Start Up: Staffing the Kitchen Crew

Yesterday we looked into the complexities of staffing the front of house crew. Today we’re holding a magnifying glass up to the back of house (BOH) – specifically the kitchen. The kitchen is filled with several essential positions, including some unsung heroes that are critical to the restaurant running smoothly. Here’s a look at the ins and outs of staffing the kitchen, courtesy of One Fat Frog Restaurant Equipment…

DISHWASHER: Try to imagine what a restaurant would be like without a dishwasher. A case of paper plates wouldn’t last a week! This is a physically demanding job, with lots of repetitive motion. It’s almost like an assembly line. And anyone who’s ever worked as a dishwasher will say, it seems like the dirty dishes never stop piling up.

For this position you need to find someone who can physically perform these tasks. Employees tend to not enjoy it, so it’s important to motivate them. Dishwashers commonly get promoted fast, so that’s one way to sell the job.

When hiring a dishwasher look at the applicant’s work history. If they don’t have one and this is their first job, that’s fine. But if they’ve had six job in the past three months, well that should go without saying.

PREP COOK: All cooking in the kitchen begins here, with the prep cook. While the prep cooks handle every meal that goes out to the customers, the chefs get all the credit. Sheesh. Prep cooks spend their days chopping lettuce, making dough, mixing sauces, cutting steaks, etc. Essentially what they do is prepare the kitchen for the upcoming shift. In most cases, what a prep cook starts, a line cook or chef finishes.

Prep cooks never to have a strong understanding of the storerooms, coolers, freezers, walk-ins, etc. so they know where to find all of the ingredients they’ll need. They also need to understand how all of the restaurant equipment works.

When hiring for a prep cook, look for applicants who are highly organized, can follow a recipe, and take criticism well.

LINE COOK & EXPEDITER: Line cooks are assigned to different stations of the kitchen. The “line” in the kitchen is made up of different stations dedicated to the various preparation methods.

Commonly, line cooks will have a background in the kitchen world. Oftentimes, line cooks start out doing prep work and make their way up the line. Managers usually start line cooks off on the cold line, like pastry, and then as they hone their skills they gradually make their way up to the more complex hot line stuff. Cross-training line cooks is important. In times of need, one line cook should be able to handle the various station without breaking a sweat.

An “expediter” is the caboose – the person at the end of the line who gets all of the line cooks working on an order.

SOUS-CHEF: The sous-chef is usually in charge when the executive chef is absent. He’s basically the executive chef in training. Sous-chefs learn ordering, inventory management, food costing, and all of the other administrative duties that go along with knowing how to run a successful kitchen. The sous-chef also will learn how to reflect the executive chef’s creativity and cooking philosophy.

KITCHEN MANAGER: This is the boss of all mentioned before. Kitchen managers understand all of the ins and outs of the kitchen and know what it takes to keep it running smoothly. They also know all of the standards and can follow production manuals like nobody’s business. They’re in charge of teaching the staff the basics and maintaining consistency. The kitchen manager must be production-focused and efficient. They also deserve a great parking spot.

One Fat Frog Restaurant Equipment

One Fat Frog • 11473 S. Orange Blossom Trail • Orlando, FL • 407-480-3409
One Fat Frog • 1137 W. Airport Blvd. • Sanford, FL • 407-936-2733

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