After entering the national spotlight for their appearance on Beat Bobby Flay, chefs Rosana Rivera and Ricardo Castro returned to Tampa ready to expand their foodservice businesses into a multi-concept ghost kitchen.
The timing of their ghost kitchen concept, 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,” explained Rosana, who made history as the first Latina woman to Beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network. “We felt it was a direction that the industry was pushing forward to.”
The pair operated three top-selling food stands – Xilo Street Mexican, Kofe and Chef & The Baker.
Xilo was especially known for its flavorful variety of traditional Mexican dishes. A single Vector H Series Multi-Cook Oven from Alto-Shaam met all of their menu needs in 200 square feet 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, Rosana and Ricardo utilize their Vector oven to boost the ghost kitchens’ efficiency.
Virtual Chef Hall produces 95% of its food items for all seven concepts using one Vector oven and three employees.
The menu applications they achieve with their Vector 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 flavor transfer.
“What we have learned through this experience is that you have to make yourself resourceful and think outside the box,” Castro said. “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.”
The duo will share their tips and advice on opening a ghost kitchen during a webinar hosted by Alto-Shaam.
The 30-minute virtual event will be held via Zoom at 11am CST on Tuesday 13 July.