Tips For 1st-Time Line Cook

Joined Sep 18, 2010
just got my first line cooking job almost 3 weeks ago and I had no professional kitchen exp. and almost no home kitchen exp lol.  I'm on pantry and the chef is very happy with me but it's discouraging that at times during busy friday or saturday nights when like 10 tickets build up someone has to come help me sometimes. 

anyone have any less obvious tips on how I can do this better?

oh and some things that are slowing me down

-i run out of plates often so I either have to ask and wait...or i just run and grab my own which takes time but not as much time as potentially waiting for someone. 

-a lot of the salads I make I have to wait for some cooked protein from another station (usually chicken) but it's not like they see a ticket for a salad and then make the chicken...they usually kinda make a couple or a bunch ahead of time and they kind of sit in my station.  Most of them get used but often they get cold....which I have to then throw in the oven behind me for a second or if the chicken is that unservable I have to yell over for another chicken...which takes time...and sometimes they forget or don't hear me so I have all the salads made except for the protein and the servers seem to think it's my fault that they aren't ready.  Why can't they just see a salad they know has chicken on it and make it so I have a fresh piece for every plate.  It kills me when I put up a 10-15$ salad plate with a piece of old, tough chicken...and it happens kinda alot.

oh, and about 1/2 the kitchen staff speaks only spanish and the other 1/2 doesn't speak english that well so I have a hard time communicating.

PS: my r key is broken so I have to do CTrL- V every time I want to use r which makes typing so fun....
Last edited:
Joined Oct 3, 2006
Reminds me of how my first kitchen job started in the chain world.

Stock your plates to maximum capacity before service.  See if there is some way you can (safely) create additional plate storage on your station.  Keep restocking your plates while its slow.  Earn the respect of the dishwashers.  This can make the difference between having to yell for more plates and your plates being restocked while you were too busy to notice.

Grill tends to be the busiest station (for me anyways).  Anywhere from 10+ steaks, 15+ burgers, 15+ pieces of chicken, ribs, fish, etc can all be going on all at one time.  The attitude of the grill guy is going to be to bump any orders that are not immediately relevant to his station.  If you have an oven, perhaps you can have him just mark 20 pieces of chicken ahead of time and then give them to you. You can then finish each piece of chicken to order in the oven as needed.

Another alternative (not the best, but better than serving cold chicken) is if you have a steam table on your station, make a little chicken stock/butter mixture and put it in a 1/6 pan in the steam table.  Hold 3-4 pieces of chicken in there, and have the grill guy throw you down a few more pieces once you start running low.

If this is still a serious issue and there seems to be no way to get the cooperation of the grill guy, I would bring the matter up to the Chef/Manager and work on developing a solution.

As far as the Spanish issue, start learning.  I don't speak it fluently, but I learned enough to get me around for the most part.  Start with key words or phrases.  "Necesito Mas Platos, Por Favor" or "Mas Pollo Rapido" would be good starters (please save the criticisms of my grammar/spelling).

Best of luck in your career.  Never stop caring.  It's easy to when everyone else doesn't.

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