One thing that I remember clearly from the culinary school is the importance of Mise En Place. Mise En Place is a French term for put in place, it emphasising the importance of having all things that you will be needed during service time, such as your garnish, sauce bottles, and such. In general just preparing all the things that you going to use. For example, when you cooking a fried rice, then your mise en place including activity such as mincing garlic, chopping spring onion, dicing meat, cracking an egg, up to preparing the wok that is going to be used.
Mise en Place is being done to make sure that it will provide a smooth activity afterwards, whether it services or cooking stuff. Well, it might look cool when you do things a la minute, but it won’t be smart, isn’t it? If you can have it ahead of time it always betters that way. No one likes to go to war with a half assed prep anyway. That’s why, there is a saying that you can judge a chef by how they do their mise en place, chefs, whom able to do a great prep and keep things in check and neat is more likely to have a better career. Good mise en place also ensures that you will have things more organised and will safe a lot of time and energy.
to quote Anthony Bourdain;
“Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks… As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system… The universe is in order when your station is set.”
Once, my class was having a joint lineup with a junior batch that will go to the apprenticeship site, and the chef instructor asked us to give some tips for them, most of my friend said to just listen to the head chef’s instructions and work hard. Yes, I agree with it, but only partly. What I think the most important is to be able to work smart. How to plan what you have to do for the day. I was having a hard time during apprenticeship because I wasn’t fast enough, the first two weeks I felt like a slowpoke in a racing competition against ratata. But as time goes, I get a bit better. I tried to get a grasp of the pace in the kitchen and learn about things that have to be done, Including prioritising stuff.
It helps, a lot!
Working hard is good, a lot of places would love to have a hard working personnel. But I am sure a lot of places would love a smart worker even more. Let me remind you, working smart is not working lazy, cutting corners here and there. But, to do things that need to be done in the most effective and timely manner. By doing that not only you got things done, you should also be able to save your energy for another project. Like working out, doing some freelancing stuff, or even prepping your own big break.You might not get it right the first time, but while you keep adjusting you should be getting the right tunes that work for you.
Let’s us start to working smart!