The Organization Of Modern Kitchens

THE BASIS OF KITCHEN ORGANIZATION

The purpose of kitchen organization is to assign or allocate tasks so they can be done efficiently and properly and so all workers know what their responsibilities are.

The way a kitchen is organized depends on several factors.

1. The menu.

The kinds of dishes to be produced obviously determine the jobs that need to be done.The menu is, in fact, the basis of the entire operation. Because of its impor-

tance,we devote a whole chapter to a study of the menu (Chapter 5).

2. The type of establishment.

The major types of food service establishments are as follows:

• Institutional kitchens

Schools

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health-care institutions

Employee lunchrooms

Airline catering

Military food service

Correctional institutions

The Organization of Modern Kitchens 9

• Catering and banquet services

• Fast-food restaurants

• Carry-out or take-out food facilities

• Full-service restaurants

3. The size of the operation (the number of customers and the volume of food served).

4. The physical facilities, including the equipment in use.

THE CLASSICAL BRIGADE

As you learned earlier in this chapter, one of Escoffier's important achievements was the reorganization of the kitchen.This reorganization divided the kitchen into departments, or stations, based on the kinds of foods produced. A station chef was placed in charge of each department. In a small operation, the station chef may be the only worker in the department. But in a large kitchen, each station chef might have several assistants.

This system, with many variations, is still used today, especially in large hotels with traditional kinds of food service.The major positions are as follows:

1. The chef is the person in charge of the kitchen. In large establishments, this person has the title of executive chef.The executive chef is a manager who is responsible for all aspects of food production, including menu planning, purchasing, costing, planning work schedules, hiring, and training.

2. If a food service operation is large,with many departments (for example, a formal dining room, a casual dining room, and a catering department), or if it has several units in different locations, each kitchen may have a chef de cuisine.The chef de cuisine reports to the executive chef.

3. The sous chef (soo shef) is directly in charge of production and works as the assistant to the executive chef or chef de cuisine. (The word "sous"is French for "under.") Because the executive chef's responsibilities may require a great deal of time in the office, the sous chef takes command of the actual production and the minute-by-minute supervision of the staff.

4. The station chefs, or chefs de partie, are in charge of particular areas of produc-tion.The following are the most important station chefs.

• The sauce chef, or saucier (so-see-ay), prepares sauces, stews, and hot hors d'oeuvres, and sautés foods to order.This is usually the highest position of all the stations.

• The fish cook, or poissonier (pwah-so-nyay), prepares fish dishes. In some kitchens, this station is handled by the saucier.

• The vegetable cook, or entremetier (awn-truh-met-yay),prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.

• The roast cook, or rôtisseur (ro-tee-sur),prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies and broils meats and other items to order.A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook, or grillardin (gree-ar-rfan), to handle the broiled items.The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.

• The pantry chef, or garde manger (gard-mawn-^hay), is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, pâtés, cold hors d'oeuvres, and buffet items.

• The pastry chef, or pâtissier (pa-tees-syay), prepares pastries and desserts.

• The relief cook, swing cook, or tournant (toor-nawn), replaces other station heads.

• The expediter, or aboyeur (ah-bwa-yer), accepts orders from waiters and passes them on to the cooks on the line.The expediter also calls for orders to be finished and plated at the proper time and inspects each plate before passing it to the dining room staff. In many restaurants, this position is taken by the head chef or the sous chef.

5. Cooks and assistants in each station or department help with the duties assigned to them. For example, the assistant vegetable cook may wash, peel, and trim vegetables. With experience,assistants may be promoted to station cooks and then to station chefs.

are not much different from menus of the Middle Ages.

Banquets during the Middle Ages were like huge sit-down buffets. For each course, the table was loaded with large quantities of meats, poultry, and fish dishes, usually heavily spiced, and an assortment of side dishes and sweets. Diners generally ate only what they could reach. The course was then removed, and another course, also meats and side dishes, was loaded onto the table. Again, each person ate only a fraction of the dishes present, depending on what was within reach.

The modern idea of a menu in which everyone at the table eats the same dishes in the same order does not appear until the 1700s.

So it is not historically accurate to give the Italian princess Caterina credit for modernizing French cuisine. On the other hand, it is fair to say that she and her offspring brought more refined manners and elegance to European dining rooms. Italian innovations included the use of the fork as well as greater cleanliness in general. An additional Italian contribution was the invention of sophisticated pastries and desserts.

MODERN KITCHEN ORGANIZATION

As you can see, only a large establishment needs a staff like the classical brigade just described. In fact, some large hotels have even larger staffs, with other positions such as separate day and night sous chefs,assistant chef, banquet chef, butcher, baker, and so on.

Most modern operations, on the other hand, are smaller than this.The size of the classical brigade may be reduced simply by combining two or more positions where the workload allows it. For example, the second cook may combine the duties of the sauce cook, fish cook, soup cook, and vegetable cook.

A typical medium-size operation may employ a chef, a second cook, a broiler cook, a pantry cook, and a few cooks' helpers.

A working chef is in charge of operations that are not large enough to have an executive chef. In addition to being in charge of the kitchen, the working chef also handles one of the production stations. For example, he or she may handle the sauté station, plate foods during service, and help on other stations when needed.

Small kitchens may have only a chef, one or two cooks, and perhaps one or two assistants to handle simple jobs such as washing and peeling vegetables. Cooks who prepare or finish hot á la carte items during service in a restaurant may be known as line cooks. Line cooks are said to be on the hot line,or simply on the line.

In many small operations, the short-order cook is the backbone of the kitchen during service time.This cook may handle the broiler,deep fryer,griddle,sandwich production, and even some sautéed items. In other words, the short-order cook's responsibility is the preparation of foods that are quickly prepared to order.

By contrast, establishments such as school cafeterias may do no cooking to order at all. Stations and assignments are based on the requirements of quantity preparation rather than cooking to order.

SKILL LEVELS

The preceding discussion is necessarily general because there are so many kinds of kitchen organizations.Titles vary also.The responsibilities of the worker called the second cook,for example, are not necessarily the same in every establishment. Escoffiers standardized system has evolved in many directions.

One title that is often misunderstood and much abused is chef.The general public tends to refer to anyone with a white hat as a chef, and people who like to cook for guests in their homes refer to themselves as amateur chefs.

Strictly speaking, the term chef is reserved for one who is in charge of a kitchen or a part of a kitchen.The word chef is French for "chief" or "head." Studying this book will not make you a chef.The title must be earned by experience not only in preparing food but also in managing a staff and in planning production. New cooks who want to advance in their careers know they must always use the word chef with respect.

Skills required of food production personnel vary not only with the job level but also with the establishment and the kind of food prepared.The director of a hospital kitchen and the head chef in a luxury restaurant need different skills.The skills needed by a short-order cook in a coffee shop are not exactly the same as those needed by a production worker in a school cafeteria. Nevertheless, we can group skills into three general categories.

1. Supervisory.

The head of a food service kitchen,whether called executive chef, head chef, working chef, or dietary director, must have management and supervisory skills as well as a thorough knowledge of food production. Leadership positions require an individual who understands organizing and motivating people, planning menus and production procedures, controlling costs and managing budgets, and purchasing food supplies and equipment. Even if he or she does no cooking at all, the chef must be an experienced cook in order to schedule production, instruct workers, and control quality. Above all, the chef must be able to work well with people, even under extreme pressure.

2. Skilled and technical.

While the chef is the head of an establishment,the cooks are the backbone.These workers carry out the actual food production.Thus, they must have knowledge of and experience in cooking techniques, at least for the dishes made in their own department. In addition, they must be able to function well with their fellow workers and to coordinate with other departments. Food production is a team activity.

3. Entry level.

Entry-level jobs in food service usually require no particular skills or experience. Workers in these jobs are assigned such work as washing vegetables and preparing salad greens.As their knowledge and experience increase, they may be given more complex tasks and eventually become skilled cooks. Many executive chefs began their careers as pot washers who got a chance to peel potatoes when the pot sink was empty.

Beginning in an entry-level position and working one's way up with experience is the traditional method of advancing in a food service career. Today, however, many cooks are graduates of culinary schools and programs. But even with such an education, many new graduates begin at entry-level positions.This is as it should be and certainly should not be seen as discouragement. Schools teach general cooking knowledge, while every food service establishment requires specific skills, according to its own menu and its own procedures. Experience as well as theoretical knowledge is needed to be able to adapt to real-life working situations. However, students who have studied and learned well should be able to work their way up more rapidly than the beginners with no knowledge at all.

Continue reading here: Standards Of Professionalism

Was this article helpful?

+6 0

Responses

  • Lara
    Why is organization in the kithchen importan during banquet event?
    7 months ago
  • procopio
    What is a modern kitchen organisation?
    2 years ago