A while back I posted an article that pointed to the Unwritten Rules of the kitchen. It seemed to strike a chord with almost 100,000 views. Any list that tries to address how a complex environment like a kitchen works is destined to be incomplete, so I thought it was time to add another handful of rules and observations that ring true in most kitchens. As usual, you should feel free to add those standards and understandings that are uniquely applicable to your kitchen.
 PUT YOUR CELL PHONE AWAY
Of course I understand that we are all glued to our smart phones, but the kitchen demands your full attention and to be perfectly honest – being separated from your phone for 10 or more hours a day is probably a blessing. Your phone creates more stress than joy, so put it on vibrate or lock it up for the duration of your shift.
 KEEP POLITICAL VIEWS OUT OF THE KITCHEN
The country is so politically polarized now that any reasonable discussion will never result in bipartisan attention or compromise. The best rule of thumb is to keep all politics out of the kitchen. We should do everything possible to bring team members together rather than find ways to drive a wedge between opposing views.
 SUPPORT YOUR TEAM
All for one and one for all is the rule of thumb in functional kitchens. Team members may take the opportunity to critique each other and even point out shortcomings among themselves, but no one outside of this tight group will ever have the right to criticize or harass any member of your team.
 BE ON YOUR GAME
There is no excuse! Every member of the kitchen team expects everyone else to be on his or her game every day. Any weak link will quickly bring a team to its knees. This is not going to happen!
 CLEANLINESS ALWAYS
Cleanliness in a kitchen is a constant. You don’t leave cleanliness till the end of the shift, it happens after every move, every task, every plated dish, and every flip of a steak or caramelization of a sauté dish. Work, clean, sanitize, and back through the process again and again.
 TAKE CARE OF THOSE INGREDIENTS
Cooks are only as good as the raw materials they work with. Professional cooks take care to properly ice the fresh fish, wrap and store meats, wash and contain fresh produce, gently handle that delicate cheese, ice bath a stock or sauce, and take care in handling all dry goods. These ingredients deserve a cook’s respect.
 IT’S A BUSINESS OF PENNIES
Cooks understand what things cost in a kitchen. Not just the food ingredients being used, but the cleaning chemicals, china and glassware, disposables, small wares, and major pieces of cooking equipment. If a cook fails to understand and practice cost control savvy, then those pennies fade quickly. The fate of the restaurant is in the hands of every employee.
 NO ROOM FOR DULL KNIVES
Cooks taking care of their knives means that they keep them honed with the sharpest possible edge, clean, polished and protected. A dull knife is a crime in the kitchen and any cook who fails to understand this should look for a different career.
 FEET, HANDS, AND BACK
Knives and ingredients are only effective as part of a special dish if the cook takes care of him or herself. The most common aches and pains in a kitchen involve feet, hands, and backs. The right socks and shoes, isometric exercises for your hands, learning how to bend and lift, including stretching exercises in your daily routine, using dry side towels when grabbing hot pans, using gloves when appropriate, and care when using kitchen equipment will all help to prevent cuts, burns, pulled muscles, falls, carpel tunnel, and swollen feet. This is paramount.
 DON’T PUNCH DOWN MY ADRENALINE
Every cook goes through an adrenaline cycle, every day on the line. Too much adrenaline early on in a shift can cause careless mistakes, too little adrenaline when orders are flying off the POS printer will back up service, and the inability to temper adrenaline after the last orders leave the kitchen will result in late nights and bad decisions. The cook needs to find rhythm to make the best use of his or her energy and part of the chef’s job is to set the stage for optimum adrenaline management. Doing anything to upset this rhythm can be disastrous.
 COLD PANS DON’T WORK
Take those extra few seconds to make sure your pans are hot enough to sear, caramelize, and reduce. The sound of perfectly heated pans is music to a chef’s ears. Cold pans simply don’t work.
 SIMMER – DON’T BOIL
For the most part you can assume that there isn’t much need for boiling in a kitchen outside of a light boil for pasta and potatoes. Simmer takes time, but helps to extract flavors and protect the integrity of ingredients while they cook with grace. A stock left to boil will result in cloudy, harsh flavored broth and will give a chef premature grey hair. Be in control of the heat rather than have the heat control you.
 YOU’RE NOT REALLY GOING TO THROW THAT OUT ARE YOU
Back to a business of pennies – there is a use for most every part of a vegetable and every part of a sub primal cut of meat, piece of fish, or shellfish. Scraps of certain vegetables can work in broths (not stocks), bones for stock, scraps of meat for pate and sausage, stale bread for croutons and bread crumbs, stale cakes and puff pastry for crumbs, egg shells to help clarify a consommé or compost for the chef’s herb garden, somewhat sour milk for pancake batter, and shells from shrimp and lobster for shellfish butter or fumet. The list goes on and on.
 IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT
The oldest kitchen quote in the book is still applicable. Kitchens are hot, kitchens are stressful, kitchens are intense and much of the time on the verge of chaos – if you can’t see yourself working in this environment then you should probably look for a different career. Certainly we can make things more amenable to order and comfort, but the odds of dramatic change is probably not going to happen any time soon.
 FLAVOR IS MORE THAN JUST TASTE
Every good cook knows that taste is only one part of the formula when it comes to cooking. Flavor involves understanding how a dish tempts the olfactory senses, the texture impacts on bite and chew, the visual aspects of food affect the anticipation of taste, and even the positive sounds of cooking drive the experience of eating. Flavor is a combination of everything that builds up to an experience.
PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER
The Rules are there for a reason.
Harvest America Ventures, LLC
Restaurant Consulting and Training
**THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
A COOK’S UNWRITTEN, BUT FULLY UNDERSTOOD KITCHEN LAWS:
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