15 people in constant action

Yesterday, I was lucky to spend the evening in a nice restaurant. When given the choice to sit in the beautiful garden, or at the counter of the open kitchen, I chose the open kitchen.

It made the dining experience richer. Tasting great food, and watching great professional during the breaks.

Here are the things I observed:

- 15 people are in constant action for 2 hours, in restrained space.

- Half of the team is specialized on a task (sauce, fish, meat, oven, etc.), half is flexible and takes on whatever needs to be done. There’s also a coordinator in the middle, who receives the orders taken by the waiters, and shouts instructions. He never moves.

- There is also the chef. He is mostly walking around, calmly. He has no responsibility. He helps with any task that is behind or that seems difficult for the person who took it on. Sometimes, he gives a quick word of advice and moves on.

- Every single time a person passes behind the back of another one, she says: « I’m behind you ».

- Most communication happens with voice and ear. People rarely look at each other, they look at what they are working on. The only person constantly watching is the coordinator. He is observing everything. He is the only person having a watch at his wrist.

- When the coordinator asks a question, the answer that he gets is precise: « How much time for the 2 calamars? » / « 2 calamars ready in 15 seconds ».

- People move fast, and are calm. There is tension in the air, but no signs of panic.

- When placing ingredients on a plate, people do it quickly. There is no improvisation, nor a desire of perfection. Circle of purée, piece of meat on top, sauce on the left side, done. Similar dishes all look similar, not identical. The quality seems to come from the quality of the ingredients, the quality of their preparation, and the choice of assembling which ones together.

- They use a tea infuser spoon to evenly spread spices as the final touch.

- Everything is clean, all the time. A drop of sauce on the table is cleaned immediately.

- Halfway through the service, one person passes around with a huge tray full of glass of waters. Everyone drinks a couple and goes back to work.

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