A restaurant kitchen can never thrive, let alone survive, in the hands of one man. No matter how highly skilled and personable a chef is, like the captain of a massive ship, he will need an adept crew to help manage his ship. A restaurant kitchen is so demanding that it requires a team of people who don’t only know the jobs at hand, but more importantly are willing to learn and take on new jobs when needed.
That is why the kitchen staff is as important as the head chef, just as limbs and the organs are as important as the brain that commands their function.
Restaurant Staffing Tips
If you’re new to the business, or are currently unhappy with how your own kitchen is manned, this short but helpful guide on how to effectively staff your kitchen may help. Here is a rundown of the essential personnel you need in your restaurant kitchen and the qualities that you should be looking for:
This person is the overseer of the technical stuff; he makes sure that the procedures are followed, the utensils and machinery are used properly and maintained and whatever needs replacing is replaced promptly; they also oversee inventory of goods, produce, and machinery.
Ideal candidate: Experience in a commercial kitchen is preferable; attention to detail and organization are essential, as are people management skills.
This person is the right hand man of the executive chef. As second in command, the sous chef has to take over the kitchen in the absence of the chef, and likewise oversee the work of everyone else below his post.
Ideal candidate: Because he is taking on as the main subject of the head chef, he needs to have had the experience in the lower ranks in the kitchen so he knows the ins and outs of it, and should also possess knowledge and creativity in food, ingredients, presentation, etc as he is to assist the chef in everything.
Cooks – (a) Prep cook
Prep cook is an abbreviation for preparation cook. As the title implies, the prep cook is tasked to make all the preparations – slice the ingredients, wash the fresh produce, create the make-aheads like soups and dressings, cut-off fats from the meat, etc.
Ideal candidate: possesses all the necessary kitchen skills like cutting, slicing, and cooking, etc.
These cooks are assigned in different stations in the kitchen; some fry, others blanch, others do the plating, and take care of every other aspect of food preparation.
Ideal candidate: like the prep cook, the ideal line cook is one who knows all the basics in the kitchen. Most importantly, cooks – prep and line both – have to know how to follow orders.
Every great cook has, for once in their career, washed the restaurant’s dishes. The famed TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, for instance, frequently talks about how being a dishwasher inspired him to pursue a career as a chef. Dish washing is the bottom of the ranks from where every other skill necessary for the higher ranks is earned and learned.
Ideal candidate: this job requires someone who can stand the long, backbreaking hours of doing nothing but clearing every plate, spoon and knife used both in the dining area and the kitchen. Experience is hardly ever necessary; obedience and diligence are.