Each day always brings new surprises. Our cover count yesterday was over 140 and dinner service was quite the rush. My job is working between sauté and grill station to help plate dishes and expedite tickets. The “center” job entails a lot and it’s similar to working as a tournant. I lead the team in the production of plates and help where I can. The process of getting a plate of food to the table has a few steps. The first is the ordering. When tickets are ordered in, any item that sits in the first course, typically the top of ticket, is immediately picked-up. The next step is placing the order on pick-up. This is typically dictated by the server. Picking up or firing is the term used for actually cooking and plating the dish. Most first course items are simple items that take usually no more than 3 minutes to cook. Items that take longer such as grilled steaks or sautéed chicken will be started early so that when the next course is picked-up, it can simply be finished or reheated. This allows for all of the plates to come out at the same time at the right temperature.
My job is to communicate with the other members of our line and gather information on the current status of items for the next course. Once all of the proteins or main item are ready or nearly ready and the server has called for pick-up, I begin plating starch, cooking vegetables and then finish the plates by adding sauce, proteins and garnishes respectively. I also am responsible to call for sides and salads that I don’t produce on my station. It is an intense position due to having to work between and with two separate stations. There are times when both sides require attention. The goal is to focus on individual tickets and complete each one in sections. For example plating all of them items that come off sauté station then follow up by plating everything for grill.
I will be honest, right now I’m still slow. I’m learning the protocols and making improvements each day but it is a hard, intense role. Nonetheless, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I compare it to a complex strategy game. The opponent is the clock and the win condition is making it to the final stage, selling the ticket. Selling the ticket is the final stage of the production process. Once the plates are ready they are placed in the window under a heating element and the server is paged to run the plates to the table.
Awareness and multitasking are the two main skills I need to practice to get more efficient. Reacting to calls rather than listening and processing is what is currently slowing me down. I have assessed my weakness and now I just need to correct it. I still look forward to each day of service because it’s just more time to get better.