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The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Workflow Planning

Updated on October 12, 2015


Each task requires careful planning so that it is performed in a logical sequence. There can be nothing more frustrating, annoying or confusing for the chef than preparation inadequately done and tasks not performed in a logical manner.

Time constraints mean that everything has to be ready for service on time. Workflow planning is the answer.

The objective of workflow planning is to make-work easier. This can be achieved by simplifying the operation; eliminating unnecessary movements, combining two operations into one where possible, or improving old methods. For instance, when peeling carrots, if you let the peelings fall into a bowl, the need to clean the table is eliminated.

Workflow planning involves four areas:

Logical sequence - A step-by-step approach which is based on applied commonsense is important for any establishment and applies to all techniques employed in the kitchen.

Organisation - Everyone who works in the kitchen (ie the kitchen brigade) is involved. Although the head chef has overall responsibility, each person has responsibility for the proper conduct and successful running of their section. Workers need to be able to rely on each other because all the sections or tasks within the kitchen are interrelated.

Time constraints - Time constraints are time limits; certain tasks must be done by a specific time or in a specific time. For instance, if the service in your restaurant begins at 12 noon, you will need to have all the mise en place requirements ready. If the mise en place is incomplete (eg the deep fryer is not on) customers may have to wait too long for their order to be filled. Dissatisfaction may occur and the good reputation of your establishment may suffer as a consequence.

Cooperation - Whenever people work together, and particularly in a kitchen brigade, there is a variety of knowledge and experience. To create the most effective team approach, everyone must work together to achieve a common goal. If you remain alert and work productively, you will have time to watch some of the more experienced members of your kitchen brigade and learn a great deal. Your confidence and dedication will grow and you will become a valued member of the team. Showing interest in your work and being reliable will be obvious to your chef who will have enough confidence and trust in your ability to set you tasks of a more responsible nature. The personal satisfaction of a job well done is definitely worth the effort.

The idea of workflow planning applies no matter how large or small the task is. Let’s look at a small task first. If you were going to blanch green beans, the logical sequence would be:

  • Place a pot of salted water on the stove to boil
  • Top and tail beans
  • Blanch beans
  • Prepare ice water and refresh beans
  • Drain beans in colander
  • Store beans in a covered container.

Imagine the waste of time and energy if this procedure were performed in any other order.

Things to consider are:

  • The type of food to be prepared and served
  • The number and size of the portions to be served
  • The time when food has to be served
  • The method of food service and presentation
  • The location of the food service, eg dining room.


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