6 ways to become a better pub chef – the basics

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Top tips: having a focused kitchen team is just one way pub chefs can improve service
Top tips: having a focused kitchen team is just one way pub chefs can improve service

Related tags Chef Cooking Unilever food solutions

There are six steps to take if you want to become a better pub chef, according to a recently released Unilever Food Solutions guide.

It may sound basic, but sometimes the basics in life are the things we forget first.

1. Planning


Thinking ahead and plotting out everything that needs doing from cooking to the financial responsibilities are essential skills in running a kitchen.

Poor planning can result in not just bad food but a pub’s kitchen failing to meet its margins.

The best chefs know what is required for every service, making sure the day goes as smoothly as possible.

Ensure you have the right amount of stock for the number of covers you're expecting to do. If you have a large booking, then ensure the front-of-house team has asked ahead to find out whether there are any dietary requirements.

2. Timing


With cooking, timing is everything and vital to delivering a great service for diners and staff. Check the prep to ensure service goes without issues.

The more you can do before service, the quicker and easier things will be in the kitchen during service.

If you can pre-cook or pre-batch elements of a dish, then do so, but ensure it is safe and hygienic.

3. Focus


Pubs should give their team clear direction and roles through the service to help ensure that every meal is delivered as efficiently as possible.

Your kitchen, depending on the size of your brigade, is a production line and if staff are in the right sections and have been given the right jobs then service will be a smooth operation. You don't want your pastry chef switching between the pastry section and sauces.

4. Innovation


By continuing to learn and keeping up to date with food trends, alongside studying cooking methods and cuisines of other cultures and experimenting with different dishes, pub chefs can constantly discover new skills and recipes to incorporate into their menus.  

Eat out in places that serve food to a similar style as yours to see if they are doing things better or differently to you but, most importantly, find new and exciting venues to eat in where you can gain inspiration for your own menu.

Make this a learning activity for the whole team that can also be a treat. Rewarding your brigade after a busy season with a trip to a Michelin-starred venue could make the whole team more enthusiastic and could inspire someone to think up the next best-selling dish.

5. Quality control


Top chefs make scrutinising everything in the kitchen a priority to ensure top-quality food and service. Keep on top of basic cleaning and hygiene practices, but keep an eye on the plates as they are going to the pass.

During busier periods this is harder to do, but it is critical each plate of food goes out to the same standard when you're flat out that it does when it's a slow shift.

6. Simplicity


Many chefs spend time refining and perfecting key signature dishes, which could mean offering set menus and limited items.

Unilever has urged chefs to offer food that is the best quality, rather than creating a huge variety of dishes that don’t necessarily meet the mark.

Consumers don't want to be intimidated by their food, especially not in a pub, so make sure it is easy for them to see what they're eating.

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