Restaurant Recollections: Who to Hire?

The cold food section of the line has a ridiculous amount of food packed into its tiny storage space. It is a square work area, with fridge and freezer mounted on the wall directly in front of you, salads and toppings to the left, and oysters, desserts, and all the other crap we needed to the right. Also on the right, across from the oyster station, is the sushi station. Those preparing sushi are facing those preparing desserts or oysters.

The sushi side does not  have a fridge. Instead the biggest hotel pan gets full of ice, and the tiny 9th size hotel pans full of sushi ingredients are balanced precariously on it. By the end of the night the ice is melted, and the 9 pans are flipping over into the water every five seconds, since they are way to light to actually just float. (Another genius in that kitchen and I later came up with a solution to this problem.)

Don’t ask me why the oyster station is right next to the dessert station. It doesn’t make any sense and it never will. Anyways, it is still my first week  at the Beach House. We are nearing the end of the night. I believe there were two salad guys on shift, plus me, as I was technically still in training. The key lime pie needed almond crumbles and whipped cream on top, and wouldn’t you believe it, we ran out of whipped cream.

I spy the mini-Hobart (like a kitchen aid stand mixer, but Hobart brand, which is also the brand that makes the huge-ass sit on the ground mixers) on the bake station, which is  across from the sushi station, and go grab the whipping cream from the walk in fridge to whip it. I pull the mini-Hobart off the shelf (yes, we really call them that), and whip up the cream with a splash of vanilla and a tiny bit of powdered sugar. It is only after I do all this, that I realize the other salad guys are staring at me with gaping mouths. Apparently they all had no idea how to make whipped cream, let alone the courage to pull down the mixer and do it.

Later that night, the shift leader who is also the grill cook, whose name is Dylan, tells me that normally the salad people would have had to ask him to make the whipped cream for them.

What is the point of this whole story? Simply that, sadly enough, most restaurant workers who aren’t meat cooks don’t know anything about food. Like anything. This is why it takes so long to train them. If someone does not know the difference between iceberg and romaine lettuce, you’re not just teaching them your menu; you have to teach them really basic stuff too. And adults just aren’t that good at memorizing new stuff.

When someone is trying to memorize all this new info about types of lettuce, and colors of peppers, for example, he is liable to make a lot of mistakes. And he is going to take forever to train. This is the quandary most chefs and restaurant owners face. And there is not a lot they can do about it, since they usually can’t offer a high enough salary to entice the people who actually know about food or have real skills.

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