Working in a restaurant’s back of house isn’t for everyone. Not only is the schedule punishing and vacations few and far between, but the job also requires stamina, both physically and mentally, patience, and precision. It’s no cake walk. That being said, for some, working in a kitchen is a great fit and the perfect place to thrive professionally. So, how do you know if this is the case for you? Well, chances are that if you have these qualities, it could be a match made in restaurant heaven.
You stay calm under pressure
Professional kitchens are extremely high-stress environments and it takes discipline and nerves of steel not to freak out. Whether you’re washing, prepping, on the line, or calling the shots, it’s a fast-paced environment where teamwork is key. If one person drops the ball, the entire operation could collapse.
If one person drops the ball, the entire operation could collapse.
Not to mention the seemingly unmanageable workload. The combination makes for one very stressful work environment where if you don’t stay calm and maintain focus, you’re cut. However, if you thrive under this type of pressure, and maybe even find it exhilarating, the kitchen could prove to be a great workplace.
You can handle the physical demands
If you work in a restaurant kitchen, you’re standing for your entire shift during which you have no breaks (unless it’s when you go to the bathroom, on which there’s a strict time limit) because there is always something to do. If not your job, it’s probably cleaning or helping a coworker get caught up.
Plus, you may be lifting fairly heavy loads of food or equipment. Oh, and did I mention that it gets extremely hot in the back of the house? Taking these factors into account, during a 10-hour shift, kitchen employees can burn up to 1,750 calories.
Don’t think you can handle it? Then it’s best to step back.
You’re an efficient, yet accurate multi-tasker
This point cannot be emphasized enough. In a professional kitchen, you’re likely handling several things at once, all of which must be well-executed and delivered not a second late.
In order to be successful in this endeavor, you must be organized in your preparation, speedy in your performance, and precise in your multi-tasking.
In a professional kitchen, you’re likely handling several things at once.
You’ve got a tough skin
Working in the kitchen means being yelled at and sometimes criticized. Day to day, when the restaurant starts to pick up and the kitchen gets busy, voices will inevitably raise as well. Some don’t work well in this type of environment. If this is the case for you, it’s just the beginning, so back of house probably isn’t a good fit.
If you can handle it, be prepared to handle criticism as well. We all have off days; it’s inevitable. And when that bad day strikes, if you’re working in the kitchen, you’re going to get called out.
This can and does mess with everyone’s mind to some degree. However, those that will excel as part of the back of house team will be able to take it for what it is, and use the criticism as motivation to pick up their game.
You’re not afraid to ask questions
There will definitely be a time when you’re unclear about a task that has been assigned to you. In this situation, you absolutely have to be able to ASK!
You absolutely have to be able to ASK!
Great kitchens are all about consistency, and that means knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes this will require asking for more information or help. If you’re easily intimidated, or just hate asking questions in general, this isn’t the right career path for you.
You’re a team player
As mentioned above, the restaurant’s back of house must work as a cohesive team. Each person must be able to carry their own weight as well as collaborate with coworkers in order for the kitchen, and restaurant in general, to be successful.
Although you’ll be working most closely with the kitchen staff, you’ll also have to interact with the front of house staff. Tensions may run high.
However, you can’t let them get in the way when it comes to service. If you can put your differences aside and cooperate with everyone (mostly), it’ll serve you well when working in the back of house.
If you identify with most if not all of these qualities, it’s a good sign that you’re well-suited to work in a professional kitchen. Of course, it’s not a given because you have to also enjoy the work, which you’ll only know if you try. So, if you think there’s a shot that the back of house is a good fit, go for it!
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