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Gettin’ Along With The BOH

Temperamental Chefs & How They Work

Republicans vs. Democrats, Tree-huggers vs. Lumberjacks, Middle Easterners vs. Airport Security and Back of House vs. Front of House.  These are all well know “feuds” that, from the outside view, are stupid, childish and unnecessary.

I have worked at restaurants where the culture between the two houses is jovial, united and respectful.  I have also worked at restaurants where there is fear in asking questions about dishes, blame is handed out faster than food and everyone talks a lot of smack.  It feels way better to work in the first restaurant.

So, how do we get there?  How is an organic environment created that fosters respect?

I asked this question on a restaurant forum and I got a great response from many chefs.  Here is a condensed list of the  pointers that were given for servers; I have faith we can deliver.

  1. Talk to and through Expo.  Your Expediter is the liaison between you and and everyone on line.  Do not try to talk to anyone on line about your food, modifications, ticket times or for any other reason.  All issues should be taken up with Expo and they will communicate to their line.
  2. Run food.  The Chefs have taken the time to prep, create, make and serve the food; run it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s “your table” or not, it is someones food; hot, fresh and ready.  Any call for “runner” should be met with a sense of urgency.
  3. Don’t take anything personally.  The thicker the skin you have, the better.  Don’t take rude, mean or sharp comments to heart.  It may not be easy to do but what is said on-line in the middle of a rush should not be taken as a clear, well thought out and honest insult.
  4. Don’t talk about your tips.  Don’t brag, complain or speak about the tips you have made.  It is fine to talk to your server peers about your tips but that conversation should be kept private.  We all hate the customer who brags about money, right?  Don’t be “that guy”.
  5. Get off your cell phone.  While you are at work…you are at work.  There is nothing more annoying than seeing someone that you work with on the phone while you are actually working.
  6. Keep your fragrances at home.  A large part of any culinary experience is the aroma of the food, not your ax body spray or perfume.  Let the food shine.
  7. Make sure your order is correct before pressing the send button.  *The restaurant that I work at offers 3, 5 and 10 courses.  If I have an 8 top that orders 5 courses, that is 40 items that must be in correct order, with correct course lines and modifications. You can be sure that I double check that ticket.  If I can make sure 40 items are correct, you can too.*
  8. Have a solution.  If you must bring a plate back to Expo for any reason know why you are bringing it back.  The expediter is only interested in what they can do to  please the customer.  They are not interested in the whole long winded story that the customer gave to you.  You are to condense all of the information the customer gave you and give the kitchen neat and tidy instructions on what to do with that food item.  i.e. we need this to steak to medium, the potatoes are cold, she hates  peanuts, the eggs should be hard poached, this is too oily, she thought sweet breads were another name for cinnamon rolls, fire a calamari!
  9. Say Please.  Showcase the manners that you were taught by your parents to exhibit; respect and consideration.
  10. Say Thank You.   Showcase the manners that you were taught by your parents to exhibit; respect and consideration.
  11. Buy a round.  There are nights where you may make a lot of money.  One reason that you may have made that money is from the volume of guests that you have waited on.  If a night has been crazy busy for you then consider for a moment how intense of a shift that was for your kitchen team.  If you have some extra tips to spare, consider buying a round of drinks for the kitchen team.  Saying thanks in this way is a nice way to show your gratitude.

Do You Work In A Restaurant Where The FOH/BOH Get Along And Respect Each Other?

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  1. Awesome article! I’ve always said that if I’m ever in the position to do so, I’d cross train everyone in the restuarant. Or at least make the FOH hang out in the sweltering heat on the line for a shift as part of their training and make the BOH follow a server through a busy shift as part of theirs.

    • I absolutely agree and I hope that you soon become in the position to implement the cross-training. Cross training is detrimental in understanding your co-workers woes and highs and respecting the whole picture. Everyone “has it worse” when they don’t understand the other side. Thanks for the comment Tricia!

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