Prep/Cleaning/Staff Schedules

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by druehocker, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. druehocker


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    Former Chef, Cheesemaker, Operations Manager
    I am managing a kitchen that has recently started to pick up in volume. Some quick background, I took a line-cook job to make my first step into a kitchen and since have taking over as manager. There is no head chef per say, I guess that would be me, except I refuse that title this early in my career. Anyways, its a small local place that is in some need of organization so that we can succeed as we grow. We have 5 guys in the kitchen that share prep cleaning and cooking duties. Everything has been very laid back (and sometimes disorganized) up until this point with the staff handwriting lists of what needs done for the next shift. Now as staff size is growing and volume is increasing I am looking to implement very clear cut systems that will hold everyone accountable for prep and cleaning that need done.

    This has been a real trial by fire and some great experience for me personally, but I don't want my lack of kitchen experience to be an excuse for not demanding excellence. I would to hear how some chefs handle the day to day administrative sort of work. I have several years of previous management experience but unrelated to cooking. Any advice on keeping a kitchen staff motivated would be great.

  2. chefwriter


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    Professional Cook
    Several thoughts.

    Good staff will be responsive to good organization. Bad staff will not be responsive no matter what you do. 

    Physical organization helps greatly. Setting up storage areas for food and equipment in an organized manner with labels and clear space assignments help everyone know what is expected to be where. Having cleaning supplies like broom and dustpan and waste baskets easy to reach helps for continuous cleaning throughout the day. 

    Prep lists for each station and each shift can be typed up on a computer and copies made available for each shift. These should have par amounts for each ingredient. When the list is complete, the employee signs and dates it before leaving. If an item is not done, it should not be checked off but noted as needing to be done if necessary. 

    Having recipes, prep lists, inventory lists, virtually everything you can written down or labeled takes a lot of the mystery and uncertainty out of day to day operations. 

    I used to use a several dry erase boards as a place for staff to write down items needing to be re ordered. One in FOH, one in BOH, one near the walk in. A separate one for anything needing repair. 

    Clear communication is a simple process but often not implemented in many kitchens. Let the staff know you are interested in what is going on, not in assigning blame. The more they feel they will get yelled at, the less they want to talk to you. News is news, not good or bad. Responding to the message, not the messenger is key. 

    Show interest in any ideas or suggestions they may have. Implement them when appropriate. 

    Don't assume. Let them know in clear terms what you expect with everything. They can't  or won't do it if they haven't been told they need to.

    Clear directions with the tools and materials needed to do the job in a well organized environment.