The first day on the job can be stressful, especially in the fast-paced world of restaurant work. Picture the scene: The POS system rapidly prints an order which is quickly sheared off by the expediter, who shouts out orders while placing the slip above the stainless steel work station. As soon as the expediter is done speaking, knives begin to chop, meat starts to sizzle and the whole kitchen roars to life. It's exciting, pulse-pounding and even a little overwhelming. For a new cook, the fast pace of a restaurant kitchen can seem like too much chaos to control. Yet it is the ability to convert that chaos into delicious, beautifully plated entrees that separates the truly good chefs from all the rest.
Whether you're just starting your career in a brand new set of whites, or you've been in the game a long time, there are always ways you can work on your speed and efficiency in the kitchen. Here are a few tips you can use to do so.
"Treat every plate as a learning experience."
1. Learn from your mistakes
This piece of advice is tried and true for a reason. Every new cook or chef is going to make some mistakes. In technical terms, you might make the wrong cuts or cook the food too long. From a managerial standpoint, you might not make your orders clear enough. These things happen. On the culinary blog Food 52, where real kitchen staff share their experiences, one chef said that, in a kitchen, there's no time for excuses. Treat every plate as a learning opportunity. If you make a mistake, ask for help. You'll do better the next time around, and you'll improve your skills in the process.
2. Dress properly
Bon Appetit magazine reported that one of the best things a new cook can do is to dress the part. Not only should you be dressed in your kitchen whites, you need to have a pair of comfortable shoes. Being on your feet all day can be exhausting, and the wrong pair of shoes will only make things worse. The right pair of shoes, however, can keep you going all day. It's also a good idea to wear slip-resistant shoes because you never know when grease, fat or something else that's slippery might spill on the floor of your workstation. When there's no time to clean up, safety shoes will keep you on your feet.
3. Get organized
They say a cluttered desk is the product of a cluttered mind – the same goes for a kitchen workstation. When you arrive at the start of your shift, make sure you have everything you'll need for the rest of the night. Your knives should be sharpened and everything should be sparkling and clean. Then, at the end of your shift, wash up as much as possible and get everything in order for the next day. Getting into a routine will make these habits stick.
4. Use your words
A busy kitchen is quite a sight to behold, and it's an even crazier experience when you're in the middle of it. As you move around the kitchen and your team members, you need to let them know where you are. If your chef is focused on his grill and you need to get behind him, give a shout as you do so, or you might get run over. This is the best way to avoid bumps, spills and other more serious accidents.