I was supposed to share with you another recipe, but while trying to write the article my sister stormed inside my room complaining about her experience during dinner. She was attending a baby shower party and they decided to hold it in a decent restaurant. It was a party of 25. I don’t think it was that big of a deal. I should know, because I used to be an assistant cook and front of house (FOH) for four years in a restaurant. This is nothing compared to a party where you actually have to close the whole restaurant.
She was fuming because it took two hours for food to be completely served. Not to mention that the things they ordered are not out of the ordinary. Provided that they did not order in advance, but you can’t make your customers wait for two hours. That’s just awful service.
When I was in charge of FOH, I always tell my servers and cooks to NOT make the customers wait for long, and if the dish they order would really take time to be prepared, you have to tell them in advance so that they could decide whether they’re willing to wait or opt for something else. As an asst. cook, I usually work with an extra cook plus a grill man. But even with two extra set of hands, sometimes you get rattled by the influx of orders, that’s why prepping is very important.
I start my day earlier than the rest. I see to it that all vegetables are chopped, rinsed and are within reach. I also thaw ingredients that needed to be thawed. I had a couple of experiences where I served grilled seafood and it’s still cold inside. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole during those times. Never would I serve anything that would put my and the restaurant’s name in shame again.
Back to my sister’s experience in this restaurant: the manager said that the orders took long to be cooked because they only had two cooks working that night. That’s a lame excuse! Only big restaurants have a lot of cooks and chefs, a typical restaurant usually only have two working cooks at a time. Some restaurants forget the value of kitchen dynamics. They blame everything on few manpower and peak hours.
If you work at a restaurant, you know that there are certain hours in the day that you will be very busy. So, I don’t see the reason why a group of 25 is different from serving people during peak hours? Restaurant owners and managers alike should take into consideration that food will be served fast if there’s an expediter to take care of the business in the kitchen.
An expediter make sure that the orders are announced, food is being prepared, plated and delivered to hungry customers on time. Work will be a lot easier and there will definitely be a system. I don’t believe in quantity when it comes to kitchen staff, it’s always about quality. And I guess that restaurant doesn’t value quality, nor do they even care if people go hungry because of them. What’s even more appalling was the fact that they were asking them for service charge, since they were a big party. If I were the manager, I would’ve given them desserts instead, free of charge of course.
Dining out is supposed to be a culinary experience. A restaurant’s life span is so unpredictable because there’s so much competition out there. And for one restaurant that wasted those 25 customers they had, your guess is as good as mine on how long their doors will be open for business.
This post was written by Rita Salonga.