Sunday, July 19, 2009

Per Se Kitchen Hierarchy in NYMag

I have read many times about the magnificent kitchens and staff at Thomas Keller's establishments Per Se and French Laundry. In NYMag, there is an article about how the kitchen staff is setup and a description of each person's role. It is like a HR graph at some major corporation but about something more interesting. It is interesting that there is very specific job for each person at each station and that most restaurants have a form of this setup. The setup is called the brigade system defined at the Savoy Hotel in the 19th century and it was based on the structure created by European military cooks as far back as the 14th century. Of course, given the cost of a meal at one of these places (not including alcoholic beverages) is about $150-200 per person and requires you to call at 10am exactly X months from the day you desire to eat there in order to get a table, the kitchen better be military precise. The availability of tables could have improved as the economy is in the gutter now which is a good thing for us regular people who want to eat there if we can still afford to and a bad thing for the restaurant. I can't afford to travel to the restaurants nor could I afford to eat there even if I can travel to Cali or NY so I can't really know. However, both places are on my list of places I want to eat in the next 5 years.

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