After entering the national spotlight for their appearance on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, chefs Rosana Rivera and Ricardo Castro returned to Tampa, Fla. ready to expand their foodservice businesses into a multi-concept ghost kitchen.
The timing of their ghost kitchen, Virtual Chef Hall, was serendipitous. Pivoting their food stands, chefs Rosana and Ricardo set up operations at a former catering kitchen in Pinellas Industrial Park, 20 minutes outside of Tampa.
“We started developing our own ghost kitchen while also operating our other businesses,” said chef Rosana, who made history as the first Latina woman to Beat Bobby Flay. “We felt it was a direction that the industry was pushing forward to.”
Chefs Rosana and Ricardo operated three top-selling food stands—Xilo Street Mexican, Kofe and Chef & the Baker. Xilo was especially known for its flavourful variety of traditional Mexican dishes. A single Vector® H Series Multi-Cook Oven met all of their menu needs in 200 sq. ft. of space without a traditional ventilation hood.
Then, the pandemic hit, forcing the food hall to ultimately pivot to a ghost-kitchen concept.
Today, the ghost kitchen operates four different virtual brands, in addition to wholesale, catering and private-events divisions. Building on the success of the flexible cooking applications they used in the food hall, chefs Rosana and Ricardo utilize their Vector oven to boost the ghost kitchens’ efficiency.
Unmatched Volume & Variety
Virtual Chef Hall produces 95 per cent of its food items for all seven concepts using one Vector oven and three employees. The menu applications they achieve with their Vector oven are expansive, including bakery items, breakfast food, Mexican dishes and crispy chicken. Each Vector oven cooks up to four different food items simultaneously, with zero flavour transfer.
“What we have learned through this experience is that you have to make yourself resourceful and think outside the box,” chef Ricardo says. “We are always innovating and try to push the envelope with Vector however we can, because we know it has the capability to do so much and the quality of the food is so outstanding.”
Chefs Rosana and Ricardo will be guest chefs at Alto-Shaam’s booth #2821 during The NAFEM Show. The chefs also recently shared their ghost-kitchen tips and advice during a virtual webinar hosted by Alto-Shaam. For more information and to watch the webinar, visit www.alto-shaam.com/ghost.