About cook education, Chef’s experience and the realities of today’s restaurant market in Ukraine on the way to Europe (part 2)
But in any of the institutions, the client is first of all looking for TASTY FOOD !!! And only then (on the basis of the received taste impressions – tasty – not tasty) assesses in general: service, interior, atmosphere, and all other distinctive features, passing a verdict – whether he will come here next time. When TASTY, in 80% of cases, a person returns after the first visit, even if there were minor flaws, pushed into the background by excellent food.
As an example, the need to correctly create a menu and compile technological documentation recalls a rather illustrative case from my practice as a chef “setting the kitchen” in a new restaurant. It was a restaurant “Jungle” in the then Kirovograd, now Kropyvnytsky. At that time (and to this day) it was a landmark concept, new to the city in every respect, starting from the interior, menu and technical equipment of the project. According to the agreement, I had to train personnel to work on technological equipment never seen before (a steam oven or combi steamer, contact grill, etc.), create a thematic menu (with a focus on Latin American, “jungle” themes with creative flavors) and teach me how to cook all dishes Starting from the procurement process and ending with the design.
The task was complicated by the fact that out of the eight necessary “main” chefs, only four were available. The preparation of documentation and the development of dishes began two months before the expected opening. Over the month (while construction work was being completed and technological equipment was being installed), personnel began to recite and take notes of the menu dishes. Three more cooks pulled themselves up, and an administrator, a bartender, and two waiters appeared. The last “Accord” for technical staff and hall employees, according to the circumstances, was supposed to happen just three days before the opening (just someone could not quit earlier, or did not consider it necessary to undergo additional training in the new conditions).
For this, subsequently, it was necessary to remove from them more than one “ruble” for punctures in the work, starting with the delivery of the menu and ending with specific filing rules. With the backbone of the “pioneers,” all the processes were worked out several times and the test results were accepted by the owner of the establishment. Since the opening of the restaurant took place on New Year’s Eve, the “Official Opening” was planned just on 12/31. As the saying goes: “Two in One !!!” I had to stay for another week for safety reasons, personally control and “roll up my sleeves” myself to stand “by the open-hearth”, and at the same time drive others’ hands. It was a very big risk for the institution to be “thrown under the tanks.” But the efforts were not in vain, the opening “died out in full”, as a result, after two days it was necessary to reserve a table at least a week in advance!
With a sense of accomplishment, I left for Odessa. And after three weeks there was an angry call from the hostess of the establishment. They expressed to me in an ultimatum that I’m a bad scoundrel, I haven’t taught cooks how to cook, none of them know what is done and how, portions are tiny, you can’t take anything in your mouth, and the prices are sky-high, etc., etc. P. I was more than unpleasant to hear this. Restraining my emotions, I agreed to go to Kirovograd for another two weeks, but on the condition that if I show that my guilt is not there, she will pay me an unplanned trip for the full program. If the opposite is proved, then I work for free. And so, upon arrival, having come to the kitchen in the presence of the owner, I asked to name the dishes that have the biggest complaints. Then I asked to provide technological maps for these dishes, certified by my seal. They turned out to be securely locked in a safe in accounting.
But I was sure that their photocopies are in the kitchen or they are all in the cooks’ notes! Without letting go of the owner of the restaurant, I forced them to cook everything “written” personally, without my participation. With observance of grammar and all the subtleties described in the technology, including time, from the beginning to the full design. The effect of the result could easily be read in the mistress’s eyes wide open to an unnatural state. Aloud, she uttered two short remarks: “Well, no … owl yourself!” And “Tequila from me!” The moral satisfaction from the restored justice was pleasantly supplemented by a full-fledged fee. In the next two weeks, I once again slowly worked with the staff all the dishes on the menu, but with photographing and supplemented with photographs the available routings. This greatly simplified the further training of new workers in both the kitchen and the hall. Then it was the first time, and today it is a common practice. It is already difficult to find a young cook who does not have a mobile phone with a camera or other “advanced” device with the possibility of photo and video recording. And still, this does not solve all the problems. First of all, you need someone who is directly…
First of all, we need someone who, in direct contact with the staff, can hand over the product, help in the sensations to study the “material”, indicate all the subtleties that cannot be visually fixed, and as a result get a first-class result. After all, you can’t shoot on film like “the dough should be creaking under the fry”, or minced meat “becoming resilient for juiciness” of the fried “Home-made cutlet”. And the higher the classiness of the restaurant, the wider the circle of “subtleties”. Not without reason in Classy restaurants on sauces and in the final stages of serving dishes are the most experienced, most knowledgeable Cooks!
And how do those who neglect these rules, which have been developed over two hundred years by restaurant practice, “add a pig” to themselves? An old French proverb says: “A cook hides his mistakes under a sauce, and a doctor underground.” But if you look at the work of Japanese cooks preparing Fugu fish, their marriage also hides underground, including the cook himself! May Musa Kulinariya keep us all in good health and at the peak of skill!
Another important factor that can greatly affect the quality of products and the overall economic profitability of a restaurant is the availability and proper operation of the latest kitchen machines, heating and refrigerating cabinets, and all other achievements in the field of equipment and technology in the restaurant business. The experience of recent years directly indicates the need for systematic studies on the operation of “smart” machines, capable of not only facilitating the routine cook work, but also maintaining a high level of quality. Even in the absence of a full staff of qualified specialists. Moreover, at the same time, reduce the costs of maintaining the dignity of the regime, save water and energy carriers, conduct systematic preparation for mass events and seasonal harvesting.
And at “peak” loads, give out the full volume of the ordered products with maximum quality at the minimum time interval. But unfortunately, the current level of equipment of state and private educational institutions, which are in their own hands, rudimentary, and even “primal state”, which is a couple of decades behind the euro level, does not allow graduates with the necessary level of education to graduate. And the care of the “technical and technological education” of HoReC practitioners was taken over by the trading companies that supplied this equipment. The most striking example for me was Kontakt, a joint Ukrainian-American enterprise supplying manufacturing equipment for the entire spectrum of trading enterprises and the restaurant sector. Once, more than a dozen and a half years ago, it was for the first time that I myself first became acquainted with the latest models of “outlandish” cars on its basis. Moreover, they could be touched, get advice on the operation, buy.
And having worked and mastered, recommend it to your friends and acquaintances. Dahl-more. Having invitations to “set the kitchen” in the cafes and restaurants being created, it was possible to invite, for example, an Italian pizza maker who trained in working on a real wood-fired pizza oven. Or Chef-Masters of German steam ovens Konototherm – one of the leaders in the production of this type of equipment. The main technical sponsor of the most prestigious culinary contest in the world, Golden Bocus.
In the near future, a master class is planned from the Italian Schools of Chefs on CustomHit machines, which caused regular interest at the last Milan trade show. A “Demo Kitchen” was created and operates, where master classes are held by representatives of the All-Ukrainian Association of Chefs. There is where to come and get the necessary level of knowledge, recommendations, practical help in equipping the institution. The main thing is not to stand still, but to move forward along with those who “keep abreast of the pulse” of everything new, interesting, exclusive and innovative.