Stuck in a kitchen that had little to no training, considering leaving.

Joined Aug 25, 2015
Start with whats at your station and than the stations next to you. while you are at work, always work with a sense of urgency and finish your work first than help others and learn their station by helping and keeping your eyes open. however, a 200 item menu is crazy. I think the best advice when trying to learn the menu is just do it; however, I still suggest that you look up what on the menu you don't know and research the techniques they are using to prepare these dishes.
Joined Oct 23, 2013
basically we havent even seen the restaurant yet, it still has to pass a finale heath inspection. but we were handed the menu book at orientation, its extremely overwhelming, considering how much is on the menu. They told us we would be tested on the menu, so i want to think the test will be the same for everyone. i mean heck can they really expect 200 plus employees to remember 75-90 menu items and the ingredients , plus allergies n a week and a half ?!?!?! 

i feel like if i can remember a good half of the menu, and then know bits and pieces of the rest ill be ok. but i really have no clue. ive never been apart of an opening team of a restaurant before, so its all new to me. i mean do they have like a pass/fail rate on a menu test for these kinds of things, i have no idea. 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
You have to break down the menu into managable chunks. 

If you're doing cold, focus on that first.  What I like to do is write down each menu item.  Now break that item down into individual ingredients ie: Caprese salad= roma toms, babby mozz, fresh basil, x virg o.oil, balsamic, s&p.  Next item is another salad, but there is overlap of some ingredients, next item again, and some overlap. 

After you break down each item you'll start to recognize the most common ingredients, the special ones, common plating techniques, etc.  Then on to deserts: common threads like fresh fruit or sauces, and the p.i.t.a, ones that require daily prep and special care.

Only after you have covered your station do you start to look at the other sections.  Again, you'll look for patterns in the ingredients--if there's tenderloin, there has to be a way to utilize trim, if there's chicken, there will be more than one item.  Same thing for sauces, how many ways to deviate from a basic sauce to specialized ones?

Hope this helps
Joined Aug 8, 2015
Flash cards. Menu item on front. Ingredients allergens and menu description on the back. Most likely the test will give you the menu item and the rest is up to you to describe. Also try memory pegs. Look it up. It is a memorization technique where you use numbers one through ten and a common phrase. Then the visualization part to associate it in your mind. I learned memory pegs at an educator class i took a long time ago and can still tell you my ten item list with specifics. Also 200 menu items is a bit extreme.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
 I learned memory pegs at an educator class i took a long time ago and can still tell you my ten item list with specifics.
HAH! Me too! 

Hat, Hen, Ham, Hair, Hail, Hash,Hag, Wave, Paw, Toes!  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Thats the peg system, while  associating one item to the next, e.g., imagining the

pancakes on top of the red haired lady's head, is called the link System.

All based on the Roth Memory system. Or Harry Lorraine, or Jerry Lucas etc,  

depending how recent you wanna go. 
Joined Oct 23, 2013
so ive been able to remember a good chunk of the 75, shockingly. but im really curious how menu tests are usually set up, is it just a list of the menu items and having to list every last ingredient for them, or is it multiple choice, matching type deal, etc. Or are they trying to see if you can name the majority of ingredients for each dish not necessarily all of them.  Im definitely studying every last ingredient for each dish at this point, but i dont want to over think or overwhelm myself either. 


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
The menu _is_ your system.

You should be able to figure it out based on categories.

1)  Salads

a)  Romaine

b)  Iceberg

c)  Mixed greens

2)  Cold apps

a)  Hummus

b)  Lox plate





Joined Jan 4, 2011
I'm a dinosaur. I make ingredient lists w/ recipes and and pics of the dish done right, then tape them up at my station. I do it for others too when I'm the boss. NO, I don't really care how stupid it looks. I DO care if something is made wrong and comes back. I only get laughed at once. At the end of the night when everything has gone smoothly, I laugh too. I'm not saying that is the answer, I'm saying that it works for me.
Joined Aug 2, 2015
I find doing a build sheet helps. Burger + bun + mustard + lettuce + tomato + onion; potato wedges. I also identify which dishes use common ingredients. It helps to have a really good memory. Visualize putting the plate together. Good luck.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Make a prep list with every dish on the menu, breaking down the individual ingredients needed for each dish. Separate the prep list into the individual stations responsible for the dish. Then go through each section in your mind, like you were setting it up for work.
Joined Oct 23, 2013
apparently the menu test was only for servers... ha. go figure... but at least i know the majority of the menu now, so it cant hurt. 

my next question would be, and i dont know how i would even begin to word this to make it sound right. But the head chef said it would be a good idea to go through the prep lists we were handed today for our station and make notes, saying how it would benefit us in the long run. What does he mean by this? theres about 50 items for my station as far as prep, does that mean he wants us to group similar items together to make it easier to read, or am i massively confused. 

what do you do to prepare your self for the next days prep list? 
Joined May 14, 2014
Copy everything out. Helps you remember. Take notes on techniques used(i.e., things that cook need to be started first, knife work can be done as a group later) ,& arrange a copy of your prep list by dish, so you can see which dishes are complete.
Joined Oct 23, 2013
So we havent had a menu test and it probably wont happen for another week. but now after only TWO days of training on my station, they are expecting us to start doing mock service for 100+ servers, etc. tomorrow. (this is a brand new restaurant that hasnt opened FYI) 

im freaking out ive only had two- ish weeks to study the menu and my stations recipes and only two days to actually practice them in the kitchen, i feel like im about to fail miserably at this mock service thing, i mean i get they have high expectations, but really only given two half days to make maybe one dish each from my area and now im expected to go crazy mode and make around 100. im already expecting the worse.

Anyone been in the situation, id be open to hearing horror stories of your first day even,/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif i cant be the only one who's been through this type of thing. 
Joined Oct 31, 2012
First of all, relax. You are not being tested, the restaurant set up is. This is nothing more than a dress rehearsal, just like in theatre. Everything gets laid out on the line just as if the restaurant were actually open. The point of sale system is tested to see if the tickets come through correctly. The FOH systems are being tested. Do the waiters handle the guests in the anticipated fashion? Is there something about that that should be changed? Does the air conditioning system work as intended? Is the drink ordering system/bartender set up/wine service working as intended? Are all supplies on hand, in the best location and ready when needed? 

You will play the role you are hired to play but that is a small part of what management wants to see.  

     For your part, make sure your mise-en-place is complete, you are as familiar as possible with the menu items you will prepare and you are wide awake and focused. If there is a problem with your station, it may be nothing more than the chef deciding that slicing a particular item to order is not efficient or that certain items can be pre-plated, or that order of items in your set up should be rearranged in some way. He/she may ask you what challenges you faced in putting out orders and see if those can be adjusted. ( You need a bigger ladle, a smaller spoon, more pans, etc.)

You will only be expected to do the best you can but keep in mind that there is a lot more than your job at stake. You may end up completely ignored. 
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