It’s Foodie Friday! It’s no secret that I watch a bunch of cooking shows. In all candor, most of them are wonderful displays of individual talent but really don’t teach us much about the real food world. Nor are they extendable into business thinking, which is what we like to do here on the screed.
The real challenge in a professional restaurant kitchen is coordination and teamwork. Other than Hell’s Kitchen and the annual restaurant wars episode of Top Chef, we rarely get a sense of how difficult that teamwork can be. It does neither the quality of the product nor the business any good to have the meats sitting under a heat lamp while the garnish is being prepared. Obviously, it’s the chef who must oversee the coordination and foster communication, but it’s also the individual cooks.
You probably know that most kitchens have a line and there are various stations in that line. Meats, fish, salads, etc. generally come from different cooks. If one line cook is struggling, the entire process can break down. The cooks need to be organized, making sure to have all the materials they will be needing ready to go. They need to be able to multitask – handling several different items at once. That requires training, practice, and supervision.
Your business isn’t any different. As “the chef” overseeing my “brigade” in the non-food businesses in which I worked, I never felt as if I had to be able to jump on to any station. By that I mean that no boss needs to be able to handle every job as well as the people doing them each day. We do, however, need to recognize when there is a problem and ask the right questions to make the problem go away. Just as a chef can’t make excuses for a slow line cook (train them, move them to a different station, or fire them), no manager can deflect blame for very long. After all, it’s your kitchen!