Cross-training BoH to FoH?

Joined Dec 11, 2013
I've been working BoH at the restaurant for 3 years now, starting as a dishwasher, then moving up to prep, then the line. I'm pondering asking if I could be trained as FoH (busser, server, etc).

Do you think it makes sense for the Front to be cross trained to the Back, and visa-versa?
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Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Read this Forbes article about Ristorante D'O. To offer full time employment, he uses the BOH as FOH. It's an interesting article.
Joined Aug 7, 2013
I'm about to ask my chef the same thing.

I work at a Mediterranean grill; one-man kitchen.  We also have a hookah bar next door (separated by glass and wood wall. I cook for the restaurant and the hookah bar.

Sometimes, the hookah bar is elbow-room only and customers come into the restaurant.  I come out of the kitchen and ask if they need help and when they say they would like to eat in or order to go, I politely tell them that I'll be back with someone who can help.  I then go to the hookah bar and let one of the servers know.  Sometimes it takes more than a few minutes for them to come to the restaurant and I've seen several customers just leave.

In this case, I think it would be worthwhile for me to learn how to work the FoH.  It could mean a couple hundred bucks a night.

Joined Nov 16, 2013
If you are aspiring to move into a managerial role in the kitchen eventually, I believe that it is important for you to fully understand the job requirements, standards, and challenges of front of house employees as well.  Training on those positions would accomplish that.  

By understanding these things through first hand experience you will be a better, and more patient leader of your team in the BOH once you are in a sous or exec position.  Just my two cents.  
Joined Aug 22, 2013
Thanks phatch, that was a great article! And very articulately put fbindustry, i've frequently wanted to learn how the other side works but my nose is always against the cutting board, it's easy to forget to look up. Our BoH are generally pretty ruthless towards FoH, and everywhere else i've worked there's always been a very "us against them" mentality but i really like the eleven madison concept of calling it dining room and kitchen instead and making efforts to unite the two.
Joined May 5, 2010
Having the Chefs serve as waitstaff is a fantastic idea. it takes cross training to a totally different level.

In some cases I'll even bet it is an eye opener and humbling experience.
Joined Apr 11, 2013
I have cross trained in FOH to BOH. 

I ended up working in my first kitchen, after working FOH. 

Trust me it helps, especially when in putting lousy wait staff members in their place, since you have done the job you know what it takes. As well as who in the FOH cuts it and who doesnt. 
Joined Sep 5, 2012
I think be well versed in all positions of a restaurant is important. From hosting, bar tending, bussing, serving, or whatever. As a chef you need to be able to understand, and use the information you get from these positions to help your kitchen run smooth. If you have any ambitions to be an owner then you need to be an expert in ever facet of an operation so you're not at the mercey of anyone working with you. Plus, a chef steping up to a table and taking control of their service really inpressed the heck out of a table of customers.
Joined Oct 22, 2013
 I started in the kitchen when I was 14, and am now 28. I worked my way up to a lead line cook my senior year of HS. I left, went into the military and after I got out, went to college and bartended while doing so. I got my degree, and went straight into management. As I was managing, I always found myself doing stages to full-fill my desire to create food. After managing a few years, I went back into the kitchen and did what I loved most. I am now a chef. Being in the FOH  really helped me hone my operational and administrative skills. It made me proficient in controlling food costs and labor. It has also helped me create a cohesive environment with the FOH. They respect me due to my experience, and I respect them because I know what they go through. My mission in life is to open my own restaurant one day, and being fluent in every aspect of the restaurant can only better my career, and anyone else's.It keeps me humble, and allows me to execute and help anyone.  So in short, yes, learn as much as you can. 
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Joined Aug 7, 2013
Yesterday, the hookah lounge was so busy that no host/ess was available to help the customers who came into the restaurant. I grabbed a ticket pad and went to work.

I have been trained in customer service by years of corporate environment...I felt horrible. It was so calculated and forced.  BUT, the customer told me that he and his wife (Saudi nationals), had never eaten arabic food in America before, and that they were taking a risk.  I stood there for 20 minutes with him and broke down every item on the menu that he asked me about, and found out that I am also slightly versed in foods that we don't serve.  He told me verbatim that he was impressed.  He literally said that I am the first American to seem to know anything about arabic food.

It was strange getting utensils and even getting drinks for people, only to rush into the kitchen and work on their 10-item order, come out and check on them and refill drinks during their meal, AND tending to a couple of other customers, also.

I'd rather be doing prep and cooking, but knowing that I can contribute to FOH is nice.

Some prep, anyway.


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