so, i've got 6 years in the restaurant industry, and have worked some fine-dining FOH positions, and as a cook on commercial and mom & pop lines. i expo'd once at a small, slow paced restaurant, but was hired as a runner for the opening of an upscale brasserie that led to me being given the expo duties. so far, things have gone off without a hitch. we have the lead chef working the line, and the sous working the pass with me next to him. as we develop a sense of trust, it looks like i'll ultimately be left to quarterback what's leaving the kitchen. i wanna do this job as well as possible because these guys have put together a great menu, and i don't wanna let them down. i'm just looking for any tips, no matter how minor they may be, that's going to keep things running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. also, certain etiquette's to follow when communicating with the chef and the line... as an expo, i know it's important to keep things rolling, and i'm more than okay with being assertive, but i don't wanna overstep my boundaries either. thank you guys.
traits of a good expo
Any plates stocked on the expo should be inspected for cleanliness and dried. If you use plates with underliners for soups or sauces, get them lined and stacked ahead of time.
Prefill condiments and wrap for service to speed the process.
Stock your expo line with clean clothes for wiping plate edges.
Make sure you have the tools for recording times on tickets. Even if the Point of Sale prints a time on your tickets when its sent to the kitchen, its a great idea to have the line record when they complete their portion of the ticket and for the expeditor to record when the whole ticket is sold. This allows you to help the kitchen track and improve ticket times.
During serviceservice, help the line track all the food they should have in production by repeatedly giving them a count of the total number of each item they should have working. This count is usually referred to as an "all day". For example, when an order for grilled salmon comes in, you can call it out, then count up all the salmon that should be working at the time and call out, "Six grilled salmon fillets all day!"
You are a buffer between the wait staff and the kitchen. You make sure the servers are communicating to you and the expo is the sole person responsible to communicate with the kitchen. This helps improve the relationship between the FOH and BOH staff by not allowing either of them to piss each other off.
The expo is a really important position. Its great training for management. A successful expo must be assertive with both the kitchen line and the servers, despite the fact they may be "outranked" by both.
Edited by Brandon ODell - 3/4/14 at 10:11pm
@Brandon ODell said it well! Keep ahead of the rush and stay well stocked. All I would is... take a breath. Keep your head on and take a beat every once in a while. A quick collection of your thoughts/tickets/plates is well worth a second or two of your time. Keep at it!
Just to add a few small parts to the above advice.
- you have to know your menu inside and out...every ingrediant (just to keep track of allergies)
- you have to know what each plate should look like - before and after service check with the chef, sometimes the line gets sloppy
- your job is not to wipe plates, it is to ensure that plates go out on time and are the same every time, wipe when you have too but, send things back when done messily
- don't be afraid of changing plates within a ticket, ie. stealing another tables food in order to keep a previous table happy, just keep things straight in your head... don't forget you changed it up. write things on a board or pad if you have too.
- keep things fair, servers don't get tips if the food comes out late or poorly done. At the same time cooks don't generally get tips. Keep a balance of FoH and BoH being happy. Don't fall into the "i-Hate" xx - most of the time it's only a representation of the management.
- try to understand the FoH and BoH challenges... every place has them, i've never seen a perfect setup or layout.
- on the pass communication is the key, learn to communicate. Take a few Toastmasters Classes - join a local theater group - whatever but get used to talking... and make sure it's not BS, but communication.
Lastly always be polite... no matter how rude you want to be.