If you have an open, exposition kitchen, and even if you don’t, there are a few simple rules you should follow. Don’t pick your nose is a good start.
It is sometimes difficult for a busy line cook to remember, but PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU! In this sense, you are no different than a bartender. When I teach my mixology class, it is one of the main points that I re-visit.
Just like the bartender who is trapped behind the bar and has no place to hide, a line cook in an exposition kitchen is in the same boat. Customers can see everything you do back there. So, I recommend not eating food off of the customers’ plates.
I have seen it all
I ate this past week at a place in my neighborhood with a good friend (I still have a couple). It was interesting to me, sitting at the bar, able to see in to the kitchen, and the antics that go on back there sometimes.
Sure, I understand that food is going to find its way to the floor, especially if it is being thrown by the employees. Don’t think that is a good idea, whether people can see in there or not. Try to keep things clean and under control.
One of the main themes in the culinary school I work at is that cooks need to learn to work clean. Work small. Especially if you are in an open kitchen where all of the customers can see you!
I have worked at restaurants, and in kitchens that are crazy small. It is important that the work in these kitchens be done in a way that features the kitchen and the cooks behind it–that is the whole idea, after all–but owners, chefs, and managers need to, at least occasionally, remind these cooks of the expectations back there.
I have always felt that having fun has to be a big part of the equation, no matter what the job; however it should not be at the expense of decorum. We must never lose sight of the fact that people are paying a lot of money for this ‘show’, and it is our duty, and in our best interests to pull it off properly every single night.
I have been lucky to have known, and to have worked, with some amazing chefs over the years. Just about every one of them understands the concepts of working clean and working small. I have even seen a chef get something dripped on his chef coat, only to go in to his office and come out with a sparkling clean new coat. Costuming is part of the show, too.
None of this matters if you are not leading by example and training your staff to follow suit.