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The Professional Family Chef and Kitchen Team

It’s a Family Affair: What Makes a Kitchen So Successful?

The career of a chef is a unique and exciting one in a variety of ways. It involves creative and imaginative thinking. It engages the craftsman with the finished craft in a very immediate, hands-on and tangible way. It also requires a work dynamic in which all employees know their purpose, respect their position, and all must share a sense of solidarity and fraternity with one another.
These aspects are the reasons why restaurants appeal to so many people from a broad range of backgrounds. These different qualities make for an intoxicating environment, but one in which it can sometimes be hard to galvanise the whole team to pull together. Tensions are often high, stress levels are high, and everyone is working in a confined space together with no time to relent.
A kitchen works best when each employee feels like a useful member, because each employee is a useful member. Here are some tips on how to keep kitchen staff members together as one unit.

Training

When people think of training a kitchen team they think of the individual role of each job or position and what its purpose is. Every role is important, and a well-oiled machine only works well if all its component parts are working together. Each member of staff needs to know in what ways their colleagues also contribute to the team effort. By informing each member of the purpose of every other member, from the kitchen porter to the head chef, from the waiting staff to the mixologists, a restaurant will share a greater sense of unity, pride and investment in its efforts. Every employee will respect the efforts and challenges of their co-workers.

Allow for Creativity

Allowing for an employee to express any new ideas will not only help a restaurant to develop and open up to progress, but it will also provide employees with a sense of meaningful belonging. Team meetings can be spaces for everyone’s voice and own flourishes to be noticed. One way of doing this could be for each member of the kitchen staff to present a new dish or meal for people to try at a meeting. Employees would be able to experiment with ideas and add fresh thinking to the team. Even if never used, such practices are a key way to engage all colleagues and for them to showcase themselves amongst their peers.
These types of communal activities can also go a long way to helping retain employees that have been trained up. As well as financial incentives, the desire for respect and dignity in a team are what motivates people to remain in the workforce.

Don’t Let Anyone Get Burnt Out

The romantic image of the sleep-deprived, long-haired chef with the bandana around his head as he slaves away with a knife is an alluring one. It is understandable for so many men and women who
are passionate and dedicated to their craft to want to push themselves to the limit of their abilities. Healthy competition is also a key facet of a vibrant team. It is widely reported however how draining on one’s resources the life of a chef can be. According to BRITA Professional, 81% of chefs now consider themselves to be stressed in the workplace.
This is probably the most common issue a kitchen team faces. The hours for a chef are long, and the work can be exhausting to a person’s physical and mental health if the right amount of breaks aren’t provided and if enough time away from the kitchen isn’t given. Many studies have also proven that time taken away from one’s role can actually increase productivity in the long run.

A Tidy Kitchen is a Tidy Mind

If every member takes responsibility for their own equipment at their own station, the day’s work will be executed with a lesser sense of stress. Equipment will be able to be handed over more quickly and certain tasks will be designated without panic or frustration. Small and seemingly petty squabbles can sometimes lead to much larger issues of resentment and team breakdowns.

Be Open about Problems

All staff members need to know they can share a problem if they have one, whether it’s an issue about home life or mental health, or if it’s about another member of the team and the functioning of the kitchen. If these issues affect the vitality of the kitchen, it’s the kitchen’s problem as well. Support should be available by a supervisor, and if it isn’t, allowances should be made to contact someone above them. Simple initiatives like providing a suggestion box for employees to pass on any ideas or bring up a problem without the judgement of their peers can also be substantial in improving a kitchen’s circumstances.