Next level rag type shit…

Food — By Crust on May 23, 2009

At alot of restaurants in the kitchen you are issued 3 rags for the day. It is doable but it sucks. You put a wet rag under your board, have another wet rag for wiping your board and station, and the last one you hang off your apron and try like hell to keep it dry for grabbing hot pans.
I mentioned to Bryan the importance of folding your kitchen rag and he went off on a rant.
“I’ve got it down to the perfect three rag rotation. I don’t fold my kitchen rag, I hang it off the side of my apron by looping it through and then again for the perfect hang. I use it for wiping my hands when I’m on garde-manger. I have one thrown over my shoulder, for grabbing hot stuff. Then I have one folded and hanging on my back for when I get in the shit and loose my rag so I always have a dry one on me, on stand by. When my hand wiping rag gets to gross, I rinse it and it becomes my station wiping rag, my over the shoulder rag which inevitably gets a little damp over service becomes my new hand wiping rag, and I grab a new dry rag to go over my shoulder.”
Holy Shit, Bryan! I was just talking about keeping your damp cutting board rag folded on your station. “Oh, well that’s just a given!” he says.
I’m thinking of adapting his system. I normally have just one rag in my back (it hangs down and covers my ass crack when I get things out of the oven), one dry in my hand (which I end up putting down and losing, over the shoulder would be better). One wet under my board and one, wet to wipe my station. At the end of the night I save a clean one for the next day if possible and use the rest to wipe down my station.

I think, some restaurant owners think, “if there is an abundance of rags the kitchen staff will use heaps, a new rag each hour until the linen bill is off the charts. If rags are scarce, they will treasure the rags, love and care for the rags, reuse them and turn wildly on each other when someone is accused of hoarding rags or taking more than their fair share.” I don’t know if this is a conscious decision or if some restaurants just have lots of rags and some don’t.

My first day at Feenie’s someone gave me 3 rags and said, “everyday you get 3 rags.” I only used three a day for the longest time, then I noticed other people taking more and I said, “I thought only 3 a day?”
“What, are you the rag police?” they said.
So I started taking more, and then other people started taking more, and they next thing you know Kyle is hiding stacks of rags in the ceiling tiles. Accusations are being made fingers are being pointed and no one will admit that they took more than 3 rags.


  1. GQ says:

    Every kitchen I’ve every worked in has had wet towels hanging from the salamander handle, but since living in the states the health department does not allow wet rags under cutting boards( a warm wet towel on a bacteria laden surface for hours). This is a very unhygienic practice your employer should purchase and issue a Board Mate (made of a rubber antibacterial material) for each cook, if you lose it you pay for its replacement.I did this in a major resort and it worked well.Cooks will always hide rags.Ive seen bags of hundreds a day used when no limit is in place.Even seen whole bags in the Garbage mistaken for rubbish in black bags.

  2. Matt R. says:

    Nothing makes me sicker in a kitchen than some dirty cook drying his or her hands on a dirty kitchen towel. Have some pride, keep yourself clean and don’t pick up this guys bad habits! Keep your dry rag dry (and clean), keep your wet wiping rag in some sanitizer, and for gods sake, dry your hands with paper towel!

    By the way, it’s true. Rags are like chopped herbs – the more you have, the more you will use and waste. I think, in most situations, 3-5 towels per person per shift ought to be enough.

  3. chung says:

    I’m often more concerned with the wasteful nature of the front of house regarding cloths

  4. Neil Wyles says:

    I go round and round with this as I own the restaurant and cook.

    The last thing I want to do on a Sunday is run home and do a load of kitchen rags in my washer because there are none for service tonight.

    We have had chaps that have blistered through a bundle of rags ( 50 )in a shift that should have lasted us days and it has swung the other way with people using table linen for pot holders.

    There is a happy medium and that is probably 5 rags per shift per person.

    You want to encourage safe practices and you certainly do not want to discourage cleaning. I fear this will always be an issue as long as there are restaurants.

    My frustration is all of the usable counter space covered up with everyone’s rags!! It is like the are marking their space with rags and do not cross the lines.

  5. jchaput says:

    Keep a rubber ring from a snap top jar. The 1 lt size are great for this. Cut it into 4 x 1/4 circle pieces and put a piece under each corner of your cutting board. Now your board won’t slip, and you have an extra rag.

  6. David Zilber says:

    At mutherfuckin West, they had a food cost cutting bonanza about halfway through my tenure there, we went from unlocked linen cabinet to lock and key, 2 ragaday! By the end, you got very good at using one a day, and hoarding the rest in the cubby under your station. Turned into a market, basically. If the cook on garde manger got his fucked up, covered in beet juice or something, he’d come over to me on entremetier, and it would literally be an exchange for, chopped chives, tomate concasse, whatever. Always in good humour though. Learning to live off one towel a day is a skill. (Granted, we got leados for underneath our boards, so maybe that’s cheating.)

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