It's an often an underrated discipline in a working kitchen, but a kitchen porter forms the backbone of a successful operation. As part of Caterer and Hotelkeeper's campaign, in partnership with Winterhalter, Lisa Jenkins explores what makes a great kitchen porter
The inaugural KP of the Year competition is designed to celebrate the modern KP. We are on the hunt for the industry's best.
Warewashing system manufacturer Winterhalter has joined us in this search to highlight the shared qualities of a good warewasher and KP - those of reliability, productivity and efficiency.
To demonstrate the company's commitment to the award, Winterhalter managing director Stephen Kinkead went back to the floor as a KP.
He explains: "My experience has reinforced our backing of this competition even more forcibly. It is such hard work!
"A KP has to have common sense and understand the kitchen's needs at all times - they are rarely recognised for this.
"We are committed to raising the profile of the KP and support Caterer and Hotelkeeper in this campaign. We will be offering a prize to the winning KP that includes £500 cash and a meal for the winner and up to five colleagues at a chef's table at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The KP of the Year's establishment will also receive a prize of some top Winter-halter products."
The deadline for entries is 20 May 2013. Successful applicants will be judged by a panel of industry experts (no presentation necessary) and the winner will be announced in June.
To nominate your KP, go to: www.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/kpoftheyear
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT TIPS FOR YOUR KP
â- Treat them with respect
â- Give measured challenges
â- Provide clear instructions and give them feedback
â- Believe in them - their skills are transferable
â- Recognise they may not want to progress - they may just benefit from additional responsibility. For example: running the social club, helping with the rotas - find out what makes people tick.
â- Many roles in hospitality attract staff where English is not their first language - employers should be helping with this
â- Try e-learning - keep a small library of books and magazines, give projects to your KPs, get an interested junior chef to teach them different tasks. Assume people are capable until you learn otherwise - they generally are, if you trust them.
â- Talk to your KPs about their aspirations;
you might be surprised by the talent that's yet to come to light
Jane Sunley, CEO, Purple Cubedwww.purplecubed.com
WHAT MAKES A GREAT KP?
Neil Morris, executive group head chef at Ego Restaurants, explains what makes a great KP
How do chefs develop their KPs? Initially through a detailed induction process involving health and safety aspects and a detailed job description. On a day to day and week to week basis I would expect constant appraisal and guidance from the head chef to help efficiency and proficiency.
What makes a good KP? The ability to act calmly and confidently under pressure, to work as part of the team, to be able to prioritise jobs when all hell breaks loose and to communicate well.
What are the minimum expectations a chef would have of their KP? A good work ethic and punctuality. Great communication skills and an acute eye for detail and cleanliness.
What might the career path be for one of your KPs? The role could lead on to becoming a trainee commis chef and then the sky is the limit. I myself and most of the chefs I know started as a KP as this is a great starting point to understand the running of the operation within a kitchen.
Do KPs always want to be developed? Not always - you get some younger people who are just looking to tide themselves over with a revenue stream while
they are at college and/or university and have no interest in hospitality.
How would you create a training programme for a KP? I would start off by finding out their weaknesses and then work out some short and long term goals.
CHEFS ON THEIR KPs
KPs have to go the extra mile. It can be a horrible job and you need desire and want to get up every day to do it. The best chefs come from being a KP.
Nigel Smith, group executive chef, DLF Restaurants
They are the most important person in a kitchen. If you haven't got clean pans you can't cook and if your plates aren't clean there will be no plating up!
Kris Biggs, pastry sous chef, Whatley Manor
A good KP tends to be a well-respected member of the team because without them the chef has to do their job! My KP makes a good cup of tea, is seriously loyal and will do anything that is asked of them. They are always looking for jobs to do.
Charles Lakin, head chef, the Marquis at Alkham
A KP should be keen, punctual, work smart and more efficiently each day, if they do after time they're your next commis.
Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey
A good KP needs an understanding of what's needed in a kitchen team at certain times of the day and an ability to see what's essential during service. They are the most important team members you have! And with aspirations to become a chef fostered early you can help develop them.
John Campbell, chef
The perfect KP is someone who isn't afraid of hard work, has common sense and anticipates the needs of the various chefs. However chefs too can play their part by making the KP feel fully part of the team so they don't feel like there is a "them and us" situation and feel isolated.
Michael Quine, chef, Leeds
No one takes on the job of KP because of a passion to clean kitchens and wash pans, but a great KP is one that takes on the job, does it to the best of their ability and gradually gets caught up with the enthusiasm of the brigade. We had some great KPs at Winteringham Fields who went on to become decent chefs; one in particular became a good chef and may even go on to be a great chef - who knows!
Annie Schwab, former Winteringham Fields owner
KPs are the engine of the kitchen. Without them, service comes to a grinding halt.
James Horler, CEO, Ego Restaurants (a former KP)
It is important to integrate the KPs into the kitchen team and make them feel they are part of the business. Many KPs do eventually make it into the kitchen as chefs. I have promoted a few into kitchens in my time and they have done well.
Nick Vadis, UK executive chef, Compass Group UK & Ireland