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Family Meal

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Who usually makes the “family meals” in your kitchens? And what do you guys normally make with the limited items (available for making family meal) and time? Are there certain people assigned to make it or does everybody take turns?

 

In our kitchen, we take turns making family meals. There are items that are ordered specifically for family meals (tortillas, various proteins, hamburger/hot dog buns, pasta noodles, etc). And we can use what we need with the vegetables, dairy, and such. When I first started making family meal, I asked the chef which items I can and cannot use for family meal, and he replied “you can use anything,”

“Oh so I can use the caviar?” I sarcastically replied to his “anything” answer.

 

“No,” he laughed. Well, he shouldn’t have told me “anything” then lol. Or I might have actually served the caviar and Filet Mignon.

There is one fellow who rarely makes family meal when it is his turn. I guess he is lazy and just doesn’t feel like it. He only makes it when he is told. I got really sick of starving every night when it was his turn to cook, so I just started making it for him. And soon, he (and others) was expecting me to make the family meal on the days he was scheduled to be making it. I did get this issue resolved, however. But still, there are more days we starve (when it’s his turn to cook) than days we are actually fed. It’s gotten better though.

I don’t expect family meal to be a glamorous affair. I’ll be happy with something simple and humble as a sandwich or a hot dog. But there are times when the other cooks will serve family meals that are not even edible,- overcooked pasta drowning in heavy cream (it’s like pasta cereal), overcooked and oversalted beef by itself, and once they served some diarrhea looking thing I don’t even know what it was. But it sure tasted like it looked..like shit.  I can understand them not wanting to make family meal sometimes. A lot of them work multiple jobs, they are tired, the night was busy and they were pressed on time..They wanted to make something super-quick so they’d have at least something to feed the staff. But it seems like most days, I leave starving (except the days I cook). I usually don’t like the yucky stuff other people make, so I just wait until I get home.

 

I actually pride myself in the family meals I make. I like to experiment with different dishes (with what is available). And coworkers actually enjoy and look forward to when it is my turn because they know they won’t be served crap. I am interested in hearing about the family meal situations in other kitchens.

post #2 of 15

Treat your staff well and they will tret you well.

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post #3 of 15

Cooks who can't be bothered to make family meal properly are probably the same cooks who try to cut corners when nobody is watching.  I think asking a new hire to cook family meal is actually a pretty good test of their skills/personalty

post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyst View Post

Cooks who can't be bothered to make family meal properly are probably the same cooks who try to cut corners when nobody is watching.  I think asking a new hire to cook family meal is actually a pretty good test of their skills/personalty

true stuff

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

Treat your staff well and they will tret you well.

 

false.

 

In my experience it's "treat your staff well and they'll complain that they're not being treated better".

post #6 of 15

I worked (bartender, but I was "family" too!) at a big fancy resort that took the family meal seriously.

Chef even had a little recipe book for those that couldn't make any dish not on the menu.

There was no excuse for an inedible mismash of odd ingredients.

A well fed staff is an honest staff (less walk-in grazing and oops this meat is over cooked, who wants it?)

 

mimi

post #7 of 15

You must work with primadonnas

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post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

We don't work a 9-5 job where taking an hour lunch is an option. We don't get to sit down, relax, be idle, or even have the time to go out to enjoy a lunch break. So while running around, working 12 hour shifts, we gotta be able to take at least ten minutes out of our time to be able to eat so we can function. So I think family meal is vital for our productivity. On days I don't eat, I feel like I am about to pass out, blood sugar all low, weak, and overall, miserable.

post #9 of 15

I agree 100% about family meal. I think good restaurants provide one for their staff...they don't have to be fancy, but something filling and tasty is minimum. 

 

You can tell a lot about a cook by the way he/she treats family meal. 

 

One place I used to work at, every cook contributed something to family meal. If we were doing tacos, for example, one person would do the meat, one person would make rice, one would make beans, one person would heat tortillas and make salsa, etc. Garde manger would make a salad, pastry would make dessert. 

 

It worked well because if someone had a heavy day they could take on something easier, and if someone had a lighter day they could take on more. This place had outstanding family meals, and we got to use a lot of the trim that otherwise might end up in the trash. 

post #10 of 15

I've seen it done at least 3 dozen different ways in about a dozen different countries.

 

First - family meal is done before service.

A lot of your staff may have just rushed over from the previous job and not had time to stop and eat.

Second a lot of your staff may just not have enough to eat period.

A full/satisfied staff is less likely to nibble on the job. (tasting is fine)

People faint from hunger or bonking preform less and make more mistakes.

 

Second - family meal should not be a chore or extra work.

Lots of places that like to 'rotate' this duty don't understand the above.

You want people who love to cook or love to eat - cooking you food.  

You don't want that line-guy/gal who only took the job because it's a half dollar more than washing dishes cooking your food. (honestly do you?)

However if that guy/gal washing dishes is passionate about food and cooking - then let them make family meal.  

It just might push those lazy-asses on the line into making it better or you'll replace them.

 

Thirdly - family meal has to be supervised.

Family mean has to nourish and be appreciated by those partaking.

If family meal becomes some kind of a joke or always terrible food then money is just being wasted, just stop it completely.

People tend to not take short-cuts when being watched, they tend to preform to their best when being observed.

Make sure the observer is approachable and kindly offers insights, advice and doesn't become an enforcer.

 

Family meal for me is Sous-Chef supervised and any one else who wants to step up and feed the Family!

If things go wrong then it's the Sous-Chef who has to fix it, culinary wise.

 

Also - Family Meal is the same for everyone... it's not a'la carte.   One meal - one family, including the owners / chef.   It lets us tell what cooks can do and who can't.

Also by having everyone on 'deck' for the family meal it allows the 'big-boss' a bit of time to pass information, like an informal staff meeting.  It also clearly shows the 'big-boss' who might be more than a tad bit late... if one of the seats is continually empty.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #11 of 15

Check out Come In, We're Closed for some family meal inspiration. The Spanish rice pudding from the Mugaritz section is pretty great.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow..Flipflopgirl, that sounds awesome. With a well-fed staff, there won't be a bunch of grumpy employees walking around (grumpy for other reasons perhaps, but not from hunger). Not long ago, the bakers made pizza dough and kept it in the freezer. And for two weeks, we had pizza everyday. I got to the point where if I were to see one more pizza, I would have wanted to puke. When we get Penne pasta in bulk, people will keep making Penne pasta night after night. Last month, we had a Couscous phase until we ran out. Couscous every single damn night.

 

The best family meal we ever had was Galbi (Korean BBQ made by yours truly). The staff raved about it for days. http://www.behgopa.com/2013/03/galbi-love.html

post #13 of 15
Never worked at a place with family meals in my life. Do you have to pay for these? Or are they comped by management?
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by arugula View Post

Never worked at a place with family meals in my life. Do you have to pay for these? Or are they comped by management?

Management pays - usually they are not optional, as you are on the clock.  

 

Provides a good way for staff foh and boh to get to know each other and also for management to get to know everyone and also a good informal way to pass on information.

 

Seems to be a dying thing though... hope it's just a down phase - my current place only does it on sundays after brunch service :(

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #15 of 15

My last place had a standard regular stuff part of the menu, a "what we are cooking up for a while" part and a "special of the day and maybe tomorrow" part.  On that second day, whatever was left over, if anything was left over, was the given staff meal of that day.  I've never called it "family meal".  I would ask "who wants to eat?, and make that many portions out of what we had.  Nobody ever went hungry, nobody ever complained, nothing was ever left over.  

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