You work in a kitchen- congratulations. Odds are you’re with a team of friendly, hardworking people who pull their weight (mostly) so that you can all work as a cohesive team together. It’s hard work, but rewarding- you’re doing what you love. I’m here to tell you that you can always be doing more. Small changes to your everyday routine will allow you to get more out of your kitchen job.
Clean = Efficient
You may work in a high moving, fast paced kitchen or in a smaller, quitter outfit. There will, however, inevitably be a time when you’ll be asked to prepare an enormous amount of food in a small amount of time, putting on the pressure and forcing you to apply all the skills you’ve learnt. In moments like that, working cleanly will make all the difference. It shouldn’t take more than 20 seconds to move your dirty dishes, wipe down your area and cutting board, but it will make all the difference. Having a clean(er) station will allow you to work better, faster and with less stress, allowing you to stay organised.
Working in a professional kitchen means sharing that space with others who are also trying to rush out delicious, great looking meals. Hot pans, sharp knives and health codes- you need order in the chaos just to keep things running efficiently and smoothly. The easiest way to accomplish that is to work as neatly as possible, bearing in mind that you’re ina. Professional kitchen- don’t focus on reusing dishes and cutting boards (like you would in your home kitchen), as this will just end up wasting time. Start new and clean and make sure everything is in order.
Always be open to learning
Whether you’re at the bottom of the food chain or running your own kitchen, you can always learn. Never make the mistake of thinking that someone doesn’t have anything to teach you. Keep an open mind and an open discourse with your colleagues. If you don’t have an amazing memory (like most of the human population), carry a notebook with you to take down bits of wisdom as you get them.
Ask questions when you have them. Don’t bother trying to seem cool and in the know- if you have a question, ask it. Usually, chefs will be happy to teach what they know as long as you’re genuinely interested- after all, you’re all on the same team.
Chefs come from all walks of life, and you’ll meet a cacophony of people during your time in the kitchen. The one thing they all have in common is a great sense of pride in their work and all aspects of their job, from ingredient prep to maintenance of their tools. I’m sure you’ve met a chef or two who could go on about their knives for hours at a time. Take a page out of this book, and take pride in your work. Make sure all aspects are accounted for and that your tools are well cared for. Taking this extra step will ensure everything moves smoothly, from start to finish. Also, be known for what you do, and do it well. You’ll find this incredibly rewarding, especially given the long hours and nature of working in the kitchen.
Go the extra step (literally)
You know how sharks have to always keep moving? Take a page out of this book, and always be doing something while you’re in the kitchen. I’m sure standing about idly isn’t a massive feature of your job to begin with, but if you do have a quiet moment, make the most of that time (you’re going to be in the kitchen anyways), and make yourself useful. Learn something, help someone, and worst comes to worst remember that phrase all waitresses have heard 1000 times in their career; ‘if you can lean, you can clean’. You don’t want to be known as the guy who stands around, so work towards a different moniker instead- the guy who’s always doing something. Also, standing around is boring; you don’t become a chef for the money, you do it because you’re hard working, energetic and creative. So when you’re in a lull, make the most of your time in the kitchen.