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Staff Meals...Love em, hate em?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Staff meals! I really dislike doing them.

It's not that I don't enjoy cooking for staff, its that I really don't like the added pressure and time constraints it places on me at prep time and I certainly do not enjoy the ungratefulness and rudeness of those staff I prepare meals for.

OK, just so I don't sound unfair I'll give you some background. I'm a cook in a restaurant of a hotel and therefore before service begins I am required, with a commis that is on, to prepare to staff meals at both lunch and dinner time. The staff meal costs are paid each month by the staff as part of an employemnt deal. Fair enough, so they are paying (not much mind you).

Yet there are days, especially peak season, when the prep list is huge and time is limited, that the staff meals aren't "up to scratch". maybe I only had time to prepare a pasta dish or wraps with different fillings but you'd swear some of these staff were expecting 3 course A'la carte dining. Seriously sometimes the attitude and comments I get are astoudingly rude and ungrateful.

I even have to prepare special side meals for those with dietary requirement ssuch as no starch, no wheat,, vegetarians. I don't mind doing this but even then I cop flak over the standard of meals they get. I try my best to provide the best meals I can with the limited time I have and the ingredients that I think they have paid for in their staff meal pricing, yet there are days when I just don't have the time. and now I'm losing my patience with their rudeness. Most of the staff are great , but it takes the few rude ones to really frustrate me.

So with my rant finished, tell me, do you guys do staff meals where you work, if so do you enjoy it or not?
post #2 of 22
We used to have a free food set up in the employee break room, in essence a staff meal.
3 hot items (protein, starch, veg.), 2 soups, plus a salad bar including a build-your-own sandwich station.
We didn't guarantee special dietary needs would be met, as this was provided at no cost to the employee, although it was touted as a benefit.
Like you, got complaints from the vocal minority.
The company eventually tired of trying to please everyone, and reduced it to a $6.00 voucher for the snack bar.
Still got complaints.
Then the company went to a 25% discount on select items from the snack bar.
Of course, the complaints still came.
The company is talking about eliminating any type of discount at all, as it doesn't seem to be appreciated.
People fail to realize that you are rarely, if ever, provided food in any other profession.

I feel for you.
You shouldn't have to tolerate rudeness.
But this has to be handled by management.
If they don't take action to see that every employee (meaning you) is treated with respect and diginty, then they are failing at their jobs.
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post #3 of 22
I have been in this business for over 5 decades ,In all these yeas you always get the ones who complain. Where I work part time now their meals are free and they still complain. Such is human nature. Believe it or not we onetime had a function for Filet Mignon, the meat was blanched and guess what whey canceled 1 hour before function. I gave filets to the staff and some complained. Go figure? Yet it was funny the supposed vegetarians even ate the steak. I guess that was a FREE non vegy. day?????????:chef:
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post #4 of 22
You take some cardboard, you cut it into the shape of a cutlet, you use a meat tenderizer on it, season it liberally, breadcrumb and fry it then serve it up to the peasants with a nice mushroom demi, they'll never complain about staff food again... trust me

-Taken from the "Kitchen Pranks" thread.

Apparently a towel breaded and fried also does the trick.
post #5 of 22
That would be good finished off with a used espresso puck topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #6 of 22
Most of them would'nt know the difference , THEIR STONED HALF THE TIME :)
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post #7 of 22
Sure staff meal is a pain but nothing sets the mood for a busy night better than a meal that says I care about the food I serve. If the servers or staff think you are putting effort into it and not using it as a garbage tool you will get less complaints. Also if you know you will be making it you should be thinking about like the rest of your work and plan accordingly.. Here where I am, the chef looks at staff meal and partly uses it as an evaluation tool to see who will be advancing up the line.

There are always complainers here they have the option of eating free staff meal or bringing in their own food.
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post #8 of 22
My resort actually has a break room that resembles a small cafeteria. If you were to call the phone down there it would be answered "Woody's Diner this is _____." The food there is almost entirely banquet leftovers from the day of or night before plus fresh salad and bakery items. Some of the stuff is I'm sure is gruel but somethings such as leftover cake is quite nice. The price tag on a staff meal is $2. However, anyone who works in or around the kitchen isn't likely to pay for food.
post #9 of 22
One place i worked, Staff only got what was left at end of service...Fair enough, we made sure there was plenty and it was in good condition when they got it, but after months of wingeing, it was decided they would get soup and their own fridge, stocked with all they needed to make a sandwich to go with their wholesome soup. This was enthusiastically accepted.
Within the first week, all the cheese, cold meat and chutneys had been stolen and continued to be stolen within a day of being stocked.
The boss then decided they could bring their own food in. They'd still get a bowl of soup if there's enough, but its first come first serve for leftovers. No extra is made.

The screwy part is, that so many then brought in pot noodles, chips, or went out at mealtime for a greasy pie and were perfectly happy :crazy:
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #10 of 22
Whenever I do staff meals, I usually give the staff samples of our daily specials/features etc. I find that, while there are always complainers, this is a great way to get the servers to sell the feature.

A good and thoughtful staff meal can help front and back of house relations for the night. By showing the staff that we do care about them, they will be nicer to the kitchen.
post #11 of 22
Two things I have learned about staff meals over the years.
1) Staff will always eat free food.
2) Staff will almost always complain no matter what you give them.

:lol:
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post #12 of 22
I don't mind doing staff meals.. my only complaint about them is when they decide to order at 2:55pm (our close time is 3pm) when we're trying to clean down the kitchen. Since they have to pay for their meals most of them go for the cheapest ones and while it is a pain in the neck to have to cook something at that time, it's usually a grilled cheese or a crunchy crepe so it's not a huge deal.
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post #13 of 22
I did reply to this but I don't see my reply so I'll try again. (mods feel free to delete one of these as they're likely the same)

Staff meals don't bother me... they have to pay for anything they order from the kitchen and most of them choose the ones that are at 50% off menu price and they're the easiest to make.. mostly grilled cheeses and crunchy crepes or baked beans.
I do have a problem with them though when at the end of the day we're running around like chickens with our heads cut off closing down the kitchen and they put their orders in at once and we have to drop what we're doing to prep their meals. They're doing it less and less now than they were when we first opened but it still does happen and it's a pain in the rear end.
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post #14 of 22

ugh staff meal..

This is why i hired a staff meal attendant... his entire job is the set up and break down of our staff meal room. (we have almost 600 employees)
He loves his job, and it makes it harder for the pissy employees to complain about the food if doug (our attendant) is standing right there. But believe me they still complain about everything.
So abouty 2 months ago i took out all the hot food and put in a cold sandwich bar, with a different soup every day.
That got them good, they will not complain about anything anymore...lol
post #15 of 22

I don't mind 'em

I prepare a staff breakfast every Sunday. I come in early to start going through dry storage, coolers and freezers to start my order. While I'm here I make a big family style breakfast for the employees. Most show up before their shift to eat then clock in and get to work. It shows the staff that I care about them and gives me a chance to "connect" with them in a non-boss type enviornment.
This is the only free staff meal that we do. Everything else is rang in off of the employee menu at 50% off.
Now, just because it works here, that doesn't mean it works everywhere. I'm just lucky enough to have a great FOH and BOH staff (with a few exceptions).
Hope this helps
post #16 of 22
LOL Dusty.. what a way to get them good! Our place much smaller than yours.. I'd say in total we have 50 employees if that and the chain offers discounts of meals.. no freebies, so most people take what's comped at 50%. I can't eat alot of what we serve (egg allergy) so most of the time I bring my food from home and gobble it when I can over my shift. If I do buy meals I make them myself and I will prep them on the meat grill so I know there are no traces of egg on there.
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post #17 of 22
That sounds really nice! When I cooked at the cafe we made our own meals... even the servers unless they wanted something off the menu and in that case I did it for them.

How big is your place?
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post #18 of 22
Staff meals are generally a pain. As per human nature, you get constant complaints, even though the food is free. No matter what you serve, 1/4 of 'em ***** that they want something else.
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #19 of 22
It is really nice, gives us the chance to see the human side of one another. Our place is pretty large, seat about 260 inside, plus another 100 on the outside deck.

It helps that on Sunday we push opening back to noon instead of the normal 11:00

As far as complaints go, it's pretty rare that it happens with staff meals. Most are gracious enough to understand why we do this. And those that don't usually don't last long anyway, so the problems usually take care of themselves.
post #20 of 22
Wow... your place is pretty large.. I think ours is maybe half of that inside and we don't have a patio.

We just opened at the beginning of June and in July one of the owners offered to host a bbq at his home when he found out that we staff were planning a social. It was really nice and everyone had a good time. Two of the guys from the kitchen are really into planning events so there are lots of chances for the staff to get together.

Meals are an added bonus and it amazes me the number of staff who don't appreciate them sometimes. I've worked at places where I've had to pay (at a discounted price) and other places where the meals have been free, and honestly there are not many jobs out there where your employer provides your meals or gives them to you at a reduced rate.
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post #21 of 22
I think it is unanimous! No matter what you cook for staff meal no way is every one going to be happy. I do have to say that even though we use to plan what we were going to have for staff meal at least one day ahead of time it can still cramp your day. Even worse is the vegetarians who aren't always there. But when they are all of a sudden a different dish has to be whipped up, and it is almost guaranteed that one of the other children are going to want one also.

Bottom line is you can't please everyone so don't stress yourself out trying. Just cook something that you don't mind eating yourself. At least that way you know one person will always be happy.
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post #22 of 22
We don't faithfully do a staff meal every night, depends really on if I have time or not. Today was really really slow, so I had more than enough time to put together some nice skirt steak fajitas together for everyone. Nothing extremely fancy or anything, but just really really good.

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