“Is your team there to support you or are you there to support your team?”

This was the topic of conversation the other day between myself and a corporate VP. There are times when the work is mostly driven by the Chef and the staff is just there for support, but this tends to work only in small venues. Our conversation started with a comment about how well I take care of my guests, to which I replied that I don’t do much for the guests at all because my job was to take care of my staff. I then explained how it was my staff’s job to take care of our guests. My job focus, I went on to explain, is to make sure my staff are trained, equipped and part of a team, but most importantly I make sure my team knows that they have the power to do what is necessary to take care of our guests. Happy guests is how their job performance is based, mine is based on how well my staff performs their jobs.

I know, I know, not exactly a new approach to management. You can pick up dozens of books and find references to empowering your employees, becoming a force multiplier and of course being a one minute manager. What I want to know is, if this is such “common knowledge”, then why do so few managers do it?

I have my suspicions, fear, power, glory, control….but what I think it really comes down to is that people don’t know how. This has always been the hardest lesson for me to teach new Sous Chefs. They want to run around and try to do everything themselves. You can run a station on the line that way, but you can not run a team of cooks and still do everything yourself.

So what then do I do? I am first and foremost the Planner and secondly the Overflow. You will notice that both of my main duties are supporting roles. First, I plan. This means menus, schedules, duties, ordering supplies, managing the budget and setting targets for my staff to shoot at. This is the most important aspect of my day. If I take care of this, then my staff is free to take care of their jobs. Second, I am the overflow, someone calls in sick, someone falls behind, someone doesn’t know how to do something or someone is just doing it wrong, that’s were I jump in and help. How do I know when these things are happening? Because I am there! I’m not running around trying to do it all and I’m not busy being stressed out trying to hit budgets by shooting from the hip.

What does this all mean? If you manage your kitchen by supporting your staff in their jobs, you can not only accomplish much more, but you can actually try to have a life outside the kitchen. If your staff needs you to do everything, you can’t leave.

Views: 1


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Bill Baumgartner on November 2, 2009 at 5:47pm

Very clever title, "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!," for your post.

I've seen too many managers, BOH, FOH, or GM's, caught up in all the activities of the business; thus losing their focus on running the operation.
Comment by Steve Paterson on November 1, 2009 at 9:58am
Much akin to a rock band or orchestra.

The singer can't play drums, the drummer can't sing.

Using the singer as a manager, the analogy is that while he might be able to sing, play drums, guitar, keyboards and bass, he cannot do all at the same time and in tune.

The band is nothing except the sum of its parts...as is any well run operation.
Comment by Chef Len Elias CEC on November 1, 2009 at 5:43am
I enjoyed both your blogs and look forward to more of your ideas and thoughts. We need more chefs on this site. To many people think they know what its like to run a kitchen, but have no idea. There are a lot of so called experts that throw around kitchen management concepts and theories without the proper experience.




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Report: Consumers want more protein, need more education

A majority of U.S.  -More

California Walnut Beet Carpaccio Flatbread
Jump start their appetites with this fabulous flatbread appetizer topped with beets, goat cheese, arugula and California Walnuts. For this and more great recipes, visit http://www.walnuts.org/food-professionals/trending-recipes/.

Vegetables take over dessert menus

Top pastry chefs in the U.S.  -More

Rising takeout demand drives new Mama Fu's footprint

Austin, Texas-based Mama Fu's Asian House debuted a smaller footprint unit focused on feeding a growing demand for takeout an -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.

Arby's Announces Development Deals With New And Existing Franchisees

ARG recently sold 14 company-operated restaurants in Tampa, FL to Mosaic Investments, Inc. (Mosaic), a fully integrated investment firm based in Atlanta. In addition to remodeling existing locations slated to commence at the end of 2014, Mosaic has committed to build 13 new Arby's restaurants in the Tampa area over the next nine years.

Smoothie King Appoints Vice President Of Business Development To Drive Brand's Expansion Across The U.S.

Prior to joining Smoothie King, Bruno served as vice president of retail sales, operations and franchise development for Fannie May Fine Chocolates, a division of 1800Flowers.com, where he oversaw a $69.5 million retail division that included 100 corporate stores and 45 franchised stores.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" positioned 50,000 km from a telescope to enable imaging of planets about distant stars. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service