One of the desired traits of a Chef is creating sound decisions in several areas affecting the kitchen operation.
To many, a Chef’s scope of decision making involves only the preparation and cooking of food. But what many don’t know is that a Chef wears several hats within a food business operation. Within those roles, the act of decision making is a crucial, predominant and inescapable task.
Here are some of the areas within a food business operation that a Chef’s decision making is crucial:
Easily the first thing that comes to mind. Menu planning is a direct combination of a Chef’s creativity and practicality. The menu is the centre stage, where all the dishes gets to shine. At the same time, it is the area where cost control is most impactful. The Chef considers several things when creating a menu, such as availability of ingredients, the costing of a dish, the kitchen team’s skills, the right tools/equipment to deliver quality results, the guest’s preference/ allergies, and the business brand. Any of those areas I’ve mentioned deserve serious individual attention in itself and combining them all to develop a successful and profitable menu is nothing to be taken lightly.
Food vendors/suppliers are an integral part of any food operation. A Chef typically has a hand in choosing who and where the ingredients are sourced. It is not a simple decision of opting to buy from someone due to only one factor. It is a combination of factors that can lead to either profit or loss. Ingredients such as meats, produce and seafood may be sourced in different ways depending on the priority, which is often two things – quality and cost. Dealing with vendors/suppliers, no matter how smoothly transactions run, is not in autopilot mode. A business relationship is like an intricate dance between nurture and practicality. A Chef has to create decisions that do not end after choosing a vendor/supplier. If a vendor/supplier cannot provide the service, price and trust that has been initially agreed upon, a Chef has to decide to look for other sources so that quality and cost are not sacrificed.
BUDGET AND CONTROL
Budget budget budget.
A Chef is responsible for creating systems in the kitchen that controls food cost. In this regard, he is also responsible for ensuring that his kitchen team follows these systems that directly impact the business’s financial success.
A Chef has a voice in hiring people to complement his kitchen team. Often, it is not just a matter of looking at an applicant’s cooking skill levels but more on an applicant’s attitude, team playing ability, and service commitment. Hiring the wrong person can affect the operation in terms of delivering quality food and service to guests and demotivation of existing team members. And it doesn’t end with just hiring. A Chef’s involvement extends to assessing his kitchen team performance that can result in the promotion, suspension or termination. Not to mention the emotional issues that can arise from sheer pressure or personal differences between each member! Imagine diffusing tensions in the kitchen in addition to rushing orders to waiting guests. Chefs have active leadership roles that require them to not only direct but inspire at the same time.
Ah, scheduling, a decision that directly impacts every team member and the kitchen operation in general. It will be fun if scheduling is as simple as writing down names and copy-pasting them week by week. But no. Schedules depend on the flow of reservations, seasons, last-minute bookings, special requests for rest periods and quick filling of a vacated slot due to emergency absence. This is where rapid staffing Chef agencies can help fill in and support the business by providing the much-needed hands to get through the day ( or even just hours).
Ensuring quality control in every aspect of a kitchen operation involves a balance of the following:
- knowing how your kitchen is structurally sound and equipped to deliver the menu (storage/ tools/ equipment)
- knowledge, skills and attitude of the rest of the kitchen team
- sourcing and ensuring the availability of quality ingredients
Even if a Chef has set up operational systems to ensure that these areas are given attention (including back up plans), unexpected things can still happen. A Chef is expected to be on top of the situation, which can involve coming up with last-minute changes and, off cuff decisions to save the kitchen operation.
Being a Chef has never been solely about cooking. Being a Chef is about creating a balance in the kitchen operation that ultimately results in quality food, satisfied guests, and profit. To achieve that balance, a Chef has to be capable of sound and quick decision making.
Even the most dedicated Chefs need help running the kitchen due to the various roles they play to ensure a smooth-running operation. Anytime Chefs understands the daily challenges of running a kitchen and is available to support Chefs/ food business owners in creating solutions to benefit their guests and business. Give us a call!
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,