How to Work in a Kitchen

Working in the kitchen can be an exciting experience and one must know how to do so properly. This how-to article will show you the ins and outs of the kitchen life, what to do and when to do it.


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    Understand each person's role in the kitchen.
    • Dishwasher: Washes dishes and cleans up after people.
    • Pantry/Salad Bar: Makes cold food such as salads to hot foods such as soups. Their job also includes the maintenance of the temperatures of the foods, making sure fruits stay fresh and hot foods don't burn.
    • Griller or Broiler: Cooks the burgers, steaks, and fish on the grill. They also bring items into the broiler to cook.
    • Sauté: Makes sauces and creates the plates to go out to the public.
    • "Middleman": Helps out on the line, as needed.
    • Expo: The person who calls off when to start making the orders and must do so in order to get the timing right.
    • Runners: People who take the food to the table and share some aspects of a busser.
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    Look at your prep sheet. You'll need to know what stuff needs to be made and completed for the shift. Complete all necessary prepping before doing anything else.
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    Rotate food, always "old in front, new in back". While you're doing this, watch any expiration dates and important stuff. Throw away any outdated or bad items.
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    Set up your station. Be sure everything is ready and put out so that you don't have to be looking for items as you go.
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    Call orders back so the others who are working, know what to do. This will get everyone on the same track.
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    Be sure to always do something. Wiping down counters and clearing out dirty dishes will make your job so much easier.
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    Remember to pass along any food tickets with the order. This will keep the runners organized.
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    Have a good attitude around everyone and smile. Say "please" and "thank you" when appropriate.
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    Clean your station, take out the trash, sweep, and mop the floors at the end of each night.


  • Warn people of hot items. You don't want them to pick up a dish and immediately drop it because they weren't told.
  • Doing your prep sheet before and after your shift will get you more organized than doing it by memory.
  • When walking behind someone, be sure to call out, "Behind you". This is also effective when the kitchen is busy and you're around someone.
  • Especially during rush hours, you must be alert, fast, and willing to learn.
  • Check your stock to make sure you have everything. That way, when needed, you aren't rushing around trying to make it, especially during service.
  • Learn the Rules of Entering/Exiting the Kitchen. Most seem to follow the Rules of the Road, Keep to the Right. Others will have you calling out "Coming out!" when leaving the kitchen, and "Coming in!" when you are entering the kitchen.
  • It's best to assume that the person coming out of the kitchen is carrying a customers order. As you step aside, quickly glance around at the floor for obstacles, if you see an obstacle call out "Obstacle! " before you pick it up or move it, that way the person exiting the kitchen will slowdown or stop instead of running over you and dropping the customers order in the process.
  • Not all doors to the kitchen have windows. If you are entering a kitchen through a closed door and the door swings into the kitchen. Give the door a couple of hard thumps (not knocks) and listen for anyone inside to yell at you not to enter. If you are in the kitchen and are about to exit through a door that swings into the kitchen, call out "Door!", so others that didn't see you, don't walk into a door that is being swung open or in the process of closing. If you are in the kitchen and stopped someone from entering through a closed door. As soon as it is safe for them to enter call out "All clear, come on in!"


  • Don't be afraid of the chef.
  • Don't lift more than you can carry.
  • Be careful.
  • There are sharp objects like knives all over the place.
  • Things get hot in kitchens, don't touch them without pot holders.
  • Watch for spills and slippery floors.

Things You'll Need

  • Good set of knives (optional)
  • Working clothes
  • Good pair of non-slick shoes; on the line, there is grease from cooking

Article Info

Categories: Hospitality