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September 3, 2019 Restaurants and Hotels

Chef Habits Can Create an Exceptional Culinary Experience or Cause Havoc

What are the best habits to avoid and ones to keep so your kitchen runs at its best?

While chefs are typically the stars and the center of success in commercial kitchens, if they don’t stay on top of their game, things can spiral quickly out of control.
Chefs and restaurant managers have to always focus on the task at hand because their work environment is not like your typical office. From a chef’s perspective, from knives to fire to bacteria, they have to be extra careful to control their work environment and be aware of everything going on at any given time. Paying attention can range from making sure all equipment is up and running to being sure the food is safe to assuring a great experience for customers. Here are some common hazards and habits that can make or break a good kitchen:

Cutting Boards

  • Cutting boards can create a variety of issues in a commercial kitchen from failure to change cutting boards between ingredients to not washing them correctly.
  • Chefs who stick the point of a knife into a cutting board can create a deep gash that fills will food which makes it hard, and sometimes impossible, to clean.

Knives

  • Keep knives sharp and cooking will be easier. Chefs who use dull knives run the risk of having to push down harder or pull across the food more aggressively causing a greater chance of cutting themselves.
  • Chefs who invest in a good whetstone or honing rod and follow regular sharpening schedules are much safer in the long run. Taking your knives to a professional sharpener can be a great option as well.

Cooking Habits

  • If you hear a cook dinging the metal spatula on the griddle, take a look at the griddle surface. A lot of times the cook can damage their grill surfaces not realizing that their habit is putting hundreds of little dents in the surface, making it harder to keep clean and look nice.
  • Chefs who think they can tell when a piece of meat is done when cooking without a thermometer cannot be sure that the meat is safe to serve. Always use a thermometer to be sure that the food is in the right temperature range to safely eat.
  • A chef should never leave a spoon or spatula in pots and pans while cooking. The utensils can burn or melt. Also, leaving a utensil in a pot of something hot can lead to accidents if someone runs into it or it flips out of the pan.
  • Always use caution when taking lids off of cooking pans and watching to see if anyone is around you who could be affected by steam or heat.
  • Be sure to prepare and cook only as much food as you intend to use.

Clothing

  • Try to avoid wearing clothes in a food preparation area that you have worn outdoors. You can bring in bacteria and other contaminants into the kitchen and expose it to the food. Instead, wear clean and washable clothing such as a clean apron, gloves, a hairnet and closed-toe shoes with slip-resistant soles.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothes or wipe your hands on your clothing as this can easily transfer microbes and bacteria.

Untidy Work Habits and Cleaning Up

  • Even though many chefs have people to clean up after them, it is never a good idea to leave a mess. If you do a quick wipe down while the stain or spill is still fresh, it saves time and effort to clean.
  • Always screw lids on properly after use. Neglecting to secure lids is something that seems harmless, especially when you are in a rush. However, not only do items go bad faster, the half-open containers can also act as an invitation for pests. Take the extra five seconds to screw on lids securely and save yourself the hassle of bacteria, vermin and other pests.
  • Paper towels can be a good option for clean up during food preparation and serving because you can use them as needed and throw them away as soon as you are done.
  • Always change gloves, utensils and dishes when changing functions. For instance, use one pair of gloves for handling raw meat and another pair handing fresh vegetables. Wash and sanitize flatware or other utensils that fall to the floor.

Kitchen Equipment and Appliances

  • When chefs get in a hurry, they can lose caution when operating equipment and appliances. Always be sure that all necessary guards are in place before operating any equipment.

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