July 24 2014 – Robert Fiumara
How to Manage and Inspire Your Cooks
In this business, meeting and working alongside chefs is the norm. Chefs on whole share a variety of traits and values, but on occasion, it seems like they come up a little short on patience and understanding. Head chefs are often characterized as impatient or hot-tempered. They flair up at critique and take their work incredibly personally – and they have to. Working in food requires love, passion, and dedication to the craft of cooking.
In that vein, the chefs I have learned the most from were the ones who pushed me. Who challenged others and listened to them. Who took the role of both student and mentor in everything they did. It takes incredible grace, humility, and consideration to be a cook or chef.
That said, you can never treat your cooks like just another warm body. You have to invest in them. It is a waste of time for a cook to labor in a kitchen that they feel like does not nourish them professionally. If they’re going to be relegated to just another body, they may as well work anywhere. They will struggle to make ends meet, and so, the only way they will feel like it’s worth it is if the chefs and managers they work under actually invest in them as people.
Keeping Your Staff Motivated Takes Effort
You have to be sharing and kind. To inspire your cooks, you must talk about their work and encourage them. Share the knowledge you gain from researching and interacting with cooks and chefs all over the world. Eat at other restaurants and talk about the things that you feel they do correctly and those that can be improved upon. To be a good manager, you do not have to be touchy-feely. You don’t have to babysit them and hold their hand, but you do have to know them. You do have to invest in them, and sometimes that investing means coming down on them, too. You will sometimes have to show some tough love and critique their work. You have to because it means bettering your menu and kitchen.
Don’t be afraid to get online and bring them in. Earn the respect of your kitchen with the way you manage, and repay the work they give you. Remember your cooks and the work they do, and you will be remembered and respected.
Commit Personally, and Have an Incredible Staff
To be a great manager and a better inspiration, try to show compassion, diligence, and integrity at all times. You have to keep your cool when it would be too easy to let it go. Go in every day and practice the craft of your restaurant. Trudge through the tedium with a clear head and concrete confidence, and you’ll pave the way for your cooks to be the best kitchen staff that you have ever had.
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