashing method it's thickening and hydration, I was saying I personally wouldn't want to pay for boxed mashed potatoes at a restaurant at a mark up price for me and the restaurant, it's a lose lose situation for both the restaurant and myself. Apr 22 at 15:05
  • Yeah, I saw your answer; you might enhance it with a bit more step-by-step.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 22 at 19:26
  • He didn't provide quantities so I really can't. Apr 27 at 12:18
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How about buying your own catering-grade potato ricer?

I'm not a professional cook, but I use one of these at home, cooking for just two people. Even for this small quantity, the difference it makes is enormous; I would never go back again to an ordinary masher and I would be grumpy about using an inferior smaller/lighter ricer.

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The immersion blender will work, the key is washing enough starch off of your potatoes before cooking them, also light amounts of Parsley, and few heads of roast garlic is a good option to make your potatoes taste better, also salt and pepper seasoning is a must. I did this working prep at my dad's restaurant. The key to consistency is starch not the mashing method also added fats like heavy cream, butter, and milk can go a long way. If you think your potatoes are too dry adding plain water can rehydrate them.

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