Even if you’ve worked in a restaurant kitchen in previous jobs, stepping into a food truck kitchen for the first time can be an extremely scary thing. Each food truck has a culture of its own and way of doing things.
If you take one misplaced step, you risk embarrassing yourself; not to mention the possibility of ending up in the local emergency room. To help you make a good first and lasting impression, here are ten tips for surviving a food truck kitchen:
This is easier said than done. Food trucks can be extremely high stress environments and it takes discipline not to freak out. Even if you can’t control your fear and you’re freaking out on the inside, you need to project a calm exterior; this will show that you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Move Deliberately & Efficiently
This point cannot be over stressed. In a food truck efficiency of movement is key, want to impress your chef? Cut out any unnecessary movements inside the truck.
Always Ask For Clarification
If you’re not clear on a task that has been assigned to you, ASK! Sure, if you make a habit of this, it will probably piss off your boss because it shows that you’re not paying attention. However, the worst thing you can do is to be unsure about a task or technique and end up preparing the food wrong. Great food trucks are all about consistency don’t stay quiet and send out a meal that may not meet the customers expectations.
Don’t Be A Know-It-All
Don’t lie about your knowledge or experience. If anything, you need to under promise and over deliver. Also, don’t try to impress your co-workers with French culinary terms. If they’re applicable in the conversation, then use them.
Know Your Surroundings
A food truck is a crowded, hectic place. Let people know where you are at all times. Yell “Behind You” when walking behind someone. Say “Sharp” if you’re walking by someone with a sharp knife and say “Hot” if you’re walking around the truck with a hot pot. In time these “call outs” will become second nature.
Do Your Homework
Most food trucks have web pages complete with their menus. Read the menu and do research on any terms or dishes that you’re not familiar with. Also, Google the truck’s name and the owner’s name and read any article or web page to better understand what you’re getting yourself into. This should be done before you even apply for the job. Make sure you’re familiar with the truck, their food, and the owner’s reputation before stepping foot into a food truck.
When you first start, try not to talk unless spoken to, or ask a direct question about the food or the current task at hand. Learn the dynamics within the truck before you open your mouth and make a fool of yourself. The easiest way to alienate yourself on the first day of your new job is by being a load mouth.
Stay Clean & Organized
Food trucks have limited space for staff members to operate so always keep your station(s) clean and organized, and be sure to put everything in its proper place before moving to another task. Keep all your product organized around your work station, and try to keep your uniform as clean as possible.
Limit Your Vices
One fact you learn quickly when working in food service, people who work in the industry tend to party a lot. If you’ve spent any time working in a kitchen (restaurant or food truck), chances are you’ve seen your fair share of extremely talented individuals self-destruct because of problems with alcohol and drug abuse. You’ll be surprised how much of an advantage you have over other people in the industry if you’re not constantly showing up to work hung over or drained from other forms of partying.
Have A Purpose
Working in a food truck requires so much time, effort, and energy that you will not last if you don’t have a purpose for being there. Maybe it’s to study under the truck’s owner, or to see how a food truck is managed. Whatever it is, make sure the truck you work in is moving you towards your culinary goals.