Working the grill, any advice?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by garrettjames, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. garrettjames

    garrettjames

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    I just made the move from a sous at a reputable restaurant in my area to being grill chef at the best restaurant in my area.  I'm a bit nervous because this place is much higher volume than I'm used to, and while I am very confident in my ability to temp meats it's never been the thing that I focus on the most.  I'm sure lots of you have toughed it out on a grill station at one point in your career.  Any advice?  I'm really excited and I really need to be as good as I can be.  They break down all of their own proteins, which is awesome but something I will need to learn more about.  If anyone has any recommended readings or info that would help me it would be much obliged.  Thanks and wish me luck!
     
  2. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    My best (and probably inadequate) advice is not to sweat it.  I run the broil station at one of the highest volume (good) places in town.  Doing 100 steaks in an hour is really no different than doing 10, it just takes a bit of time & practice to scale things up.  The big thing is to learn your individual broiler.  They all have hot spots and are very much living creatures.  If divide it up into four quadrants; when I'm busy I can keep different proteins in different spots, simply different temps.  If you get overwhelmed you can often mark the item then "idle" it a bit on a cooler spot while you figure out what you need when.

    About ten years ago I was thrust into a similar situation, going from Exec in a small-to-middling sized place to broiling at the most high end steakhouse in the area.  I was talking to my buddy, who also broiled there and did a lot of the meat cutting, and asking him how the hell he could rock out that many strips, chops, chateaus, etc and keep all the temps straight at the speed he did.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know what he did, he just did it./img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   After a while I adjusted to that kind of pace and I see what he means.  I do the same thing I did in slower places, just faster!

    To start off though, you have to go slow in a hurry...if you get what I'm trying to say.
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Oh, and aim for the bottom side of the temp.  You have to allow carry over, and of course it depends on how long (if at all) the product will rest before being served.
     
  4. nicholas beebe

    nicholas beebe

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    Almost everywhere that I have worked, the broiler is the easiest station when you're busy. Scaling up isn't that big of a deal. The hardest part is keeping track of what you owe, and when. I found that it helps a lot to keep your grill organized. It's always dependent on where the hotspots are, but I like to keep everything of a given temp in either a region, or a certain row or column of the grill. You'll also find your job much easier if you can keep your communication with the window/expediter going. Find out what they need now, and make sure they know how long they have on something if they are waiting to fire the rest of the table.
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    My Trick to working grill. The minute you get the order put it on when its 60% done pull it off. when they tell you fire it put it back on. This way no matter what you can never be caught  without the order  at least almost ready no matter what. Also a hot side and a cooler one
     
  6. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    How did you become sous of a restaurant without proper knowledge of breaking down fish/proteins?

    Good luck on the grill, learn the hot spots, and just know your cooking times, hopefully that will keep you right in line with the other stations.

    Also, I agree, pull the steaks a touch early, that way you can rest them and let them come up to temp, I always say i'd rather have a refire of an underdone steak/fish than overdone.
     
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  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Touch everything.  Everything.  Touching is the best way of temping. 

    Fish is usually very definitive about it's done point.  Make sure you use your eyes to check for a band of translucency on the side of a fillet or steak.  You want the fish to not mush or feel hard when you touch temp.  Like most proteins, you want it to spring back. You want the "flakes" to barely open when you press, not completely separate; if you've got definite flaking on both sides of the fish, it's overdone.

    There are a couple of keys to breaking down proteins. 

    Most important, you need a VERY sharp knife.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping your meat knives SHARP.  You want them at least sharp enough so that they won't force you to hold them too tightly, or use force to cut.  Using a steel is not sharpening.  If you don't know how to sharpen, let's talk about that.

    If you're cutting from primals, whole fish, or whole birds -- they're going to "tell you" a lot about how they want to be cut and trimmed.  Use your off hand to feel for the natural places where they want to be trimmed or broken. 

    Make sure you trim all silver-skin, gristle, and connective tissue from red meat.  A little fat for flavor is nice, but something tasteless, too tough to chew, and difficulty for a diner to cut out herself -- not so much.

    It helps to be very fast and confident with fish.  That's something else which can't be over-emphasized.  Slow, little, hesitant cuts make for ragged surfaces.  No thank you. 

    Not all fish cut alike, knowing the particular species makes a lot of difference -- it comes with practice.

    Always keep your knife straight in the cut, without letting it twist, wander, or cut on a bias. 

    Don't "saw" your blade back and forth when you're steaking, chopping or otherwise portioning.  Keep your portion sizes very consistent.  Consistent portion sizes will help on the grill too.

    If you're doing most of the protein prep, your chef's knife isn't a good choice.  Get the right knives.  They don't have to be expensive.  Forschners are not only plenty good enough. but "gold standard" for meat work.  A blade which is a bit too long is better than a bit too short -- at least for me.

    No on, off and back on again -- at least for the restaurant you describe. Yes to leaving enough time to rest proteins.  A big fat NO to pre-cooking.  It may be okay for catering outdoor steak dinners and other volume situations; but it is anathema for fine dining.  

    The semi-exception to no on and off:  Anything too thick to cook quick relatively quickly should be marked on the grill and finished in the oven.

    Touch, touch, touch.  Sharp, sharp, sharp.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
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  8. shootoo

    shootoo

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    Your friend was kind of right about doing it without really doing anything

    Once you learn your grill well enough(hotspots, searing spots, where your med-well/well's will sit, ect) you can get to the point where you'll rarely ever have to touch the meat before you know it's done, just timing and knowing how hot where on your grill is going to be

    As for breaking down primals, easy easy. Strips, ribeyes, sirloins, t-bones and porterhouses, easy easy, just cut/saw and trim for the most part

    Filets can be difficult depending on how you get your loin. PSMO can be difficult because there's a lot of stuff to get off before you have a clean, portionable filet. They come without all of the silverskin and fat it's easy
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

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    As BDL says  aquaint yourself with touch"" "Let your fingers do the walking""
     
  10. djoko verona

    djoko verona

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    Cook the meat 60% and rest a side and wait until waiter fire the meal.. And just finish it .. That is the most simple way to do it... And try to judge by touch which point of donenes is the meat..
     
  11. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Yes the broiler is a living breathing entity so get to know yours well. Touch is the only way to go and it is developed through attention and time spent on the station. Great advice on the undertemp cooking except for the well done and charred rares and expect to get the returns with the waitstaff telling you this was not cooked to the proper temp and having to add more fire as a lot of customers do not know how to order meat and dont take it personal as it has happened to us all!

    Also as well as touch after you have cooked a few thousand pieces of meat you can pretty much tell by just looking at it and know where it is. As far as meat fabrication the advice given here is golden( sharp knife and learn how to sharpen ). Now go cook some meat and make the people happy/img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif
     
  12. monkeee butte

    monkeee butte

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    time on, time in , time under the grill is the only way to know what you don't know.  when you don't know peek with a paring knife or pray that the unemployment rate is south of 10%.
     
  13. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    I'm surprised even two Chefs have said to cook the meat xx% done, then pick it up and finish when it's time.. that's horrible advice IMO, and no way to learn the correct way to work a grill station, or any station for that matter.
     
  14. chefross

    chefross

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    And so I suppose at your place, you make the customer wait for the kitchen to cook the proteins when the server comes in to tell you to fire such and such a table?  Now THAT'S horrible advice.

    Many places mark the steaks and cook them a little way, then allow them to sit off to the side until it's time to fire.
     
  15. chefedb

    chefedb

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    When your pumping out 600 a night thats the only way you don't get fouled up.(50% done) Most places start on the grill then put on sizzler and pull off keep warm then when pick up order or fire is called put back
     
  16. garrettjames

    garrettjames

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    Thanks guys, today's my first day.  I plan to stay confident, calm and collected; take your guys' advice and turn it into competence.  With your insight I've got a good direction and some good questions to ask the other chefs.  I'll keep ya posted on the good, bad and the ugly and holler if I have any other more specific questions.  Feel free to keep the conversation going.
     
  17. grillbeast

    grillbeast

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    Since the OP said the new restaurant is one of the best in his area I can almost guarantee that the chef or sous will be running expo. A good expo will know when to fire everything to keep ticket times low. I would never want to rely on a server who is just as busy as me to tell me when to fire things during a rush.

    Know your product and your equipment and have perfect mise. Other than that if you know how to cook on a line you can figure it out.
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Not only that what if erver gets busy and forgets to tell you Fire it?  then comes in 6 minutes later and says I forgot to tell you amd expo, so  I need that on the fly?? Your covered if its 50% done .
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  19. grillbeast

    grillbeast

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    You must not know what its like to work on a solid line. Someone is reading tickets and calling fires. Long pickups are fired right away, shorter ones are fired later. Sandbagging proteins (cooking ahead) and resting them only half done causes most of the juices to run out leaving them dry.
     
  20. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Not in a lot of places here in Florida