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Building up speed in a restaurant.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

First big restaurant job with little experience out of less than a year of vocational culinary school, I only learned basic grass roots of culinary arts, stocks sauces, knife cuts, soups.
I work the pantry line at an Italian restaurant,
its taking me 2 extra hours to finish when im supposed to be finished those 2 hours ago.

how do i go faster?
I never take breaks ever but im still not as fast
and i really like this job.
any tips on being faster??

post #2 of 18

It sounds like it's not only speed that you're having an issue with, but also efficiency.

Even somebody with less-than-stellar speed can make up some of that ground by being organized and having a game plan.  You should have a pretty solid list of what you have to do each day - the more you have to stop and think, the more it's going to slow you down.


How many separate trips to the walk-in or pantry are you making?  How many trips to get equipment/storage containers are you making?  Are you setting yourself up in an ergonomic way so you barely have to move your feet while at your cutting board?


Are you practicing the correct methods for cutting?  Are you doing it when you're home as well?

Ask the sous or exec chef to observe your methods and the way you're set up and ask for some feedback - it's in their best interest for you to improve, as well!


What/How did the person before you do it?

Is there work that you can do during slower times at night for the following day?  Even if it's setting up a recipe, or parts of a recipe for something you'll be making the next day.


Oh, and check your knives.  I haven't worked with a dull knife in years 'cuz dull knives ALWAYS slow you down.


Aside from that, keep on working on your knife skills at every opportunity and the speed will start to click.

post #3 of 18

One trick that helped me out, when I was first starting out on the line, was to write my prep list down and take it home with me. So that way I could spend 5 minutes the night before looking it over and getting my mind ready, and 5 minutes in the morning before I went in to get a refresher. That way you aren't constantly looking at your list to see what to do next, then checking it again to see if there is something you should do first.


ChefDave11 was right about having sharp knives and asking your sous to check out your prep time. Mine tore me a new one when he gave me the feedback, but it's better to get a bollocking than it is to be left behind.


Best of luck!!

:chef tux

"Mother Nature is the true artist, the Chef is merely the technician"



:chef tux

"Mother Nature is the true artist, the Chef is merely the technician"


post #4 of 18

Probably efficiency you just have to work on a bit.  When I did pantry I made 2 prep lists.  One for items to gather so I could do it in one trip, and the other for processes I needed to do for that day.  And if I had the time, written in order so I could knock out the things that create congestion later on (like the lowboy or fryer) since I was the first one in.  


Aside from that, if your station is cluttered, kiss productivity good bye.  I couldn't believe after just organizing all my items better, how much faster you really crank through your tasks.  Cutting board free of obstacles so you don't have to make awkward T-Rex style arm movements, a trash bin at the ready, etc.

post #5 of 18

it's all about efficiency of movement,don't waste your time in transit to the walk in or the store room; these other guys were right in telling you to use lists but you also need to prioritize what is on your list. if you can get the most time consuming job out the way first or start something the day before then you are way ahead. as for your list make sure you cross off every item when you finish it because it will have  a phycological benefit... always carry a sharpie or pen on you. if you are coming in early on your own time then they will be a little easier on you as long as you aren't getting in someone's way. and remember in every trade,not just cooking,there is the saying that " first you get good then you get fast"

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for this information.

I've been using a list lately with the the most time consuming task to the least time consuming and checking it off as a i go.

This job means a lot to me so I'm focusing more then even. I'm always happy when I'm on my station always w/smile and doing my best.


once again thank you all very kindly for your words of wisdom.


post #7 of 18

Another handy thing (if possible) is to have miniature stations on yours if you have the room. Let me explain, the last job I worked at was about 10 feet from the nearest trash can. Since I got tired of wasting time walking back and forth I just put a small 1/3 pan on my station and threw all my trash in that and emptied it when it got full. This definitely saves time. Some other things are putting all your knives in a fish box (or whatever) as opposed to leaving them in you knife roll, you spend time taking it out, unzipping it, grabbing your knife, then putting it away again. Think of things that you end up having to walk somewhere to go get every day, and try and put them on your station. For example every single day I had to use eggs in my prep, so instead of putting it on my list of things to grab from the walk-in I would just leave a half a dozen or so in my low boy.


Also take your organisation to the next level, put all ingredients for certain dishes are together. So your fish dish is all in one corner, your chicken dish is all in a line, however you want. But it helped me to organise like that because I found it to be more efficient. Hope it all helps, everything everyone on here is saying are definitely tips I wish I would have been told when I started out.


:chef tux

"Mother Nature is the true artist, the Chef is merely the technician"



:chef tux

"Mother Nature is the true artist, the Chef is merely the technician"


post #8 of 18

I think everyone has great coments I've done most of them myself, to master your station is like an actor to they're lines. You need to memorize them and create your station not just work in a ten square foot space. What I mean is make it yours if its easy to keep certain things in a particular area then keep it there, also challenge yourself every day faster and faster. I remember one restuarant I kept things in the same area always so didn't even have to look to get what I needed don't let other people change it, if works for you keep it. I would always start with the hardest task first or the most time consuming first. Try to do several things at once if you have a timer use it, don't stand around talking, it will distract you from your work. After all that, if you need help people will be more willing to help you if you have the harder less time consuming things all ready done. You will notice that it was never hard in the first place. Above all keep your station clean, tidy,and efficient and alway keep your standards highand you will shine as bright as you want to.


post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Today i finished my shift and prep with only 34 minutes past my clock out time. so my organized list has helped me a lot.

The only bad thing was since i was off for 3 days, 3 days no one prep-ed the pantry station at all. so i worked harder then ever to have it refileld & finished for the night person.



post #10 of 18

It sounds like since you were only 34 minutes over today with a huge amount to do, you're really close to being right on time on a normal day when you have continuity.  Way to go!  It'll only get easier - and then it'll be time to let the chef know that you're ready to take on a challenge.


Does the night person do no prep at all?

Are they THAT busy every minute of his shift that he has to spend all of his time just keeping up?


Did the person working your station/shift before you have a shared responsibility with the night guy, or is he...just being a dick?

No matter, because bottom line is that you are busting your ass and getting good - and the work ethic that you appear to have will serve you well in this industry.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

Chef Dave thank you very much!


its makes me wonder also because when i come in to my station i do morning prep and morning lunch shift and i ask who does night pantry and they just tell me that its who is ever comes over and reads the LCD screen and pushes out the orders as they walk back over to the saute station. its really confusing, I'm guessing that I'm the only person on Pantry that preps because i asked if the night pantry person ever preps and my other line cooks say no.


Its a lot of work and my chef yells at me at times and i fully understand hes pushing me only for me to get better and i thank him greatly for that.


I sometimes want to ask if the night person could refill some of the containers but i have a feeling that they wont.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 


post #13 of 18

if you only have an hour to prep the station for both shifts that's probably not reasonable. can you post a typical prep list along with number of seats and covers?

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

My usual daily prep list.


-- 12 Romain cut/washed/spin for Caesar salad

--  House salad 6 Romain/3 red cabbage/3 butter lettuce

--  16 artisan  sandwiches

--  24 pancetta crisp in the oven

--  Make 17 chocolate mini cakes

--  cut for my line/ carrots small dice & Julian/small dice tomatoes/beans/small dice provolone/ small dice pepperoni/artichokes/cheeses  

-- Prep 2 bags of squid for calamari and put in bags for line

-- Cut and bread chicken breast

-- Cut mozzarella and bread\

-- bake bread for croutons

-- make crispy onions

few other things here and there like having my tongs and ladles at service.


This my first real big restaurant job and i its what i want to do. i sometimes get overwhelmed with all that i have as my responsibility it seems. But i must over come it, i chose this industry because i have passion for making food and eating food, i love moving fast in a service executing everything i get throw at me.

post #15 of 18

Sounds like you have quite a few things to do in a short time.  This might help you, as it helped me, to use a timer.  I used the one on my phone since I don't have another kind, and it worked well since I can set multiple timers at once.  


So for that list, I'd do croutons, and anything else being baked etc first and set the appropriate timers.  Then you can crank out the knife work and multi task without worrying about forgetting and experiencing the joy and embarassment of smelling your items that are "done".  


Then I'd do the crispy onions so that all I have left to prep the station is knife work.  It feels a lot better slicing and dicing when you have the burden of cumbersome projects out of the way.  Of course, always make sure the fryer is clean after you're done, and you can even raise the temp to what you know the fry guy is going to use it at if you want to be nice.  I always asked to use someone else's speedrack (since I didn't have my own) to cool my things and found these little things really make everyone get along better.  And you never know, every once in a while if you slip or forget, and run panicked to the oven to salvage the things that have been in way too long, you'll find them already cooling on the speedrack.  If by some miracle you are done earlier than expected, prep your station for something the night guy will have to do.  Your station might be better prepped the next morning.  Being respectful and helpful always goes both ways.  

post #16 of 18

Are you able to stick around a night or two to see what's going on?

Not to stir trouble, but just so you know and have a better understanding.

Maybe there isn't enough work to have a guy solely on that station for dinner service - so the system that's in place is the correct one.


The facts are:

  • Cooks and chefs work hard - damn hard!  It's what we do.  And we love it.
  • With a couple more weeks of experience, and really absorbing the advice you seeked (sucked?) out (LOL), prepping your station will feel easy.
  • Never stop thinking and re-tooling how you do things.  Little tweaks and changes can make dramatic improvements in efficiency and ease.  And that covers everything from the way the station is set up and grouping of ingredients to sending tongs, ladles etc through the dishwasher and collecting them on the clean end so you don't have to go searching for them every day. (Become friendly with the d/w and he'll bring them to you.)  That may be easier to do when working both lunch and dinner, but see if it's feasible.  Watch what the guys with experience do and learn from them - and even more importantly distinguish what their bad habits are and do not follow.  Keep an open mind and learn from everybody - dishwashers to runners to the obvious.
  • When you've got everything on your end under control, don't hesitate to offer a hand anywhere else in the kitchen.  If you get slammed on appetizers, you know the grill and saute guys are gonna get it, too.  And then on to the dishwashers.  Just don't overextend yourself to the point where you'll be too far behind to catch up on your own responsibilities.



post #17 of 18

that is a pretty big list to do in an hour but it sounds like you are getting closer. there are some things you could bulk up on ..... do you need to do croutons everyday, can you do a larger batch..... if you slice the pancetta everyday could you slice enough for two days and do the crisps daily.... do you take out your chicken the day before....... do you find you have to do the same prep after lunch because you used everything during that service? chef dave is right about working a few nights and if you really love cooking then you might get way more experience and enjoyment out of being a night guy.

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Once again thank you two u both with this advice.

I'm definitely gonna see if i can do a big batch of things so i don't run over my time.

I have 2 convection ovens at my station and I'm thinking i could

-Cut salads

-make sandwich's


-make cake batter and fill ramekins pop

-make croutons

-slice pancetta

-crisp onions


put everything that needs to be made in the convection oven right as I'm 3 feet away cutting my other things for my line, checking the the food at times till they are finished.


Definitely gonna try and work/ observe at at a night service

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