Eating What You Don’t See

For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, let’s take just a minute to think about what goes into you receiving a simple plate of food at a restaurant.

English: White House Executive Chef, Cristeta ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been with many folks who order and scarf down their meals without a thought as to the enormous enterprise that went into making that dish happen. I know they thought about if the food was good and if the service was up to their standards. They didn’t really consider, however, all the other elements that go into a great meal.
Consider how much work goes into that one plate of food. Someone (the chef) has to plan the menu and order the components. When those ingredients show up at the restaurant, they need to be inventoried and broken down (by prep cooks) into products with which the line cooks can work. Primal cuts are broken down into steaks and chops. Cases of potatoes and bags of carrots are peeled. All this before the real prep work begins. It’s an assembly line of sorts although we don’t think of kitchen work as a manufacturing job.

Prep cooks give way to the line cooks who actually fabricate the dish for you. In between are the servers and the rest of the front of house folks. All these people need to be hired, trained, supervised and paid. What’s the business point?
The point is that we don’t notice, nor should we. Most of us are in the same boat.  When I was teaching I knew that for every hour of classroom time there would be another hour or two of prep that the kids never saw.  A simple budget presentation of one slide can involve dozens of people and hundreds of hours of prep yet the only time that anyone asks about the process is when something is out of whack.  That’s really the business point.  Apple is famous for doing technology that “just works.”   Web pages and sites involve thousands of hours of design, coding, and creativity but we tend not to notice that until something broken.  We don’t think about how our cars were built and designed until something is wrong.  The list goes on and on.

Cooking in a professional kitchen involves something unknown to most jobs – the physical reproduction of a product, from 50-60 times a day, presented in a seamless manner.   Like the proverbial swimming duck, there’s an awful lot going on under the water.  We might just be most successful when no one knows that but us!

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