What a chef can teach you about process and efficiency

Craig Reid

In a previous incarnation I used to own a cafe. I never ceased to be amazed by the chefs that worked for me. Here we would be on a Saturday lunchtime, packed to the gunnels and one chef would be churning out food for all these people. So what did I learn from them?


From when they came in in the morning, if they weren't cooking food they were preparing the ingredients for the dishes.


The chefs were always planning ahead - what will I need to order next? What is running out?


The chefs were the first to tell me if an ingredient wasn't good enough or if a staff member wasn't pulling his / her weight.


As a chef you need to have multiple dishes ready at the same time. They did this by having all their ingredients ready and then starting the longest cooking dish first. It's like they had multiple egg timers in their heads!

Economies of scale:

By using the same ingredient across the menu in different dishes we were able to save money by ordering bigger quantities and reduce wastage by using up ingredients quicker.


When a new chef came on board they used our operations manual to transfer knowledge to the new chef quickly and to maintain consistency.


Chefs are born into hard working almost military environments where they learn to have a tough skin, take orders and do what they are told. The kind of whinging and crying that goes on in offices would not be tolerated in a kitchen.

Chefs learn discipline and hard work from day 1.

Now ask yourself - how do your staff match up to these characteristics and (more importantly) if they don't match up, what are you going to do about it?


First published on www.theprocessninja.com. Reprinted with permission.