Chef Dan Butler :
An Italian restaurant where I worked in Washington, D.C., sold a fantastic thick veal chop that we topped with fresh chanterelles and lemon and sage. Nearly every ticket that came into the kitchen had at least one veal chop sold on it. But one particular waiter suggested customers order single veal chops grilled with garlic and rosemary. The garlic and rosemary was a fine preparation but it wasn't the one that the chef had written nor was it the one that we prepped for. Fortunately it was simple enough to prepare so as not to be a nuisance. (The same cannot be said of the server - simple yes, but definitely a nuisance.) While his freelancing was counterproductive to the kitchen and probably motivated by the waiter's desire to increase his tips (and prove his culinary prowess to be superior to the chef's), it shows that the power of suggestive selling, when used properly (unlike in this case) can be a terrific tool to keep your refrigerator inventory turning over at a healthy pace. You can write a lilting description of your venison chops with rosemary and caramelized onion crust so beautiful that it would make Shakespeare jealous but until your waitstaff gets behind it, you might not want to pre-sear any of those chops. That requires inspiring your servers to become sales-minded professionals. That can be a tall order if you're not running a well-respected and expensive restaurant in a big city, say like Union Square Caf‚ in New York, where staffing your restaurant with quality, career servers is a relatively easy task. Servers who are motivated by a progressive healthy and vibrant workplace and, oh yeah, a very healthy wallet bulge, are naturally attracted to such environments. They're even willing to compete to work there. But how does a chef in Wichita or Wilmington inspire his staff? A premeal meeting between the chef and the waitstaff should be a routine in every restaurant. Ours always happens at the tail end of the employee meal time,...
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