by Lisa M. Brefere, Karen Eich Drummond, and Brad Barnes
The scene is a dust-filled space with raw walls and exposed ceilings. In the middle of the room is a giant unrefined board covered by crisp white architectural plans. The precise tiny blue lines represent the master plan of doorways, kitchen equipment, seating arrangements, and workflow. A voice from across the table interrupts my thinking. "Everything look in order, Chef?" At first glance, these clean, crisp drawings would awe anyone with their professional appearance and military precision, but as I painfully understand each carefully planned line, I find the hidden mistakes most kitchens take to their graves. This is my first newly designed kitchen, and I plan to recognize those flaws from my years of working these disastrous kitchens. "No," I quickly answer, without hesitation. "I need to walk the space and plan each station as if we were cooking our first meal."
The opening of a restaurant is like the birth of a child. You have nurtured your dreams, shaped your experience, and perfected your cuisine. Your interest in the project includes the dining room d é cor, color scheme, carpeting patterns, seating arrangements, bar and lounge atmosphere, not to mention the style of china, silver, and glassware. The list of kitchen smallwares grows with every breath of creativity and menu design. The months before were filled with sleepless nights when you mentally prepared menus over and over again. The final cuts were meticulously executed in a peer's kitchen or your own home, with friends and family as taste testers. Many items are classic dishes you've cooked hundreds of times—with a new twist of excitement, of course. It seemed like a lifetime to get to this point—countless hours, immeasurable months, and vaporizing years—to finally hear the words of stature: "The Chef." I'm only 28, yet I've matured in a practice filled with mistakes and successes. I cooked day and night, weekends and holidays, and, usually, on my days off. If I wasn't cooking, I was talking about cooking. Now, today, I have an owner who believes in my spirit, my style, my ability—and, most important, my food. Every inch of the restaurant must be perfect, the concept exact, and the menu inviting and realistic. We need to please, surprise, and satisfy with every bite. We must create an experience and supply a value so when our clients leave we hear the musical words "We'll definitely be back."
Read Culinary Careers in Restaurants in PDF format at Wiley.com.
This page created October 2008
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