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Gordon Ramsay, how to run a Restaurant

I know we all moan about Ramsay swearing in the kitchen but this article from him is brilliant

On Running a Restaurant (Gordon Ramsey)

My answer to anyone remotely interested in how we run restaurants is that any new restaurant concept must alwayse start with the chef. Not with the location, not with the restaurant designer and not with the smooth talking front-of-house manager. The passion, the focus and drive of the chef is what will make the restaurant work. Ultimatley, we believe it will be his menu that people come to taste.

This presents two problems.

The first is that we need to surround our chosen chef with a solar system of staff that lends support and whose players have an insatiable need to be part of a successful team. The second is to bring our chef into the real world and not allow him to isolate himself within the kitchen. The world is bigger than that and his remit must include financial percentages, brigade control and the ability to converse and intrigued guests.
At Gordon Ramsey Holdings it was long understood that if we were going to operate a number of establishments, each with its own individuality, then they should have all operational activities centralized. In doing this the front-of-house in each restaurant is able to do one thing that matters and that is to look after the guest. Hiring and firing, maintainace, menu printing, account reconciliation, cleaning, rotas, reservations and re-silvering, are all taken away to central control where everything can be done clinically and professionally throughout the day. This has bought the end to situations where such tasks are slotted in with staff desperately trying to set the stage for evening service when the reservation computer has gone down, the carpet has absorbed a glass of the reddest burgundy and the menus are falling apart.

Our restaurants have become a three ring circus with the kitchen, a dining room and a central control. The trick is to educate everyone to concentrate on their own skills and seek support for anything else. Mutual respect for all colleagues is the cement that makes this work. The plate is carried from the kitchen to the table by a hundred unseen hands and the wine is poured with the bending of a troop of elbows invisible to any guest.

The modern kitchen has advanced in many ways. The introduction of a Chef's Table has bought immaculate working practices, clinical working surfaces and vibrant working chefs. No longer is the kitchen beyond the diners reach; it is there on display. Temperature control and air extraction makes life in the ships bowls bearable and lighting has lost the yellow glow from the grease filtered bulbs. Chefs and their brigade have become today's theatre and in many cases are taking to the actors stage like seasoned professionals. Nowadays, chefs and their brigade must understand evertything about their kitchen and not just the contents of the cooking pot. How to choose and install a new stove, the effective positioning of work lights, of the types of non-slip floor surfaces available and an awareness of price changes between new and old lamb are all required knowledge for the modern chef.
'Expand your horizons and join the team' is the call, and those that listen and learn eillbecome tomorrow's Chefs de Cuisine.

The dining room staff are the front line. There are a hundred housekeeping rules to consider including the basic disciplines of hair, nails, shoes, whitness of anything white, personal hygiene and above all the importance of a smiling face. For an understanding of what it is like to be a guest, we invite staff to their own restaurant so that they can sit through dinner and see first hand what it is that their guests are expecting. It is an exercise guarenteed to open their eyes and at the same time they can taste the chefs offerings, which previously they have only served. It is explained as a credo that when Mr. and Mrs. average guest enter the restaurant they want to be reassured and welcomed. It is not a place to display arrogance or attitude, to look puzzled or appear distracted. The guest before you is the sole reason for you being there and your perpose is to make that person conent. Diners because they are known and looked after by the restaurant manager, their very best friend who is alwayse pleased to see them, to share a gentle joke or offer a tour through the kitchen. It is the art of makong people feel special. As with everything to do with running a restaurant, the science stems from common sense and observation, understanding and reaction. There is nothing overly complicated.
Central control is the orchestral conductor where all the skills neede to make the restaurant successful are brought together to make the right sound. At our restaurants, requests for table bookings come via a seamless rerouting of the telephone line to one of twenty-five reservationists armed with a screen that tells all. There is a record of the callers previous restaurant experience including the dinner held a year ago gor granny's 80th, the present availability of covers and, in the vent of a full house, alternative restaurants within the group. Why lose a guest who requests a table in a fully booked restaurant when a simple cross-sale keeps everyone happy?

In head office there is a weekly operations meeting for each restaurant where the sins of the previous wek are revisited. It is here that all is laid bare as part of the constant striving to get it right with the kitchen and dining room alike. If disappearing napkins is the issue of the day an audit trail wil consider the possiblity of theft, negligence, bad practice or lost paperwork until the real reason is identified and the problem is rectified. Correct HR procedures and training are, without doubt, the cornerstone of the business. Selection of staff and the shaping of their inherent abilities ensure a continuation of accomplished talent that is the life blood of sustained standards and growth. Ignore this area at your peril. Likewise, be slow to generate the monthly figures and you risk losing your most valuable indicators. Figures need to be available to your staff within two weeks of month-end and the staff, in turn, need to know how to read them. Go back to the price of lamb and we know at once if the chef has forgotten that when availability is weak, prices soar.

Our way of doing things is not necessarily the golden route to success but it covers all the bases and ignores very few. And one day we shall get it right.

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+ChefsWorld Tim Capper  
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