The Best Restaurants Have Loud Kitchens

Kitchens are hot, noisy, and stressful places to work in. To become part of the kitchen, the apprentice’s first lesson is to learn how to communicate and cooperate with everyone else. Ask any chef about what it takes to feed a busy restaurant and he or she will almost always tell you that it’s a loud kitchen. The best kitchens in the world are where chefs, sous-chefs, and line cooks talk to each other.

The chef or sous-chef runs the pass (the “pass” is the long and flat surface where dishes are plated and picked up by the waiters). He keeps track of the order tickets, monitors the pace of the coursing, and ensures that every dish is of the right quality before it’s served on diners’ tables.

If the chef or sous-chef turns silent, the rest of the kitchen staff won’t know what to cook.

Line cooks prepare ingredients and assemble dishes from the menu (the “line” is the kitchen space where cooking is done, normally set up in a horizontal line). They have to work together on most dishes. For example, a sirloin steak with French fries is prepared by two line cooks; one on the grill and the other on the deep frier. When the line cook on the grill yells “3 out on sirloin” to his colleague on the deep frier, he signals to him that they will be ready to plate in three minutes.

If the line cooks stop communicating with each other, every dish will turn into a logistics nightmare.

No restaurant can be fed by a silent kitchen. Just as no company can be run by a silent office. If your team members stop communicating with each other, you have a problem. If they stop communicating with your customers, you have a crisis. Unless you want your dinner service (or this month’s project, or this quarter’s sales, etc.) to be ruined, fix the problem before customers start sending food back to the kitchen.

Innovation Manager at ICB, a software company. Curious about the technology of business and the business of technology.