Training People

Food — Tags: , , — By Crust on February 10, 2009

Training people is crazy. Based on my limited experience I have observed that if the kitchen you are working in has good people at the top who give good training then it is a positive cycle that perpetuates itself.

When I started at Feenie’s a guy had to train me on garde manger, he thoroughly explained each dish and each day answered my questions about the mise en place that was involved. He wasn’t happy about training a girl who didn’t know what brunoise or simple syrup was, but he did it because that is just what you do. You train the new guy. Why? Because somebody trained you. He told me why things were the way they were and it made sense to me. There were also other people around me on other stations who had done GM before who offered info about the way they do things, so I got to see different ways of doing the same job.

When it came time for me to train someone on GM I was proud to show what I had learned, I gave details, answered questions and set standards. It made me even better at GM to show someone else and explain my ways and why I do them. I also want to add that I was lucky because everyone I trained was super cool. The only time I got a little selfish and neurotic was when I trained Scott Dicks and was feeling inadequate because I could tell he was more experienced than me. I didn’t hold back information, instead my insecurity was manifested in me being extra nazi like in my training, “FIRST the spinach! THEN the goat cheese! THEN the prosciutto! Never any other order!! Always the SAME!!!” Scotty was really sweet about it and it didn’t take long for me to get over it.

Near the end of my year at Feenie’s we got a chef who didn’t like me, there were rumors that he was old school and didn’t like women in the kitchen, whatever it was that made him so happy towards the guys and so unhappy with me I’ll never know. I started to feel jaded, the guys that I was training were moving up stations ahead of me. It made me not feel like training people and it made me leave Feenie’s.

The next restaurant I worked at, I wasn’t really trained and it took me a while to figure everything out on my own. It was a bit of a hostile environment and they did not want to answer my questions. When I eventually had to train someone I was thinking, “it took me so much work to figure my way around here, I don’t want to tell this person all the shit I learned. I’m going to tell them in one hour what took me one week to figure out? It’s not fair. Also if the chef sees them instantly doing what took me a week to figure out on my own they will seem better than me”. So I have to admit that I just told them the bare minimum that they would need to do the station. I didn’t offer advice or set standards. It didn’t make me better and it made me feel shitty. I think the food suffered too. I wasn’t ready for an environment like this.

The next restaurant there were a bunch of really experienced guys, some of them took me under their wing, named me Crusty and taught me what they know. I felt so grateful to them for openly sharing what they had learned over the years. Because they did that for me, I will have their backs whenever they need me. Need 1500 canapes for tomorrow? Call Crusty. Dishwasher called in sick at 5:00 on a Friday night? Call Crusty. I can’t say no to these guys I owe them.

So maybe that is why you train people. When you do something to the best of your ability it makes you feel good and it makes the people you train loyal to you. As for all that mind game shit when you don’t want to teach people because you want to be better than them, it’s not worth it. Whenever I asked Kyle and Bryan about this stuff they always said, “if chef tells you to train someone and after a couple of days they are dog shit. Then you are dog shit.”

So get amped about training the new guy! You could make a new friend, or at least add another soldier to your army.


  1. Colleen says:

    This is a fabulous post.

  2. hot chocolate girl says:

    True dat. I remember you training me!! I was very happy when you said my chiffonade of cilantro was the nicest you’ve seen so far :p Made my day.

  3. Laura says:

    I did a stage with you and although you were probably thinking I will never see this chick again, I remember you showing me things with such patience that I didn’t feel completely idiotic, so thank you. I think its the people who take that time, who are the ones you remember the most. Love your blog!

  4. Colleen says:

    See, you have made a difference! Fight that urge to be secretive and just give! Giving is far better than continuing the destructive process that seems so prevalent in our industry.

    Just continuing that process, “because that is how I was treated” is a poor excuse for doing anything. Fight it.

    You are on the right track.

  5. 604 says:

    For once a food blog post about the true grit and determination that truly drives a restaurant! No name dropping, the food service reality blog.

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