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Back of House Operations

27 AUG 2021

One thing that all the RattleSnake managers take very seriously and always build our next year's action plans towards are our members' survey results and comments. We just received the first round of results, and like every year go through them and take note of all the positives and negatives we receive as a management team. 

It has been a very difficult year in the back of house operations, mainly down to the drawbacks and setbacks of the knock-on effects of COVID 19.  Staff shortages and lack of kitchen applicants across the board are at a record low in most kitchens in Ontario. Is it because the CERB is still being paid for some individuals, or have we come to the dreaded situation where no one wants to cook anymore?  Passions and loyalties have been lost and during the ongoing pandemic, hospitality is the main sector that can be shut down overnight again, putting the lives of those working in our field thrown into the unknown and scary possibility of no income. Rent to pay, childcare to fund, and record-high gas prices to name a few. Throw in the factor of grocery bills going up every quarter, it’s cheaper for the struggling family to buy the mass-produced processed foods to feed their families than the vibrant fresh produce and proteins available as some now view as a luxury.

Product availability and consistency are worryingly an everyday issue. Food processing plants and factories are forced to shut down when an outbreak occurs causing mass shortages. You may have come into the Bistro last week and received 4 different French Fries. We get sent the only available products. Thirsty during your round and headed over to the Halfway? Coca-Cola is having major issues with Powerade Zeros and the Glaceau Vitamin Waters. Different loaves of bread are being sent every day so the Halfway sandwiches may look different some days.  We are placing orders and every delivery day is like opening gifts not knowing what’s inside the box. Companies are trying their best to sub in like for like, but if the employee subbing in the items has no culinary knowledge, we get sent sometimes very dubious items.

The number one member comment from a kitchen standpoint was more menu options in the Bistro and better Halfway options. Back in February that was our goal, we had a full-time line cook to be 100% dedicated to working the Halfway, making daily features, improving the offerings out there, and giving our members a better guest experience. The lockdown happened and we lost some of our staff yet again and they didn’t return to the industry so everyone we had was then designated to the Bistro operations. Pre COVID we would have 6 or 7 of us working the Bistro line, now we have 3 or 4 so we have had to trim the menu back in terms of items. We would rather do 20 fresh, made in-house dishes than 35 rushed, minimally prepared dishes. We will get back to our full operations hopefully sooner rather than later but bear with us while we navigate through every department’s daily challenges.  

Mark Stone, Executive Chef