Okay guys, this is my first post, but I am pretty sure I have some pointers that will help. I work at a busy restaurant in downtown Portland OR. Our kichen is extremely fry heavy, which could be said about most, if not all restaurants. Here are some things that I do to help myself when getting slammed on a Saturday night, and sorry for the long post in advance.
1) Get your mise on!
Mise en place is extremely important, and can smooth out moments, so you aren't running across the kitchen for items, let alone, when, the #%$@ hits the fan. On a slow night, right down everything that you had to grab for your station, speaking of which, keep a notebook on you at all times. Anyways, write down alli the six pans, whisks, tongs and maybe even ingredients. Write it all down, and amounts too. Double and triple check the list, hell add to it if you forget. If you write it, then go "shopping" as I call it(gather all utensils and ingredients at one time), your start up time will be significantly reduced. Quicker start up equals more prep time.
2) Fold some towels
At the restaurant I work at, we have bags and bags filled with towels for various uses. I grab a bag and start folding when it's slow and inbetween tickets. I then stash them all on top of my rail, ready to yank down if I need something quick. Fryers are messy, better be safe than sorry. On top of that, I keep a towel, folded length wise into fourths on my shoulder. Albeit typical chef towel location, it serves well. It's close and it's right there ready to use.
3) Read the reservation list.
Of course this only works if you have one, but where I work, the list is kept on several computers in a app called open tables. Its pretty neat. I can see how many people at what time and any special things about the party. This allows me to see a ballpark estimate of how many pieces of bread I have to fire off at 6:30 when the fecal matter has hit the oscillator.
4) Clean as you go
This was pounded into my head during culinary school, but it's title is as simple as it sounds. Clean as you work. If you don't, you will have mountains of work by the time you are finished. If you are getting slammed, and I mean 14 tickets on the rail and servers yelling through the pass busy, take a second, do a quick clean of your station. Wipe crumbs off the counter, clean the baskets, etc. Nothing is worse than being slammed AND having such a dirty station that it is impossible to work at.
5) Mental mise en place
This takes practice, but I know how long it takes every single item that comes from my station, to the second. How long to prep, how long to cook, even how long it will take to run to the walk in , grab stuff and run back. Why? Because it makes everything that much easier. Onion rings at my station take 3 1/2 mins , and 3 mins on brand spankin new oil. (Yes the oils age determines how fast it cooks, how much it colors and even how much it hurts when you drench your arm in it)Depending on who blanched my fries, Casper the ghost white =1min, and half way cooked through = 30 seconds. If you want to truley understand a station, time how long it takes to do something. Guessing oh five mins will be okay or whatever it is, and it turns out it's done at four? Guess what? You just burned whatever it was. Okay, rings have one more min left in the oil, I have time to grab more prawns from the walk in, and some more gloves. That is why it's important. Also, give people times. How long till this? If you know it's going to be 39 seconds and 4 nanoseconds, tell them. They might figure out that they have enough time to go drop drinks st the table.
6) Open your ears
This is where time is your friend. Our kitchen is loud. It is next to impossible to hear when the grill cook calls for fries. Do you know what's worse than burning something? Them running down to your station and going "Where are my prawns I fired?" You didn't fire them because you didn't hear them. So listen. Listen to every word anyone calls. If the grill cook calls to the saute that ticket 57 is up in 3 mins, and you have fries on that ticket, put fries in the basket, and get ready to drop around the two min mark. Also, if you see them eyeballing you, becsuse those fries are taking to long, tell them how much more time you need. This is all about communication. You tell them, they tell the server and the server could do something in the meantime.
6.5) Echoing callouts
This ties into the last topic. If someone calls fries, yell back "firing one fry for ______" or something similar. You calling back is the echo. It's you saying that you understood the material they just gave you. In the kitchen I'm in, if there isn't an echo to a call, they didn't hear you. In a kitchen communication is vital, but if someone doesn't hear or understand you, because you weren't loud enough of whatever, it is your fault. Too many tines has a grill cook yelled, "Where are my rings?!?" When I heard nothing. Well, it's because they forgot to call it, and they are trying to blame me for it. If I don't scream back what you just told me, I didn't hear it. If the grill guy looks over and says, "oh @% I need some mushrooms!" In response, grab the container they are asking you to fill, and say mushrooms out loud so they can hear you understood. Communication works wonders people, trust me.
7)Pre closing and prep for the next day
When the night winds down, shut down and get rid of everything you probably won't need. No one, and I mean no one orders rings at 11:30pm at my restaurant. So I remove my batter and my floured rings. I would rather put them away, and have to Sprint to go grab them, than be 2 hours past closing and I'm still scrubbing my station. That sucks @$$. As cor prepping for your next shift, grab something's that you will need tomorrow, and place them in your station. This Will put them in reach and make things go a lot smoother.
(Dont worry, last one) Where I work is the hottest station in the building. Three Fryers, two 500°f ovens and two huge heat lamps. I grab my huge one gallon 7/11 drink carrier, fill it wihmth ice and water, and I'll be Damned if I dont down the entire thing by the end of the night. Hot stations and busy nights means you are going to be sweating, and you need to replace that water, or else you will just feel tired and groggy all the time.
That's pretty much it folks. Those are some pretty life saving tips in my book, and I'm sure it will help people get the hang of the station. And as for grammar and my engrish,forgive me, for I am writing this all on my phone. Anyways, Have fun fryin'