In his first blog with Club + Resort Chef, Greg Volle, Executive Chef of the Country Club of Roswell, shares what he believes are the three most important senses club chefs must possess.
There are three senses required to do this job, as far as I’m concerned. They are
1. Common Sense. It’s cute that everyone thinks they are born with this sense when in point of fact they most certainly are not. Nevermind the fact that these same people can likely not spell, name the first president, or accept the fact that the earth is round and not flat. (Yes, I currently work with people who believe that.) However, it can be triggered and become a trained response to everyday experiences. Let’s face it, some people in this industry need life training, as well as kitchen training. I’m happy to offer both to those who are genuinely interested.
2. A Sense of Urgency– I was once called out for not possessing this particular sense. My Chef when I worked at The Outpost in Chicago was watching me wax poetic on the late night shenanigans I had gotten into the night before. As I was delivering my monologue, I was also lackadaisically chopping some parsley. I had no idea I was driving him crazy by taking my sweet ass time with this task. Suddenly, he snatched the knife out of my hand, hip-checked me off the station, grabbed another knife, started double-timing it, turning the parsley into whispy perfect flakes of green confetti.
“You see here Volle, we do everything around here with a sense of urgency,” he said. “We finish one task, and we go right into the next one till all of the shit is done.”
I had never heard that specific term before, but what a great phrase. It’s not enough to just be fast or move quickly. Working with a sense of urgency is a whole different thing entirely. It’s an actual internal ‘sense’ that feels like a mix of anxiety, pressure and a deep-seated need to have absolutely every task finished leading up to service. Until you do, you don’t let up, slow down or even take any kind of ‘break’ (as if there really are breaks for those who take this job seriously).
(I came to find out that the goal in that particular kitchen was to be done prepping by 4:30 so that the entire kitchen staff could play whiffle ball in the parking lot for 30 minutes before service. Sense of Urgency indeed…)
3. Sense of Humor. I’ve heavily rely on this one sense. Humor keeps us all from going absolutely apeshit in a frustrating situation and also likely keeps someone else from going completely crazy on us.Humor not only diffuses tense, awkward and completely negative kitchen situations, but it also keeps everyone on the safe side of reality.
“It’s not life or death. It’s lunch and dinner,” a friend used to say. That little quip can put a quick smile on somebody’s face (and, hopefully, keep them from burning the whole place to the ground.)