Aug14

Do your staff understand your menu?

(14 /08 /2014)

Are your staff up to speed with the menus on offer?  Do they know what ingredients were used and how they are cooked? Could they answer a question on dietary or allergy requirements?

I recently read a review in one of the major papers on a newly opened establishment and the highlighted issue was knowledge!  The service staff member had no knowledge of the menu, the ingredients in each dish or the accompaniments and unfortunately this was matched with poor customer service!  The kitchen didn’t even seem on top of it with some of the dishes missing items or adding items that weren’t listed on the original menu item!  Not a good look for a newly open place.  I have seen reviews like this close places down as unfortunately some people view critics’ words as gospel.

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 orientation and 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.


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