How to Build Your Staff's Skills in the Kitchen

Posted by Tara Stanton

Training is not just for young busboys, first-time waitresses or prep cooks. Even when a restaurant manager brings in experienced wait staff and chefs who boast decades of experience, they still have to orient them to the overall vision and style of the restaurant. And this training isn’t just in regard to promoting the flavors, themes and overall ambience that the guests will experience. Oftentimes, the most important training takes place on the equipment in the kitchen.

While it may be easy to assume experienced staff knows how to use even the specialized equipment, training is important for ensuring you and your staff get the full potential out of this equipment. The reservation many owners have is that equipment training sessions can cost money up front, but in the long run, properly trained employees will save you money.

Building restaurant staff training into the schedule

No matter the equipment — a deep fryer, multi-level steamer or oven — the staff needs to be trained on at least three areas: operation, safety and cleaning.

One way to do this is to make part of their orientation or training program include learning how to use the equipment. Rather than try to show them all at once, give employees a spreadsheet that highlights each piece's specific operations, safety concerns and the cleaning protocols they need to learn and perform.

You can implement a mentorship program and have them shadow someone so they learn the processes over the course of several shifts. Another way is to have them learn how to use the equipment they’ll use most often first, then, during the first month or so, move on to learn the ins and outs of the other equipment on the list. Another staff member (preferably a certified trainer) can sign off, verifying their knowledge and skills. Finally, give them a deadline for when the list needs to be completed. With this method, you allow them to take ownership of their training.

Bringing in an expert

Sometimes your staff will require an expert to train them on a piece of complicated or sensitive equipment. In these cases, it’s a good idea to have your equipment sales representative schedule a restaurant-wide training session with a manufacturer's representative. Not only will this smart policy help your kitchen operate smoothly, but it will also solidify your relationship with the manufacturer and supplier. It shows that you’re invested in using the equipment the way it should be used and are less likely to have any repair or warranty issues.

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