This is THE KITCHEN CODE.
I know, someone will say it is not politically correct.
Well, in effect it is not and I don't give a fuck!
Also it is not written in any school text or any management manual,
but I grew up with this rules in most of the kitchens I worked
and I expect the same in my kitchens, so let's have a bit of fun....
1. You show up early and you are at your station early, ready to work
2. You arrive in a presentable fashion: showered, shaved, brushed, combed, and in a clean uniform, last night’s entertainment is not discernable
3. You have a genuine enthusiasm for good food, good technique, and culinary advancement, regardless of how much you already think you know
4. You maintain a good attitude, finding satisfaction in doing good work
5. You are coachable and don’t get defensive when criticized
6. You are not a know-it-all (the opposite of being coachable)
7. You don’t take yourself too seriously and are able to laugh at yourself if you fucked up…but you also learn from it
8. You do not dwell upon or allow the feelings associated with a fuck-up to distract you. Instead, you keep your mental focus in the game and move on. If you need to discuss it with Chef then do so after service has ended
9. You season everything with the “correct” amount of seasoning as per the Chef’s preference (not your own)
10. You taste everything in your station, making sure it is correctly made and of proper quality
11. Dull knives are disrespectful to ingredients – you have a sharp knife at all times
12. You NEVER use someone else’s knives without their permission. As Anthony Bourdain says: “Don’t touch my dick, don’t touch my knife”
13. You do not complain – especially about those things which cannot be controlled, such as customer requests/returns, the restaurant hours of operation, having to work weekends, holidays, how busy or slow it is, etc.
14. You show respect for the food, for the Chef, and for how we want things done at THIS restaurant (not the way some other chef did it at some other restaurant you worked at…we don’t care)
15. You show respect for fellow co-workers (team members); this includes cooks, dishwashers, bussers, prep cooks, food runners, expeditors, and servers (yes, the servers too!)
16. You do not expect or demand respect from others. You understand that respect is earned: a) by being equal or better than everyone else in the kitchen, and b) by treating everyone else like they are equal or better than you
17. You understand the importance of a fully staffed crew and you do not call in sick so you can go to that concert, or party
18. You consistently show up for work…if you are sick then be prepared to provide a doctor’s note to prove it (too many have violated the other members of the Saturday night crew by calling in sick to go to a party)
19. If you have a mild cold, or a headache, or a hangover, you are not sick…show up for work
20. You don’t get sick often
21. You have the ability to stay focused under pressure – expect to be in the weeds often… and work your way out of it alone
22. You’re not afraid to ask for help if your station gets slammed…but you understand that help may not be available
23. If your station gets utterly hammered and you sink, you don’t give up and walk off the Line…you break out a shovel and dig your way out
24. You are aware of the kitchen flow and take initiative…if your fellow cook is buried, you help them out
25. You always rotate product properly, practicing FIFO (First In, First Out)
26. You always have enough mise en place for your shift
27. You never throw product out due to over-prepping
28. You NEVER steal someone else’s mise en place
29. You always prepare fresh products daily…do not make tomorrow’s chiffonade today
30. When running low on a product for your station’s prep you always let the chef know before the last of it is gone
31. Never 86 anything unless there is no more product to prep. When running low on a menu item you always give the chef at least a one hour warning before having to 86 it. This allows a count-down for the servers so no customer orders it when it is gone; and it allows time to try to prep more or find a replacement
32. You are fast, but not sloppy…your station is clean and organized even in the middle of the push
33. You always have an extra gear available when needed
34. You follow established safe holding temperatures and verify that your products in the hot bain-marie and refrigerated holding inserts are at temp. You sanitize everything that comes in contact with food, ie. thermometers, utensils etc.
35. You organize your time efficiently, always planning ahead…you make fewer trips to the walk-in, always carrying something both ways
36. You take your breaks when it’s slow, and only with the chef’s permission
37. You restock your station before taking your breaks
38. You manage your food well – if it needs to be in the window in 2 minutes you can make it happen, or if you’re told to slow a dish for 4 minutes you know how to do that as well
39. You have an appetite to learn more, regardless of how much or little you already know
40. You prepare and present the food exactly as the Chef has taught you…every time
41. When you’re having a great day you focus, prepare, & present the food properly throughout your entire shift
42. When you’re having a shitty day you focus, prepare, & present the food properly throughout your entire shift
43. You do it right, without taking shortcuts, even if it’s a tedious pain in the ass. This is called Professional Discipline
44. You do not bring your personal drama to work with you. You take control of, and are responsible for, your “Emotional Wake”
45. You are not afraid to ask appropriate questions about proper procedure…do not hack up an entire tenderloin because you are too arrogant, or too scared, to ask for a demo
46. You work neatly and clean as you go
47. You properly label and date EVERYTHING
48. You admit when you are wrong, but don’t point it out when others are wrong – especially if it’s the chef
49. The kitchen is not a democracy…always do it the Chef’s way, even if you think your way is better, if you must suggest something, do so in private…hopefully the Chef will give you kudos if he accepts the revision…but don’t expect it
50. “Yes Chef!” or “Oui Chef!” is the only proper response to any directive from the Chef. If the Chef says, “Please do it this way” understand that he/she is not offering you a choice; you are politely being instructed how to do it and your compliance is expected
51. You always give call-backs when orders are called
52. You work in a safe manner, thereby protecting yourself and others from harm
53. You always use appropriate kitchen warnings such as, “Behind”, “Corner”, “Hot”, “Knife”, “Oven Open”, etc.
54. You are willing and able to work long hours under high stress, sometimes for many days straight, w/o becoming a moody detriment to the kitchen or the food
55. You work for the good of the team and the restaurant
56. You plan ahead and ask for days off well in advance
57. You always know exactly what is in your oven, or on your stove or grill, even if it’s not yours
58. You are aware and observant in the kitchen: you smell when food doesn’t smell or feel right, you notice if the temp in a cooler is too high, you smell if something is burning
59. You have a “sense of urgency”
60. You work efficiently as regards time and organization, meaning that items which take a long time to prepare are started before items which take less time. During service, if you have a dish which takes 10 minutes to prepare, one which takes 5 minutes, and one which takes 2 minutes, you are able to time and prepare all three within 10 minutes and hit the window at the same time; and it does not take you 17 minutes because you prepared them one at a time
61. You always tell the chef when you leave the Line, including why you are leaving
62. When it’s slow, you always find something useful to do, including cleaning your station or organizing the walk-in. “If you have time to lean you have time to clean”
63. Always treat equipment with respect, as if you paid for it yourself
64. Always work in a manner which meets the health code, ensuring that you’re not going to get someone sick
65. You understand the proper use of foodservice gloves. They are a pain in the ass, but they protect our guests, “No glove, no love”
66. Know the difference between a cut and a scratch; a cut requires stitches, a scratch does not. If it’s a scratch put a Band-Aid on it and get back to work. If it requires only 2 or 3 stitches, please return to finish your shift after the doctor is done. The crew and the chef will both respect and appreciate you more for it
67. If you do return to work with injuries, be wise enough to work within your restrictions and not cause yourself additional injury
68. You daily rotate all your mise en place on the Line into clean containers at closing
69. You stay until all the day’s work is done properly w/o asking to leave early. You ask if there’s anything else that needs to be done before leaving
70. You mentor new co-workers as you would have liked to have been mentored/taught, not necessarily how you were taught
71. You manage your “recreational activities” wisely… too many of us become addicted to alcohol or drugs
72. To be recognized as a leader in the kitchen…you know the kitchen code, practice the kitchen code, and mentor the kitchen code. I know… sappy and proselytizing!
But how else could you possibly end “The Code… of Anything"?
73. And, last but not least, you have three optional answers when questioned: “Yes CHEF, Sorry CHEF, It will never happen again, CHEF"