A restaurant’s kitchen is a team of cooks at different
levels of cooking experience who come from diverse cultural
backgrounds. This diversity opens the door to hearing several
opinions when staff—all the way to the dishwasher—is asked
to taste-test items.
Sepia’s cooks serve as a taste-test panel on components and
sauces of full-scale dishes being planned for the dining room.
For example, Zimmerman wanted to add lacquered crispy fried
pig’s tails to a scallop dish. Pig’s tails were made for a staff meal,
and he listened to opinions about flavor, texture and presentation.
“Who else is a better judge than chefs?” he says. “The tails
were a hit and made it to the dish.”
When Lusk plans a menu for a wine dinner at Restaurant
R’evolution, he involves front- and back-of-the-house staff in
tasting each course, which serves as the staff meal. “Although
everyone gets to sample the menu and have something to eat,
I really want them to critique the dishes and provide their
opinion on the entire menu,” he says.
“Allowing staff to play an active role in tasting recipes and
giving their opinions adds value to our restaurant, because everyone can affect the final outcome of a recipe. It’s empowering.”
When employees are
encouraged to critique
dishes and try different
things, it leads to more
knowledge of the
food and improved
BUILD CAMARADERIE. The
better staff members know
each other and the better
they get along translates into
success for the restaurant
and for everyone involved.
IMPROVE MORALE IN THE
who get a free meal are
usually happier to come
to work, and provide good
service to guests.
THEFT. Employees are
less likely to steal from the
restaurant if they know they
will share in a family meal.
REDUCE FOOD WASTE.
Perfectly edible “leftovers”
created during mise
en place can be used
for the family meal,
which saves money.
ADDRESS ISSUES. It gives
the chef a chance to get
on a soapbox to talk about
work and training issues.
ROB BENES, A CHICAGO-BASED JOURNALIS T, HAS 10 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WRITING ABOU T CHEFS,
FOOD, WINE AND SPIRI TS FOR TRADE, EDUCA TIONAL AND CONSUMER PUBLICA TIONS.