The way we manage our relationships may heavily influence the outcomes of many of our social circles, whether at work, home or with the people we choose to spend time with.
In the following article, I will try to provide with some tools that may improve a relationship in the kitchen I have often found strained for the wrong reasons.
Few Facts / Point of Views about Desserts in Restaurants
Nowadays people enjoy a good dessert and oftentimes plan their main course in accordance with their choice of dessert or the variety of desserts offered in the menu.
Many restaurants work with small kitchens relative to the size of the restaurant, therefore not allowing for good technical work on the part of the pastry chef resulting in the menu having to either outsource dessert or have a limited product in quantity and/or quality.
Profit from desserts ranges from 18-20%.
As somebody who has worked in several places around the globe (note that this is based only on what I have personally experienced), I can say that none of the restaurants that I have worked in had an appointed pastry chef; there would be a unit responsible for desserts that corresponded with the head chef—even in the Michelin starred restaurants that I have spent time in. However, this habit is slowly dying out in a certain category of restaurants.
In most cases though, the decision not to hire a pastry chef is clearly economic since simple desserts may be created with the tools and ingredients the restaurant already has, and outsourcing is also an easy option.
There is a clear trend of improvement and change of attitude restaurant group’s owners / managers have a great awareness of the subject of desserts.
Today, chefs are more aware of the fact that the right dessert can multiply sales by 6-7 times and balance out the food cost – what is the “right” dessert? In my opinion, it is simply one that many people enjoy, is easy to make and has good margins.
Desserts are often used as a smokescreen to fill in holes—that is, to satisfy an unhappy customer. It leaves a sweet taste and may be easily and quickly taken out.
The Relationship Between the Head Chef and Pastry Chef
The pastry chef and the restaurant chef have a completely different status, and generally, according to the classical hierarchy of the kitchen, the pastry chef is supposed to be at the same level as an operational chef—a chef who runs a unit, above whom is the restaurant chef who lends a guiding hand.
Proper work between the two shouldn’t cause any sort of tension. The problem starts when one side invades an area outside his or her jurisdiction—for example, a pastry chef who doesn’t understand the restaurant’s needs and exceeds requests and the line laid out for him, or a head chef who gets involved in technical matters that he doesn’t understand—basically, silly ego and power struggles.
A good pastry unit can only be an asset to a restaurant, and as I wrote previously, a smart chef understands that a good pastry unit fills in many important gaps. I return again to the idea of the “smokescreen,” and that’s because a pastry unit produces under easier conditions and the dessert is ready well in advance, whereas a kitchen works under pressure and so it is likely that a good dessert unit has, as part of its arsenal, a good product that will complete the meal properly and end it with a smile.
In the nature of this type of work exists pressure between the two units—the kitchen staff generally sees itself as the fighting unit that is under the constant pressure of “deadlines”, whereas the pastry unit has its own pace, it generally starts and finishes early, and doesn’t deal as much with service. That way, naturally, unnecessary tension arises. But it is forbidden for each unit, rather than dealing with the issues it faces in its own area, to get involved and try to fix mistakes made by the other side—that also leads to unnecessary tension.
To summarize, a head chef doing his or her job properly should lead to flourishing results for the confectionary unit, without either side feeling any sort of threat, but rather complimentary activity. Not every restaurant needs a confectionary unit; it’s a subject that requires localized considerations. A pastry chef in a restaurant is generally an operational chef, and he/she needs to internalize that in order to carry out his/her work properly and preserve shalom bayit (peace in the house).
Here are a few photos from my personal environment: