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I have been told many times a fine dining kitchen is more "relaxed" than a corporate kitchen.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I called a fine dining greek seafood restaurant, and explained to them I am about to graduate culinary school. The chef told me to come in and hangout tomorrow night. I'm not sure what "hang" out means, but I am wondering if it is smooth working in a kitchen where the restaurant takes reservations? How do fine dining kitchens operate? Does the chef tell you what to make when? Instead of in corporate chains you get bombarded with orders on a screen? I worked at a TGI Fridays and Ocharleys in the past where it was non stop orders, and they wanted us to hav everything in the window that appeared on the screen in 5 minutes.

post #2 of 16

"hang" out probably means stage.  Show up dressed to work, bring your knives.  If he doesn't tell you to follow someone around, ask if you should.  Ask questions when appropriate, but not if someone is busy and concentrating.  Help out if you can but don't get in anybody's way.

 

My first jobs were in those fast paced turn-and-burn kitchens (although this was before computer screens were so common, we had printed tickets).  In my experience fine dining is indeed not as hectic and crazy, although that could be the case in some other restaurants.  Its still stressful, but not typically the mad dash to pump out 500 covers in a night.  Putting plates together will generally be a more involved process and take more time for each plate, but you'll typically have a lot less plates to serve and a lot less items coming from your station.  So while in an Applebees with a 100 item menu you might have 30 items that involve a particular station, whereas in a more upscale store you might have a 30 item menu with 10 items involving a station.  

 

(The numbers can vary greatly of course, but you can see the difference.  And by "involve" I mean that while the main item might come from a different station, another station might have to provide something too...e.g. the grill is responsible for a ribeye, but the veggies that go with it might be coming from saute.  Again, it varies from kitchen to kitchen.)

 

Usually you will have one person running the show, be it the chef, sous, or a head line cook.  This is sometimes called "running the wheel."  That person will call out the orders as they come in and are needed.  One big difference you'll see is that because almost every table has multiple courses, the order for some courses will come in well before it is actually needed.  So you'll here something like "Order in" or "Ordering" or "Somage" to indicate that the ticket has come in.  Then when the course is actually needed to serve you'll hear something like "Fire table 12" or "Plate table 12."  You might even get a call out when a course leaves the pass, such as "Table 12, 2nd course away."  The words and system used will vary of course;  some places will call out much more information than others.   But its a much more organized affair than trying to plate every order the second it comes in.   Also, you are typically expected to respond verbally when something is called out for your station..."yes, chef" "heard" "oui, chef" etc, so that the wheel knows you got the call out.

 

What this all means though, is that you will often be aware of items for a particular table and course well before they are needed to be plated.  So during this time you are able to start putting things together, so that when the "Fire" comes back for that item, you can get it together and in the pass.  The amount of time thats expected between "Fire" and when the item should be up will vary, but I'd think 2 to 4 minutes would be pretty common.  And this is where TIMING is so important, because every item for a particular course should be ready to go out at the same time...otherwise plates sit in the pass dying and clogging things up.  So you'll often have communication between the wheel and individual stations, or between the stations themselves, so that everyone can stay in the same time frame.

 

This will all be clearer once you get in there and see it in action.  So when you are "hanging out" pay attention to the way the orders come back and are called out, the responses given, etc.. and you can see the flow for the kitchen during service.

 

Another big difference too is that each station will generally have substantially more prep work involved than in the turn and burn places.  So the cooks will be in long before service actually starts, getting everything ready.  This can be a real eye-opener for those not used to it, when you come in and have 30 different prep items to maintain, as opposed to being able to roll in, put on an apron, and start slinging steaks and sandwiches.

 

So keep your eyes and ears open, soak up everything.  Pay attention to not just the food and how its made, but also the organization of the kitchen and the communication involved.

post #3 of 16

When Americans say corporate restaurants does that just mean the big chains like TGI then? I hear it on TV a fair bit and always assumed it meant contract catering in large office buildings and suchlike.

post #4 of 16

Today was my first day of working full time in a fine dining restaurant. I had worked there before, filling in when one the chef's had a day off.
The restaurant itself is a component of three kitchens in a  hotel, tourist zone.

wvman2374 already established most of the basic elements.
I'd just like to give some of my impression's and feelings working there.

There are three of us. No head chef per se, however Chef comes around every now and then. Great guy, taught me a lot and really takes the time to help you out, teach you something. You only have to show your passion and enjoy.

Two guy's on the main courses and me on the  entrée's  and the dessert's.

I have six entrée's and six dessert's.
The secret is in prep work. No real mistery. You have the time to prepare all of the items you will likely use one particular evening and then just have to enjoy completing the dish. Joining together all of your your work to create a whole of beauty.

 

As wvman pointed out, everything is much better organized and what i like a lot is the level of communication.
The conjunction of tasks involving diffesent sections is jsut amazing. Here, when i get an order, i don't have to even think, let alone worry whether i will have my scallops ready by the time i send out the amus boouche and plate the items from my section.

Everyone knows what he has to do and there's very little room for any surprises.
As far as my modest time in the kitchen is concerned working in fine dining has thus far been only, a relly enjoyable experience.

 

So wwebb37 care to share how did it go ?

post #5 of 16
Just finished in Barcelona at a two star Michelin place with 56 seats.
We were 7hired cooks and from 7 to 13 "stagers" working for free. Each station had two to four persons, and prepped, cooked and plated their own plates. If Meats don't have their mise, it's their problem. Fish will still go home for siesta.
Tickets go in to chef and from there it's all orders yelled out.

Alter Ego: Asuming u have the space, I would pre-plate as much as possible if I were you, but ofc wait with things which go bad rapidly.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokjel View Post

Just finished in Barcelona at a two star Michelin place with 56 seats.
We were 7hired cooks and from 7 to 13 "stagers" working for free. Each station had two to four persons, and prepped, cooked and plated their own plates. If Meats don't have their mise, it's their problem. Fish will still go home for siesta.
Tickets go in to chef and from there it's all orders yelled out.

Alter Ego: Asuming u have the space, I would pre-plate as much as possible if I were you, but ofc wait with things which go bad rapidly.


I will but for now i really don't have a need to. The season hasn't kicked up yet, had 6 people today.
Also most of the guests reserve their seats in advance, so we usually know the aproximate number of guests for each night.

post #7 of 16
Quote:
I will but for now i really don't have a need to. The season hasn't kicked up yet, had 6 people today.

Also most of the guests reserve their seats in advance, so we usually know the aproximate number of guests for each night.

I meant pre-plating as the orders come in.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wurzel View Post

When Americans say corporate restaurants does that just mean the big chains like TGI then? I hear it on TV a fair bit and always assumed it meant contract catering in large office buildings and suchlike.

Generally, yeah.  But it is a fairly imprecise term, as "corporate" could mean a restaurant ran by a large corporation like Olive Garden that has dozens to hundreds of branches, or it could mean a kitchen for an office building, or it could mean large hotel restaurants.   But yes, corporate restaurant would usually mean the Big Chains.

 

I usually use the term "turn and burn" for the big chain places, as its typically more "heating up" food than "cooking" food.  Items will be Portion Control, such as individually vacuum sealed steaks as opposed to primals or subs, soups/sauces-in-a-bag, frozen pre-cut french fries, etc..  So theres usually not a lot of prep, which is where most cooking is done anyways, so you'll come in when your shift starts and immediately jump right into service since everything is ready to go.

 

(Another term for that is "poop and scoop," but I like to use that one for banquet and limited menu service..ya know, the 250 head wedding receptions with choice of steak or chicken...pre marked steaks ready to go, poopin and scoopin ice cream scoops of mashers onto dozens of plates at a time, etc..)

post #9 of 16

That is definitely not the case. In some situations it is definitely not as chaotic, but relaxed is a term that I would never use.  When working in a fine dining restaurant you are almost never extremely comfortable which is the reason you thrive to do so well, which in return is the reason the restaurant is such a success.  The moment you start to relax is the moment your food starts to relax which is no good.  If your looking for a relaxed placed to work, go to TGIF or Applebees. 

post #10 of 16

Any kitchen, corporate, mom & pop, fine dining, whatever; worth it's salt will always have an underlying sense of urgency and a high workload. It is the nature of the beast. Whether the prevalent comportment is composed or chaotic depends largely upon the person in charge.

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post #11 of 16

Corporation restaurants these days CAN include fine dining as well.

Aramark, Marriott, Hyatt, all have sections for fine dining whether private VIP dining or regular customer based places .

 

Since the word "fine dining" is so ambiguous it can mean anything these days.

But from my experiences, fine dining is no more difficult, no less involved, and just as necessary for the line cook to pay attention to

as for corporate Mom and Pop and all other venues.

 

Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is that many of my peers consistently look down their noses at chains.

As I have said many times, these chains have corporate Chef's who work in research and development to create menu items that can be made by the cooks on the line.

Sure some of it comes pre-made and must be heated and worked on a bit, but, there in lies our problem.

The attitude of the cook on the line in a chain restaurant is as important as one in a fine dining restaurant.

Unfortunately so many of these cooks so dislike where they are, they get lazy, forget ingredients, are sloppy in the stations and the food looks like it.

If these line cooks took their jobs seriously, even regular places like Applebee's or Chili's or Olive Garden could excel. 

post #12 of 16

Off topic, but since you mentioned some chains , thought i should chip in and mention that red lobster may be at its end lolol. 

I also feel that a sense of urgency in a kitchen in general is necessary. You need to work fast, clean, be practical, organized, etc....

A restaurant can have a busy day any day of the week, always be on your toes. 


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 12/22/13 at 7:52am

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post
 

Off topic, but since you mentioned some chains , thought i should chip in and mention taht red lobster may be at its end lolol. 

I also feel that a sense of urgency in a kitchen in general is necessary. You need to work fast, clean, be practical, organized, etc....

A restaurant can have a busy day any day of the week, always be on your toes. 

I don't know about that. Darden Group...the owners of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc....is doing well and making big $$$$$.

At least according to industry periodicals.

post #14 of 16

http://firstwefeast.com/eat/darden-plans-to-sell-or-spin-off-red-lobster/

 

Read it online , dont know if it could happen xD. 

 

Probably best thought to stick to our scheduled programming on the thread lol. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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post #15 of 16

Yes I read that also, but again, their board hasn't yet decided what to do.

post #16 of 16

Looks like Darden has decided to close its Red Lobster restaurants.

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