or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Blind leading the blind

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello folks

In my neck of the woods, the last ten years or so have demonstrated to me how knowledge and professionalism has been on a sad decline in our industry. I'm not a chef, but when I began in the industry, chefs spent a great deal of time talking to FOH about what they were doing and how things were prepared. FOH management would disperse their knowledge to newcomers to the world, and everyone shared experience and knowledge all the time.

Back then, however, being a FOH professional was a good career choice. Nowadays, all I get through my doors as waiters are people studying to be marine biologists. They give little attention or care to my field of work, other than studying their paycheck every week.

Just last week, I was talking to a guy who told me he has more than ten years experience as a barman. Great! I thought.
Knowing that I'm old and have been doing this forever, he asked me:
"So the other day, some random guy at the bar saw me polishing a beer glass and said I shouldn't do that. What's that all about?"

I rolled my eyes, somewhat.
"He was right, young padawan, you never polish a beer glass. The fibres and soap in the polishing cloth stop the beer from heading up properly. Never, ever, polish a beer glass!"

Words like "scullery", "cruets" and "mis en place" are nowadays met with blank faces. No one knows how to silver serve anymore, and tongs are used to serve bread, rather than the spoon and fork.

Am I too old school for hoping that some of these nice dining traditions should be passed on to younger folk, or am I shouting at clouds?
post #2 of 10

If you're perceiving that times have changed in the food service industry, well they have. Especially in low and

middle end full svc restaurants, but high end too to some extent. And most specifically, FOH attitudes aren't

what they used to be. What I'm seeing is a lack of pride in the work itself with the primary focus on two things:

getting more hours and TIPS. Which all equates to money of course. Sure tips have always been a focus, but 20

years ago there was more pride in the work. 

 

But IMO, more and more managers these days are guilty of fanning the flames by hiring almost exclusively high

school and college kids, (and usually the more attractive ones) to be servers regardless of aptitude, attitude or

experience. And I have seen with my own eyes experienced applicants in their 30's or 40's passed up for hire in

favor of a skirt-flirt who said all the right things, and moved all the right ways to "get in" only to be complained

about by co workers and customers 2 months later--usually due to sheer incompetence.

They eventually leave by mutual agreement, but the cycle is on rinse and repeat. 

 

I suppose what I'm largely sensing in many of those who get involved these days in a server capacity..... is

laziness....coupled with greed. And its been happening long enough now that even many "experienced"

servers in their late 30's possess the same attitude and work ethic. I do not know a cure. 

post #3 of 10
It starts with the people in charge. Whether that's a FOH manager , GM , or lead server ; their attitude and the way they manage the staff is the number one factor in how the FOH will do their job.

FOH is all about attitude , sure you need to know some things but they can quickly be taught . How you start and end service each day.
You can be an a-hole in the BOH and get away with it while doing a good job. FOH is not like that
post #4 of 10

Many corporate restaurant chains really try to focus on customer satisfaction.

The FOH is educated to meet the needs of the customer.

The mom and pops are the ones most often fitting what is described above.

 

I see the restaurant owner allowing his 15 year old daughter to hostess with her cleavage proudly hanging over her tight dress.

 

Or a very pregnant server waiting tables with her 8 month old son strapped to he chest.  

(by the way...I noticed a sign up around town that she's looking for a baby sitter now, as enough people got in her face about this)

 

It is unfortunate that these owners and operators don't get it.

 

It is a universal "given" that waiting tables is a job that's done by people looking for work in their chosen profession or by teenagers as their first job.

It is not taken seriously and not given the respect it should as a noble profession

post #5 of 10
Can you imagine if people went to college for being a waitress/waiter?? Like how we go to college to be a cook/chef? I think it would make the chefs and line cooks lives/jobs just a little bit easier. The school could teach them what it's like to be a line cook or chef everyday of the week and why the BOH gets so upset with the service staff when they repeatedly make dumb mistakes....
I know at my school I had an entire semester devoted to learning the FOH . We had a restaurant and we all had to serve the public and interact with the BOH, just like a real restaurant. So I don't see why it can't happen the other way around .

Yes, MOST people use waiting tables as a way to make money in college , before their real job. ..
That is , until they see how much $$$$ they make..
I've seen multiple women graduate successfully with doctorates and stay working as a waitress for multiple years, because the pay is better than the pay for nurses ...
Edited by rndmchef - 6/4/16 at 2:36pm
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yup, seen that too RNDM, especially here in Australia, where servers get $24 per hour.
A little like my OP, I was always taught a little about kitchen as part of my training. I'm probably at least as qualified as a line cook just by watching,learning and having to jump in when needed !
post #7 of 10

Q:  How do you hold servers accountable to standards, if you have no standards to hold them too?

 

We've been down this path many, many times.  There is nothing in the U.S. nationally to declare what a server should know or be capable of.  Nor is there, for that matter, any standards for what a cook should know or be capable of.

 

And to trump the two above items, no standards for what a restaurant owner/operator should know or be capable of   

 

How then, do you design a school curriculum, if you have no standards to meet?

 

In any case, the standards in continental Europe are a 2 yr apprenticeship for servers, and a 3 year for cooks. These are gov't endorsed apprenticeships, as are apprenticeships for all of the trades,  and are a vital component of the national education system.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Q:  How do you hold servers accountable to standards, if you have no standards to hold them too?

We've been down this path many, many times.  There is nothing in the U.S. nationally to declare what a server should know or be capable of.  Nor is there, for that matter, any standards for what a cook should know or be capable of.

And to trump the two above items, no standards for what a restaurant owner/operator should know or be capable of   

How then, do you design a school curriculum, if you have no standards to meet?

In any case, the standards in continental Europe are a 2 yr apprenticeship for servers, and a 3 year for cooks. These are gov't endorsed apprenticeships, as are apprenticeships for all of the trades,  and are a vital component of the national education system.

This. Standard in the Nordic/Scandanavian countries also. Being a professional server here is not looked upon as a low profession.
post #9 of 10

Some variation of this comes up pretty routinely; when it does I guess all of us old time CT regulars post our stock replies.  So here's mine.;)  Yes, times are changing as they must.  Some of the change is good, some is bad, some is just lateral drift.  I have seen the decline in the dedication of the average worker, but it seems to closely track the modern tendency of employers to not give a rat's ass about the staff.  Listen to the new buzzwords being bandied about- "sharing economy", contract work and the 401k economy, etc.  Over the decades employers have figured out how to farm to most of the good paying jobs to sweatshops overseas. The jobs that can't be outsourced they  have hollowed out by crushing  unions and eliminating almost all employee protections.  Big box stores schedule tens of thousands of workers PT to avoid allowing them any bennies.  McD's now-infamous website gives budgeting advice to their employees with laughable figures for rent, food and healthcare and flatly states that the worker needs to have two jobs.

 

Back in my parent's and grandparent's day there were lots of good jobs that a high school grad could get that gave a middle class life- with no working overtime, no weekends and nites, etc.  Many jobs had pensions.  But in today's financialized economy workers are generally not viewed as partners or resources but as expenses, problems to be overcome.  How many people will retire after a lifetime with one employer nowadays?

 

Really what reason to we expect for people to bust ass for us nowadays?  Very recently I read an article about a big dept store that makes all their workers "on call" for X percentage of the week.  They're not getting paid but if it gets busy they must drop everything and run into work for a few hours to cover the business, then they're cut.  Most workers today are smart enough to realize the system goesn't  give a shit about them, so they don't give a shit about it.

 

As for the rest, well- culture.  I think times change.  Maybe circa 2016 people don't care quite as much which fork goes with what or where each bit of silver should be placed.  A big part of that is probably the natural outgrowth of the change from a totally Euro/French-centric view of cuisine to one in which world influences get a lot of play.  It probably doesn't matter where Escoffier wanted the salad fork if you're eating Sous Vide Char Siu. We'll probably see more drift away from classic Euro table manners and service styles as the food goes away from those inspirations in search of another muse.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rndmchef View Post

Can you imagine if people went to college for being a waitress/waiter?? Like how we go to college to be a cook/chef? I think it would make the chefs and line cooks lives/jobs just a little bit easier. The school could teach them what it's like to be a line cook or chef everyday of the week and why the BOH gets so upset with the service staff when they repeatedly make dumb mistakes....
I know at my school I had an entire semester devoted to learning the FOH . We had a restaurant and we all had to serve the public and interact with the BOH, just like a real restaurant. So I don't see why it can't happen the other way around .

Yes, MOST people use waiting tables as a way to make money in college , before their real job. ..
That is , until they see how much $$$$ they make..
I've seen multiple women graduate successfully with doctorates and stay working as a waitress for multiple years, because the pay is better than the pay for nurses ...

Yes many culinary schools touch on the FOH service, but unfortunately it only gets a skimming.I remember learning the different styles of service in school as well. I had to wait tables, and also host and learn to run the register  (long before POS came along).

 

Foodpump, yes we have hashed this out time and time again.

 

There are some Chefs out there who would be very upset if standardization came along, simply because they don't feel it should be. 

 

Organizing this theory into a service industry standard would put many places out of business. I can certainly understand how this would upset some

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs