Josh Grinker on how to run a restaurant kitchen: “A restaurant is a factory and a retail store built into one operation. It’s often a lot for one or two people to handle and details can be overlooked, which then leads to either inconsistencies in the product or in managerial oversights that affect the bottom line. To mitigate these problems it is important to streamline as much as possible and to develop systems that make sense; every restaurant is different and will have different ways of approaching this. At Kings County Imperial, for instance, we have one kind of glass in two sizes that we use for virtually our entire beverage program. This cuts down on breakage and helps with storage issues. We don’t sell much wine, as it doesn’t go with the strong flavors of central China, so there is no need for fancy wine glasses anyway. It’s a small, unsexy example, but can be the determinant between success and failure.”
–Josh Grinker, Chef/Co-Owner, Kings County Imperial and Stone Park Café, Brooklyn, New York
How to Run a Restaurant Kitchen – Stock Up
Before anything else, you should come up with a restaurant kitchen plan. Restaurant kitchens are a good place to stock up on used equipment. You can often pick up restaurant dishes, serving utensils and other small items for pennies on the dollar. Larger pieces of equipment, such as commercial ovens or grills, can also be bought be used with plenty of life left in them.
You should also consider the benefits of leasing restaurant equipment, such as ice makers, which have a pretty short life span. Read reviews of restaurants stoves and other restaurant equipment.
Once you are open for business, your restaurant kitchen will always be busy (well, that’s the plan anyway!) so it is important to have plan for keeping it in clean, smooth running order. Create a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly kitchen cleaning list that outlines everything that needs to be taken care of, from wiping down prep stations to cleaning grease traps. Keep a checklist handy so that daily jobs get done and employees don’t try to put them off for the next shift. Regular cleaning of a restaurant kitchen can also help cut down on food spoilage and waste, saving you money. Ruminating on how to run a restaurant kitchen works much better if your restaurant isn’t facing unexpected problems.
An efficient kitchen is one in which the chefs prepare and cook the food in the minimal time to the highest standard with the least effort. To achieve this, it is essential that a kitchen adopts a methodical and economical method of working by a good kitchen operation procedure. You can consider this a restaurant kitchen efficiency tips list:
- Ensuring all kitchen equipment is fully operational. For instance, a sharp knife is more efficient than a blunt one.
- Using electrical equipment only when the quantities you are preparing will ensure that you will save time. So, don’t use a mechanical potato peeler to prepare four portions of potatoes as it will take longer to clean the equipment than it will to peel the potatoes with it. But, it will probably be worth using it when preparing for 100 covers.
- Working systematically. In preparing fish cakes, for example, prepare the fish and mashed potato in advance. Lay out the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs used to coat the fish cakes and assemble them in a methodical manner.
- Read up on how to run a restaurant kitchen guides issued by other successful restaurants nearby, or online.
- Avoiding fatigue when standing for long periods of time by standing correctly, with the weight evenly balanced on both legs. Take care when lifting heavy items; always bend the knees, not the back.
- Ensuring all necessary equipment is available and ready at hand at the start of each working session – don’t waste time hunting for a ladle in the heat of service.
- Positioning all work-tops, sinks, stores and refrigerators within easy reach to eliminate unnecessary movement of chefs during service.
- Storing all ingredients as close as possible to the practical work area, with the most frequently used items close at hand.
- Following a clear, continuous work plan, as opposed to a haphazard one. Dishes requiring long preparation or cooking should be started first.
- How to run a restaurant for dummies.
How to Run a Restaurant Kitchen – Summary
Maintain a high degree of focus as the kitchen manager. Communicate with the staff to promote efficiency and productivity while being cost-conscious. Make the management of the staff a priority over concerns for the menu. Instructing them on how to run a restaurant kitchen efficiently is critical.
View the kitchen as a team effort. Hire the best people for each spot and make sure that all are clear on specific roles and how they coordinate. Acknowledge and respect everyone in the kitchen for their contribution to the mission. Reward performance and promote from within.
Hire a sous chef who is willing and capable of stepping into the lead role when the head chef is not available. Assign the sous chef the duties of training new kitchen staff, ordering food, costing out the menu, managing inventories and working out a standard training program.
Hand over all responsibility for the menu to the head chef. Hire someone who is confident and creative and able to inspire the kitchen staff with a high degree of energy and enthusiasm. Meet regularly with the head chef to cultivate teamwork and cooperation.
Devise a how to run a restaurant kitchen personalized checklist for every of your restaurants.
Allow the chef and sous chef to participate in the hiring of all prep cooks. Make sure all prep cooks understand the entire menu as well as the operation of all the kitchen equipment. Cross-train some of the prep cooks to step up as line cooks when needed.
Choose line cooks who demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to learn. Look for people who are quick studies and eager to learn, who function well under stress and who communicate well with other staff. How to run a kitchen line.
Add top-notch dishwashers to the team, one that realizes the importance of sparking clean dishes, glassware and kitchen equipment. Encourage the entire kitchen staff of the importance of the dishwashers. Remind people that nearly all head chefs spent time as dishwashers.