Houston 2012: Day Seven

(this is the sixth post in a series detailing my work trip to Houston.)

Work hard, play harder.

I haven’t been able to post in a while simply because I haven’t had the time. After the kickoff day on Sunday the employees had Monday off but we still had to be in the restaurant continuing to get the restaurant more organized and put together for the two cook off days.

Those, in and of themselves, were very long and stressful days. We worked from 9 a.m. to midnight both days. But, they were fun because I actually got to cook food instead. Each day consisted of the cooks for each shift (morning and evening) come into the restaurant to cook half of the menu. It started with the trainers cooking each item one by one and showing them the process of how things are done. Then, they had an untimed module where they would cook the items without worrying about how quickly the food came out, they just needed to make sure the items were perfect. The second module was timed, where urgency, along with quality, were both of utmost importance.

The hardest part about the training modules was keeping my hands off and letting the cooks do their thing. I caught myself many times being too hands-on in trying to get the food out on time because I am so used to cooking with urgency. But, there were no guests in the restaurant so it didn’t matter how long the items took.

Even then, I had to constantly remind the kitchen staff that communication and teamwork is crucial to get things done in a timely manner. One thing I had to stress too was that they need to get to know one another since they will be working together for (hopefully) a long time, and when you know the people you work with it makes team tasks (like cooking food) much easier.

Wednesday was exactly the same as Tuesday but with the other half of the menu. And I must say, the staff did a much better job communicating on the line than they did the day before.

Every employee (training staff too!) had the day off today, and one of the managers had set up a brewery tour of the Saint Arnold Brewing Company here  in Houston. Saint Arnold is the oldest and largest craft beer brewing company in Texas. Although the tour itself was fairly lame (didn’t go into much detail about the brewing process) it was a really cool place and the beer was great.

After we left the brewery we just kind of bummed around downtown Houston for a while. We went to a few random bars to grab a drink and some food. We also passed by Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, and the outside of that stadium is beautiful. I’m going to go to the Astros game on Sunday when they play Cleveland. Some of the trainers said they would go with me but like everyone always does they didn’t fully commit to plans. I told them that I am going regardless if anyone goes but they are welcome to tag along if they wish. I’ll catch a cab or ride the bus if I have to … I’m going to go to the Juice Box.

Tomorrow and Saturday are “role-play” days, where members of the community are invited into the restaurant to eat for free so the staff can practice their job before the restaurant fully opens. It should be fairly interesting, to say the least, because I am not really sure how that process really works and what to expect, but I’m looking forward to it. I had to tell the kitchen staff yesterday that I am not going to help them at all during role play; I am just going to stand back and watch. They’re on their own, so hopefully they’ve studied up on the menu and can get everything done in a timely manner. I’m just there to coach them along.

I just have to remember to keep my hands off … the perfectionist in me wants to make sure the food gets out on time!!!

Keep checking back for updates throughout my travels and experiences while I’m down in Texas. I am going to try and post every day.

Until next time …

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