By James Shores
Friday night. Date night. Your favorite restaurant is in high demand, and you had to book this date for that special someone over a month ago. This place has valet. This place has waiters in suits with foreign accents! Most of the menu can’t be read by the human tongue. This is a classy joint.
Now, go tour that kitchen, meet the kitchen brigade. Do they waste time in meetings to talk about upcoming meetings? No, they cook. Does the Sous-chef wait for the Saucier to deliver an action item update stapled to a TPS report? No, they cook. The Head Chef outlines a menu, the kitchen staff preps before customers arrive, and when it’s time to cook, they cook.
Imagine how a place like this would function if everyone was the Head Chef, each with an agenda, each trying to control the same kitchen. There couldn’t be a more frustrating scenario.
You and your business, you run a classy joint. But how many cooks are in that kitchen?
The Head Chief, the Chief of the Kitchen, is the leader, the planner, the sole person at the wheel. He or she needs the team, but the team requires direction. But before we go further, remember, too many cooks in the kitchen is not a good thing, but those “cooks” may not always be people.
Whatever you’re cooking up requires all of your ingredients, or else your product suffers, your services suffer, and customers notice. Are your stocks and inventories serving your needs, or are you catering to them?
- Do stockouts halt production?
- Are materials readily accessible and available?
- Do perishable goods get rotated properly to prevent waste?
Any good chef will tell you that food prep is a key to success, so set your kitchen in order before customers arrive.
No entrée receives a final garnish as the first step, and desert is not served before dinner (yes, you’re all grown up, but we can still have manners). Do your processes keep proper time with one another, or do bottlenecks dictate your harmony?
- Do you rely on slow, manual tracking for goods, materials, and shipping?
- Are there records of equipment production reports readily accessible?
- Does inventory reflect current work orders in real time?
A proper delivery requires appropriate timing. Is your kitchen running at full capacity?
The piéce de résistance. Your menu represents not only your offerings, but your capabilities, and people want to see it. You shouldn’t hide what sets you apart, nor should you shy away from the everyday. People want it all. But remember, your kitchen brigade needs to understand the menu more than anyone; after all, they’re charged with its execution.
- Do order projections line up with customer expectations?
- Is your staff informed and trained according to their specific station?
- If you have an unsatisfied customer, how do you handle their needs?
You created the menu; now you have to deliver on those promises.
Keep your kitchen in order. Have your stocks full and ready for use. Streamline your processes and consider the efficiency of automation. Know your menu, and then ensure that your kitchen staff knows it just as well. This is your kitchen; you are the Head Chef.