There’s a meme that echoes throughout the restaurant industry: a sense of urgency. Great cooks and servers have a “sense of urgency” — even when there’s no emergency. I think the first time I heard the phrase, I was watching a Food Network show where several cooks were trying out in a restaurant kitchen to see which one had the juice to get a job there. One of the judges said a contestant didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency: She didn’t move around the kitchen as if anything was crucial or even very important. It appeared that she thought she had all day to complete her current task, rather than execute it with maximum efficiency and quickly pivot to the next one.
Continue reading Urgency
I remember with pleasure and deep gratitude the first time I was paid a sincere compliment in a professional kitchen. As a recent culinary-school graduate, I was working a very busy pantry shift in a downtown restaurant on a “show night.” (A “show night” means there are one or more concerts, plays or sporting events in the area; nearby restaurants get hit hard just before curtain or buzzer time.)
Continue reading Soldiers of the kitchen
You absolutely love good food and love dining out. Perhaps you’re preparing for semi-retirement. Maybe you worked in a restaurant when you were younger (or do so now). You have some money saved, or somehow miraculously have a funding source — a backer, a fan, a parent — someone with a fat checkbook who believes in you and your talents. You’re inspired by your culinary experiences and think, “Hey, why not? Let’s open a restaurant!”
Continue reading So you want to open a restaurant?
Well, the end of the year is here again, and with it come dozens of “Top Lists,” hustled upon us by media of every flavor. Most of these lists are forgettable and disposable — including the ubiquitous “Top Restaurants of the Year,” written by someone who may know something about the industry, but who may not share your palate, your wallet or your geographical location. So, what if you built your own personalized list of favorite and potential eateries? Then you might never again have to have that dreadful, circular conversation that begins with “Where do you want to eat?”
Continue reading Build your own top restaurants list
I recently joined the catering division where I work, so catering has been very much on my mind lately. The Oxford English and American dictionaries define catering a few different ways: to provide food and drink at a social event or other gathering; to provide what is needed or required; to take into account or make allowances for; to try to satisfy (a need or demand).
Continue reading To your every whim
Who gets to rock the color white after Labor Day and all year ’round? Millions of us chefs and cooks all over the world. Our uniforms are called “chef’s whites.” Although the entire ensemble isn’t always white, the jacket, apron and toque (hat) usually are. For verbal shorthand, we just say “whites,” as in “Good grief, I gotta do a load of whites tonight or I’ll have to go to work naked tomorrow.”
Continue reading The wearing of the whites