Restaurant kitchen training varies by position, but some basics remain the same across the board. Ability to take and execute orders effectively, to pick up new information quickly, and to communicate as part of a team are skills that are both necessary and expected. Training can take place whether or not a prospective restaurant kitchen worker has attended culinary school.
Restaurant kitchen training enables chefs to train new staff to their standards and teaches new kitchen staff what is expected of them. It is most frequently accomplished by on-the-job training, with tasks being enumerated as a new kitchen staff member goes through a normal day. The more time is spent in successive shifts, the more knowledge is reinforced and new skills are learned.
If a new restaurant kitchen worker is a student in culinary school, an externship period toward the end of culinary school is standard. This is essentially on-the-job training in a restaurant kitchen, where a student receives school credit for that training. A small salary may or may not be offered in addition to school credit.
New workers in a restaurant kitchen, from dishwashers to chefs, receive some form of restaurant kitchen training whenever they start a new job in a new restaurant. If they shift from one position to another within the same restaurant kitchen, the process will usually be much shorter.
Policies differ by restaurant. Some restaurants may have a specified probationary period by which they expect new kitchen staff to be able to demonstrate certain competencies. If a new kitchen staff member has not mastered those skills by that point, senior kitchen staff will usually have a meeting with that person to discuss that person's future within the restaurant. The faster a new kitchen staffer picks up the skills expected for the position, the more likely it is that she will advance in that kitchen.
No matter what a perspective kitchen staffer may have learned in previous restaurants or in culinary school, each restaurant has its own policies, procedures, and methods of working. Local health code rules still apply, regardless of restaurant. Restaurant kitchen staff form a vast network in any given area. Chances are excellent that people in one kitchen know many people in other kitchens in the vicinity. If a new restaurant staffer decides that a particular kitchen is not for him, he should do his best to make a clean break with that kitchen if he wants to work in other kitchens.
While culinary school can teach a lot of valuable skills and basics, students may face a harsh awakening if they go into training in a new restaurant kitchen thinking that they know everything already. Efficiency, quick absorption of new information, and working as part of a team are the primary skills taught in restaurant kitchens.
Starting at a lower position in the kitchen, such as dishwasher, may seem disappointing to new kitchen staff. However, each position should be seen as a vantage point from which to get one's bearings and learn new skills. Restaurant kitchens are often hierarchical, and run on merit. If a new member of a restaurant kitchen does a job to the best of his ability and has a good attitude, it will be noticed by those higher up in the kitchen. New responsibilities will be given, and if a kitchen staffer rises to the occasion, promotions are imminent as positions become available.
- The Professional Chef (Eighth Edition); Culinary Institute of America; 2006
- Photo Credit set of kitchen knives image by Canakris from Fotolia.com
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