Rock solid. What does it mean? It’s a term thrown around a lot when referring to people’s work ethic and it’s a term that’s often used to describe kitchen staff.
One of our favourite online industry writers, Paul Sorgule, has been writing about the idea of rock solid in the kitchen and what the term actually means. You can read more on that here.
Sorgule argues that there are eight important qualities a cook must hold before they can claim the title of Rock Solid: dependable, experienced, strong work ethic, integrity, sense of responsibility, emphasis on quality, discipline and teamwork. Again, you can read more about how each of these equates to the kitchen on Sorgule’s blog.
Below, we’re highlighting what seems the most valuable part of the article. What does a chef, a leader of a team, need to do to make sure all their staff obtain the 'Rock Solid’ status? That’s right, Sorgule, who has worked in professional kitchens for years, offers up his own eight point plan for enabling inexperienced staff members to grow into rock solid stars.
Take a look.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR EXCELLENCE IN WORK
Creating an environment in support of the best employees includes insistence on the very best work results. Chefs who want to create a positive work environment must have the very highest expectations of excellence – they never, ever accept mediocrity. Ironically, this is exactly what the best employees want as well. The best want to work for the best.
RECOGNIZE HOW IMPORTANT THE COOK POSITION IS TO A RESTAURANTS’ SUCCESS
Chefs must advocate for the cook, praise their work when they seek excellence, and publicly recognize the critical role that cooks play in the success of the restaurant. The best chefs give credit where credit is due.
CREATE A SUPPORTIVE “INVESTMENT” ENVIRONMENT
In an effort to attract and retain the best – chefs must be willing and able to invest in a cook’s growth. In-service training, helping a cook build his or her network of influence, and creating outside opportunities for cooks to build their skill set are all investment opportunities that will pay back tenfold.
RESPECT A COOK’S OPINIONS AND IDEAS
Seeking out a cook’s opinions, providing a forum for soliciting those opinions and ideas, and when possible- acting on those opinions and ideas will help a cook feel like an important part of the business beyond his or her immediate job.
ENGAGE COOKS IN THE WHOLE PICTURE
The chef must create a situation where the cook wouldn’t think of working anywhere else. Sharing as much as possible about the business and everyone’s role in the restaurants success demonstrates how much the chef values each and every employee.
HELP THOSE ROCK SOLID COOKS HAVE A LIFE
The old school (of which I am a part) felt that a cook must dedicate his or her life to the kitchen. There is a new reality that truly makes more sense – when in the kitchen it must be a person’s 100% focus, but there must be time to have a life outside of food. It is the responsibility of a chef to help every cook realize this through reasonable scheduling and compassion when it comes to family responsibilities. This is how you help to create and retain rock solid cooks.
PAY THEM FAIRLY
I can’t stress this enough – when we pay cooks $10/hour we are clearly stating that they are interchangeable parts. How much is that rock solid employee attitude worth to you? If the cook is your most important asset then he or she should be treated as such. Yes, I know how small the margins are in restaurants, but if we stop and take a look at inefficiencies in our systems and the fact that well cared for employees might actually work harder and help to grow the business, then there is a way.
HELP THE COOK BUILD HIS OR HER PERSONAL BRAND
Finally, every chef must understand that no matter how well you treat a cook there will come a time when he or she will move on. Part of a chef’s responsibility is to help prepare cooks for this reality. Sit down with them and talk about their long -term goals, where they see themselves in 10 years and help them create a roadmap to get there. This investment attitude will serve the chef well and help to create a long list of great cooks seeking an opportunity to work for him or her.
A four-day restaurant week, a day dedicated to staff learning, and cooking demonstrations for the public are just a few of the new ways of working in Dan Barber's new vision for his NY restaurant and farm. Find out more.
Francesco Martucci from I Masanielli in the Campania region of Italy has been named the best pizzaiolo in the world for a third year running. See the full list as well as all the international winners.