Well, it’s Black Friday – some unfortunately believe that this is a national holiday in America. For those in the restaurant business this is a day to recover from Thanksgiving service when we serve hundreds of guests who chose not to cook at home, offering a menu that is not typical for the restaurant but traditional for the day, and saddled with a significant amount of leftovers that do not reflect the standard menu of the operation. Today is a day to inventory and be creative with features, or at least staff meal for the next few days. While much of America is fighting for that special deal in department stores from coast to coast, chefs and cooks are clawing their way through a rough day in the salt mines and visions of the holiday kitchen chaos to come over the next 36 days or so.
So, all of this being said, what would the chef in your life like to see under the Christmas tree in 2017? Granted the chef will not likely be home, but even if the holiday is a few days late for those in the restaurant business surely there is something that would bring a smile to the chef’s face. Here are my thoughts on a chef’s 12 days of Christmas happiness:
What would make a chef or line cook smile at the end of 2017:
On the first day of Christmas……..
- VENDORS WHO LIVE UP TO THEIR PROMISES
The right product, at the right time, in the right condition is not always a given from the vendors that a chef works with. More often than not “Trust” is not something that can be assumed.
- A KITCHEN TEAM WHERE EVERY COOK SHARED IN THE PASSION FOR FOOD
Chefs typically build their reputation on the passion they have for ingredients, styles of cooking, flavor profiles, creativity and consistency. Life would be much simpler if every cook shared this passion for the craft and the product.
- COST CONTROL WOULD BECOME EVERYONE’S PRIORITY
When cost control and profitability lie in the hands of the chef alone then success is very hard to reach. When cooks and service staff treat ingredients and their associated costs as if it came out of their paycheck then control and profitability works.
- COOKS WOULD PUT THEMSELVES IN THE SHOES OF THE DISHWASHER
Use it and clean it, think twice about the number of pots and pans that you use, thoroughly scrape and properly stack pans and dishes, rinse before food turns to concrete, don’t fill soap and sanitizer set sinks up with dirty pans – you can’t clean items in water that is already compromised – wouldn’t this be a wonderful world?
- UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS WOULD POINT OUT THEIR DISSAPPOINTMENT BEFORE DOING SO ON YELP AND TRIP ADVISOR
When social media review sites become the guests preferred outlet for dissatisfaction then the restaurant and chef never have a chance to correct something that isn’t right.
- COOKS WOULD UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGES FACED BY THE SERVICE STAFF AND SERVICE STAFF WOULD UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGES OF THE COOK
Both jobs are challenging and when each person learns to appreciate the other then the resulting team effort makes work a lot easier to tolerate.
- EQUIPMENT WOULD NOT BREAK DOWN ON WEEKENDS, HOLIDAYS, OR AFTER 5 P.M.
Why is it that things always seem to break down when it is either impossible to get a repairperson on site or they charge double for after hours service?
- EVERYONE WOULD RETURN ITEMS TO WHERE THEY BELONG
“Where is the blade for the Robot Coupe, the top for the VitaMix, the piano wire whisk, the kosher salt, Olive Oil, and the list goes on and on”. Remember “Mise en Place” – everything has a place and everything is in its place.
- COOKS WOULD LABEL, DATE, AND ROTATE FOODS WITHOUT BEING TOLD TO DO SO
How hard is it to take a few seconds to make everyone’s life a lot easier and maintain the integrity of ingredients. Combine #9 with #8 and you have a winning formula.
- CARING FOR GROOMING AND UNIFORM WOULD BECOME AUTOMATIC
Look the part, look like a professional, take pride in your appearance, and add to the professionalism of the kitchen.
- COOKS WOULD ALWAYS TASTE BEFORE ASKING THE CHEF TO DO SO
Chef’s should not be the guinea pigs – one of the most essential parts of the job (as professed by Chef Michel LeBorgne) is TASTE- SEASON –TASTE. When a cook relinquishes this responsibility to the chef then he or she will never truly learn how to cook.
- UNLESS A GUEST TRULY HAS A FOOD ALLERGY THEY WOULD RESPECT THE EFFORT PUT IN TO BUILDING A DISH WITH COMPATIBLE INGREDIENTS AND FLAVORS
I know – the guest is always right – but shouldn’t the guest be willing, when they go out to eat, to learn something new, to expand their palates, and to give some respect to the skill of the chef and cook? Try it first – who knows, you might actually like it.
Oh, what a wonderful world it would be if this list could be honored.
Happy Holiday Season.
PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER
“Be Something Special – be a Chef!”
Harvest America Ventures, LLC
Restaurant Consulting and Training