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When to NOT lend a hand...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Are there times when you shouldn't help out another linemate? There was one occassion some time ago when I kept looking over my shoulder to the other section (where I'd train the person a little while ago) and helped them with some small stuff while I had no orders and they had around five chits on their board, at which time I was told by the then-chef not to help and allow the person sort their own stuff out.

I certainly understand his rationale for that (people need to learn to walk on their own, etc.) and I've learned to step back a little to allow the new person to find their own way to do things more efficiently, faster, etc. while maintaining quality in the way the product goes out. I, however don't think I'll ever stop giving pointers on people I think aren't doing things quite "correctly" or in the way I believe the chef wants them, which I understand does rub people the wrong way (fortunately I normally only do this with people I actually have seniority over).

So I ask the chefs out there, when do you realize that you need to step back a little and NOT help out a cook? And if you do, do they get upset or resentful? And if not do they get moany and dependent?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #2 of 8
Some of the best lessons I learned in this business were done exactly that way where it was sink or swim time.But the important thing is who taught me and how they approached it...and each person is an individual,so that has to be taken into account.

In my late teens and early 20's,I would naturally get a little upset if I was corrected,but that's youth talking and immaturity.You think you know everything,and then you look back at 30 and you feel some shame :o But a few seasoned cooks and chefs would make me work on weaker points in simple ways that stuck with me.They weren't negative or nasty,but you knew by the tone of voice that you had best pay attention.

Say if I needed to speed up and get more done in a shorter time,I would be given a time limit.Since I respected these people and wanted to earn theirs,I'd really push to get it done.From that I learned how to prioritize.Every once in a while,they'd shout out the time that was left and that was all they needed to do.

Or when the chef would run expo and they would really ride me about ticket times...down to seconds.But I knew enough to understand it wasn't personal and the way to get them to stop was by improving.

And people need to learn how to be comfortable working a station alone.They have to do it sometime! If they aren't comfortable with 5 tickets,how are they going to deal with a busy night or lunch service with a lot more than 5 and it's just them?

Now,if you can see that this person is going down badly and the flop-sweat is all over their face,yeah..help them before they start to panic,but if they are doing good on the ticket times,let them learn and get into the mode where they get used to multi-tasking.

But if they get upset? They can go find work elsewhere if it's that much of an issue and you've tried every incentive to get them on the same page.It's the chef's kitchen and you do what they want...good or bad,right or wrong.

I disagree with my Exec from time to time,but it's HIS kitchen and his reputation and he's a wonderful guy,so a few differing opinions here and there don't affect my loyalty or performance.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #3 of 8
Just happened last week.....this is catering so different animal from working the line but still time is an issue.
We had 5 parties in 2 days plus a pig to breakdown and prep. I brought in seasoned friends to help with the breakdown and sausage making. Then hired my 19 year old niece who has a wonderful demeaner....pitches in, does not complain, asks if she doesn't know how to do something....great follow through. And a 55ish year old that had run her own catering business and hotel kitchen, had been cooking for 30 years....she had worked at a Swiss bakery in a major metro area with one of my favorite pastry chefs. Thus I figured she had more than basic skills.
Pate Sucre Chocolate Tarts were on a menu as were coconut pineapple ones....brownies for a lunch......
I pulled out ingredients/pans etc.....she didn't parchment the brownie pan, nor spray the non non stick tart pans....burned 4 different batches of shells with plugra butter.
Things I would have mentioned to niece but did not deem necessary for seasoned pro.
I asked her to do a cheese, cracker platter for 50.......4 aborted starts...30 minutes later after saying time was an issue, I jumped in and did the tray in under 5 minutes. ARRRRRGGGGGGG........
Now I realize that they were trying to do things my way. The cheese platter was just to see what her's would look like.
Finding competent help, that shows up, has great attitude, works hard (if slow) is what we all look for......
It's different working with unexperienced niece, I know to go slow/show by example and expect alot of questions. When to jump in with experienced help......takes more finesse.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #4 of 8
The way I have always handled my new hires was to show them around the entire place show them their job and how to do it and then step back and watch and give pointers... the first two or three days. After that point I would always come into the kitchen and make sure to engage them in conversation to find out how they are and if they have any questions then I would point out more things to them and leave them be to sort things out. I always tried to be friendly and give them pointers and tips and not badger.

even that way it was tough sometimes though. sigh the life of the kitchen :)
post #5 of 8

sometimes the helpful word is better than the hand

I hear ya blueicus , sometimes you've got to let the greenies find their way out of the nest, and sometimes you've got to give them a push. I also think that there is always room for improvement. I work w/ three other guys, the owner, and two younger guys, and we tend to talk a lot of smack, but the idea behind riding each other is expecting the best from ourselves and our team, and if you let us(your teammates) down its only because you let yourself down first. I hold these expectations for myself, and we hope that our teammates feel the same. If not, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
post #6 of 8
Reading this leaves me hope that there is still going to be plenty of good people to work with out there in the field.

I'm praying that I get this new job at Carrabba's so that I can move on to greener pastures from my current one. The one thing that I'm nervous about right now is keeping up with their volume, they're almost always slammed and I'll just have to suck it up and get used to working 1-2 stations alone for a chunk of the evenings. I'm hoping that I can step up to the plate, handle this, and show that I'm ready to move up the line (or would that be OVER the line onto a different station?).

We'll see how the second interview goes on tuesday and go from there.

Wish me luck! :)
post #7 of 8
Whooo! You want volume from ****? Go to Cheesecake Factory.A friend was a trainer and opened two locations,one in FL and one in Atl,and it was insane.Didn't matter if it was prep or being on the line;your butt was going to be handed to you.

A $150,000 lunch [not a typo!] was considered SLOW and no matter how good you were,at least once a shift a sous would have to come and help bail you out.

Good luck to you and yes,there are still a lot of us in the industry that really care about what we do..:smiles:
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #8 of 8
Step up and tow the line. You don't have to be overbearing, bossy,
or full of your self. Quietly do everything you can without affecting
the quality of what you are producing. Let other people watch how
easy it can be when you work and they will slowly start immitating
your way of working. The bottem line is, if you knowingly affect the
guest experience in a negative way, you are not being true to the
establishment or to yourself as a tradesman. Buck up and do the right thing.
You do have to follow the direction of your superiors, but, that doesn't
mean its right or that you can't quietly help others. Everything you do
must lead right back to the customer. Every action you make must be
for the benefit of the customer. You just have to be able to answer,
"I did it for the customer".
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