I need advice on working the pass/ middle station.
my number one piece of advice is to learn the stations around you, or at least be observant as to how long it takes each station to cook a certain item. That way you can more accurately tell them when to fire a ticket. if there's a med-well tenderloin and a quick pasta dish on a ticket and you have 20 minute ticket times, you don't wanna call to fire at the same time.
Preferably everyone is getting their own ticket, and you can mostly call tables instead of individual items. After you call off 5 items to a single station, there's little chance they'll remember what you called off. to avoid this, encourage cooks to stage their items. for example saute has a seared halibut, cajun prawn, seafood etouffe, another halibut 5 minutes out etc. Have them put the items they need to saute into pie tins, and stack them in the order the tickets go out. that way when it's time to fire they don't even have to look at their tickets, they have everything in pie tins in front of em ready to fire. Have them get the plates they'll need to plate, laid out. it all works out to a more intuitive way to know what you need to do next.
I'm taking my first go at fine dinning and I find my self struggling to make the adjustment. I work the pass/ middle station on the line which means I am responsible for calling out the tickets, basically controling the flow of the kitchen and the plating of most of the menu items. I'm wondering if anyone has any tips on how to stay focused and run this station as smooth as possible.
Welcome to ChefTalk.
It sounds like you are expediting. You have a very important position. Good for you.
Here's a few tips.
When calling out the tickets, have the guys on the line repeat it back to you.
Example: "Ordering 1 filet medium, 2 strips one well, one rare"
The broiler guys repeats same back to you.
You control the way the food comes up. If you know there's a well done strip steak on table 37 you're going to know how to pace that table with the rest of the order.l
Do not allow the server to talk to anyone but you, since you control the flow of the food coming out. Any questions or problems that arise must fall on you to figure out and fix.
Tickets times can get a bit hairy and places that put heavy importance on this can make life difficult. Food can only cook so fast, but it seems as though the management is always trying to hurry things along so they can turn tables faster and serve more bodies. The time between when the appetizer is picked up and entree served varies according to the dining venue. If in a family style place the ticket times would be mush faster then in a fine dining place where people like to dine slower.
In agreement with the others advice. I'll add only that you should approach it with confidence. State the tickets clearly, expect a response, don't allow yourself to get distracted by anything and review as much as you need to.
Every so often, a cook may need an "All Day". Which is to say, they need to be reminded of what you told them overall, not ticket specific.
So you're reply would be "All day, four halibut, two salmon and a crab".
But generally, keep your cool. If you lose it, everyone loses it.
No matter how mad or how rushed it is, never ever lose your cool as it is a bad moral buster. Everyone is in the weeds and the expeditor needs to make sure everyone else is in the same page.
Be observant to everyone as well for any signs of them getting lost when several items are fired in succession. Tackle it table by table and talk to your team on what are they giving you, do they need a hand? Are they in control? And so on.
If you lose it, the whole team loses it and that waste alot of time to rebound back.
Stay cool. Stay frosty.
It's pretty hard to do when you are under pressure. I know I still lose it sometime..