10 Kitchen Secrets your chef is hiding from you

The kitchen is unchartered territory for many bar and restaurant owners who are afraid to question the chef on matters that they are not too familiar with. Well. It’s time to get familiar, because your kitchen could be hemorrhaging money and if its your business, you’ll want to know how and why.

These ten points will help identify where some of your cash could be going:

1. When stock is ordered, it is normally stored by a cook or cleaner with no interest in the First In First Out system of storage and so piles everything on top of older stock, increasing spoilage and expensive unnecessary wastage.

2. The Chef keeps no record of what he has produced each day so has no way of referencing how much preparation he needs to do each day resulting in over production and thrown out food. A record of Production should be implemented that cross references number of orders with items produced with any other details relevant such as local special event that brought in business etc.

3. The Chef has no “Kitchen Bible” in place that should contain all his recipes, guidelines for production, induction for new cooks etc, meaning that when the Chef is off duty, all recipes are prepared by the cooks the way they want to prepare them resulting in inconsistencies and potential unhappy customers.

4. The Chef has not scheduled the staff correctly in the kitchen so nobody can leave the kitchen for a break because it’s too busy. Instead, the cooks eat and drink at their station, which is both unhygienic and impossible to monitor what they consume (steaks???)

5. The Chef has hired some part time cooks and has not allowed any time to train them on the menu and the procedures of the kitchen. This results in spoiled foods, over preparation and general chaos.

6. The part time worker hired to clean the pots and pans has very little English, so the Chef has not spent any time showing him how the machines work or what chemicals to use in what quantities. The result? Expensive cleaning chemicals overused and machines running with half loads wasting energy and water.

7. The Chef has not shown staff how to trim meats properly with the result that more meat is being thrown away than is necessary. Unskilled cooks afraid to show the chef their mistake hide the trimmings in black garbage bags in the kitchen never to be seen. Start by removing the black rubbish bags from the kitchen and replacing them with large fish box size containers for the waste that the chef has to inspect before it is allowed to be thrown away. And train the cooks how to use a knife.

8. The Chef allows staff to take home left over meals with the result that staff purposely over produce to ensure there are meals left over each night. Is your kitchen feeding staff families too?

9. The last Chef on duty (normally the dessert chef) is only worried about his section and hasn’t bothered to check that every other section is closed up correctly for the night with the result that many containers are left uncovered, fridges are left unlocked and ovens are left on. But at least his section is clean….

10. The Chef is too busy in the office with paperwork to worry about points 1-9 and this is costing you money. Lots of it. Its your kitchen, so don’t be afraid to step on toes if it’s costing you money.

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Tags: chef, kitchen, park, secrets, south


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Comment by Jeffrey J Kingman on October 31, 2009 at 5:13am
Chef Elias and the author both provide salient truths. It does start at the time with leadership - effective leadership... and positive attitude.

Unfortunately, so many BOH folk are removed from the face-to-face with guests, consequent organizationally isolated from the big picture. I too, have taken over and also consulted kitchens where these flaws were prevalent. I've also had good fortune to work with organizations where professionalism reigned.

Perhaps some of the negatives are societal: the usual litany of how we as society have raised our young, but perhaps also this: the move from "from scratch" to pre-made, has made us careless and unconnected with why we do what we do. Based on having worked across the US, I also think that some regions "get" having pride in work more than other regions.

Comment by Paul Paz on October 30, 2009 at 10:21pm
Hey Barry...
Good post for these cost concious times. Your list is a reminder to us all to not overlook the "basics". After my 30-years in my profesional restaurant craft... I still need those reminders not to take anything for granted. And I still don't know it all!

Comment by Barry Chandler on October 30, 2009 at 6:58pm
Thanks for your feedback guys. Not a fair representation of EVERY kitchen certainly, but having worked with more than 100 kitchen clients, these are realities I have come across and are certainly issues that owners need to know about it. If these issues are not present in your kitchens, then you're doing a great job!



Comment by James King on October 30, 2009 at 6:20pm
Chef Elias, I totally agree with your statement! Also if someone is not comfortable asking the chef questions, just maybe they should take a look in the mirror.
Comment by Chef Len Elias CEC on October 30, 2009 at 3:23pm
Not a very fair portrayal of the majority of kitchens I know. If this happening in your establishment or those that you are familar with all I can say is it starts at the top.




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