In 1994, Wayne McKay was called upon by KPMG personnel search division to change careers from Executive Chef of the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax to a corporate F&B Cost Controller in charge of managing the food procurement in Moncton, N.B. This change marked the entrance of McKay into the marine industry. Here he was charged with leading the onboard meal management of the crew and passenger logistics.

Wayne McKay

Today, Mckay is a Galley Design Specialist, responsible for areas of food services assessments (Diagnostic Surveys) of a vessel’s business practices, starting with onboard receiving, storage, preparation and service logic from stores to the table and ending in the scullery and waste considerations.

“I am involved with the complete food and beverage design of storage, walk-ins, main galley, servery, mess and cafeteria designs, and when required, involving the equipment specifications, ergonomic flow and efficiencies of the F&B operations of a vessel,” said McKay. “The end goal would be to provide a complete design package in a purchase-ready format inclusive of configuration in PDF, CAD, Budget and equipment cut sheets.”

Wayne McKay was selected as a Vanguard Game Changer for the June/July 2019 issue. Here is the full interview with him.

What was your most challenging moment?

Designing a food and beverage operation for marine conditions with personal work considerations. The transition thinking from a land-based kitchen to a marine-type galley kitchen. Firstly, planning and considering the people’s lives they live onboard a ship. We are responsible for ensuring that the end result is what the crew and officers are looking for in their home away from home: the kitchen and dining areas. The most challenging task is to reach a consensus with multiple working personnel (different crew shifts) to ensure the individual likes are covered in the design in the same workspace, along with planning the dining space in a comfort zone for all onboard while keeping to the budget and build in the task at hand. We must work closely with onboard personnel and engineers to ensure we have covered as many elements as possible from equipment specs, weight, potable water usage, grey water, waste, power draw – to mention a handful of the standard checklist. But above all, considering the ergonomic placement and choices of equipment and the effect on the people.

What was your “aha” moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader? Tell us that story.

Our “aha” moment happened onboard during the drafting of a galley when three things happened: a 6’3” chef had to carry a large heavy maple cutting board from one position to create a workstation as comfortable as possible at his height, while the other 5’2” person working in the galley could not change the work height to work in a safe and healthy position. The next moment was when the same two people had completely different needs in the end design of the pot sinks. The “aha” thought was as simple as: “Let’s just plan in adjustable equipment.” Why can we not plan in and specify adjustable equipment to accommodate the different heights for the different tasks and people? We quickly learned that the equipment was not available for purchase. So the next “aha” moment was: “Let’s design and customize our own line of Ergo Work Station© equipment.” So today we have a patent pending for our Smart Galley Design line of adjustable workstations for induction, pastry and even a triple pot sink.

What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?

The thinking and planning of a galley seem to be a last-minute thought and at a low priority in the engineering design phase of a ship’s creation. The difficulty is, once the ship is complete in its final design, the vessel’s structural mold is cast in steel for the life of the vessel.

The galley is essentially the soul of the ship that carries a critical importance to both the workers and the personnel that must live onboard. If the plate-up area of a galley is opposite to the service logic of the galley, the people working within the department can prematurely lose interest and motivation to deliver a consistent meal in a positive manner. Planning for walk-ins and dry storage on the same level as the galley is also smart logical planning. Having to travel great distances carrying heavy awkward loads in sea conditions can cause early work fatigue, injuries and higher costs for both the person and the employer. Also, the vessel’s frequent crew turnover leads to disinterested and discouraged galley personnel.

A ship’s cook has a challenging task to order, store, prep, cook and deal with the plan – just to do it all over the next day. Menus are complicated when estimating imperial or metric measurements of needed supplies, all the way down to the servable portions. Not having the right tools to do the job in the most ergonomic environment can be a deal breaker.

In our project “take-aways” from the Navy, Coast Guard and other types of marine services, the one common item stated is “the personnel sails on their bellies.” If the food isn’t good, the morale onboard follows quickly.

What is the best advice you received?

The best advice I received was from my apprentice chef: “Do what most other chefs don’t like to do: be the best at the business end of the business, and the business will look after you.” Also, my teacher, Chef Richard Serwa – who was a Holocaust survivor – once told me: “If you do the math and design the menu and kitchen with people and placement in mind in a smart logical flow, you will never go hungry or be out of a job.”

I was taught to calculate the average consumption per person at 2.5lbs including fluids per meal, adjusted for heavier and lighter eaters. From the raw state of the product to the required case of purchase unit – converted back to the cooked servable portions – I had to make sure I got it right. Quantities of food orders had many variables, such as the number of deliveries per week, storage space, allotted budget and product shelf life. For example, raw pork, even in a cured, frozen, cooked state has a maximum shelf life of 90 days, and then it goes rancid – even in the frozen state.

The expression, “leftovers” was not allowed in our business. It was called “food in process.” In other words, food in the process of feeding people and managing a budget. Cooked foods had to be cooled quickly at the end of service. This activity actually doubles and sometimes triples the shelf life of a refrigerated product. Flash cooling also increases the food quality. Today, a flash cooler is spec’d into the configuration of a ship’s equipment line-up.

What is a habit that contributes to your success?

Measurement. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” It is a mathematical certainty to get improved results if you measure. I guess that is why I have a high level of respect for engineers and those who deal in math to solve problems. In my job, I deal with conversions and measure steps, reaching lengths and number of repeated movements when planning a galley or kitchen. If my most popular high-volume menu item is burgers, I ensure that I chose the right grill that will deliver maximum output, placed in the closest plate-up area with the chill storage at arms reach.

Measurement is so important to success. In 2004, I created a wireless (cloud) software with McCain Foods Corporate office called Menu Tools, when pagers and dial-up internet still existed. It was the first independent cloud-based cost accounting system for menus in North America. McCain approached me in 2003 asking for tools to assist foodservice operators to better cost and price menus from raw state to cooked state using the rule of averages for logical menu pricing. This took the complexity out of conversions and yields.

What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?

Thomas Edison, Innovation Master of the 1900s. As he famously said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?

Smart Galley Designs (SGD) understands the importance of food, people and how it affects the entire vessel from planning menus, to the design footprint required to allow the cook/chef to equip the galley personnel to do the best and be the best at their job in the safest most efficient manner. THE GAME CHANGER – “It’s about the people” Design wisely (ergonomically) early in the design engineering stage, choose the right equipment planned in the right location for the optimum performance and worker’s satisfaction.

What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your industry sector?

The thinking of that hasn’t been done, therefore, I’ll wait until it (The Innovation) is proven. If we didn’t have a test department (End Users) willing to try innovations, we would not have progress. We need to get started, work to fail at first, make it work by learning what didn’t make it work, then try just one more time until we get it right.

A business case I will share with you is 22 years ago, I learned of a new technology of cooking on a magnetic field surface from Switzerland, then improved by France called “Bonnet” . At $5,000.- per burner (22 years ago) this was a huge step. The engineers onboard the Marine Atlantic – MV Bluenose Ferry (Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Me.) agreed to do the conversion. We installed a 6 burner unit that replaced the traditional Hot plate that ran 24/7 in the galley. The temperatures would reach in excess of 110F/35C. The crew worked in those conditions for decades. Our test was a success, the galley was now safe, cool and faster and more efficient than if you cooked on propane. The end result of the overall technology change of the outsourcing and efficiency project afforded a cut of 50 per cent of the crew with savings in excess of $350,000.00 in its first season. The onboard crew stated, why did we not do this years ago. “What a change in the quality of work life in the galley.”

How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?

Innovation has always been a source of personal and professional energy for me as a chef and Galley Design Consultant. Today, we have been successful in being approved for our Ergo Work Station©. for testing with the Canadian Coast Guard.

What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

“The People Effect”, followed by what makes our industry safer and more efficient. Trends like the adjustable stand-up desk in the land-based work world is here to stay…we hope the marine and industrial work world follows suit.

An example of technology out of Italy is the Ironox Fresh Unit. My partner Monica Jansen the owner of Smart Galley Designs specced in this item into a configuration that was tight on space. Monica said, Why don’t we plan the Ironox Fresh unit that will defrost, slow cook, hold and even flash chill and refrigerate at the end of the chef’s shift? The innovation replaced a fridge, slow-cooker, food warming box and a flash–chiller, all in one single unit that took 1/5th of the footprint in the galley. Now that’s innovation!

Monica Jansen, our project manager is my partner who always thinks ahead and proofs the plans to ensure we have the innovation planned in while also planning the back up to innovation. An example would be in pastry, we have planned a traditional convection oven along with the latest technology of a Self-Cooking Center Rational. In our opinion, The Rational Oven technology out of Germany is the leader in combi-oven cooking. They have mastered a pictorial program for user-friendly cooking. The units make the lowest skilled person empowered to put out consistent product every time using the pre programmed recipe system.

What is your parting piece of advice?

Never forget the importance of the basics. Think with technology. Make calculations for recipes using proper measurements. Always follow the basics of math, cooking science – logical proven steps with proven formulas. My parting advice: “Share knowledge and learn every day.”