BOH vs FOH

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cronker, May 12, 2016.

  1. cronker

    cronker

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    In my experience, it's not uncommon for there to be a nasty divide between BOH and FOH.
    Front need their customers to be happy and sated, back need to be able to complete their tasks as required.

    In many of my restaurants, I have encouraged a more holistic approach whereby each understand the strains on the other. I am perhaps amongst the few front of house who understand and have a good relationship with my chefs.

    I tell my wait staff to think about the concerns of the chef, and vice versa. It works.

    What say you?
    (Don't turn this into a bitch fest, we are all trying to achieve the same goal!)
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    If you do a search within the archives, you'll find this was hashed out a few times. It always turns into a bitch fest each time.
     
  3. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I'm not going to get into all the crap that happens between the FOH and BOH it's been going on for years. I began my career managing restaurants. I spent all my time on the floor and helping the flow of meals from the front line. The only way of solving that problem is by having a buffer on the pickup side of the line. This person understands both sides and keeps things flowing at a normal pace. This person understands when something goes wrong the cook can't cook the food any faster with the waitstaff breathing down their necks. You will never get 15 waitstaff and 10 kitchen staff working together like it's a Broadway play. When something goes wrong in the dining room a good manager knows just by looking at peoples faces. If customers are looking around they need something. I have interacted in 1000's of situations in dining rooms. I think it's a never-ending  battle to get this kind of harmony. To make sure it happens I would still rather be on the floor insuring that it does......Chef Bill

    P.S. You will never get respect and harmony if you perceive that both sides are professionals. How would anyone respect the views of waitstaff when they were hired off the street with little or no food experience. In most cases waitstaff are hired by appearance and personality. In most cases those aren't on the top 10 list for hiring a front line cook.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2016
  4. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Well said, Chef. Especially that last sentence. 

    The most effective "buffer" you speak of that I've found is the position of expediter. One who stands at the

    pass receiving plates from the Chef, finishes them and approves them for the server to take to the table.

    They are the go-between, the liaison between the cook and the server. If properly done, the server will rarely

    talk directly to the chef. If there's a problem, rather than rag on the cook, the server tells the expediter and

    they in turn deal with the kitchen if necessary. 

    In many restaurants the server serves as their own expediter. With this system, fightin' ensues.

    I love sitting at the counter during busy lunches, just watching the tensions boil, and about a third of the time,

    I get to see a verbal fight between server and cook. (I tend to take the cooks side of course. lol)

    And from what Ive seen, most all of these could've been avoided with the addition of an expediter position. 
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  5. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    Yes. Expediters are crucial. But It must be said that it's a team effort. Every member plays a role. Communication is key. When you start valuing one team member over another, or engaging in divisive behavior, then problems arise. Understand the value of role players as well as the superstars. 
     
  6. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I took my Son to a good steak house in Seattle a few years ago. The waiter came to the table and tried to be slick. He gave us the special cut steaks of the night menu. He said, I recommend the bone in filet mignon, they take the steak and cook it to perfection with the bone marrow sizzling on the open broiler for extra flavor. I asked him how he would accomplish that when I order my steak rare. He didn't answer and I didn't push it. The other comment I love is when I ask the waitstaff how a dish is and they say, I don't know I don't eat here.

    The buffer/expediter does wonders. This way there is only one person dealing with the cooks. Not someone who doesn't know anything that goes on behind the lines. 
     
  7. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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     So true...

    At least once a week i may get to witness a verbal arguement between wait staff and BOH. And at least 4-5 times a week someone gets the death glare.

    I usually avoid bickering with the waitstaff. Especially because i tend to expidite a lot, and the waitstaff knows not to play with me when im on the pass. If they screw up an order even after i deliberately repeat to them to what table the food is going to, well then i just hold it in, until the end of service and handle it as calmly as possible.

    Most of the time waitstaff is told what to say to the customers, almost like actors reading a script. They hardly know what the dish there serving tastes like. And yeah i definitely agree sometimes they are hired based on appearence. Of course though me having worked FOH for a while before working in BOH i always try to help them out and share some knowledge, but sometimes you just get those darlings that think they know more then you, even though they have sh** palettes, and almost no experience. Not generalizing though, because i have seen some pretty good waiters out there, but i can also testify i have seen more bad waiters then good ones...
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    Many many places do not have the expediter to liaison between the kitchen and FOH and therein lies the propensity for conflict.
     
  9. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    It really starts with management.  The most cohesive places that I have worked at, the management understood, completely, that for a customer to have a great experience the staff had to work as a team.  To that end, all management (chef, sous chef, dining room manager, bar manager) spent some time in the other's domain learning it.  I wouldn't say it was "cross-training" as the training didn't last that long.  It was more of an introduction.  It created an atmosphere where management didn't tolerate the blame and trash talking that often goes on between FOH and BOH.  Sure some of that still went on, but when management doesn't "condone" that sort of thing by ignoring it, which is what usually happens, you'd be surprised how well FOH & BOH can get along.  When something went wrong, there was no blame placed, or fought over (unless management decided that the issue was caused by negligence).  Together we would solve the issues to ensure that the guests got the best experience possible, even if there were mistakes made.
     
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  10. jimyra

    jimyra

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    I learned very quickly that expediter and FOH manager talked, kitchen staff and FOH communicated through these appointed persons.  A team to give the guest the best possible experience is what works best.  I also found that if there was a problem to fix it and review after the service was over. 
     
  11. cronker

    cronker

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    Well, I work in Australia where tips are uncommon and just appreciated as a sign of exceptional work. We have a good wage for waiters. One of the things that this system eliminates is the waitstaff having to whore themselves out to the customer, or chef, just to make a living.
    It just surprises me when the chef is being a dick, and still expects the waitstaff to sell his special of lamb brains or sweetmeats.
    I worked with a chef who thought he was Gordon Ramsay, and swore and yelled at everyone.
    It was an open kitchen, so all the guests could hear him.

    I had so many complaints from customers about his salty language and frankly, poor food. But he reported me to management for bad staff relations and I got fired.
    Sometimes, the back of house never get to hear the guest reactions to their food because the FOH are too afraid to honestly report back.
     
  12. cronker

    cronker

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    Oh, and don't worry, I'm as tough as any chef. I regard my work as professional as any chef out there, and I wasn't recruited off the street for my looks. I've learned my trade the hard way, like all chefs on here.
    The reason you guys are saying about poorly trained, or useless FOH is because it's not a career goal for many people nowadays. When I started, it was a viable option to be a hospo professional In the front. No one wants to do it now, because they believe we need more marine biologists - IE people who like watching fish tanks.
    Even some of the fine diners I've visited have only average wait staff. I agree, it's come from management and training. But, be honest, it's a decline in the kitchen too.
    We have reality television award winners running restaurants without a clue. We have very average chefs putting out meals that really aren't worth the price, and as I said above, we have pretender Ramsay's running around yelling to make "theatre" out of the dining experience.
     
  13. jimyra

    jimyra

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    Is your salty language necessary?  If your guests did not like the chefs salty language why would those visiting cheftalk like yours?
     
  14. rndmchef

    rndmchef

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    Why does FOH not put in the same effort the BOH does in the majority of kitchens? (Very high end places, like Per Se or simply restaurants with a great FOH manager are the exception...)

    How many people grow up thinking, "I want to be a server when I grow up! I'm gonna go to college to learn to be a waiter Mom and Dad!!"
    I've never heard that....

    However, I've wanted to be a chef since I was 11 or 12 years old . And I still have the same desire and passion for it; money is 3rd or 4th priority, thus I can go to work and not care about making $11/hr in 2016, I know I'm learning more of my craft/passion everyday.

    For MANY servers, it's simply a job while going to college or to make some quick EASY money. For many line cooks, they hope to become head chef or maybe even open their own restaurants some day ..

    Also, servers have higher tendency to get frustrated when they're not making good money; then their work ethic might, maybe not be as good...
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  15. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Just keep walking, Phaedrus...just keep walking.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   Okay, I can't!  I don't think the common tropes are true.  IMO places where FoH or BoH are doing wildly different levels of work are merely poorly run restaurants, not evidence that one works harder than the other. As a chef who once tried to be a waiter I'd say that it's just as much work to wait tables as it is to cook.  The work is different, that's true.  But not easier.

    These situations are more indications of poor management than differences in the jobs. JMOHO.
     
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  16. grande

    grande

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    I've got a lot of respect for professional servers and have worked with some good ones. As for arguments, not necassary. If you need something, I have 3 answers: I can do that, I can't do that, you need to charge. Ego doesn't come into it.
    My job is to get food to the customers; customers come there to be taken care of. To be waited on. To be served. After twelve years of doing this, I've got no illusions about why people eat at the places I cook, and it's because the want a solid good meal, not so I can tell them what temp to get their steak, or that they need a palette cleanser before dessert. I FEED people. And if somebody wasn't waiting on them, they could eat a McD's, or a taco truck, and get just as full. No servers, no restaurant, no job for Grandé.
     
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  17. chefross

    chefross

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    No you don't hear people say "I want to wait tables when I grow up..."

    Why is that?

    Could it be that we in America take the job too lightly?

    Waiting tables IS a noble profession, same as cooking, but rarely is it ever recognized as much.

    Why is that?

    Cooking and preparing food is as old as time. People gathered together to cook large amounts of food to share.

    Somewhere in there, somebody got the idea to offer food as barter for other goods and pretty soon the idea of charging for food and service became real.

    Somehow through history the act of cooking and serving food became thought of as peasant work. As time progressed more attention was paid to the proper pay for this work, but not much.

    Today we have minimum wage assigned to restaurant workers to wash dishes and wait tables.

    Who can live on these wages? Not many. Some have to take 2 more jobs on just to meet expenses.

    Without a doubt the $15.00 an hour wage is the new $9.00 an hour of yesterday.

    Sure, you're going to hear about McDonalds hamburger flippers making $15.00 an hour and be outraged, but it's coming.
     
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  18. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    With the $15 min wage you will be greeted by a robot hostess that will bring you to your table. The menu "iPad" will take your order that will go directly the kitchen. The front line cooks will be dancing on the front line cooking all the food while singing Kumbaya. As we all know iPads don't make mistakes and if the customer punches in the wrong items it's their fault. The kitchen is laughing their ass off because it's not their fault when something goes wrong and everyone now knows it. The staff of 50 employees is now 15 and has a labor cost of 10% with a  Robot upkeep cost 5%. Now all the employees that were happier than a pig in shit that their wages were going up to $15 can't even get a min wage job. After 6 months walking around looking for a job a friend will tell them about this kitchen that is hiring under the table jobs. They'll ask how much their paying for this under the table paying job, the answer is $10 an hr. In 2025 there's a "Robot appreciation day" for keeping all the restaurants in business. All the restaurant owners are singing Kumbaya for surviving a crazy wage increase that could have put many restaurants out of business. 


    For those of you who think the restaurant business can't change read on. This industry is is screaming for a change. In the article below notice the quote that people wanted to eat quickly. 
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    In the 1950s and 60s, fast food chains – epitomized by McDonald's – revolutionized the restaurant industry and changed farming and food distribution businesses.

    The first McDonald's restaurant was actually a barbecue joint that opened in 1940 by brothers Dick and Maurice (Mac) McDonald along Route 66 in San Bernardino, California. At first, they offered 25 different items served by carhops. They catered to young affluent people who were part of the emerging California car culture. Teens drove up, placed their order with the carhops and were served on trays that hooked onto rolled down windows.

    In 1940, The brothers figured out that almost all of their profits were coming the sale of hamburgers. They also sensed that teens and families alike were interested in eating quickly. So, they closed down their restaurant for several months and developed their "Speedee Service System" of food preparation. This was a streamlined assembly line for food. They also streamlined their menu to hamburgers, milkshakes and french fries. The burgers sold for 15-cents, about half of what a burger cost at regular diners of the time. With success, the brothers franchised their enterprise and had eight restaurants open by the early 50s.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  19. rndmchef

    rndmchef

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    Is service a major part of a restaurant? Obviously. I'm not gonna go back to a restaurant that treated me poorly and didn't respect me as a customer...but, I may order takeout if the food is really good. Most people don't go back to a restaurant with bad tasting food, just because they had a nice server...

    That said; people don't go out to eat to meet a new waiter or waitress. "Hey, wanna go out to eat? I'm bored and I kinda want to talk to a nice waitress, I heard Scotty Steakhouse has amazing, very polite and helpful servers. I heard the food is pretty good too, let's go have a good time with a waitress!"

    Robots absolutely could/should take over FOH. ..
    McD's is already using self checkout in some of their establishments...
    That way, we can focus on pumping out amazing food at decently affordable prices and pay BOH decently; making this industry completely different.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  20. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    Can someone please make the distinction between three star Michelin joints and fast food? There is a myriad of restaurant types between the two. 

    Servers will not go away for formal dining rooms. It's the monarchy privilege that won't be denied. It's built into the economic system we have in place. 

    Olive garden is another story. 

    But I have questions to those that believe waitstaff should be slave labor, to be abused so that business owners can create and spread the wealth to those that they deem fit. 
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016