Do you use a prep list at work?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chrisbristol, May 18, 2014.

  1. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Do you use a prep lists at work? A chef said something that I thought was quite strange.  He moaned at me for using a prep list. Said I should know the prep I have to do.  See when I started where I work I went through the menu so I knew exactly what I needed.I keep  a copy on my computer and print a copy of and put a mark next to what I have to do when I go into work. It is quite a meticulous list it has things on it that don't actually need to be prepared like piccalilli but it is just a reminder to get them over ready.  There are 53 things on the list so it's actually a lot of things to remember.(although a lo of them are very small jobs)  Seems like a bit of a daft thing to say actually.
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Honestly that person sounds like an idiot. Everywhere I've worked at has had a prep list, even in fast food. I can't even imagine how disorganized everyone would be at my last kitchen job if we didn't cross off what we had completed and prioritized what needed to get done first. Myself and a couple of other cooks actually held it to be so important that only a one or two of us would complete it, in fear that something would get left off or that I would have to recheck it anyways lol.
     
  3. chef torrie

    chef torrie

    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    23
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Guy sounds like a moron. More often than not you will obviously know what you need to get one, but in my opinion prep lists are imperative to smooth nightly services. I love them and often get accused of being too over the top with my lists. The way I look at it is that it would really suck If your having a slammin kick @$$ service when all of a sudden you go to plate that dessert special and realize you don't have any more of that grand marnier Chantilly. Or that squash blossom appetizer without that infused oil.
     
    soesje likes this.
  4. pollopicu

    pollopicu

    Messages:
    1,201
    Likes Received:
    53
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I couldn't imagine going into work without one. Not only do I make prep lists, I have a prep book, and that book is my right arm. It's a rather large binder where I keep menu's, notes, experiments, what worked, what didn't, yield amounts... the list, no pun intended, goes on and on. My prep book looks like it belongs to a mad scientist.
     
  5. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Well it;s glad to know I am probably right.  As I said a lot of the things are very quick jobs and some of them are literally just a case of getting something over and decanted. But I still think it is very important to have one.  Also I find I am much more focused with one because I'm not thinking have I missed something all the time. I can just get stuck right in and get it done a lot faster.
     
  6. just jim

    just jim

    Messages:
    1,317
    Likes Received:
    57
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I've worked high end, responsible for my own station every day of the week, and never used a prep list. Never dated anything either, as I knew each items history from conception to birth.

    That being said, I wouldn't give you grief for using a list.

    I've used them and expect I will use them again in the future.
     
  7. cheflayne

    cheflayne

    Messages:
    4,192
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I am in favor of whatever works that doesn't sacrifice quality or time, beyond that I don't give a hoot how you get there as long as you get there. I have used prep lists and I have not used prep lists.

    The people that work for me get the same option unless I see a need to intervene because they can't seem to get there.

    Things don't have to be done my way, they just have to be done to my satisfaction.
     
  8. chefcosta

    chefcosta

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    [B@Just Jimworking high end and you don't date your product? Why save time if hurts your sanitation? I would laugh at most chefs if they didn't have some kinda preparation before hand. Wouldn't that be called prep if you didn't write it down or not? I always have written notes and prep list beacsue its the only way to keep people accountable for what they produce in the kitchen.
     
  9. just jim

    just jim

    Messages:
    1,317
    Likes Received:
    57
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    In the environment at the time, no, I wouldn't date the product.

    I was the only one using it, I knew that this week I made the crab cakes on Tuesday, the dungeness was live backed and cooked on Friday, etc.

    The only need for dating would be for someone else to know the history.

    As I was never allowed to be sick (even worked through a bad case of shingles), that was never going to happen.

    Where I'm at now?

    I label and date everything, legibly.

    Other people need to know what's going on.
     
  10. soesje

    soesje

    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    using a prep list is the only way to make sure, that you are able to check everything is in its place before service starts.

    that you can serve all the dishes on the menu because you checked off all their components on the list.

    don't let anyone tell you that this is ridiculous.

    next time a good answer could be : I want to make sure we can make our guests happy. ;)
     
  11. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I would prefer to say: better chefs than you use them lol
     
  12. pollopicu

    pollopicu

    Messages:
    1,201
    Likes Received:
    53
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    What if the inspector showed up? of course they would want to see dates... and not take your word for it.
     
  13. just jim

    just jim

    Messages:
    1,317
    Likes Received:
    57
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    The inspectors looked for temps and obvious storage violations (raw chicken above cooked foods, etc.).

    There's a good ol' boy mentality for many old restaurants in this area.

    I worked in a kitchen with a hood fan that  covered the back burners of a 6 top grill, but not the front, and was only as high as my chest.

    It didn't suck (pun intended), and would never fly in any other restaurant.

    Owner never had to update it to specs.
     
  14. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,399
    Likes Received:
    935
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Chris, and I bet the same chef would go ballistic if you forgot to prep something.  I always make lists.  Whether as a line dog, making a prep list, as a chef, prioritizing my day, or as an administrator trying to keep track the 101 things that need to get done, on a daily basis.  To me, lists are vital in ensuring that I get everything done and can prioritize them.  I also encourage all the young cooks that work with me to get into the habit.  It takes 5 minutes, tops, to write a prep list, and can save you lots of aggravation later, if you've forgotten something.
     
  15. nuclearbiscuit

    nuclearbiscuit

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I run a nice little cafe with several "non-professionals" working with me in the kitchen.  The menu changes pretty much constantly and the only hard and fast rules are dating, rotation, and general sanitation procedures.  Each person is given a specific area of responsibility, and asked to perform their job as efficiently as they can.  No one is required to follow a list, but every single person writes one down, every single day.  Everyone.  Guess what?  The only time we run out of anything is if I didn't order enough of it in the first place.  Lists are vital, and anyone who wants to do a good job better will use them.
     
  16. cheflayne

    cheflayne

    Messages:
    4,192
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    As I previously stated, I am not dead set one way or the other on written prep lists but over the years I have had discussions about the reasons for or against with a lot of chefs. Chefs that don't utilize written prep lists, reason that once the tickets start to fly, you don't have written recipes to reference to as to what is the next thing that you need to do so that you don't forget; so why would you need written reference for prep. You should know in your sleep what is involved in your station.

    A side note, along the same lines but somewhat different, is the use of timers. For the first time in my career I am working for a caterer. When I first started I was busy firing things away in the oven etc and they saw that I wasn't using a timer for anything. They insisted that I use timers. We have timers everywhere. I had never in my life used timers other than the one in my head. In a restaurant when you have a grill full of different items, fired at different times with different cooking times and different up times, who has time for a timer. Same thing with saute; but different strokes for different folks. They want timers used, so I use timers.
     
  17. nuclearbiscuit

    nuclearbiscuit

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I actually like timers in my kitchen.  In managing, I think we get pulled in a lot of directions, for a lot of reasons.  I will be the first to admit that I have forgotten (or been unable to attend to) something in the oven because of the needs of staff, service, or (most importantly) attention to the guest.  It is embarrassing to forget something in the oven in front of your staff, but if you can say 'Hey, the timer is set, can you watch my roast?' or whatever, just so you know it won't go to hell when you're not there...
     
  18. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

    Messages:
    1,593
    Likes Received:
    44
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    There are other aspects of using prep lists that seem to get lost. Prep lists don't just give you an outline of what is needed for the day, they are a means of tracking usage, preventing waste, a tool for ordering and, we are all human so.......they remind us all of what needs to be completed. Many here would be hard pressed to say that because of so much going on, you're never forgot something. I know from experience someone was bound to forget something and then in the middle of lunch rush, someone has to scramble to make it. This costs time, the product is often not entirely correct and can cost more because it was made in a rush because of being in a hurry. Lists also help to communicate to other employees and management what has yet to be completed for service or back-up.

    I am also one of those who felt confident about knowing exactly where everything was and how far along things would be. My day started in the cooler and ended in the cooler touching every area of storage or business that affected my job.

    To answer the question here, basically I used lists in two forms throughout my career. Either taking quick notes using a line-check sheet and then writing things on a dry erase board for slower operations to using detailed, weekly running lists that were attached to clipboards for any operation with weekly sales over 50,000.00. Sometimes it was a combination of the two but it was the only way I could feel comfortable knowing that costs, product, and standards were being properly managed. Plus, having experienced from time to time line cooks that had a tendency to over prep for themselves and then forget to back-up enough for the following shift, this provided a way to keep them in-check and following the program. Some may call it micro-management but I would rather think it effectively helped in running numbers that I was solely responsible for.

    The owner or DVP wasn't going to chew out the line cook if something went wrong.
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Yes via  computer and every station gets a copy of what they are responsible for as well as quantities to make
     
  20. grillbeast

    grillbeast

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I prefer very detailed prep lists. Quantity on hand, par for that day of the week (seasonally adjusted) and I like them to include every detail down to shallots, garlic and herbs. I've run a small kitchen before and now I work the line at a much larger place where my mise is insane. The prep list is invaluable, and I wrote down every aspect of my mise in my pocket notebook. Nothing worse than forgetting one tiny detail and trying to slice country ham during the rush.