Apr20

Ask iChef…

(20 /04 /2016)

Q: How can I ensure my team, both front and back of house understand the menu and any changes?  How can we share information effectively and make sure we take the time to listen to their concerns of feedback from customers as well!

Answer:

There are simple ways to ensure that staff are up to date with menus, or even last minute changes.  Menu tastings involving all staff when the menu has been finalised, accompany this with photos of what the plated item looks like and an ingredient list for easy reference.  These are simple tools that should be mandatory in every kitchen.   Combining a visual experience with taste allows your staff members to speak from experience – they can offer advice and information to the customers making the dining experience more enjoyable.  There is nothing more uncomfortable as a customer than not know what something is on the menu and feeling ‘silly’ to ask.  If your staff understand the menu and have tasted it, they can explain it!

The photos are a great reference tool for the kitchen as well – this ensures consistency with your presentation and an ingredients list helps with prep, measurement, wastage and ordering!

Briefing prior to service is important to go over any specials on offer or available portions of specific items left. This briefing can be also used to push slow items on the menu.  Setting a time each week for an extended 20 min orientation and then daily 5 minutes before each service ensures everyone,  especially the newbies, understand the ‘ins and outs’ of the establishment and avoids ‘I need to check with the chef’ or ‘I don’t know’ responses at the table.

I found it a really great way of bonding with the team and sharing ideas and praising for a job well done, but one thing that was never done was to criticize anyone during our briefings. Briefing also was a chance for everyone to take ownership of the business and come up with ways to make the working environment less stressful and enjoyable.


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