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How to get faster?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello

I'm Chris and I'm 28.

I've been a chef for about 8 months however I use to suffer from depression and got through a lot of jobs and so it wasn't all in one go.

I'm on medication now and I kind feel like this is my new start.  It;s going well so far.  I'm a very hardworking chef and I do love my job.  The only problem I have is with speed.  I'm just not fast, even for a beginner I am slow if I'm honest.  I try to clear my head, prioritise be urgent but not rush so I can't think.  I'm getting advice from one chef but I don't get as much support form other chefs as I would like.  I am getting faster but I do need a bit of help.

post #2 of 14

Two things I can say to you.

 

1) You're not a chef yet...you're a cook. I'm not trying to sound harsh but you haven't put in the necessary hours and time to call yourself a chef. there is nothing wrong with being a line cook. I take great pride in being a line cook and will not call myself a chef until I have worked my way up to that title. You can't have the attitude of being a chef until you learn how to be a cook first.

 

2) The best way to build speed is muscle memory and the only way to build muscle memory is through practice practice practice. It's the repeating of the same tasks every day that will help you to get faster. The other way is to work smart. If you have to run to the back for something try to grab everything you're going to need for the rest of the night. Keep your mise en place in a certain location so you aren't spending precious time looking for it.

post #3 of 14

No empty handed trips. You go the dish area with a dirty pan, come back with a clean one. You go to the walk in with a completed prep item, come back with the next one and more. Work more than one ticket at a time especially with duplicate items. If you have 5 tickets hanging with a roast beef sandwich on every one, when you make the first one, do all of them. You can make 5 almost as fast as you can 1. Know what is hanging on the tickets for your station whether you can start work on it immediately or not. Multi task keeping priority in mind.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 14

MISE EN PLACE, MISE EN PLACE, MISE EN PLACE. When you know where everything is, how everything comes together, you just stop thinking and do it. Never change your mise, always be prepared, don't think so much. Also like Layne said, learning to prioritize helps. It all comes in time.

post #5 of 14

Also set your station up the exact same way every time.

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorgeBishop View Post
 

Also set your station up the exact same way every time.


Definitely this. You should be able to stand in your station blindfolded and be able to reach to the exact place for onions, for garlic, tongs, towels,etc. Might sound silly, but it is like playing a piano, you know where the keys are through muscle memory and repetition, no time nor need for looking in the middle of a jam session.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello

Thank you very much for the replies they were helpful.  Part of the problem I have where I work is that at the moment I work on room service which is not that busy.  Ironically this makes it harder because I get told not  to prep certain things which makes it harder when they come on.  It means I have to chop things as I go ect.

NorgeBishop I think there has been a bit of confusion.  In England the word line cook is not used.  You are simply referred to as a Commis chef when you are at my level.  You are called a cook if you work in certain places but you are called a chef in a hotel or restaurant even if you are a beginner. A cook is actually a derogatory term used to insult bad chefs over here.  That is why I called myself a chef.

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBristol View Post
 

Hello

Thank you very much for the replies they were helpful.  Part of the problem I have where I work is that at the moment I work on room service which is not that busy.  Ironically this makes it harder because I get told not  to prep certain things which makes it harder when they come on.  It means I have to chop things as I go ect.

NorgeBishop I think there has been a bit of confusion.  In England the word line cook is not used.  You are simply referred to as a Commis chef when you are at my level.  You are called a cook if you work in certain places but you are called a chef in a hotel or restaurant even if you are a beginner. A cook is actually a derogatory term used to insult bad chefs over here.  That is why I called myself a chef.

I understand your idea behind calling yourself a chef, but i find it almost a slap in the face to those who have worked hard to gain that title. Regardless though, i find it a necessity to work clean, and organized. 

As stated you should be able to stand blind folded and still know where everything is on your station. 

 

Cellphone on vibrate, or tbh not even in your pockets leave it somewhere else, you want have time to answer it regardless. 

Work more then one ticket at a time, and always think on what takes longer to cook or prep, those you usually do first. 

Remember certain things do need you hovering over them, such as food in the oven... that gives you time to do something else. 

 

If you dont know how to do something ask, and make sure you always get clarification or seek clarification.

If you need help ask, if someone needs help offer, you will be working with a team, you start and finish as a team in the kitchen, be it washing someones saute pan or chopping some chives, while you comrades are busy or in the weeds any task taken out of the way will only be more helpful towards the team. 

 

When behind someone you say BEHIND, when its hot, you inform HOT, and when your walking around with sharp objects be it knives, or forks, dont have them pointed at anyone and simple keep them down towards you, no need for injuries in the kitchen that are 100% avoidable.

When you see a mess try to clean it up, or at least inform someone of it if your busy. 

And dont try to work fast with a knife until you are confident you can do so, a bad cut will only delay service. 

 

Knives must be treated with respect XD


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 2/17/14 at 7:57am

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 #9 of 14
You calling yourself a chef bothers me zero percent. Some people will disagree but the last thing that would bother me is somebody calling themselves a chef or whatever you want for that matter. I have worked in a couple very fine establishments and every single person from the butcher prep to pantry are adressed as chef.

And like a couple people stated, mise, mise, mise, mise, mise. Mise en place is everything. Its your lifeline. Its a shame that your boss or manager won't let you set things up the way you need them. Also, if you have a rush of tickets, I would not advise on doing on ticket at a time. A great skill to acquire is to visually be able to pull the similar items off separate tickets at the same time and keep an "all day " count.

With time and hard work comes speed. If your dedicated and love doing what you do, keep at it and prove to everyone, and yourself that you could rock it out! Good luck bud!
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

As I've said if I was in America I would call myself a line cook in England I would be called a chef the lingo is different over here.

Anyway one thing I try to do is a running commentary on what I'm doing.  I'm constantly telling myself what I'm doing next, That seems to help.

The way I look at it is 4 letters ionc.  Ingredients, order, next check.

Think what is going in the dish, the order to do it in then the next check.

post #11 of 14

ChefBristol,

 

There has been some good advice from many of the folks here so far. Much is essential to becoming more efficient at your position.

 

When I first started, that was my trouble too. My movements were erratic and I often fumbled through things so mistakes were commonplace. Confidence has a great deal to do with it as does your commitment to becoming better. There were many shifts I actually came in off the clock and observed what the A line was doing to accomplish their jobs.

 

Some of the things I observed really helped me. The next step was to apply them in my work. The first, and most important thing was to not be so much as "fast" but thorough. Years ago it was called time-in-motion and companies invested a ton of money to improve it.

 

This may sound corny but picture your movements on the line or in the kitchen as a dance with the food and your station as your partner.

 

You are the lead and get everything to flow the way you want. Both hands, arms, feet and legs are a fluid movement while you are cooking. When the left hand is reaching for something the right hand is working a pan, stirring or grabbing. You can choreograph your moves. The person in charge controls the presentation, taste and quality. As long as you provide what they are requiring in a clean, organized and safe manner, then how you do it is your style.

 

Something else that helped me was watching athletes on television visualizing their routine. Whether it was down a slope, in the water or on ice, if it involved a co-ordinated movement of the body, it made sense to see your movements before you made them. You know what ingredients to use when you prepare plates so have them available for you to grab at them without looking. Just stand at your station and visualize what movements you need to make in order to complete each item assigned to you. Someone mentioned about having things so you could work blind-folded. That was correct. You also mentioned you couldn't prep items, or that's what I perceived, so, if it's an onion, it's peeled, a pepper, it's seeded, do what you can and sometimes stretch the limits. You may find something that could benefit everyone, not just your station. Unless every plate is ingredient specific, there should be some cross-over between ingredients so....what ever is peeled, seeded or somewhat prepped, nothing should be wasted.

 

To a degree, it makes sense to me why you prep as needed. If two dishes called for sliced onion and two called for minced and two for diced, the policy seems to be geared toward the freshest possible ingredients. I've come to believe that more often than not on this side of the pond, we do too much mise en place. The only explanation for that is because our McWalbee's culture that demands things be done last week. Granted that's an exaggeration but it's not that far fetched.

 

I wish I had more time and was a bit more organized in my thoughts but I have to run. If anything else comes to mind, I'll post it later. Just one other thing........Please understand that this will take some time. It's not going to happen over night. Heck, what I've suggested may not even work for you but you won't know unless you try.   Oh yeah....good luck!


Edited by oldschool1982 - 2/17/14 at 8:39am
post #12 of 14
I didn't realize that you were from across the pond and that the lingo is different. My mistake on that.

The fact that you are consistently trying to get better and faster and reaching out for advice is really good. It means you care and aren't going to settle for less than your best. Your superiors see that and it will pay off.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

The sous chef tends to run the kitchen a lot more than the head chef.  He is in the office a lot and doesn't come in the kitchen unless he has to.  The sous chef knows I work very hard and tries to help me as much as possible.  I did have quite  a good service today actually.  I just kept calm focused got myself as organised as I could.  I was actually doing two sections I was doing my normal bar and room service menu and helping another chef with starters and deserts.

I think it is important to start of well, then you get into a flow you feel more confident and things just get done better and more quicker.  I think momentum is very important for a good service.

post #14 of 14

Some of the first lessons I impart to my trainees are:

 

1. Safety, accuracy, speed

 

2. Cook, mise an place, clean.

 

Saftey is simply to pay attention, wear slip resistant shoes etc. accuracy means learning the menu, and getting the orders, sauces etc right every time. If you know the menu and recipes by heart you will naturally build speed.

If you are not cooking you are stocking your area or mise an place, if your not stocking, than your cleaning.

 

Look for way to increase efficiency. I can relate to what you are saying as far as not prepping ahead for certain things. I currently work in small artisan pizza kitchen and on valentines day we produced close to 135 pizza in a kitchen that is in 1/3 of a two car garage (yes it's been renovated). Chicken had to be sliced to order, bacon chopped, and Italian sausage among other ingredients. like the others have said knowing where everything is and staying organized is very important, so is keeping the station clean, and keeping your knives sharp. Start a routine to make your station yours, come in 10-15 minutes early to take some extra time just to organize. The confidence you et from working in YOUR station will be big.

 

 

Very good cooks who are employed as 'chefs' rarely refer to themselves as 'chefs.' They refer to themselves as 'cooks.' -Alton Brown
 

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