Consistency in cooking is everything, it’s the difference between just being good or becoming great. I can think of nothing more disappointing than returning to a restaurant I love to discover that favorite dishes are underperforming. I would rather guests never experience the food than return with expectations and leave completely disappointed.

New experiences are everywhere, we seek them out when searching for the next big thing. But when discussing dishes we love, “different” is never part of the conversation, we want these dishes to live forever in our minds. Consistency also comes through the chef’s understanding of his team, unrealistic personal expectations lead to inconsistent products by default.

Chefs want to be creative but creativity doesn’t build consistency. It’s the discipline following the creative process that leads to beautiful, delicious food every night. The other trick is making this discipline seem effortless on the plate, no one wants food that looks too deliberate.

Cooking is Sport

It’s not about what you can do once, it’s about what your team can do every day over and over again. Cooking in this manner is a team sport, winning a single match or one game doesn’t make you a champion.

It’s the intense training, skill and teamwork that allows kitchens to perform at a higher level. Every individual must understand their role and importance within the team, without clarity and alignment consistency is next to impossible.

Accountability is another must in team sports, it’s about honest conversation when team members are not performing. It’s not negative to criticize associates if the culture is already in place, it’s a positive action promoting care and honesty when done with good intentions. Of course in the kitchen you have superstars, but without the supporting cast these talented chefs would not last very long.

Big Business

What is this most successful restaurant in the world?

By success I’m talking about annual profits, brand recognition and consistency of production. Consistency is similar to trust, once you build trust through consistency guests are willing to invest in your work. To create a loved experience and continually replicate this on a daily basis is money in the bank when concerning food. It sounds so easy but it’s exactly the opposite, producing a simple and delicious product is often the key. People can relate to simplicity and production is easier to control with fewer steps in the process.

The most successful restaurant on Earth doesn’t serve Rock Lobster, Wagyu Beef or bottles of French Champagne. Actuality it has a tiny menu and only serves a few very simple dishes. This restaurant averages around 35-40 billion dollars every year in the USA alone, it also has one of the most recognisable brands on earth. No matter where you are in the world their product looks and tastes exactly the same. Consistency really is everything, it’s about delivering on what’s promised every day and building personal connections through your product and brand.

Hand in Hand

Kitchen, kitchen, kitchen. We are always talking about the kitchen, but guests don’t eat in the kitchen and chefs don’t deal with complaints or shuffle tables. Consistency is an unbroken chain beginning front of house and ending front of house. It doesn’t matter how amazing the food is, if both teams don’t sync then consistency goes out the window.

Understanding is the missing factor, many chefs grow up wanting to be chefs but there is rarely a waiter who dreamed of carrying plates. Finding passionate dedicated service teams who love what they do is more challenging than finding great chefs.

Chefs take service for granted, it’s a culture that’s built into the industry “we work harder and their job is easy”. Easy? There is nothing easy about being the translator between demanding guests and egotistical maniac chefs, both sides are completely ignorant to the pressure of maintaining great service. If the service teams can’t deliver on the restaurants promise, then the chain is broken and consistency is next to impossible.
Consistency between service and kitchen begins with understanding, chefs are not the stars and without great service to complete to experience it doesn’t matter what the kitchen prepares.

Great waiters are like psychologists who work with multiple patients at the same time, crazy people on the floor and absolute nutters in the kitchen. Having the right associates front of house is more important than the most talented chef in the kitchen. Front of house you are selling yourself as well as food, guests expect you to be charming, polite and happy every single day. There are very few people who can thrive with this daily responsibility, if you have one of the 10% do everything you can to celebrate them. Make their importance clear to the whole team, and pay them what they are worth.

So go ahead, order another plate.