The Serial That Takes You to Dinner
by Chef Bob Munnich
Back of the House is a real chef's fictional story about running a restaurant and the politics behind the scenes that diners rarely see.
After two and a half hours of scrubbing, mopping and polishing, the kitchen was clean. The servers had finished about an hour before. It was time to lock up and go get some sleep. Scott and Jamie were in the office finishing up the paper work when Jules said good bye.
They too were finished, and all three walked out together. "Shall we try again tomorrow?" Jamie asked.
"I think that's a good idea," Scott replied.
"Think we can go over those comment cards in the morning?" Jules asked. "Nothing like trying to get it right next time."
"You're so serious...don't you ever lighten up?" Scott asked facetiously.
"Hey, that's good" Jamie said, "Someone's got to be!"
"That's right!" Jules replied.
"Yeah, we'll review the comments in the morning. I think we all have some training to do. Across the board we're in need of some help," Scott said. "See ya in the AM," he said as he got into his car.
"Morning comes too soon sometimes!" Jules said as she got into her Honda. "See ya tomorrow!"
With a honk of their horns they all went on their way. Jules got home around two AM. She was so wound up she decided to take her shower, watch a little tube, and have a beer before turning in. There was nothing on TV, so she watched the end of an old movie, and was asleep within a few minutes.
BUZZZZZ.....BUZZZZZZZ....BUZZZZZZZ. "Six o'clock already" Jules thought to herself as she slammed the alarm clock. After a quick shower, she got dressed and headed out. She stopped for a cup of coffee on the way, and got to the restaurant by seven.
No one else was there yet, so she unlocked the doors, deactivated the alarm, and turned the coffee maker on. She let herself into the office and started looking at the comment sheets. They had asked the guests to rate each dish on portion, presentation and taste, then there was a space for suggested price and comments. Each dish had it's own rating so she started sorting the sheets by dish. She noticed some were all "Greats" and some were all "Needs improvement" and then there were some which were less consistent. She made a list of all the dishes that were the lowest ratings, and then the ones which were inconsistent. On a separate piece of paper she listed the "Great" dishes.
After reviewing the "Need's improvement" list she saw a few consistencies. The salad dressings were all too bland. She would check that right away. Also she noticed that two of the dishes were consistently graded as being too small of portions. She pulled out her recipe book, and flipped to the recipes in question and started making notes. A little more salt here, a bigger dose of fresh herbs there. She made a lot of little changes. And then thinking about it she wasn't sure the recipes had been followed. She made a mental note to watch these preps closer. She then pulled out the costing sheets to change the portions on the entrees were that was an issue. She got up to get another cup of coffee, noticed it was nine o'clock already and went to check if the pastry chef and prep cooks were in yet. The pastry chef was in, but the prep cook was nowhere to be found. She poured a cup of coffee, and Jamie and Scott came in. They were in a cheerful mood, and obviously a little tired. They both headed straight for the coffee maker. "Hey all" they shouted as they poured their coffee.
"Hey" Jules said, "How ya feeling today?"
"Ready for another one," Jamie said.
"Yeah another cup of coffee," Scott agreed. "You get a chance to go through those comment cards yet?"
Jules was glad to see she was not the only one who was concerned about the cards. She was worried that they didn't seem too concerned about them last night. "Yeah, I pulled some service ones out for you guys and left a few piles of the food ones out for you to review. I've already made some changes to the prep recipes, but you know, I'm a little worried, Gerry isn't here yet,"
"Why don't you give him a call?" Jamie suggested.
"I think I will," Jules agreed. She picked up the phone and dialed his number. Hanging up she said, "It's busy. I hope that means he's trying to call us to let us know he's late, but somehow I don't think so," She looked down the phone list for another cooks number to call. She picked Andrew the alternate prep cook and dialed his number.
"Andrew, hi" she said after he answered. "I know your not on the schedule today, but Gerry isn't here yet. He's a half an hour late. Can you work this morning?"
He agreed to come right in, and she said good bye. She went to the changing room to put on her uniform. When she got back to the kitchen both Gerry and Andrew were there. "Wow that was quick," she said to Andrew.
"Well I live right down the street," he said.
"And you Gerry. Your forty five minutes late! What's your story?" She asked.
"My wife had to work late, and I didn't have babysitter. I had to wait for her to come home. I would've called but I didn't have the number," he replied.
"Well, Andrew is here now. You can go home. I'll see you tomorrow," Jules said very matter-of-factly.
Gerry didn't put up any argument. He just punched out and left.
Jules reviewed the recipe changes with Andrew. And another day started.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Bob Munnich. All Rights Reserved.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
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