View Full Version : The Family Meal Experience

01-21-2013, 07:36 PM
Hey just checking in with fellow line cooks on what the family meal experience has been like at your restaurants past and present. Where i'm at now, we have a relatively small line (2-3 am cooks, 4 pm and 2-4 chefs on any given day). we all try to help out in some way and are allowed and encouraged to order proteins, veg whatever for family and be creative with it. about half the time we repurpose scrap and what not and the rest we make stuff free of ingredients otherwise meant for our menu. the standard is to make a protein, starch, veg, and salad, this doesn't always happen, but mostly, and rarely does anyone make extras like beverages and desserts, but sometimes.

01-21-2013, 09:05 PM
This road.... never ends well for anyone.

01-21-2013, 09:17 PM
If I had noticed this was in the BoH section, I wouldn't have had to read it 4 times before it made sense to me...

What do you mean Rick?

01-22-2013, 12:35 AM
"Filet again??!!!" :pullhair:

01-22-2013, 01:58 AM
Yeah, dangerous game. I've only seen it in newer restaurants, places run by ambitious and naive guys in their 30s who are trying to foster a "fun and friendly" atmosphere that, invariably, ends up being abused.

01-22-2013, 11:29 AM
interesting, thanks for the feedback

01-22-2013, 12:48 PM
The phrase "unused protein" should be a red flag.

01-22-2013, 03:00 PM
It's just a thankless job that never pleases anyone. Seriously, I've actually heard on many occasions, "Filet again?!!" Replace filet with any other protein too, I've heard em all. I don't get worked up on it though, it is what it is. We have two rules though, you don't like it, don't eat it and we don't entertain open complaints, criticisms or requests about family meal. Take it up with your foh manager in private or get blasted in front of everyone. I know that's not what this thread is supposed to be about but it's a bit of a touchy subject at my place.

01-22-2013, 10:23 PM
My newest job I just started has been amazing at family meals..really delicious stuff. Everyone is very grateful. One time one of the servers wanted to contribute something and came in early to make something and it was awesome also.

01-22-2013, 10:30 PM
"It's too salty, there's no salt in it, there's no cheese on it, there's too much cheese on it, there's too much sauce in it, there's no sauce in it, how come there's no French fries, how come there's always French fries...." We actually joke about these vultures all the time. Making CRAAAWWW!! sounds and such. It's pretty funny really. People get pissed off too if second supper goes up 10 minutes "late" as well....

01-25-2013, 05:21 AM
anyone who has the gall the complain about free food does not deserve the privilege of a family meal, and majority of the time more than half the staff do not appreciate it at all so there's really no point in feeding them, sucks for the ones who actually are cool but that's life.

01-25-2013, 05:30 AM
Took me a while to realise you were talking about staff meals.I learned a lot about cooking from making staff meals,it was part of my first kitchen job.The hardest was during Christmas when I was inevitability given Turkey to use as the main protein-the place I worked Christmas parties ran from late November to mid January.Staff are generally the hardest to please and you need to make real effort.I used to offer "off-menu"items to the hot waitresses,and that is how I met my wife-true story.
I think all junior chefs should have to do this as it teaches creativty,wastage/cost control and people management skills.

01-25-2013, 07:16 AM
ive had many "dates" from lovely young waitresses by making an extra effort with their food, quickest way to a girls ...... heart.

where i am now we have a communal dinner when the kitchens cleaned down, no one gets anything before we are down, if they have to go home/out they miss dinner and no requests, usually there are 8-10 all up, i work in a "modern Thai" restaurant (think Longrain -Sydney or Nahm in London) so all of us have a big thing for chilli, hot curries etc new staff get a little freaked at us sweating while stuffing it in our mouths.

A few things we need to make fresh daily, roasted chilli Nahm Jim for one, that poured on rice with a little 5spice shredded chicken i could eat every night.
Its funny how fast you build up a tolerance to chilli

01-25-2013, 07:43 AM
anyone who has the gall the complain about free food does not deserve the privilege of a family meal, and majority of the time more than half the staff do not appreciate it at all so there's really no point in feeding them, sucks for the ones who actually are cool but that's life.

worked at a place where the front of the house just waits around for the food and expects us cooks to make them their food without any appreciation. i do understand there will forever be a divide between the front of the house and the back of the house people but there should be some sort of balance. which is why i won't get into detail in my problems with the servers. i just don't like the fact that we peeps in the kitchen do a ton of work and get paid a lot less and tipped a lot less while they get to look pretty and just wipe glasses and finery all day.

01-28-2013, 09:21 PM
I happen to work with TheDisspossed. I have mixed feelings about family meal. First and foremost, I completely understand how unfair it is that in the middle of a busy day you have to stop what you're doing to feed a staff that shows up only 45 minutes before service starts. Meanwhile, myself and the other line cooks typically have to work through family just to finish out our prep. I do feel that family meal is a great outlet to practice new techniques or new dishes. New sauce or marinade. Things of that nature. It's one of the only positive things I get out of the family meal experience. Otherwise, it's just an annoying part of my day.

01-30-2013, 07:02 PM

01-30-2013, 07:03 PM
I happen to work with TheDisspossed.
you really do work with the dispossessed

01-30-2013, 08:23 PM
"Filet again??!!!" :pullhair:

really? the first time my (now) wife and i broke up, i ate steak every day for 3 months. maybe i'm weird.

01-30-2013, 08:54 PM
really? the first time my (now) wife and i broke up, i ate steak every day for 3 months. maybe i'm weird.

I usually cook a filet about once a week, but could easily up that to five times a week (or more) if cost/health were not factors.

01-30-2013, 09:05 PM
hotdog, you have a problem stopping in your probably 6th hour of your shift to make people 'dinner' for people who just walked in the door, who won't say thank you? you probably just upset cause you haven't used the bathroom or done anything besides chugged some water and plow through orders/prep all day. I always wonder how I can be up at 8am, eat breakfast be at work by 10am, and still make servers who start at 4pm dinner, because they 'didn't have time'. Love staff meal for FOH cavemen vultures. Pardon me, touchy subject.

01-30-2013, 10:21 PM
Aww man, ribs AGAIN??!!!

01-31-2013, 10:26 AM
In general staff meal makes me hate the staff. Also peoples eating habits and predilections are insane.

01-31-2013, 12:16 PM
hehe, I have used the CCCAAAWWW myself for 15 years, its funny how it transcends time/borders. At a place I worked we even served up FOH meal in a giant oversized dog bowl, was the only satisfying time watching those savages eat.

01-31-2013, 12:24 PM
I think it's a pretty touchy subject everywhere. I don't work crazy long hours, but it does piss me off if I am working an 10 or 11 hour shift with no break and have to make food for someone who works like 3 or 4 hours and gets a half hour break. The odd time I actually get to make something it's usually cold by the time I have a chance to eat it

01-31-2013, 12:29 PM
I eat like a horse at work, standing up. Agreed steven, cold usually.

01-31-2013, 12:39 PM
yep. cold. either that or i sneak a spoonful of whatever or two when the boss ain't lookin. a man's gotta eat. and i go on bathroom breaks (while not caring if anyone is looking for me or else i implode) and take a couple minutes just to cool my nerves, sneak a couple gulps of water from my water bottle that i keep near me in case those boobs up front drink up all the drinking water for the staff, which usually happens during the middle of a shift.

02-03-2013, 08:59 PM
At The last restaurant I worked at we had a pretty good system in place. It was set up more or less like your find the "nightly specials" in a neighborhood diner. Each day's meals (we fed the staff before lunch service and then before dinner service) more or less set. For example, Monday's breakfast was oatmeal and fruit smoothies, Tuesday was eggs and hashbrowns. Tuesday lunch was fish stew, every Friday was focaccia pizza day. For the most part, it took away a lot of opportunity for bitching about "I don't eat fish, blah blah blah." Guess what dumbass, It's been fish stew every Tuesday for the last month, eat before you come in!

Of course we'd change it up here and there as needed depending on what had to be used up. But this system was helpful because we had a staff of 20 on a slow day.

ETA: We also had 2 badass prep cooks who made at least half of the staff meals each week.

02-13-2013, 03:41 AM
I've been in all sorts of Family Meal situations. Cooking it ourselves (as line cooks) as a team, alternating which line cook makes it by themselves depending on the day, cafeterias at restaurants in hotels...at the place I'm at now, a sous chef or the chef de cuisine makes it every day, which is great if you ask me. I used to hate having to make dinner for 40+ people while preparing for a booked Saturday night in New York City.

We actually joke about these vultures all the time. Making CRAAAWWW!! sounds and such.
lol that is exactly what we do. Damned servers.

02-17-2013, 10:05 PM
only time servers move with a purpose is when there is food available, our family meal is whoever is the most hungry makes enough for everyone. there are usually on 4-5 guys around during the day so it isnt much. at night they have a family meal for the line cooks and servers and the sous makes it. If I have any desserts on the way out or extra bread ill use that or the prep guy will make some eggs and chorizo or whatever other mexican specialty he can assault my stomach with.