Hello all, i've been in the food service industry for about 5 years now (since i was 14) now im almost 20 and landing my first job as a line cook. Im starting at the Fry/appetizer station and was wondering if there are any tips the proffesionals can give me as far as line cooking goes? ie; terms i should know, short cuts, general knowledge shiz. I've been a garde-manager at a buffet and have been in the prep kitchen of my restaurant for a year now, but am completely unknowledage as far as the line goes and any advice would be great thanks :)
New to line cooking
- Check the fryer temp when you arrive before shift, use a proper thermometer not the dial on the front. Confirm this temp with the Chef.
- Have or find in the restaurant a fine mesh strainer with a decently long handle, use it to keep the oil clean during your shift.
- Have your prep done early and properly.
- Have a spare Dry-Towel handy to quickly wipe off any oil that should get you, I used to keep it on my belt (never use it for anything else).
- If you burn yourself a bit, remember to cool the burn off as fast as you can, a calm walk to the walk-in freezer where you can press it against some steel will help if you can't get to some ice water. (don't be a baby though)
- Have some burn gel with you, the kind in a small ketchup package format that kills pain (use it if you have to but discretely)
- If appropriate setup a plate / sheet pan with a bunch of paper towels layed out on it and dab any excess oil off food as you remove it from the fryer.
- Everytime you have a lull wipe down your station and check your stock levels, the wiping down will make clean up at the end of night faster.
- Go thru in your head what you will do if you drop something beneath the basket? Can you rescue it and how? Is it worth a rescue or just a re-fire? How can you Re-Fire it faster ie. a quick defrost in the microwave first and then into the oil. etc.
- Never use any tongs or utensils that have plastic on them, you will eventually drop them into the fryer. All steel ones will not harm anything but your ego if they sit there all night. Ones with plastic will eventually melt and you have to remove and change oil and people on the line will want to harm you.
- Think about what foods you can cook with each other at the same time, ie. all your baskets have one order in them and you now get 3 more orders ... what can you combine in the baskets in order to let you get started on the new items faster. What is easiest to separate with a set of tongs, what has to be pulled at a precise time (don't mix this one) what can sit for a fairly long time in the oil with no harm (ie. chicken wings).
- If it's going to be especially crazy find a few extra pans or buckets and pre-count your most used items. ie. chix wings into dzns, cheese sticks into 6's etc. saving a half minute here and there will help you out tremendously over the course of the service.
- Ask the Chef / Lead or Last fry guy for any pointers or things to look out for before your shift.
MichaelGA hit the nail right on the head. Very sound advice!! My advice would be to keep your ears open and ask questions. Having your station properly prepped is key. Ask the chef to look over your station to verify that you've got proper pars and that you haven't missed anything. Nothing worse than realizing you forgot something in the middle of your rush!!! Yikes! Proper preparation is the key. Also, don't expect to be perfect. You WILL make mistakes. How you react to them and how quickly you recover will speak volumes to those around you. Nothing worse than someone who makes a mistake or two and lets it ruin the rest of their shift. As you learn from those mistakes and master your station, you'll gain the respect of the other guys on the line. That my friend is half the battle. And know that every protein requires different frying times. Never cook an item until it done. Always allow for carryover cooking. After pulling an item from the fryer, (any heat really), it continues to cook for some time. The goal is to time it so that the item is perfectly cooked by the time it reaches the table. Nothing worse than overcooked shrimp, scallops, fish, etc.....I could go on. Hope this helps...Don't hesitate to ask more questions....That's what we're here for....Good luck........................
Thanks for the sound advice guys, it was a decent day.. the head fry guy i was with taught me lots and as you said, as long as i didn't get frustrated and fixed my mistakes on the fly it was a good day... I appreciate the help :)
^ oh and arugula that is awesome... not for your buddy, but i will definetly not be dropping lighters in there!