“What do I do about a cook who gets so much right but over-seasons dishes?” “How do I get my team to clean without chasing them?”
Every time I’ve worked in a food business, someone has had these issues. These problems are very common. So much so, that I’ve got a list of tools I always introduce in kitchens now. Whenever I work with a new team, this list is where I start.
Recipe cards are a visual recipe manual. They’re essentially a plug and play tool to standardize presentation and flavour.
Cards should ideally have
- A list of ingredients and weights
- a method. how to make the dish or batch
- a picture of the finished dish
If you want to get really specific you can also add equipment needed and plate type.
Display your cards prominently in the kitchen or in an easily accessible recipe file. If you want them followed, they must be visible.
Opening & closing checklists
Smooth running kitchens have a structure in place and a good set of habits. Open and close checklists walk through the tasks and over time build those habits. When you’re groggy in the morning, and wanting to leave at night It helps to have a list of all tasks so everything is covered.
The open and close checklists are the first and last items seen every day. I keep them close to the door, and in sight!
Cleaning isn’t optional in a kitchen – it is part of the job. Keep checklists of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Review and mark off everything on the checklist at the end of every shift. I find it helps to break down all the tasks by section or job description and have separate ones for those.
Disorganization in a kitchen is nightmare fuel. Prep lists are lists of what to prepare for the day or before the start of the shift.
Your prep lists should have columns for
- Stock on hand,
- Par stock and
- How much to make.
If you’re working alone, a prep list helps you track where you are and what you still must do.
Proper stock management will save you lots of money in the long run. Over-ordering leads to waste, while under ordering causes runs to the shop and buying at a higher price.
You need a stock sheet for everything you keep, from fresh produce to cleaning supplies. How often you count will depend on how often you order. Just like your prep sheets, good stock sheets will record your par level, stock on hand, and the quantity to order.
As you grow and bring on more team members you will be so happy that you did this! It’s basically a manual on how the kitchen does their job, so your Ops Manual will document everything from what they wear to how to pack the fridges. When new staff members start, you’ll have an excellent foundation to launch training.
A companion to your Ops manual, a hygiene guide details all the actions for cleaning and food safety. Write down how to clean everything, including details like how to pack the fridges and freezers. You’ll want to also note any particular chemicals you use, and safety procedures.
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