Home Food At These Restaurants, Feeding the Staff Comes First

At These Restaurants, Feeding the Staff Comes First

by белый

The “family meal” tradition of serving workers before customers is getting new life as a perk, a motivator and a teaching tool.

When Eric Ripert was a young cook at La Tour D’Argent, possibly the oldest restaurant in Paris and certainly one of the stuffiest, all the cooks sat down before service to a proper French meal: appetizer, entree, dessert and cheese.

He is hardly nostalgic for his time there. (“I have PTSD” from the experience, he said.) But he had that meal in mind when he posted a job opening for “Staff Meal Chef” at Le Bernardin, his temple of seafood in Midtown Manhattan, making it one of only a few U.S. restaurants to hire a chef just to cook for its own employees.

Serving and sharing a meal before diners arrive is a longstanding tradition in the culinary world — at restaurants that can afford it. In most kitchens, especially in fast food and casual dining, workers have to stagger their breaks and bring or buy their own food. Even at high-end restaurants, staff meal has often been a last-minute effort, with line cooks scrambling to refuel their co-workers as quickly and cheaply as possible.

See also
Beut Takes a Modern Approach to Korean Royal Court Cuisine

But many American chefs are devoting new attention and care to staff meals, or family meals, as they are often known. In a notoriously abusive industry, the mental and physical health of employees has become a priority, and retaining staff has become an imperative amid a post-pandemic labor shortage. With benefits and perks like family meal, restaurants are trying to build loyalty among employees. Increasingly, they’re are also using the meal as a teaching opportunity, a testing tool and a creative incubator.

Mr. Ripert said that he created the position at Le Bernardin because the daily struggle to get family meal ready affronted his pride in a kitchen that runs like clockwork. “It got under my skin,” he said.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access.

You may also like