Food Allergies: A Responsible Approach

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None of these are a good way to end a meal.

I have one hard and fast rule when it comes to waiting tables.  No one dies on my watch.  I have had several guests leave the restaurant in an ambulance, but none of them have died.  It is a simple thing, but it helps me sleep better at night.  I may not be changing the world with this rule, but I cannot imagine the guilt of breaking it.

This is why I am particularly careful about food allergies.  Knowledge of food allergies is the most basic tool  a server has to prevent guests from facing life-threatening reactions in their restaurants.  This is too often treated lightly.  I once heard a surgeon say that the only minor surgery is the one someone else is having.  The same can be said of food allergies.  While it may not seem important to every guest, the difference between a peanut and a tree nut can be the difference between an enjoyable meal and a trip to the emergency room for some of your guests.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Chef Nicolette: An Introduction

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Chef Nicolette at her CIA graduation

A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with a very talented and passionate pantry cook named Nicolette.  She left not long after I started to attend culinary school.  I advised against it.  She has since graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and become an accomplished pastry chef.  I asked her to answer a few questions about school and what she gained from the experience as what I hope is a prelude to future posts.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Set Schedules As A Manager

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"Did you get my note on the back of a bubble gum wrapper asking for this thursday off?"

One of the most time consuming tasks a manager faces during the week is writing the server schedule.  Hours can be spent digging up scraps of paper and consulting server availability just to get coverage for a particular shift.  This is followed by the inevitable complaints from people who work too little or too much.  It is a task most managers dread.  It is also one that can be avoided.

This week I have discussed the advantages and disadvantages to having a set schedule from a server’s perspective.  Today I wanted to wrap this topic up by discussing the impact it has on managers.  All things considered, I think this can be tremendously beneficial for managers.  There are some downsides though.  Knowing both the advantages and the disadvantages will help you make a better decision when debating set scheduling.

There are a few disadvantages to implementing set schedules as a manager.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

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(Note: This is part five of an ongoing series regarding what does and does not motivate servers.  It is based on research provided in part one.  I highly recommend visiting that post to gain proper perspective on this one. The second part dealt with how money fails to motivate servers.  The third part showed how lack of money destroys motivation.  Part four addressed autonomy as the first motivator.  Tomorrow, I will wrap it up by discussing the final motivator, purpose.)

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July.   One of the benefits of being in the business as long as I have is getting invited to the best cookouts.  Nothing like a few chefs putting together a meal.  I live in one of the greatest BBQ cities in the world, but yesterday I had the best ribs this city has ever seen.  Brined and then marinated for days in advance.  These ribs were treated with TLC that would never be possible to replicate in a restaurant.  The Executive Chef at one of the best Italian restaurants in town makes the best ribs in the city.  Moral of the story: you can’t buy the best ribs in town.

More importantly, you can’t pay to have the best ribs in town made.  A chef who cooks for a living and spends as much time cooking as sleeping made his finest meal for free.  Money did not motivate the extra effort.  He decided what he wanted to cook and he was cooking for his friends.  In the lexicon of this series, that translates to “autonomy” and “purpose.”  The interesting part to me is that as we all praised his ribs, he talked about how he would make them better next time.  Even as a professional certified chef, he was thinking of ways to improve.  The term for that is “mastery.”

Mastery for the purposes of this post is not perfection, but constantly striving for improvement.  Serving is not something that can be perfected.  Even the greatest servers in the world are still looking for ways to improve.  This is how they became one of the world’s greatest servers.  The key to mastery is constantly striving to improve.  Servers who recognize this find far more fulfillment, challenge, and reward in the job.  Managers who are able to instill this mindset in their staff are rewarded with highly motivated and productive employees.

Here are some tips on encouraging the pursuit of mastery amongst your staff.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

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