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How to Communicate Effectively in the Kitchen
No matter the size of the kitchen can be chaotic, and fast-paced. Effective communication can make all the difference. It’s the cornerstone of any efficient and successful kitchen—whether there’s a team of two or twenty.
Communicating in the kitchen is unique from other modern workplaces. Chefs and cooks must be able to share important information to succeed in service and create a strong team that pulls together, without relying on meetings, email, or instant messaging.
So let’s explore how to Communicate in the kitchen for both a productive and safe foodservice operation.
Orders Should Flow from the Top Down.
The Brigade de cuisine system was created by our namesake, Auguste Escoffier, and builds a clear organizational hierarchy. It give kitchen a military-style ethic that delivers efficient, effective service under strong leadership.
While the executive chef is the ” general” of the crew, their attention may be more big picture, rather than running the shifts on a daily basis. The “commanding officer” in charge of the line could be the Sous Chef or a lead line cook. They set the pace, give commands, ask questions, and demand information. They have experience and knowledge to lead the team, and the line will take their orders from them.
Communicate up the Brigade, Not Just Down
While the lead Chef is the ultimate authority and controls the flow of information, a truly successful kitchen should include multiple voices during service. The lead needs to receive information, not just give it.
If you’re new to kitchen, be sure to take your lead from the veterans in the room.
Make call-and-Response As Natural As Breathing
Just because the lead chef said something doesn’t mean everyone on the line Heard it. Where so much important information is expressed orally, a call-and-Response practice helps to keep everyone on the same page.
When the lead chef issues a command or an order, they should always receive a brief verbal response. It looks like this :
“Hey John, watch the grill. You’ve got a flare-up.” “Yes, chef.”
” Three filets walking in, that’s six all day.” ” Heard, chef.”
” Let’s fire that dessert.” ” Firing, chef.”
In the kitchen, no response means you didn’t hear. But with a verbal acknowledgement, the chef, the cook being spoken to, and everyone else in the kitchen are all on the same page.
Announce your Whereabouts
A professional kitchen is more than noisy—it can be dengerous if the team doesn’t take proper precautions. A cook may sear a steak on a flaming hot pan, and then turn around to bring that pan to the line to plate it. If they don’t know who is behind them, they could accidentally burn them.
The kitchen layout can make things even more precarious. There could be windowless doors, like the door to the Wark-in freezers. A cook could be crouching at a low-boy cooler, out of the line of sight of an approaching calleague.
To prevent injury in this environment, cooks and chefs must get in the habit of overcommunicating their Whereabouts. If you step behind someone in the kitchen, you announce, “behind.” If you are coming around a corner, you say ” corner.” If you’re carrying something hot, you say ” hot pan” as you walk.
These short announcements are crucial to preventing workplace injuries, dropped plates, and ruined dishes.
Embrace Technology to Offer Multiple Forms of Communication
Not everyone communicates effectively in the same way. Some are adept at verbal communication while others find writing much clearer.
How can you account for this in a busy kitchen?
The call-and-Response method is wonderful for those who excel verbally and can hold information in their heads. But for others, a written backup can be invaluable. A dual approach can ensure that messages aren’t missed.
Give Respect to Get Respect
Clear communication—that is, in the listening and responding thoughtfully—is a sign of respect.
Choose your words carefully. Even at the height of a hectic service you can still be educating your team rather than berating them.
Don’t Forget the Communication Outside The kitchen
Communicating with your kitchen staff during a shift is only half the battle. And in some ways, it’s the easiest, because everyone is together in the same space.
How you communicate with the team members who are not present can be a bit more complicated.
What will you do if it’s 9:00 am and there’s an urgent massage you must get to your entire staff? Are you going to call or send individual text messages to 20 people?
How can an aspiring chef learn effective compensation?
“Good Food is the Foundation of Genuine Happiness”.
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