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Anyone Else Have a 2 Man Team Behind the Line?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

After working in larger restaurants and a couple fine dining places I'm finding myself working behind the line (as a sous) in a small casual place ($17-$24 entrees) with only two hot stations being grill and saute. We have a cold-line too but it's off on the opposite side of the kitchen so we really don't see garde manger often during service.

 

I have been there 6 months now but it still feels weird in such a small setup. We do have a good amount of room laterally (about 12 feet end to end) but it just feels barren. No expo, one printer, no-one at the pickup to garnish or monitor QC, just two people working the line together 6 nights a week. We have no other hot-line cooks. We do all the prep aside from lunch items.

 

It's good in some ways like we have an unspoken sense of each other, I know what hes thinking and he know what I'm thinking. I know how to pace things when one station gets hit hard without having to verbally communicate it. We speak surprisingly little to each other during service, we just know what needs to get done and help each other when it's needed. It also creates tension because we both know on bad days if someone is tired, sick or in a sh*t mood it's really going to affect the other person (they'll be helping out big time with plating, running back to the walk-in to get their mise, bailing the other guy out etc.). It's really a love-hate relationship day to day, If one is happy the other is happy, if one is not the other isn't.

 

Any advice for such a kitchen dynamic? Like I said it still feels new to me. I do miss the big, loud lines with 4 or 5 stations and a yelling expo and the typical kitchen culture. This kitchen culture is quiet and in some ways less rewarding.

post #2 of 4

Haha this sounds like the place i work at. 

 

Same type of entrees , and yes we are a two man team working 6 days a week. 

I have been there for 4 months and since its a new restaurant the space is pretty big , maybe 15 feet or so , and yeh its sautee and grill on one side and cold-line on the opposite end. 

 

Yes its quiet as well.

I hardly ever verbally communicate with the guy on grill , i just know what he need when he needs it. Definitely love hate relationship as well. When im in a bad mood , bad things happen same on his end too. All in all i like it cuz well since evryone does prep , and i have to worry little about others messing up my line and food , it makes me feel more easy going during the rush. Now dont get me wrong its great and all , but when the guy on grill gets bombed with orders and im completely in the safe zone with nothing to do , i go help him with anything he needs. 

 

Now my advice would try to communicate more. It sucks when one of the team mates is suffering. Try to help during the rush. 

Plan together what you guys can do , and what you can help each other with. 

Usually during prep , we both need garlic and onions for example , so since we both need it one will usually chop the garlic while the other chops the onions. If we are using the same ingrediants ( lets say we both need bechamel ) well ill make enough for the both of us. If i need lets say grated cheese and he is grating cheese he will help me out on the part as well. 

I dont know this kind of kitchen synergy is weird , and a rare sight to see but the flow is alot better. Obviously we are a small place so having 4-5 stations would be unnecessary when a 2 man team does the job just as well. 

 

Now for plating and prep , everyone preps and we all plate our OWN entrees. Of course with the chefs approval on the look. 

Now we each have around 1 day off a week so when im away or he is away our head chef will usually take our station for that day. And since the person on the cold line also needs a day off , when possible i take on the cold line one or twice a week if needed. 

We can all run each others stations while we each specialize on our own stations. But all in all it is kind of a all for one , one for all kinda thing. 

 

Its nice to work in a calm enviroment everynow and then , especially since the place is only open from 11 to 3pm so having nights off is great. But at the same time it gets hectic , during sundays when the restaurant has huge family get togethers and we are stuck in that rush , the only thing i can thing about is getting my food out , and screw the person who gets in my way ( and they are most likely thinking the same thing especially when we have 6 burners and a menu of 18-22 entrees ). 

 

Oh also our menu changes everyday , because we do family style and our produce comes from local suppliers so our menus usally revolve on the produce we have and aquire throughout that day , so these factors are what can make things hectic. We plan alot throughout the day , and our prep is pretty decent , but i kinda wanna work more with a routine , and plans , so i will most likely either go into catering over working in restaurants. I like working with events and i like to organize things. 

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.

Dr.Seuss

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post #3 of 4

I'm in the same boat, up to 30 covers, fine dining £8-£10 entrees, and only two of us in the kitchen (plus a kp on busy nights).

 

For about 5 months it was me and Head Chef, then he left, so now I've borrowed the Sous from one of our sister venues and we run the kitchen together.

Luckily we get on like a house on fire!

 

I'm nearly 5 years his senior (but he's been a chef 4 years longer than I, so it evens out) & we flick on the radio and prance about while doing prep all day, then run a focused service scratching each others backs the whole night, then cleaning down & clocking out together, going for a beer, & starting over the next day!

 

I have previously worked this same environment with a chef I had nothing in common with, he used to clock out asap & be off like a flash, those were some boring months, prep time was silent but for the radio and occasional remarks, and service was very much he did his thing & I did mine.

 

If you are working this way, you need to get on well, and care about each other (without sounding like a ponce!) because otherwise kitchen happiness is hard to accomplish.

 

If you can't enjoy a day deep cleaning and insulting each other and singing along to the radio in as high a pitch as possible then maybe you're not living as happy as you could be in that situation.

post #4 of 4

You said it PTG. 

When the music is playing, and you knocking out prep , time flies and it can even be fun. 

I have to say though the kitchen these last few months have made me swear like a sailor though XD. 

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.

Dr.Seuss

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