Saturday, March 20, 2010
The Ten Commandments in a Professional Kitchen
In restaurant kitchens, there are several undocumented and unspoken rules everyone must adhere to.
EACH COOK’s territory is taken very seriously. Beware while trespassing. Every inch is accounted for.
DO NOT use a fellow cook’s knives or other equipment without asking first. Don’t even touch them. In fact, even asking for it is often frowned upon; you should have your own.
SAY “BEHIND” every time you’re walking past or standing behind another cook. It will save you a lot of silly trouble. Trust me.
NEVER answer back to the Chef, no matter how incongruous his accusation. If the guest is the one who’s always right in the dining room, in the kitchen it’s the chef. The correct responses are “yes Chef”, “no Chef”, or “three bags full Chef”--mostly just the first two. Sometimes, there is no right response (“Are you really that stupid to have scorched that sauce?!”).
QUALITY trumps speed but there’s no excuse for not being set up on time.
TASTE everything. Bringing an over-seasoned dish to the pass can make you look really bad really quick.
IF you’re ‘in the shits’--‘in the weeds’ is a bastardized censored version--never be dumb enough not to ask for help. You’ll otherwise continue to sink and things will definitely get really ugly. A little humility will go a long way.
THE CHEF’s instructions should be followed verbatim—do not assume anything. You have to live by his rules, no matter how absurd. A good amount of your time and effort will be spent trying not to get yelled at.
NEVER be a No Call No Show unless you’ve been hospitalized or have been arrested and can’t get to a phone. Actually, you still get to make one phone call if you’re in jail, so that’s not an excuse. In fact, there aren’t too many acceptable excuses for not showing up to work even if you do call and inform the Chef about it. No matter how sick you are or how bad the weather is outside, you still need to come to work.
ALWAYS REMEMBER that in spite of all these rules, you begin every day with a clean slate. You are a cook. You’re not a scientist or in the military, though our profession does resemble or have close associations with them both. It is after all just food that you deal with. Treat every ingredient the same no matter how cheap or expensive. Learn to appreciate what you do. Understand that in order to grow, you need to constantly educate yourself both within the kitchen and outside. Oh, and make sure to have fun.