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post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I was wondering if anybody had any advice for increasing work speed. I'm not slow per say but not quite fast enough to advance to line.

post #2 of 16
6 areas are most beneficial

1. Focus. Learn not to fight for concentration. If you find your mind wandering, don't fight for concentration just push on with what you're doing. Let people's conversations, your own mistakes, etc., flow through you. If you can't talk and work, don't talk. When you make mistakes, don't dwell on them. Learn from your mistakes on your own time. Time spent fighting yourself is time spent not cooking. I can't tell you how much more efficient you become when you stop fighting for concentration and just flow.

2. Knife technique. Pinch and claw. Cut and retreat. Pinch and claw. Cut and retreat. If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask. Don't just let it go by. SHARP knives, dull is slow. Sharpen your knives before or after shifts whenever they need it. Don't put it off. Practice knife-technique perfection off the clock, be "good enough" on. Establish intuitive or easily visible size benchmarks such as the length of your thumb (2"); the width the back of the spine of your knife (julienne), the diameter of a handle rivet (batonet). If you're using an 8" knife, move up to 10" (assuming you can handle it) and coin three carrots at a time instead of two (or one). A longer knife gives you more sharp edge to work with. Keep your knives SHARP, dull is slow. Learn to steel correctly (which doesn't involve banging your knives against the steel, or diamond steels, or putting a towel on your board and steeling down, or a variety of other amateurish or hobbyist techniques), and steel several times per shift. Practice batonet and fine dice. Practice julienne and brunois. Practice breaking a chicken. I can still break a chicken cleanly in 90 seconds and bone out a thigh in 20 seconds and haven't been on the line in thirty years. That's not my brag, that's your target. SHARP knives.

3. Pan technique. Allow your pans to preheat properly. Toss turn EVERYTHING that can be toss turned. Practice with a 12" pan full of rice or beans until you can get the contents well in the air and catch them without dropping anything.

4. Prep. Mise, mise, mise and mise. Did I mention mise?

5. Organization. Keep your station organized and clean; and clean and organized. Mise. Use your towel. Get stuff back in the reefer or on the shelves, don't let your station load up. Mise.

6. Consistency. Don't repeat mistakes. Don't worry about successes, they'll take care of themselves.

7. Towel. Find a place to keep a towel on your person (in your belt, your apron, over your shoulder) and keep it with you ALWAYS. That way you won't spend time looking for your most frequently used tool.

8. Go to the bathroom every time you have a chance. Drink non-alcoholic. Don't smoke at work, even on break.

Good luck,
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Wow, Thanks for the the advice!
post #4 of 16

What he said..

I remember when i was young watching the sous chef give a demonstration of knife skills class and a beginning saute cooking class thinking that I would never master this guys' apparently super-human cooking skills. He reassured me that it was all in learning good method then tons of practice. He was right.

Good luck.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
post #5 of 16
Spot on BDL!!!
Now I have to see how long it takes me to break down a chicken--90 seconds, I'm impressed. Will set the timer and report back, hehe
thanks, those are things we all need to be reminded of,
post #6 of 16
The money miser knows that every penny counts, the speed ***** knows every second counts. The trick is to shave down the seconds and the minutes take care of themselves.

Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place. This just isn't ingredients, it's equipment, plates, towels, rubber spatulas, bowls, paper and ribbons for the printer, etc. If you don't have to go off trotting to get something, or spend time hunting for it, it's time in the bank.

Clean as you go. Cleaning takes time, if you can minimize this, you're faster, and more importantly, more organized. Little things count, like where you lay down a dirty spoon, spatula, robot-couple lid and blade. If you don't have to wipe down the counter, you're a few seconds ahead of the game.

Know the menu. Break it down into meat, veg, sauces, starches, garnishes. Also know the staff meals, specials, banqueting stuff. If you can combine certain tasks, you've shaved off time.

Be aware of what's around you. A good Chef automatically listens when a compressor kicks in--or doesn't, when a door slams, when a thermostat kicks in--or doesn't. "Radar" is no trick--listen to the sucking sound the cieling panels make when a door opens away from you that you can't see.

Co ordinate your movements. Kinda like ball room dancing--or hockey. Always plan out your moves at least 3 moves ahead. If you're going to the walk-in make sure you've got something to take with you when you go in, and make sure you take out something when you return. Same with the dishpit, make sure you're bringing something back too.

These principles apply on the line as well as off. Takes a bit of effort, but once you master them you'll move likle a ballerina
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #7 of 16
Great thread, I have the same problem. I'm not really slow but I work at a denny's where you're the only cook. I have to prep, stock, clean and cook..sometimes all at the same time. It's pretty demanding especially when it gets busy. The checks sometimes come out 5 and 6 at a time and I need to take care of it all. I want to be really really fast as well. I was wondering how I could get better at multitasking but it may very well just take practice.

I only started a month and a half ago
how long would you guys say it takes to get down what you're doing pretty well?
months, years?
just wondering
post #8 of 16
"Short order" is beautiful when it's done right. It's not easy, under the best of circumstances; and working by yourself when you're just starting out, makes it all the more difficult. Setting aside, the "still learning which end of the fork has the pointy things" aspect of your situation -- your particular situation may be one which no human being can ever truly master, because there's just so much to do, so little time to do it, and so few hands working at it.

Yes, your speed will go up significantly with practice. Besides grooving your moves and teaching you the shortest distance between any given two points you'll learn to not outsmart yourself. Big lesson.

After practice, I'd list organization and rhythm as the two most significant things you can work on.

One aspect that combines the two is to start prepping your mise as soon as you've got your whites on, and work at it as fast as you comfortably can from the get go. Almost everyone finds that if they start out hitting it really hard, they can start relaxing internally but their body will keep up that same internal rhythm. Hard to describe, but try it.

Don't worry about doing too much. If you have left over mise at the end of your shift -- good. The next guy can use it.

You've got my respect for handling your shift by yourself with so little experience. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done it. Denny's doesn't deserve you.

post #9 of 16
If you work alone then you'll learn to move alot faster then if you were in a kitchen with 3 or more.

You never stop learning how to move, or tricks on how to shave time. I was cooking for over 5 years until a d/w showed me how to use a cardboard box-top to scrape off bacon grease/crud from sheetpans and pots--it sure saves alot of time and water, I then applied the cardboard box-top trick to cleaning off the flat-top.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 16
One thing I tell cooks is when it gets real busy is you need to slow down. You need to use your head. Speed is about thinking not moving. As mentioned, mise en place. Or in English, BE SET UP! If you're looking around you're wasting time. A headless chickens in the rush is only in the way. Strive for no wasted motion however small it may seem. Flip two patties on your spatula instead of one, lay out all your bread for sandwiches and make them all at once. Things like that.

Here's an example. The grilled ham and cheese. The old man of America's favorite sandwich. I'm sure in Denny's you serve plenty of them. Lay your oil on the grill, your bread, your cheese, and then split up your portion of ham and lay it cold over both slices of cheese and not the grill. Go do something else. When the bread has browned flip it, with both pieces of bread at once, onto the ham side. Go do something else. Let the ham grill and melt the cheese. Flip one side back over and lift the other side onto the first. Move it to your cutting board. You've saved yourself 6 to 8 motions with the spatula, increased the melting time of the cheese, and you've saved space on your grill for other items. The more items you can cook at once the faster you are. You have to make it a game.

As for a line like Denny's you should be OK in a couple more months. You can learn a station in a few months. But to really have a sense of cooking it takes years, into decades. And even then you still have questions.
post #11 of 16
thank you guys so much for the responses.
Definitely will keep all this stuff in mind. One thing I've noticed about being an actual cook is that cooking is only like 1/4th of the job. :)
and I have noticed that making sure I'm prepped and stocked makes my job 100% easier.

I will continue to work at it.
I'm just a bit insecure and a big perfectionist so sometimes I do feel really inadequate but I suppose it takes practice just like anything else.
thanks again for the advice!
post #12 of 16
Amen to that brother! The more you learn, the more questions you have. Unfortunately, by the time you get good at the questions, someone else is serving cold-cuts after the funeral.

post #13 of 16
Its either a yes or a no way on this one but during prep time try to push for a radio. Music keeps people happy, good moods which in turn keeps up merale (sp) which then in turn keeps speed in the workers.

Also when ever I used to get SLAMMED on the line and stessed id sing to myself in my head which keept me moving, helped my mind stay clean and orginized and kept me out of the weeds.

And we all know once you press through the first few bushes into the weeds its all down hill from there and the rest of the night is catch up.

So anything to keep you out and far far away from the weeds is where you need you be on the line.

Use your head, if you need to take a deep breath with your eyes closed for a second (in nose out mouth) and keep faith in yourself keep telling yourself alright man ive got this lets do this, and i even congradulate myself or along the way say yes yes! keep it up! rocking out!

that sort of stuff.

"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
post #14 of 16

Ya it's the same for me... I'm getting my formal training as an Apprentice in a Bistro which is way ahead of me but I've always wanted to learn the fine dining stuff but it's ridiculous how much prep and speed you need to have in a fine dining place. Especially the ridiculously thin Chiffonades i have to do of italian parsely and i just learned how to cut that thin and i'm worried about doing it fast cuz i don't wanna screw up/cut myself. Think I might be faster bringing my own knives in tomorow because i'm used to them and I wont be paranoid, I'm thinking if I practice a lot of prep and even if i use a timer to time myself it should help too. But like buddy was saying my mind also wanders and it's a piss off, but i'm starting to see that sometimes with the whole speed game you have to cut corners for speed, but its gotta be done in such a way that the product is still coming out decent and would be something you would eat of course. It's just hard to think on the level of cutting corners for when you go to school they all say it's a huge no no to cut corners, but that's why I ain't in it... Going to finish my apprenticeship get my red seal and then i think i might go and finish my school just for the sake of it lol.

post #15 of 16
Originally Posted by yorvo View Post

One thing I tell cooks is when it gets real busy is you need to slow down. You need to use your head. Speed is about thinking not moving.


That's key right there. Work smarter. Mistakes and running out of mise during service are the biggest time killers. Keep your head clear and your station stocked.


Keep a pen on you at all times too...very helpful when you've got 10 tickets staring you in the face and more are printing up.

post #16 of 16

Like BDL said, be prepared & organized.


I'll add-be truly efficient. Don't waste motions. Always be using your motions for a purpose.

Don't move around just to move around. Have a mental, or hard copy, priority list always going. Whether that's

prep work or line orders. Always have your food going on in order so it's plated & leaving at exactly the same time.


I watch the kids come in, check the prep list, & start with the easiest thing instead of prioritizing.

I try to explain the efficiency concept but i may as well be talking to the stove. 

They're not career cooks/chefs so i do what i can with what i have.  


Monday i was solo, first thing i fired on two stocks & a soup, a curry in one oven & a roast in the other

oven & then moved onto cold mise. So there's 6 things being accomplished at once, & it's only 40 mins into my shift.





& as a side note, i'm pretty sure anyone would take me to school in the chicken breaking competition.;)


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