Does anyone have any tips for calming down quickly during service?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chrisbristol, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    Does anyone have any tips for calming down quickly during service?  Sometimes I will be fine and then something will throw me of and I loose concentration.  Like today I was doing fine then the waiter started asking how long it was going to be and standing and watching me and it through me of(unfortunately the waiters where I work are not well trained and have concept of how long things take) 

    So I'm looking for any advice of how to calm down very quickly
     
  2. chipshopman

    chipshopman

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    Stand back, close your eyes for 10 seconds and refocus. When its that busy and the weeds are growing that the buzz that I love.
     
  3. slabfinder

    slabfinder

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    Talk to the chef, standing at the window is frowned apon in my establishment.  If your in the weeds look at your mise en place Everything must be there.  after that you have to look at yourself.  Friday, Saturdays are rough but do your prep, if there's not enough time in the day tell the chef.  
     
  4. chef torrie

    chef torrie

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    Man, my number one pet peeve has always been waitstaff standing at the window/pass. This one at one place used to work at would ask how long, is say however many minutes,she'd peer over the window tapping her fingers on the pass. I need lost it real bad one service.

    Anywho, most of the time I just take a step back, chug some water, and wipe the forehead.

    Another go to has always been to step into the walk in for a minute if time warrants. But in the middle of a push that can't happen obviously.
     
  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Not asking that question and not standing at the pass should be standard operating procedure. Surely the waiter has other things to be doing. 

    Having said that, sarcasm usually works for me. 

    "It's going to take a lot longer the longer you stand there."

    "This dish takes six minutes to prepare, which you would know if you understood your job." 

    "It will take just long enough for you to ignore two more customers while you stand there asking me questions". 

    "Do I come out to the dining room and ask when you are going to place the orders?". 

    For me, I've learned that as passionate as I am about food, the production of it is very practical. I'm passionate about the why, not the how. 

    In the middle of service, it is all about  practical considerations concerning prep, miss en place, heat, plating, etc. There is never anything to get emotional about. An annoying waiter is a practical problem. 
     
  6. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I hate it too. 

    Its the second worst thing that someone can do in the kitchen. First be it taking my tools. 

    And third asking stupid questions or making obivous comments, then when i say, "thank you mr./ms. obvious" i get a death glare. 

    The last day at one of my jobs i blew up with all the waiters. I had a breakdown, with all of them, standing by the pass, then taking a break all at the same time to chug down a pizza, when we were busy with a full house..... -_- 

    The only way to stay calm in the kitchen when in the weeds, is to step back, breathe, and think before doing anything else. Then focus, and go at it... on a busy shift the most you may get is a 30 second breather and in many cases a glass of water and a few breaths and self motivation can really be helpful XD. 

    I used to have a chef when in the weeds she would say "(insert name here), come on sexy, you can do it" i guess that was her self motivation, it worked too XD. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  7. michaelga

    michaelga

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    I've always taken the direct approach also.

    I simply ask them what they are waiting for?  Can I get them something?.. Usually they go away then but if they respond with i'm waiting for xxx.

    I tell them they might as well find something useful to do as it's still xx minutes away.

    I've also found that putting them to work will clear them out in a hurry. 

    - "Hey can you grab me a water with a slice of lemon?"  (hint don't drink it...)

    - "Can you pass me a few napkins? It's hot as hell back here" (optionally - "and I need to light a Fire"

    - "Got any spare towels the Chef stole all mine I'd really appreciate a spare"

    - "Got spare change for a twenty I need to take the bus home"

    - "Ask non-smokers for a pack of matches so you can light the stove, if they don't have any send em to the bar for some"

    - " Ask smokers to go have one for you cause you're dying back here!"

    If your pass has a view into the dining room - simply tell them to get out of the way, you can't see.

    If they ask see what? - tell them if they don't see it they don't need to know.

    With complete dunderheads I've been known to simply and politely tell them to go do their job and let me do mine.  (gotta do it politely)

    Back when I was a bit less mature... i'd simply throw something at them... messier the better.  (not really recommended these days)

    Singing a mildly innapropriate song or tune will clear them out of the pass also - but that would likely land you in a ton of trouble these days.

    ---

    More on topic - laugh, lots and loud. 

    Take a deep breath and say something funny. 

    Break the tension and loose the tightness and then get back at it.

    (i'd usually say something about another cook burning my steaks by turning the grill off or some nonsense)

    (or that I thought the chef said 'burn em all day' or 'take the day off' etc)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  8. powerviolence

    powerviolence

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    E cig
     
  9. pirate-chef

    pirate-chef

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    breathe focus look over things. happy gilmore and go to a happy place then bang the shit out. we all struggle with it but how it affects you is how good you are work work work if you break down figure out how to be above it until you can sleepwalk through these services. 
     
  10. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Well said !

    "Figure out how to be above it "
     
  11. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    I think sometimes you have to except that it will be stressful at times and just except that.  If you try to hard to get rid of it it can make it worse.  I think with the waiters it is better to just say I don't know how long it will be but I'll do it as fat as I can.  As much as I would love to add now f** of to that I probably shouldn't /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif  
     
  12. alaminute

    alaminute

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    MichaelGA's approach is my general rule- put them to work. if you have time to lean...; even coming from a dishwasher or busser, if you're working it's easy to delegate to people standing around.
     
  13. kmcgrath168

    kmcgrath168

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    If it is something specific setting off "the fury," perhaps it would be helpful to directly address that aspect of service.  I find that it can work miracles talking directly to servers before or after service when nobody is stressed out.  A lot of times they simply haven't considered our position because they get so wrapped up in the customers' worlds (which they should) and sometimes we can even learn something from them.  Make friends, not enemies!

    As far as other stressful things go, I take it home with me and figure out, as the others said, "how to be above it."  Could I reorganize my area or portion something ahead of service to speed things up?  Sometimes there's not too much you can do at the time aside from just separating the next 4-5 (or whatever you are comfortable juggling) tickets from the rest and focus exclusively on those, ensuring that the food doesn't come BACK to the kitchen for some reason.
     
  14. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    At the moment level is about 4 to 5 orders at once.  I get a bit lost if I have more on that and try to do them all at once.  Sometimes one of my senior chefs will tell me I need to multi task more and do checks at once I don't think he understands at the moment I can't.  I think I need to remind myself of how far I have come in nearly two months and not get frustrated.
     
  15. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    ugh, I feel you. Since the day I started cooking professionally one of my "psychotic effin hatreds", as George Carlin put it, are waitstaff or expediters who mess up an order, and then stand there waiting and starring at every move you make because they need it right then and now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
  16. soesje

    soesje

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    best thing on multiple orders is to handle as many as Y O U can handle.

    with time you will be able to handle more.

    try to talk to your chef.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  17. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Most of the young guys I know  smoke a joint, or come in stoned!.
     
  18. kmcgrath168

    kmcgrath168

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    First of all, regarding waitstaff who just stand there and watch you, try to understand where they are coming from.  If they go back out into the dining area before they have the food, the exact same thing will be happening to them!  The customer will be sitting there probably staring them down, constantly asking when it will be ready, so often the server comes to wait in the kitchen for a bit of alleviation.

    My typical approach when a server is staring me down is simply to ask with a smile, "Are those people staring you down?"  Saying something like this in a friendly way does two things.  First, it tells the server that you understand the stress they experience and earns you more respect from your waitstaff.  Second, it politely reminds them that getting stared at while you try to work is really annoying and they just might realize they're doing it to you.

    Hopefully that approach might help someone.  Sometimes a little shift in perspective can make a big difference.
     
  19. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    >>Most of the young guys I know  smoke a joint, or come in stoned!.

    ROFL - excuse me for intruding in this professional arena - but I just gotta say, there's a whole new definition to "being in the weeds"
     
  20. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    I think the YOU part is very important.  Unfortunately chefs do sometimes try to rush you it's just the industry.  I think the important thing is not to let them because then things go wrong.  Be urgent but don't rush.  A lot of the problem was the kitchen set up.  I have moved where I work in the kitchen which has increased my productivity quite a lot.  Simple thing can really help sometimes.