venting on making mistakes in the kitchen...

Joined Apr 23, 2017
ok so i just got moved up to the entremetier station and overall ive been doing pretty good considering its my first 2 weeks on the station. so in the past week or so ive been making a lot of mistakes in general and having to remake shit and throw bad stuff out. this is really bothering me because i hate fucking up. for example i recently fucked up my risotto on a big party table for like 12 and it delayed the whole table for like an extra 4 min. similar thing just happened today i was working the fry station and i didn't drop enough fries for 8 orders and we had to wait like 4 min for more fries. i know they aren't the biggest of deals but overall i feel like i should be doing better and not messing up the easy stuff. this is my first true cooking job although ive worked in kitchens before, what advice would you give me? how do you conquer the weeds without looking at the board?
Joined Aug 15, 2003
It'll click in. The trick is to not make the same mistake twice. So, you've messed up the don't do it again. Now you have an image about how many fries you need for 8 orders (generally, make more than you think you need because fries are cheaper than proteins...better to have an extra order or two of fries than have to throw out a steak frites or a burger because fries are dragging).

People come here and ask for this type of advice all the time. Search function can be your friend, lots of good advice in past threads. One common refrain is that there is no substitute for experience...some of it just takes time to learn.

A little more detail would help...are your mistakes due to improper cooking or not having sufficient MEP? Identifying the problems might help us to hone in on some specifics to help you.
Joined Apr 23, 2017
my mise is always on point, im always stocked up enough thats not the problem. my problem is when we get in the weeds and have a bunch of big tables going all at once i get lost. i try to look at the board ocasionally but gernerally it gets to the point where there are too many tickets and no room to organize or time to keep up. so the boards a mess and completely out of order with gone tickets so its no help. i try to just remember exactly what chef calls out but eventually it just gets to a point where i cant remember everything and i get lost.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Does the chef expo? Does he/she suck at it?

Not trying to point the finger at someone else but if your expo is not on point you can get caught in the weeds for an entire shift.
One of my first bartending gigs was at a hotel bar with live music.
The rush started at happy hour and didn't stop until the band played Happy Trails.
There were a couple of waitresses who just couldn't get their call orders right.
I really hated when it was my turn to pour for them as my bar customer's service would end up suffering.

All I can say is try to keep a positive mindset and little by little everything will fall into place.
Then as soon as you get really good at your current station you will be moved up and have to start all over again lol.

Joined Jan 17, 2015
As someone said experience is key, important thing is not to keep making same mistakes. Potatoes are cheap, I would always have a bit more. When I do anything on a large scale I always make sure to have a bit extra, as somehow at the end you always end up short. I wouldn't worry about it too much, you seem to be on the ball and will only get better
Joined Jun 23, 2015
It is good to have you on Cheftalk. As this is read by people of all ages and views could you moderate your language for the general public. Thanks
Joined Dec 30, 2015
When you're feeling frustrated and down on yourself, take a moment to take a deep breath. Let the tension go with the exhale. Recognize that you are not perfect - and that it's OK that you're not!
Joined Apr 11, 2013
Well, you just said that it´s your first cooking job, so things happen.
A 4 minute delay is not that bad, and like it has been stated potatoes are cheap.

Now as for looking at the board... you just have to keep looking at it, and read the orders, and check when necessary. If you don´t have the orders memorized, then you shouldn´t risk it, just go and read it, or ask for the chef to repeat (i prefer to reread it though).

I can usually memorize the first 2-3 orders on my stations, then i start to filter and memorize more orders as i send them out and more come. It´s just a habit, after time you will get into the rythm an start memorizing orders as well.

Don´t be afraid to read the board, if your gettting mixed up and losing track of orders, then take it down a notch and slow down. Its better to take a minute or two and get it right the first time, then to have to re-do something and take longer. If you don´t have an estimation on quantity, ask a more experienced cook, or the chef. Because if it isn´t right the chef it going to call you out on it anyway.

If things are cluttered, and theres a mess, hurry and do a quick sweep of the place, and organize things, wipe your station, etc... it only takes a minute or two, and its better to have things in there place then to get flustered looking for something, or doing something because it´s messy. A mess will only attract a bigger mess over time, and to work with things messy and cluttered is not a good habit, and should be avoided when possible. I always have a rag on my stations to wipe things down even if i only have 10 seconds, i wipe, and try to move things out of the way and get things ready for the next items.

Certain things will just click on, and other things you will have to get accostumed to.
Just keep a positive attitude, mistakes happen, avoid repeating them, try to be a better cook everyday, when you leave the kitchen, forget about everything and just reset, don´t let things linger in your mind, do it better everyday. Communicate, bust your arse, think smart, do smart things, ask questions, work clean, and don´t be afraid to take it slow for a minute, sometimes you need a few seconds to get your thoughts in order and to think about the best way to do something.

Don´t try to force yourself to memorize orders, don´t be afraid to check and re-read.
Just keep at it, have the will, and you should get better.
Joined Dec 20, 2017
Lots of good advice already, I could add one thing it's to emphasis not letting your mistakes ruin you.
Even Ramsay screws up eggs now and then.
Also, you perceive time differently under pressure. Waiting for the last 30 seconds on a fryer timer feels like eons when It's the last item to sell, 4 minutes seems like hours, especially when it's your mistake, but to a 12 top who're conversing, drinking, socializing it's not even noticeable.
Joined Jul 16, 2009
We all make mistakes, i made one myself back in 94 but i got over it, own your mistake and don't do it again.

Don't be afraid to ask for help before you are in the weeds, chefs don't like heroes, we like team work.

Do you have a good working relationship with the rest of the brigade? or do you find yourself on your own? or are you getting tips and advice from more experienced staff and are you open to it.

Do you make notes? i always give new hires a small note pad and pencil and ask them to use it, then i will quite often ask them what did you learn today (yes I am your mother and we are sitting around the dinner table and you are back in 6th grade, you know what? she was right)... moving on

Break for each dish down into steps, write them down and refer to them, it may take an extra 5 seconds to start the order but this will re-enforce in your head what you are doing and hopefully you will stay focused, if need be use timers, get several, (pastry always has 5 or 6 laying around) and time the dishes, use a portion cup and count out your portions of fries, potatoes may be cheap but free pouring fries means that you have too many or not enough, too many is just as bad as they sit under the heat lamp and get used on the nest bill and they are not up to to spec.

Most of all, stay calm, stay organized, accept that shit happens and that you will have to think on your feet, if you are in the shit, breath, look at the clock and say to yourself that this will all be over in ...... how ever many hours of service you have left (hopefully not more than 3) this will put it in perspective and make you realize that this is cooking dinner not performing neurosurgery.

On a positive note, you are still on the job so you are doing ok, talk to your Chef, ask for advice, look for a mentor and good luck
Joined Dec 28, 2017
Cooking right takes experience.

Those guys/gals who look like they are naturals, all made a ton of mistakes to look so natural.

Your first cooking job?

As said, learn from your mistakes. Ponder them, what happened, why it happened? Connect the dots.

Never blame anyone else for it. Sure sometimes other people’s ineptitude can make your job harder, but your work needs to always stand on its own two feet regardless of your surrounding-cook’s skill or crappyness.

The biggest advice I can give to a cook who gets over their head during high volume situations, is: learn to love it. Learn to embrace the burn of the weeds. It’s why you enter the business. High volume equals success. But honestly it just takes repetitiveness to learn the finesse.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I heard a quote the other day that seems appropriate. "The master has made more mistakes than the beginner has made attempts." So... keep trying. You'll get it eventually.
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