Last night was rough. Service lulled for the first few hours then BAM! All of the reservations were for 7:00pm, which so happened to be the same time that a large 35 person party was ready to order. The fixed menu items offered to the party guests were fairly distributed among the different stations, but it was no surprise that they all ordered my item: A 6oz filet mignon with truffle mashed potatoes. It’s not insanely difficult to pick up 26 steaks all at once, basting two or three at a time (depending on the size). The difficulty, for me, lied in organizing my checks for regular diners and those from the party, the 32+ steaks that I had pre-seared, plus all the other food that I'm responsible for.
Besides banquets and events, I’ve rarely ever had to manage this much meat before. Working a saute station at an upscale steakhouse is something new to me. I’m accustomed to the volume we experience there, but the work itself is different, and it’s difficult. I know I have a knack for cooking and learning new things isn’t a problem for me. I overcooked one steak, but never sold it, and zero came back to the kitchen. No send backs is a huge confidence booster.
Whenever I start at a new restaurant or just a new station, that’s what I look out for. Food coming back to the kitchen is a big deal to me. Someone dislikes what we have prepared so much that they’re willing to flag someone down, tell them a story about it, and then wait for us to fix whatever is wrong. These things not only slow down service but also deeply affect the dining experience.
That’s not what we seek out to achieve.
The guests come first, no matter what. Their happiness and satisfaction are the reasons we do this. It’s hard work, but if you do it right, it’s also selfless work. Everything you do in a day benefits another. That is a cook’s job and responsibility. To facilitate joy through the means of food and service. My number one tip? give a shit. The rest will fall into place.