Gasparilla Inn & Club Executive Chef Peter Timmins is a master chef - one of the few in the world.
He's also a master kitchen designer and his latest masterpiece will go on display at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 for the seventh annual Gasparilla Inn & Club open house.
Timmins masterminded a $500,000 refurbishment of the Gasparilla Inn & Club kitchen to upgrade stoves, cooking stations, refrigeration and prep stations.
Chef Peter Timmins explains the efficiencies derived in the gleaming new $500,000 redesign of the Gasparilla Inn & Club kitchen.
"Basically, we've transformed the kitchen," Timmins said simply. "It was less than efficient before."
A full-length wall was knocked down to add to the flow of the kitchen and carve out room for banquet prep and service.
"The major problem we had was whenever we did banqueting, in some cases, we had to suspend service to the restaurant," Timmins said. "We now have a 100 percent self-sufficient banquet kitchen. Whatever we need to do - roasting steaming, reheating, reconstituting - we can do whatever we need to do."
To Go (W/Gasparilla Inn & Club logo)
What: The Gasparilla Inn & Club open house
When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10
Where: 500 Palm Ave.
Why: Insight into Inn operations and renovations, food tasting
Contact: (941) 964-4500 or (877) 403-0599
Executive Chef Peter Timmins is heading into his fourth season as the Gasparilla Inn & Club and each season he's taken on a project to improve the facility. They include:
2010: Air conditioning and refrigeration
2011: new pastry chef and related facilities
2012: $500,000 refurbished kitchen upgrade
2013: Planned Innlet upgrades, chef table availability
2014: Planned Pink Elephant upgrades
Timmins designed a dual-purpose table for the new banquet kitchen that can be a prep table during the day and double as a heated banquet line later as needed.
Timmins previously designed a kitchen at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W/ Va., but this job was completely different considering the precise custom demands of the Gasparilla Inn & club work spaces, which were enlarged and fitted with custom lighting.
"We've been working on this for a year and a half," Timmins said.
Other improvements included under-counter and under-grill refrigeration so chefs can simply reach down to fetch steaks or salmon, for example, as needed. Push-through refrigeration adds to the efficiency in the preparation area as food can be placed in the refrigerator on one side and taken by banquet servers on the other.
"We didn't do any expansion," Timmins said of the remodel. "But we've gained an entire banqueting kitchen."
Timmins said the remodel will go beyond the practical efficiencies in improving already renowned Gasparilla Inn & Club dining experiences.
"One of the things I think that is important from the point of view of being an executive chef is you've got to inspire people to cook well," he said. "If you're having them cook on some old, rusty equipment it's very difficult to inspire them to do better.
"When you give them something like this," he said waving to the kitchen, "as a basic tool then what you tell them is it's important enough for the hotel to invest this much money so you'll do your best. It's a partnership."