There are the restaurants that seem so effortlessly capable of putting together awesome meals that leave you craving for more long after you get back home.
Chances are that these meals were not cobbled together by some mechanical contraption although it may seem like these culinary works of art could only have been pieced together by machines. The unseen heroes behind the scenes of some of your favorite kitchens are running on skills. Skills that they have developed over weeks, months or even years of trial and error.
Human resource management (done well) may be largely to thank for this.
You can imagine that, for newbie chefs, adjusting to a new kitchen can take time. Even if you have some home cooking chops under your belt, cooking for a restaurant can be very different.
Take full houses for example. When it's all hands on deck, it can all get very overwhelming very fast. Remember that the people that run these kitchens are people too. When there are only so many cooks available to serve all the customers queuing up or waiting at their tables, the question of what it takes to survive the day as a new restaurant cook can arise.
Here are some tips for newbies as well as kitchen veterans:
Keep things neat and tidy
Don't get bogged down by dirty pots, pans, spatulas and cutting boards. Get proactive. Don't wait till they get piled up and you have to deal with a mess littered around the kitchen counter or piled on top of each other. Leaving it for tomorrow like you would at home is, very likely, not an option in your commercial kitchen/workplace. Initially, you might think that cleaning up after yourself and putting things back where they’re supposed to be do nothing but stifle your creativity, conspiring to hold you back from the main objective of whipping up award-winning meals but think of these menial tasks as an efficiency hack. This way, you won’t have to worry about getting that masterpiece you've just prepared dirty because you’ve already wiped down the stains on the prepping table; you won’t have to burn yourself out looking for the cutting board because it’s back where it’s supposed to be…etc.
Prepare for the worst
Having to deal with issues is almost inevitable in any line of work. Broken dishes, overcooked veggies, that’s all part of the territory and a part of the process of learning. Take comfort in the fact that even the best in your field likely faced the exact same issues that you face at some point. Hopefully, your superior/team members are the calm and rational sort and go easy on you, especially if you're new. Keep your chin up and don’t let it bring you down. Once you accept that there will be issues, you will make preparing for them second nature. Prepare to face mishaps by always knowing where important cleaning products are, including the mops and buckets and towels. Prepare yourself mentally to avoid embarrassment. Stay alert and take care of your state of mind. Having a breakdown won't help anyone, least of all you. Own up to your mistakes, clean them up and get back to work.
Listen to your teammates and don’t let your ego get the better of you. Be humble. If anybody has a word of advice for you, listen up, you are here to learn. Listen to them and apply what works efficiently. Also, no matter how badly your day is going, try to leave your mood out of the kitchen. Think of what you do as an art, much like painting. Be calm and collected, like the Bob Ross of the culinary scene. Remember that no matter how good you are at what you do, if you carry on with a bad attitude (especially in a field that depends on hospitality), it’s going to affect things.
Above all, remember that human beings have an amazing ability to adapt to situations. Keep practicing and you may just find that before you know it, the ability to be cool in a busy kitchen will come just like that.
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