How To Organize Your Workstation

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Every chef knows that most of the work in the kitchen involves prepping food rather than cooking meals. Since prepping takes place in a cook’s workstation, it is essential to keep an organized workstation to create a faster and more efficient workflow. A tidy and clean station will shorten your serving time and help contribute to your restaurant’s overall success. Follow our steps to organizing your workstation to optimize workflow while prepping and cooking menu items.

1. Practice Proper Hygiene

Before focusing on the workstation, begin by making sure you practice proper hygiene when handling food. Dirty hands can cause cross-contamination which may result in foodborne illnesses. Follow our basic tips to keep yourself neat and tidy to hygienically handle food:

  • Tie your hair back and trim facial hair or wear a beard net
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and properly sanitize kitchen equipment
  • Remove any dirt from nails and keep them short
  • Wear a clean apron or uniform
  • Wear the appropriate slip-resistant footwear to avoid slips and falls

2. Know Your Recipe

Learn or memorize your entire recipe and make a list of all the ingredients, utensils, and equipment you may need. By understanding your recipe, you’ll have a better idea of how to set up your station. Read through the following tips to make sure your food items and materials are ready for use:

  • Ensure you are using fresh food items (check the expiration date)
  • Wash, cut, and sort all ingredients into different containers
  • Make sure all equipment is clean and sanitized
  • Sharpen all of your knives
  • Keep a kitchen towel and roll of paper towels handy for liquid messes
  • Only gather items you will be using throughout the day

3. Practice Mise En Place

What is Mise en Place?

One of the first things you learn in culinary school is mise en place, a French term that translates to, everything in its place. This practice requires all ingredients to be prepped inside their respective containers and organized to be within reach while cooking your meal.

How To Arrange Ingredients

Ideally, everything in your workstation should be arranged in such a way that you can reach for your ingredients blindfolded. Lay out your ingredients in the order you are going to cook in. Whichever food items you are working with first, should be nearest to you. After you’re finished with them, move them out of the way and have the next necessary ingredients next to you. Eliminating equipment and ingredients you don’t need is a great way to reduce clutter at your station and provide you with a more comfortable way to prepare food.

4. Clean As You Go

Use the “Clean As You Go” method to avoid having to clean a huge chunk of equipment and materials at the end of the day. Finished with a knife? Give it a rinse and let it dry. Made your sauce? Let your saucepan soak in water while you are preparing the next ingredients. Cleaning as you go also requires you to periodically check the surface of your station to ensure there aren’t leftover sauces or crumbs. If spotted, wipe the surface clean. All spills and messes should be taken care of immediately, especially if they’re on the floor to avoid any dangerous falls.

At The End Of The Day…

When closing time has finally arrived, you’ll find that your workstation will require little to no cleanup which gives you time to focus on other tasks, such as taking inventory or checking over your establishment’s financial record. An immaculate workstation also serves as an example to employees, and allows you and your staff to work quickly, cleanly, and efficiently.

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