What Tasks do Your Cooks, Food Runners, Support, AM Prep do during Downtime?

121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
Ill be doing so light prep upstairs to come down because I forgot something and see 2 out of 3 people on their phones. Of course, i realize this is my fault bc ive created an environment where I make a rule and we'll follow it for a couple of weeks and then it's back to lets all behave before the rule was enacted. They're a little better because theyll come to me and ask me "how can i help you."

Sometimes, I'll have something for them to do, but i also feel guilty when I get them to do something then a sudden rush comes and their stations are semi fudged because of the prep i asked them to do. 

This is what I have so far for tasks for downtime...actually its a rough draft because I havent moved them to their respective categories...Columns will be position(cook, prep, etc) Pre shift tasks, Service Tasks, Post Service Tasks. 

Would you add any other tasks that you have your guys/gals perform during those time periods? 

Link to sheet below:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1f_iD2p56pEM0VjaXd5Y1VkNGs
 
1,128
102
Joined Apr 11, 2013
During downtime... well when i have some time in the kitchen where i´m not putting food out, i do extra prep. 

I wash greens and leaves, clean them, dry them, and bag/store them.

I clean things... stations, fridges, cutting boards, go do dishes maybe. 

I cut fruit to decorte ice water.... 

I peel garlic maybe, try a new recipe or invent a recipe and test it. Usually though i never get to start and complete one on the same service. 

I go help on desserts maybe, go make pie crusts or go into the walk in or go through the freezers and organize stuff or portion things. 

Downtime for me is time to play catchup in the kitchen and do things maybe no one else wants to do or maybe im just so bored, i just do something to keep me occupied and help out others. 
 
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2,180
653
Joined Oct 31, 2012
What is this downtime? An employee shows up, gets their station ready for service. Service begins. Employees are busy handling orders. Service ends. Employees clean, restock, go home. 

"
 Sometimes, I'll have something for them to do, but i also feel guilty when I get them to do something then a sudden rush comes and their stations are semi fudged because of the prep i asked them to do. 
[article="29115"]An Explanation Of Mise En Place  [/article]
Your first question to any line employee before asking them to do extra prep is now "How's your mise-en -place for your station". Completely finished? Then I have this for you to do. Not finished? Go back and make sure you are ready for service. Let me know when you are done with that. I'll be over to check on your work. 

Otherwise, If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
 
4,474
421
Joined Jun 27, 2012
If you have 2 people on their phones send 1 home.

After picking up a couple of short checks they will learn the meaning of the phrase "self starter".

mimi

Edit to add..... why are you doing prep while your prep peeps text and check their Facebook page?

m.
 
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121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
 
If you have 2 people on their phones send 1 home.

After picking up a couple of short checks they will learn the meaning of the phrase "self starter".

mimi

Edit to add..... why are you doing prep while your prep peeps text and check their Facebook page?

m.
That's not a bad idea. But i already have a cell phone rule. 
 
1,128
102
Joined Apr 11, 2013
Oh today i had some downtime. At about 3:30 in the afternoon i started removing some ice from newly arrived salmon. By 6pm i had finished removing scales, bones, cleaning and portioning 23 pounds of salmon.... oh and i cleaned the down stairs kitchen all by myself too....

My hands kinda still smell like fish....

The downtime was more tiring then i thought lol

Tomorrow hopefully if i get a chance i need to clean chicken. I do all the butchering at this restaurant so i learn and practice a lot.... 
 
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4,474
421
Joined Jun 27, 2012
 
 
If you have 2 people on their phones send 1 home.

After picking up a couple of short checks they will learn the meaning of the phrase "self starter".

mimi

Edit to add..... why are you doing prep while your prep peeps text and check their Facebook page?

m.
That's not a bad idea. But i already have a cell phone rule. 
...and how is that working for you so far ?

mimi
 
1,832
538
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I understand what you mean by downtime. You mean the time after service starts, when I assume prep is finished, but before you get busy and the rush hits. Instead of having your line cooks stand around, you'd like to find tasks for them. 

Personally I always did things that would help me out the next day. "Kit"-ing out recipes, peeling things (onion, carrots, garlic, shallot, etc), tying satchets for the week. Picking herbs. Making reductions for sauces. Things that can help out the next day but I can quickly stop and put away when things get busy. 

Its also a good time to organize the walk in, clean areas of the kitchen that aren't used that time of day (like, for example, a back prep kitchen) so you/we won't have to clean later after service. 

It can also be a good time for a little R & D...work on a new recipe, new technique, etc. 

Make a little staff meal/snack for the kitchen. Most people cook better with a bit of food in the stomach. 

But yeah, there is never an excuse for not doing anything. There is ALWAYS something to do, as well all know. 
 
1,140
165
Joined Sep 5, 2012
I know I'll probably get shouted down over this kind of post but do take it into consideration.

Plan down time during the day. Cooking isn't indentured servitude any more and after almost 40 years in the business I can see that now.

For example here is the daily routine in my catering kitchen Monday through Friday.
Prep, salad guy in at 6am. 60 loaves of bread into the ovens, set up turn on dish tank, bring in an put away vegi delivery. Turn on any pre planed equipment to warm up. Make coffee.

7am. Head chef, cook and me show up, we all drink coffee and eat hot bread with "stuff"
Review menu and tasks for the day. 15 minutes of planed down time.

715 to 930. Prepare food for 500, fresh salads, bread, butter toppings, 3 hot dishes, with all the appropriate accompaniments. Have ready for transportation. We send it and serve it at a school 1 mile away.

15 minute coffee/smoke break

Finish preparation for and additional 600 to start service at 1045 in the dinning area attached to our kitchen.

Lunch service from 10:45 to 1pm

During this time prep from next day. We make the vast majority of our food from scratch. During this time the dish washer helps with minor prep and scales the bread for a slow cold raise for baking the next morning.

1030 to 1:00 we are not stressed, we prep, cook, chat, joke, listen to music, take in deliveries and get our work done.

At 1 pm we all sit down for lunch. 45 mins. 145 till 4 pm prep and clean up.

Repeat daily.

My guys make above the local industry wages by at least 20 % and all the breaks are paid thru. This includes the service, utility and cleaning staff.

Of course we all work hard, effectively and quick. But we don't kill ourselves, and for the folks that think we serve school kids from cardboard boxes of frozen prepared food I am posting a photo or two below.

GALLERY]
[/IMG]
 
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2,180
653
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Looks like a great place to work. Can you repost the first pictures? They did not seem to load.
 
281
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Joined Mar 1, 2011
Nice pics and post Lagom. Take this with a grain of salt for sure, because my opinion is just that, the opinion of a 32 year old sous chef that opens his mouth more than he probably should and who is currently laying on his couch with a cup of coffee and an apple turnover resting on my stomach because I was too lazy to walk an extra 20 feet and grab a paper plate from the pantry, but don't you think it's probably a little bit easier to plan your time like that at an operation like yours? And that's not supposed to be a dig so please don't take it as one. I've done my own fare share of catering so. I just feel that when your day is pretty much planned out, and you are serving just about the exact same number of people at just about the exact same time , it's much easier to plan for down time, moreso than a place that for example might do 25 for lunch or 100? And it might start coming at 1115 or at 1? Then prep for dinner, which can be anywhere from 100-350? And the push could start anytime from 515 to 730 and run till 830 or 11? I just always thought it was a bit easier to set a schedule on the catering side of things than a cook to order kitchen. But that's just my $0.02
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
 
...and how is that working for you so far ?

mimi
It isnt...My lack of follow through is awful. The only people I can implement certain policies/rules are new hires, even my sous doesnt follow them...granted she only works 3 days, which is pretty low considering she's my sous. 

I love all my new hires, they're role model employees, but I am scared they will start picking up bad habits. Few days ago, one of them came up to me and asked why So and So can use their phones and they cant...
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
Hmm, 
 
I understand what you mean by downtime. You mean the time after service starts, when I assume prep is finished, but before you get busy and the rush hits. Instead of having your line cooks stand around, you'd like to find tasks for them. 

Personally I always did things that would help me out the next day. "Kit"-ing out recipes, peeling things (onion, carrots, garlic, shallot, etc), tying satchets for the week. Picking herbs. Making reductions for sauces. Things that can help out the next day but I can quickly stop and put away when things get busy. 

Its also a good time to organize the walk in, clean areas of the kitchen that aren't used that time of day (like, for example, a back prep kitchen) so you/we won't have to clean later after service. 

It can also be a good time for a little R & D...work on a new recipe, new technique, etc. 

Make a little staff meal/snack for the kitchen. Most people cook better with a bit of food in the stomach. 

But yeah, there is never an excuse for not doing anything. There is ALWAYS something to do, as well all know. 
Hmm, I like the herb picking and the R & D. I have a daily list of things I would like to get done, if they have downtime but the random 3-6 min lulls deter them from starting when they know service will just pick right up again. 
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
I know I'll probably get shouted down over this kind of post but do take it into consideration.

Plan down time during the day. Cooking isn't indentured servitude any more and after almost 40 years in the business I can see that now.

For example here is the daily routine in my catering kitchen Monday through Friday.
Prep, salad guy in at 6am. 60 loaves of bread into the ovens, set up turn on dish tank, bring in an put away vegi delivery. Turn on any pre planed equipment to warm up. Make coffee.

7am. Head chef, cook and me show up, we all drink coffee and eat hot bread with "stuff"
Review menu and tasks for the day. 15 minutes of planed down time.

715 to 930. Prepare food for 500, fresh salads, bread, butter toppings, 3 hot dishes, with all the appropriate accompaniments. Have ready for transportation. We send it and serve it at a school 1 mile away.

15 minute coffee/smoke break

Finish preparation for and additional 600 to start service at 1045 in the dinning area attached to our kitchen.

Lunch service from 10:45 to 1pm

During this time prep from next day. We make the vast majority of our food from scratch. During this time the dish washer helps with minor prep and scales the bread for a slow cold raise for baking the next morning.

1030 to 1:00 we are not stressed, we prep, cook, chat, joke, listen to music, take in deliveries and get our work done.

At 1 pm we all sit down for lunch. 45 mins. 145 till 4 pm prep and clean up.

Repeat daily.

My guys make above the local industry wages by at least 20 % and all the breaks are paid thru. This includes the service, utility and cleaning staff.

Of course we all work hard, effectively and quick. But we don't kill ourselves, and for the folks that think we serve school kids from cardboard boxes of frozen prepared food I am posting a photo or two below.

[IMG][GALLERY="media, 130464"][/GALLERY][GALLERY="media, 130466"][/GALLERY][GALLERY="media, 130467"][/GALLERY][/quote]
Beautiful....do you think you could achieve the same without paying the extra 20%? And what you do on a daily basis...do you write that down or just repetition now? Also, if you don't write anything down....what would be a time where you would actually write your day out?
 
1,128
102
Joined Apr 11, 2013
 
It isnt...My lack of follow through is awful. The only people I can implement certain policies/rules are new hires, even my sous doesnt follow them...granted she only works 3 days, which is pretty low considering she's my sous. 

I love all my new hires, they're role model employees, but I am scared they will start picking up bad habits. Few days ago, one of them came up to me and asked why So and So can use their phones and they cant...
Just ban cellphones period!! Get a box, a closet anything, most restaurants have lockers for employees. Get those cellphones out of the kitchen. The only people that need a cellphone in the kitchen is the chef and the sous, anyone else with a cellphone is being distracted. 

If its an emegency have them talk to you before service, in all other situations they shouldnt even be in the kitchen to begin with. 
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
 
Just ban cellphones period!! Get a box, a closet anything, most restaurants have lockers for employees. Get those cellphones out of the kitchen. The only people that need a cellphone in the kitchen is the chef and the sous, anyone else with a cellphone is being distracted. 

If its an emegency have them talk to you before service, in all other situations they shouldnt even be in the kitchen to begin with. 
Did that and it worked really well actually. Thanks, sad i didnt do this sooner. 
 
857
76
Joined May 27, 2013
I know I'll probably get shouted down over this kind of post but do take it into consideration.

Plan down time during the day. Cooking isn't indentured servitude any more and after almost 40 years in the business I can see that now.

Of course we all work hard, effectively and quick. But we don't kill ourselves, and for the folks that think we serve school kids from cardboard boxes of frozen prepared food I am posting a photo or two below.
Excellent. When responsible adults act like responsible adults, a call/ text or two during the day isn't a problem. Even outside of break time. When adults act like children, then you treat them as such. The default shouldn't be infantilizing everybody from the get go. Also : pay people a decent wage/ treat them with respect, and you'd be surprised how many childish adults turn into responsible ones. 
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
 
Excellent. When responsible adults act like responsible adults, a call/ text or two during the day isn't a problem. Even outside of break time. When adults act like children, then you treat them as such. The default shouldn't be infantilizing everybody from the get go. Also : pay people a decent wage/ treat them with respect, and you'd be surprised how many childish adults turn into responsible ones. 
Our most recent hires, we payed more which may suck if the other cooks find out. A few have asked for raises in the past couple of months and they all have received it. I'm just happy the owners gave us the green light to pay more than the min. wage for new hires. 

Wouldn't you want them to be responsible adults regardless of pay? Also, with the raises you give your employees, do they get more responsibilities with that?
 

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