On my first day of culinary school, the Basic Skills instructor warned that when we worked in restaurants, we would spend our holidays with co-workers, not our families.
“Get used to turning to the guy beside you on the hot line at midnight … to say ‘Happy New Year,'” Chef Graham said. “Get used to taking your wife out for Valentine’s Day some other day in February … Tell your mom you will be cooking her Mother’s Day feast on some other day of the week … Forget about seeing Churchill Downs on the first weekend in May ever again …”
Continue reading Now comes the lean season
Before I joined the restaurant industry, I often felt awkward when I was being seated at a restaurant. Is it OK to request a specific table? Is it OK to ask for a four-top when there are only two of us? Would it be OK to ask to sit by the fireplace? Good news: It is, it is and it is! The key to getting the table you want is knowing the basics of how tables are assigned to guests in most dining rooms.
Continue reading Your table is now available
Do you get miffed when another table seems to be getting all your server’s attention? You stare hungrily at your empty table. They’ve already got their appetizer … and they were seated five minutes after you! Up comes their second round of cocktails! Guess what: They’re probably regulars.
Many diners believe an enduring myth that service staff “vet” guests as they come in, then decide to fawn over and spoil a lucky few based on their clothes and accessories, the technological elegance of their cell phones or the class of the vehicle they arrived in.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading Become a regular
Since switching careers five years ago from banking to cooking (which has begun to look like the luckiest accidental bullet-dodging ever), I’ve learned a new language: KitchenSpeak.
Recently I wrote about how controlled but chaotic a busy, successful commercial kitchen is. KitchenSpeak helps simplify our duties and interactions. It’s a weird, hopefully efficient, sometimes crude amalgam of verbal shorthand, hallelujah choruses, superstitions and private jokes. Every restaurant has its own particular patois and dialect – while sharing other KitchenSpeak terms and definitions with other restaurants everywhere.
Continue reading Kitchen lingo
Foodie: Someone who cares about food, takes pride in the variety of his eating habits and enjoys getting quality ingredients for his home cooking. Did you know you can buy many of the products we use in the restaurant business without ever setting foot in a retail grocery store?
Continue reading Don’t get all your ingredients from one store