As a culinary consultant I spend many days a week in a variety of kitchens discussing ways to improve kitchen operations; impromptu demos, menu and recipe design and coaching are always are always happening. Stepping in and out of kitchens you don’t always see immediate impact or maybe I just witness a quick fix. As we are in the height of the holiday season I visited several kitchens these past few days and was given a great gift without even unwrapping something. It was calmness, professionalism and focus.Owners, operation managers and chef’s always know this time of year is coming. They can react in several ways, lets buy everything so we don’t get overwhelmed, hire extra staff who might not be properly trained to prepare what is sold or even stop taking events as they have oversold their true capabilities.
My present was none of this. I have worked over the last year with kitchens to focus on the process of efficiencies, standardizing menus, defining roles for cooks etc and the work paid off. It is exciting to walk into a kitchen and see things being made from scratch. Trays of hand formed hors d’oeuvre not boxes being opened, The care of preparing things like this are important not only to the confidence and pride of the kitchen but the guest who can actually taste an original hand-made morsel. I have nothing wrong with the companies who help the catering companies and food service operations by mass producing frozen items for the convenience. However the variety becomes limited and one is exposed to the fact that all of the companies using them start tasting the same. Where is the competitive advantage in that?
Walking in and seeing trays of hand decorated cookies made me feel warm inside and feel excited of seeing the cook who made them, smile with pride. The days that followed her where no doubt going to be long, her feet will be sore from standing all day but there is honesty and truth in the 100’s of dessert trays and countless gift bags she was going to make.
This is a busy time for many catering companies but they are doing great. Why? Because they saw the need to start looking at their operations earlier in the year and looked at the needs of the future. They needed support and guidance not someone to do the work. They wanted to take ownership of their business and work with a coach and mentor. I loved going into these kitchens and spending time with all of the cooks teaching them new things. They may have looked disinterested at times as they went through a demo, cooler conversation or a random sanitation inspection of their work station. However it’s paying off now even if they don’t realize it at the start of a midnight shift
Thankyou all for making my holidays special.