El Che, a grilling dreamland PT. 1

This restaurant is made with fire.

I got the opportunity to stage at this fine restaurant the other day. The concept is super cool. The whole restaurant circles around the grill. It feels like everything is made with fire in mind.

First let’s talk about the flow of the restaurant and how the kitchen works.

It’s a pretty simple system, on any given Tuesday there are two prep guys,  one CDC, one expo (Happened to be John Manion on this particular Tuesday) , four line cooks, a pastry professional, and four dishwashers. Not to mention a good amount of FOH staff.

During service a good portion of the prep kitchen gets transformed into pastry. The Pastry Chef (Marianna {Marinara} Reynolds) Holds it down, while also making bread and doing other pastry projects.

This kitchen was busy. Everyone moves with purpose and electricity. These guys are pro’s, there was no hanging out, or wandering around. Everyone knew their job from the moment they arrived and rushed to crush the night. The stations and kitchen were clean and tight. Everything had a place, and everyone knew the steps. This invokes a kind of electric calmness in the back of house.

This is the sign of great leadership. Both the Executive Chef (John Manion), the Pastry Chef (Marinara Reynolds) and the Chef De Cuisine (Brian Szwaya) were both professional and Inviting. They keep tabs on their kitchen with more of an intense pride than ego or fear. These are guys who genuinely want their employees to succeed, and push them to meet their potential.

The entire time I was talking to Brian we always moved back to what his guys were doing. He explained to me that he was giving them partial ownership over programs he wanted to start in the restaurant, effectively letting the cooks be creative and push themselves to learn, while at the same time elevating the restaurant as a whole.

I love this style of management. It makes total sense, you give the responsiblity to your employees and hold them accountable. They get a sense of ownership and they gain confidence and understanding. Sometimes things are not going to work out, but you’ll learn and move on.

It’s undeniably some of the best training you can get.



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