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A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms

A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & TermsHere’s one of the most complete guides to restaurant lingo, terms and slang – including some that our readers left in the comment section below.

Click these links to jump to a letter to look up a term:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

And don’t forget to add your own terms to the comment section below!

A

* All Day – The total amount.  If table 12 orders two orders of salmon and table 19 orders four orders of salmon, that’s “six salmon, all day.”

B

* Back of the house – The back end of the restaurant, the kitchen and storage areas, where the chefs, cooks, prep people and dishwashers primarily work.

* Bev Nap – The little square paper napkin which a beverage rests on.

* Brigade System – The kitchen organization system instituted by Auguste Escoffier. Each position has a station and a set of well defined responsibilities.

* Bubble Dancer – A disrespectful name for one of the most valuable and unrecognized of kitchen staff – the dishwasher.

* Buried – See “In the weeds”. Way behind. Overwhelmed.

C

* Cambro – A large plastic pan used for storage of perishables and non-perishables. The term Cambro derives from the company that makes these containers. Also referred to as a Lexan (from a competing company).

* Campers – Customers that hang out at a table all night long and even turning off all the lights doesn’t get rid of them at closing time.

* Can’t cook his/her way out of a paper bag – Someone who can’t cook well, usually applied to describe someone thats a terrible cook/chef but thinks that he or she is the greatest. The origin of this phrase is used for many different things. A good expanation of some is found at: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=28317

* Chef de Partie – Station chefs. In the brigade system, these are the line cook positions, such as saucier, grillardin, etc.

* Commis – An apprentice. A cook who works under the Chef de Partie to learn the station and responsibilities.

* Comp – To give something away free. Usually done by owners or managers to get brownie points from important customers. Also used to smooth over problems. i.e. “Table 12’s chicken was raw!” “Comp the whole table desserts and coffee!”

* Cover – A customer, i.e.”It was a slow night, We only did 20 covers tonight.”

* Credits – An amount that is due back to a restaurant from the vendor for a mispicked, damaged or out of date product.  See mispicked.

* Cremate it or Kill it – To almost burn something or be very overcooked. i.e ” Table 5 wants his burger cremated” extra extra well done.

* Cryovaced – Generally used with meat products, but many dried goods are packed this way to retain freshness. Cryovacing is a process used to remove any excess oxygen from a bag, and than then the bag is heat sealed to make it airtight.  When receiving meat products that have been cryovaced, keep a look out for products that are discolored and brownlooking, this means the airtight seal has been broken and you should send the product back.

D

* Deuce – A table with only two seating spaces. For example, “Seat this deuce at Table 12″ See Top.

* Double – Two shifts in a row.  “I’m exhausted, I just pulled a double.”

* Double/Triple Sat – When more than one table is seated in a particular station at the same time.

* Dupe – The ticket/information that gets submitted to the kitchen so the cooks can cook orders of food.

* Drop the Cheque – Taking a guest’s bill to their table for payment.

* Drop – Start cooking the accompanied item. “The mussels are almost done, better drop the calamari.”

* Drop Food/Order – The moment at which the kitchen begins to prepare a guest’s food or the moment a server delivers an order to the customers. “I just dropped the drinks on table 4.”

* Dying/Dead Plate – Food that is nearly or totally unservable, either due to temperature, appearance, the waitstaff talking to look to pick up from the hot line or wrong ingredients. For example, ‘My shrimps dying in the window because I don’t have veg (accompanying vegetables) to go with it!” Also called beyond in the weeds.

E

* Early Bird – Generally elderly people or tourists who want everything included for very little money. The $12.95 all you can eat buffet.

* Early Bird Special – A cheap meal that is generally available for a limited amount of time when the restaurant opens for service.

* Eighty-six, 86 – “We’re out of Sam’s! (Sam Adams) 86 it!” or the kitchen is out of the item ordered. To remove an item from an order or from the menu because the kitchen or bar is out.

* Expeditor, Expo – Person in charge of organizing food from the kitchen and sending it to the dining room; a mediator of the line.

F

* Fire, Fire it – Order given by the head of the line to the other cooks to begin preparation of certain orders, such as “Fire those shepherds pies!”

* Foodie – (Depending on context) The bane of cooks and chefs everywhere, a Wanna-Be professional cook/chef. There is nothing more irritating then going to a dinner party or meeting at a restaurant with a group of people and there is always at least one “Foodie” attending who proceeds to tell you all about how he/she made the most fabulous chicken dish. etc etc. until you just want to strangle them     ZZZ……………

* Food cost – What a menu item costs to prepare. The cost of a chicken entrée with meat, sauce, vegetables and starch is your food cost. Most restaurants run between a 30-40% food cost, this does not include the cost of overhead that needs to get added in before you start making a profit.

* Front of the house – The front end of the restaurant, the dining room and bar where the customers are served and wait staff, bartenders, bussers and dining room managers primarily work.

G

* Garde-Manger – Pantry chef/station. The postion responsible for cold food preparation, including salads, cold appetizers and plating desserts.

H

* Hockey Puck – A well done hamburger.

I

* In the Weeds – Can have meanings for both the front and back of the house. The kitchen being in the weeds can mean having only one 2 ft by 3 ft grill and having 40 people order medium well steaks in the space of five minutes. In the front of the house, it could mean one server just had two parties of 15 seated at the same time and they all want separate checks.

J

* Jeopardy/Wheel of Fortune Crowd – Early bird diners. Need to be home early or looking for cheap meals that include everything.

K

* Kill it – To make something very overcooked; see Cremate it.

M

* Mispick – An item that is ordered from a vendor that has a label on it that does not match the product it contains.

N

* No Call/No Show – Employee who does not show up and does not call or a Reservation that does not show up and does not call.

* Nuke it – to Microwave.

O

* On a Rail or On the Fly – Something needed quickly, like yesterday.  “I need table 2’s salads on a rail!”  Or, “Give me a well done tender…on the fly.”

* Overhead – The added in factors when you are costing out menu products to make sure you are making a profit. Overhead may include electricity costs, paper and chemical products, employee salaries and any additional costs that may be relevant in serving an item.

P

* Paddy Well – A term used very frequently in Irish Pubs and Restaurants, which means to cook it until there is no possibility of life remaining. The next level above Cremate it.

* Party – A group of people at a table.

* Pittsburgh Rare – Burnt outside, rare inside.

* Pump it out – Getting food out quickly.

* Push- “Sell” it.  Put it in the window or “We only have two orders of sole left, push it.”

R

* Redneck – The non-tipping public, not related to a rural type person, meaning a cheapskate. See stiffs.

* Rollup – Silverware rolled into a napkin, usually linen but can be paper.

S

* Sacked – Fired, usually employees are considered sacked after a major screw up, like serving a banquet of 200 people the $100.00 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne instead of the $12.95 bottles that they were supposed to get.

* Saucier – Sauté Chef/station. The chef de partie responsible for all the sautéed items and their sauces.

* Server – The preferred term for waiter or waitress, for example, “Could you find my server, please, I need a refill on my Pepsi.”

* Shelf life – The amount of time in storage that a product can maintain quality, freshness and edibility.

* Sidework – Work performed by front of the house staff  (e.g., refilling salt and pepper shakers, polishing silverware).

* Shoe – A slacker cook/chef. Someone who doesn’t cook well. The only origin for this word that I know of was told to me by a European Chef I worked for. The term Shoe came from the fact that in Europe most Chefs in the Northern regions wore wooden clogs in the kitchen. A bad or clumsy chef/cook used to stumble alot and was made fun of by the other cooks and chefs.

* Shoe Chef – (The Sous Chef) See Shoe, sometimes accompanied by the phrase “The Shoe Chef at (my restaurant) can’t cook his/her way out of a paper bag.”

* Shorting – An unscrupulous method used by some vendors to charge a restaurant for more product than they actually receive.

* Sizzle Platter – Heavy grade metal oval plate that is used to reheat or cook something in a high temperature oven.

* Skate – Leaving without doing sidework.

* Slammed – Busy.  See “In The Weeds”.  Perhaps not as out of control as “in the weeds”.

* Sommelier – Wine Steward or wine waiter.

* Sous Chef – Generally the second in command in a kitchen; there can be an Executive Sous Chef, generally found in a larger kitchen with a lot of staff. The Sous Chef runs the kitchen when it’s the Chef’s day off or he/she is not available.

* Starch – Starch can be potatoes, rice, grain or pasta, the other accompaniment besides the “Veg” to an plated meal.

* Station – The set number of tables waited on by a particular server.

* Stiffed – A customer has left the restaurant without tipping the server.

* Stiffs – Non-tipping customers, see redneck.

* Still Moving or Still Mooing – Ultra rare, “they want the tender (tenderloin) still Mooing.”

* Stretch It – To make four orders of hollandaise sauce last through an entire shift by “stretching it” with whatever is available and edible.

T

* Table Turn – Number of times a table has had the full revolution of service from being seated to getting the check and then reset for the next group of customers.

* Tare – The weight of a container that the product from a vendor is delivered in. This weight should legally be deducted from the actual weight of the product. See shorting.

* Tender – A tenderloin.

* The Man, the Boogie Man – Health Inspector. “Wash your hands, The Man is here!” “Better mop the walk-in, the Boogie Man’s coming in 10 minutes.”

* Top – The number in a dining party. For example, an eight top is a dining party of eight. A three top is a party of three.

* Toss – An unscrupulous method used by some vendors to make a box look like its full of product.

* Totes – Plastic containers that are usually used to deliver fish. They are frequently rectangular but sometimes square or round. Totes are horded by kitchen staff because once washed and sanitized, they make excellent airtight storage containers for just about anything.

* Tourne – Vegetables that are cut to resemble a small, slightly tapered cork, but instead of being smooth they are cut to have seven equally large facets. Generally root vegetables, potatoes, carrots, but sometimes zucchini or other soft vegetables are used. Traditionally, they are boiled, steamed or roasted.

* Turn & Burn – Turn a table quickly (usually because there is a long waiting list for tables). see Table Turn

* Tron – Old 80’s slang for a waiter or waitress.

* Two second rule – The amount of time between when a piece of food hits the floor and when it’s picked up and placed in a sauté pan or on a plate, generally accompanied by a guilty look to see if anyone else saw it.

U

* Upsell – To suggest a higher priced item. “I’d like a glass of merlot, please.”  suggesting Iron Horse at $6.00 a glass as opposed to the house vino at $4.00 a glass.

V

* Veg – The vegetable accompaniment to a plated meal.

* VIP – A very important customer, perhaps well known and deserving of extra special treatment. Food critics fall into this category. Generally accompanied by many Comps.

W

* Waitron – Coined in late ’80’s to avoid using “sexist” terms “Waiter/Waitress”. Was replaced in the ’90’s by Server.

* Walk-in – A refrigerated room for cold storage of perishable items.

* Walked – A customer has left without paying the bill or a employee get fed up and just left in the middle of their shift.

* Window – A shelf, usually heated and connected to the kitchen, upon which the food is placed after preparation and awaiting delivery to the table.

* Well drinks – “Well” drinks are made from the inexpensive house liquors on hand. i.e. If you ask for a unspecified gin and tonic you will get whatever gin they serve as opposed to a Tanqueray and tonic.

Add your restaurant slang terms in the comments below!

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Why Spreadsheets Are Your Restaurant’s Best Friend

Why Spreadsheets Are Your Restaurants Best FriendI would have to rate a computer as a must have for a Chef, second only to a good set of quality knives. While utilizing a POS (Point of Sale) System and knowing how to use it can be enormously useful to a chef, I think spreadsheets are the cat’s meow.

Before I migrated to MS Excel I was a MAChead and used a program called Clarisworks which had a similar spreadsheet program. I couldn’t have done without and been as organized as I was without the heavy use of spreadsheets.

I strongly recommend if, as a cook or chef, if you don’t know how to use spreadsheets, take a course in it, even over learning to use Word.

These are many things that spreadsheets can be used for to make your life easier. (While some POS systems can spit out reports in CSV (comma separated value) format, so you can integrate them with information you are using at home, you can’t take the POS system home with you.) As a former chef, much of my computer time was spent at home working on things for the restaurant on my own time (something that happens a lot, especially if you are on salary)

Here is a listing of some of the things you can use spreadsheets for:

  • Staff scheduling
  • Order sheets for vendors
  • Vendor lists with contact information
  • Daily prep lists
  • Inventory control lists and tracking
  • Variable food cost lists (if you learn to program formulas this makes life much easier.) The cost of fish for the special you run every Friday varies dramatically week to week. Plug in the cost and if your calculations are in correctly, it will give the cost of what you should sell the entrée for in order to maintain your food cost properly.
  • Recipes (again if you learn to program formulas) changing a recipe with ingredients for 10 servings to 150 becomes a snap.
  • Long term recording and forecasting (track inventory levels and compare them month to month, track vendor usage, track food pricing, track covers (people dining), track your scheduling of staff-who needs a vacation?)
  • Waste and food loss usage: If bread baskets are coming back from the dining room with an average of 2 rolls left in them, track waste and reduce accordingly. Having to note and track raw food (vegetables, meat, fish and poultry) being prepared also cuts down on waste, cooks who have sloppy knife skills will show up wasting more food over time then ones with better. If a cook, in an average time period, cleans a case of tenderloins, make him weigh the trimmings. Trimmings should be just silverskin. If the average unusable trim is high, it’s something you need to keep an eye one.
  • Menu items and trends (if you track an average of two weeks worth of sales of a new entrée and compared to a similarly priced entrée or one that it is replacing, sales are down, it may not be worth keeping it on.)
  • Schedule your specials and date when you ran them; this makes finding out whether certain ones sold better easier and also whether some sold better if ran on certain days then others. I always found it interesting that a high end grilled vegetable panini special sold better when run midweek then on the weekends for example.

In the long run, use of spreadsheets will save you time, make you better organized, save your food costs and down the road save quite a few headaches.

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Chefs: How To Decide Between Apprenticeships or Culinary School

Chefs: How To Decide Between Apprenticeships or Culinary SchoolHaving a formal education is a wonderful thing to be able to put on a resume. Training under an experienced Chef can also teach you just as much practical information. There are pro and cons to both. Culinary schools are more structured environments. Apprenticeships are more unstructured environments. If you have the opportunity to do both, I would highly recommend it.

Culinary Schools Pros:

* Culinary schools look good on a resume.
* Culinary schools give a more structured environment to learn in.
* Culinary schools give broad examples and teachings that cross different types of cuisines and styles of cooking.
* Culinary schools have valuable resources and the opportunity to research independently.
* Culinary schools give a person the opportunity to make future industry contacts.
* Culinary schools give what you get out of them.
* Culinary schools teach basic skills along with business basics.

Culinary Schools Cons:

* Culinary school classes can be unrealistic. Six or more people working the grill station in a restaurant is not the reality of what it is really like in the industry.
* Culinary schools can be very expensive. Evaluate whether you want to be paying off college bills for many years.
* Culinary schools may give students unrealistic expectations. Not everyone is going to become an Executive Chef after graduating from a school.

Apprenticeship Pros:

* Apprenticeships give a person a taste of what really working in a kitchen is like.
* Apprenticeships can give you the opportunity to work under many different types of Chefs, and work one on one with them.
* During an apprenticeship, you make money while you are learning.

Apprenticeship Cons:

* The lack of formal education may hurt you in some hiring environments.
* As an apprentice you may not learn as much about the business aspects as you will need to in order to become a Chef.
* Apprenticeship may lack fundamentals that a formal education can and will teach you.

My best recommendation would be to work (or when all else fails) volunteer to work unpaid in a professional kitchen for at least a few months if not longer before you decide to go to school. Unfortunately many people who go right into culinary schools out of high school have no idea what working in a “real” kitchen is like. Boy they generally are in for a big shock.

So before you go spending big bucks on a school make sure you are going to like the industry first before you dive right in. Not all culinary graduates get to be Head Chefs and “in the News.” If you look at the statistics, a year after graduation, over 15% of graduates do not stay in the field, over 40% are still line cooks and 15-20 years after graduation, many are burned out and have changed careers. I know that in my graduating class at CIA, approximately 50% plus are no longer cooking, many of us have migrated to other hospitality industry jobs: food sales, purchasing, product development, etc. but we are we are not sweating in our whites any longer.Chefs: How To Decide Between Apprenticeships or Culinary School

Half of the chefs and cooks I have worked with over the years have never been to cooking school and they are just as well trained, knowledgeable and talented as ones who have spent the money to be traditionally educated. There is no “wrong way” to get into the field. Regardless of what you decide to do, you get out of it what you put into it.

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POS Systems: Love Them, Learn Them, and Please Don’t Ignore Them

POS Systems: Love Them, Learn Them, and Please Don’t Ignore ThemI didn’t learn to program my first Point of Sale (POS) system until I actually become a head Chef at a restaurant and the POS system impacted my food cost. I taught myself how to use it, as there was no operating manual and none of the waitstaff or the owners knew how to program it either. After two weeks of not being able to program in specials and receiving hand written dupes with orders written on them, flank steaks coming through as tenderloins, sides of fries being no veg, and a host of other things that no one knew how to change or delete, I got fed up. This was my first introduction to the world of PCs, formerly being a Machead.

I have worked in many places where none of the kitchen staff knows how to program or change the POS system. This is a recipe for bad news and a food cost that can go through the roof even in a well managed kitchen. Even if it seems to be simple inexpensive errors, a side of fries instead of no vegetables, on a repeat basis, the small stuff can add up quickly. A side salad with no dressing or dressing/side gets sent out repeatedly with dressing on it, this salad can not be saved, its dressed and the salad wilts quickly.

An inexpensive side at $1.50 a pop, can quickly add up over time when line cooks don’t know or forget that X really means Y. Not to mention the time wasted for a waitperson to physically have to enter the kitchen, tell the cook that this salad has dressing/side and the time the cook wastes (especially on a busy night) noting this.

$1.50 X 100 times is not small change. Multiply this daily for a month and the small change equals thousands of dollars.

Not only does having a properly programmed POS system make sales and inventory easier to track, it cuts down on error, time wasted by waitstaff and by back of the house staff clarifying things and it can also impact tracking theft of product.

Point of Sale systems are wonderful tools, take advantage of them.

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Beg, Borrow, Or Blow Your Food Cost

Beg, Borrow, Or Blow Your Food CostIn a restaurant, especially a newly started or taken over one, it is highly recommended you get to know the other area food facilities and develop good relationships with them. While this may seem quaint, sort of like moving into a new neighborhood and making nice with the neighbors, there is a very good reason for doing this.

Yes, technically, other area restaurants are competition, but they can also be allies and assets. Similar to a bed and breakfast being full and recommending another one in the area when they are fully booked and it’s in turn reciprocated. This can also happen in restaurants. Each restaurant unless they have the exact same menu as you, the same prices, the same décor and clones of all your staff, is unique to itself.

The primary reason for being buds with your neighboring restaurants is because in a pinch, they may have stock of something you are out of. While this may seem purely mercenary to think about this in advance, it’s not. Most restaurants in business today that have been around for awhile, have a relationship with at least one if not more restaurants in a fairly close proximity, or they have a key food vendor who will go the extra mile for them and track down things at 11 at night for them.

Whether it’s the owners being friends or the chefs, cooks or bartenders, it’s important to be civil to the neighbors. Easy ways to do this may be stopping in for dinner occasionally or an after hours drink and meet everyone in charge. If owners/chefs/key employees stop in your place, buy them a drink, get them some free apps.

Being prepared for this eventuality (of being out of something) may seem overkill and not on an important to do list, but more often then not a key ingredient of your most popular menu item goes out of stock on a Holiday weekend or that caterered party you are doing for 50 people is suddenly increased by 40 people the day before and you can’t get product in the door in time for it. While this may not happen often, and if your management team is a well organized one, it will dramatically decrease the odds of it happening, but it is still best to plan for every eventuality.

When many restaurants run out of product, they send someone to the local grocery to get a replacement instead of running out completely. Doing this will totally kill your food cost. Not to mention many retail products don’t have the same quality as wholesale. Borrowing for a neighboring restaurant who may have paid $0.40 more a pound for Statler chicken breasts instead of buying at retail for 4 times what you paid for it originally, saves you time and money in the short and long term. Buying retail can also affect cash flow in house and result in confusion at the end of the night, when the cash-out doesn’t match up (i.e. the cook or busboy forgot to return and log the receipt from going to a grocery), not to mention headaches for your accountant. Cash for paying for retail items comes directly out of petty cash usually, more cash-out mistakes and petty theft as well can result from this.

In 20 years in the business I have lost count of the number of times other restaurants have bailed me out and in turn I have bailed them out. There are some things you just cannot plan for, no matter how well organized and anal you are about your inventory. The 30 person buffet that wants poached salmon: your normally trusted fish vendor either out of stocks you or on the very off chance you get a bad batch of fish, which was specifically ordered to cover the buffet and you sent it back because it was poor quality. What was the option, take in bad fish and have your customers get sick and/or your reputation go in the toilet? When dealing with perishables there is only some much extra you can keep on hand at any one time.

While you may have a stock in of salmon in this instance (say you run it regularly and it’s a hot item on the menu) do you run that salmon (that you have in house for your party) and 86 it on the menu and have some unhappy customers in your dining room? Run down to your local Stop & Shop, buy salmon for twice the price that has already had twice the day run shelf life? The alternative is borrow from a local that you know has good product and replace it at the first opportunity. You want happy satisfied customers all around.

There are caveats to this:

* Keep careful track of what has been borrowed from whom and make sure product when re-supplied is the same quantity and most importantly the same brand if possible.

* When items are borrowed, especially meat and fish products and most importantly shellfish, keep very very careful records of this, if items were contaminated prior to the borrowee’s restaurant getting hold of it, it needs to be trackable. Most borrower/borrowee relationships buy from many of the same vendors but not all.

* Don’t borrow from others that have bad quality control, if your chef wouldn’t have let it in the door in the first place from a vendor, it’s not something you want either.

* Don’t abuse the area relationships, running out of Maraschino cherries every Friday night tends to get old very fast to the borrowee. (not to mention annoying to regular customers)

* Be wary of the habitual borrowers in return (see above)

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Culinary Alumni Unite!

Alumni Helping Alumni, a place where New England area culinary alumni can come together and help each other in business.

Two culinary alumnus have joined together to create an online public marketplace to help fellow New England area, culinary alumni network and take advantage of the skills and offerings that other culinary alumni can offer them.

The idea originated as a way to help other fellow culinary alumni in these difficult economic times. Many culinary alumni have gravitated to other fields that are associated with cooking, but are no longer in the kitchens themselves, and now own their own businesses. Alumni Helping Alumni is aimed at growing both those alumni member businesses and assisting other culinary alumnus in helping them in this tough economy, by offering either a discount or offering a break on products or services.

The group welcomes all culinary alumnus from the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales and New England Culinary Institute, that would like to participate, with no personal cost to themselves, aside from pledging to give a percentage discount or other incentive off of services or products to fellow alumni who would like to do business with them.

Participants can offer whatever they would like, to either all three New England based schools or only their own alma mater, the only thing that is required is that participating alumni pledge to follow the code of the ethics created by the group and to offer something in return to other alumni. Alumni taking advantage of the network do not need to be network “members” but they are encouraged to give back if they have an avenue for doing so.

We foresee the network growing to include all types of businesses, whether it be wholesale or retail goods, services pertaining to any aspect of the food service industry or food service establishments agreeing to give service or discounts to other alumni.

For more information about Alumni Helping Alumni please visit http://www.culinaryalumni.com/ or Heather Turner at 860-326-0721.

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A Review Of Klick Kitchen By Chef Forfeng

The following is a great review of Klick Kitchen by an industry insider with a lot more personal experience in the food service industry than I have.

I came across Klick Kitchen last year and while the concept was intriguing, the price at the time was not. Since then they have apparently changed it to a free basic service to the consumer/back of the house end and also apparently a basic intro on the vendor end as well.A Review Of Klick Kitchen By Chef Forfeng

Greg from Tundra asked me what my take on KK was. As someone always on the lookout for things that can help my clients I wanted to find out a bit more about the system myself. I was going to write a comment on his recent blog post about it and it started to turn into a full fledged post. TMI.

I called Klick Kitchen and Laurie, one of their account managers, was extremely helpful and gave me a demo of both the chefs ordering end and the vendor end.

The system is interesting, from a vendors perspective it offers quite a bit that’s appealing about it, from a chef’s perspective, it has some things to consider.

For vendors, particularly small ones that don’t have a web presence and as well for some that do, but do not have online ordering as an option, this system is a great offering. It does not have any broadliners on it and most broadliners already have online ordering, so offering it would be duplicating already in existence systems.

From a Chef’s perspective, the system seems like it would be good if you were ordering from a broad variety of small vendors, i.e. more 4-5, any less then that then the convenience factor would become a bit less.

While you can request quotes for items and vendors can set up specific pricing for specific accounts, it does take out some of the “beat up the price” factor.  As a former chef I liked to hassle vendors when pricing was too high on orders and threaten to order elsewhere. Not everyone does this, but for chefs that like a haggle factor this takes out some of the fun (and potentially the bottom line on your food cost as well, if you are a good negotiator.)

It might take a bit of a steep learning curve to navigate around in the system at first. While I know many chefs are much more computer literate then they were 10 years ago, the time to do this and the availability of computers in the workplace may be an issue, as well as taking the time to learn how to get around in the program.. Many chefs (myself included) do some of their ordering from home, so if one has a home computer with fast net access this is great. Laurie says they are working on a video tutorial walk through, which I think would be extremely helpful.

Laurie had mentioned she thought the system would be convenient for many chefs, who while they may not have access to computers at work, they do have web friendly mobile devices. At the time of this post I had inquired after the fact by email, if there was a mobile friendly version of the site, and had not yet heard back. The current web version is navigable by iPhones and Blackberries but could be more user friendly, as there is a lot of touch drag on the page. If there is a mobile friendly version of the site, I will add an addendum to this.

I do think the system has a lot of potential, especially with many of the things it sounds like they are still working on and being implemented, the one major thing that I would be concerned about starting out using the system is out of stocks.

Currently its up to participating vendors to update their out of stocks. There is no date available as to when the last time a price/inventory list has been updated online as of yet (Laurie assured me that is something they will be implementing soon) As someone who orders and likes to know instantly whether something is out of stock, by phone or by live up to date access, until I knew which particular vendors I dealt with kept up to date on their online inventories, I would be reluctant to rely on the system especially for important items. Once you do know your vendor habits, I tend to think you would rely on the ones you knew kept the system up to date. Mis-picks and returns still need to be handled the old fashioned way by phone and fax.

When I was cooking the only thing I might order late night, when the odds of getting a live person on the phone were slim, was some dairy and the occasional odd case of produce. The majority of my ordering was done during regular business hours. I know some chefs do all, or most of their ordering last minute and late night and leave voicemails for vendors. My personal feeling about this is if you don’t know what your pars are supposed to be and can’t somewhat predict your restaurant’s traffic for the coming time period, then you have bigger things to worry about then having a case of pecans out of stock. For chefs that do have a good idea of their inventories and a good handle on internal trend tracking, the system would be a good time saver to use.

I think overall Klick Kitchen has a lot of potential, Laurie and I briefly touched on, but did not go into the preferred system for chefs and vendors (for which they do charge for) that has additional options available and apparently custom reports can be run. This is something I would suggest individuals investigating the system look into, for smaller restaurants that do not have POS systems, I suspect that many of the run reports would be advantageous for them to have access to.

I will be recommending it to clients in the NY metro area as something for their chefs to investigate. I look forward to seeing what future developments bring to the system.

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