The Order/fire system and the rail.

There’s a good chance most of you have no idea what this means. Let’s break it down.

Order/fire system is pretty simple. A ticket comes in, fire the stuff that needs to go now, order items that need to come out later.

Here’s an example, salad is the appetizer so it goes out first, so you fire the salad and thecooks make it, it goes out to the table. On the same order, there is a steak, the steak is ordered so it can be ready when the table needs it, preferably after the salad is finished.

The rail lives at the front of the line. It’s pretty much a big rail of metal that holds marbles so it can hold tickets. I’ve also seen tape placed so the tickets stick to it. Really anything that helps you keep your tickets in order.

In most kitchens, the rail is a station. It’s called expo, this is usually manned by the Chef to make sure the quality of the food is on point and service flows well. It’s point for the restaurant and it dictates if the nights going to go well.

So that’s that. But there are a lot of ways to work this system. You can have a fire system, where you fire everything when it’s called. Think Burger King. You want this? Here it is.

There are also a lot of places that have to order things way in advance. Some restaurants make you call in days in advance to get something really special. These are more large scale items like whole lamb legs or suckling pigs.

Some restaurants are split into a couple of different lines, so there are two expediters, usually one for hot line and one for appetizers.  And they both work off of different systems, hotline (entrees and sides) would work on a mostly order system, while appetizers (cold and hot) would work on a strict fire system. Just to make things a little more complicated, the raw bar has its own tickets.

There is a second point on the line, he keeps the line running smoothly and makes sure that tickets aren’t dropped (lost in the shuffle) this guy is usually a Sous chef or a long-standing cook and he is also vital. He makes sure things are getting dropped (food is getting started) by the people around him while working a station.

This is the usual structure for a medium to high-end kitchen.  Sometimes expo turns into point on the line; this usually happens if you are short cooks or if you don’t have someone to rely on.

This fucking sucks.

It’s a mess, and it can work but it is way less efficient. The kitchen is made to be mindless. If you are working veg station all you need to do during service is make veg. 

The chef controls what you do and corrects you if you lose focus.  Think of it as the expo is the brain and everything else are the appendages. Everything should be done in unison, that’s how you make a good product.

One more thing, all of the dishes that are fired together need to come up pressure.

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