Consistency

I feel I should write a piece on consistency, mostly because this is one of the most under-appreciated qualities that a restaurant should have. It’s also the biggest reason that I hated cooking in restaurants!  As patrons we develop favorite dishes and expect to see them on the menu and expect it to taste the same or better.  For me it’s Chicken Poblano at Murry’s, The Super Strip at CC’s City Broiler, and the Nachos Bianco at Addison’s.  Things that I almost always order and know how they should taste.

From a line cook’s standpoint, consistency makes us bored.  Making the same things the same way, night after night.  Doing that well is what makes us good.  Not doing that well can have us hunting for new jobs.  There’s a tendency to play with things just slightest bit though.  More garlic here, more salt, less basil.  In the absence of an expediting chef tasting these dishes, these things will go unnoticed. Slowly this experimenting can change a dish to where a frequent patron knows that something is off.  The dish isn’t as good as they remember the next few times they eat it and, worst case scenario, they stop coming as often or at all.  It happens.

It’s not as fun to cook the same stuff, believe me.  Order up and you see, great, another lobster pasta.  You already know that this dish takes you less than 2 minutes to cook and plate because of the prep work you did.   Clarified butter and garlic, tomatoes, pasta, lobster and cream, basil, salt and pepper.  Toss, plate, garnish, what’s next? Oh, another lobster pasta… You already know that this dish takes you less than 2 minutes to cook and plate because of the prep work you did.   Clarified butter and garlic, tomatoes, pasta, lobster and cream, basil, salt and pepper.  Toss, plate, garnish, what’s next?  Oh, another lobster pasta…you get the point.

A chef doesn’t cook every dish that’s cooked in his restaurant, but his influence over the staff should help to keep them focused and consistent.  They should trust, but verify.  Taste what’s going out to diners and if it’s not right, get it done right.  I think Murry’s does this better than any place I’ve seen so far.  Just me on a soap box for a moment.

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