Out of the Frying Pan: The Battle of the House - Front V.S. BACK

by Melody Kettle

Guest editorial submitted by Chef J.J.

We all know about some famous battles in our nation’s history; Gettysburg, the Alamo, the Battle at Wounded Knee, even Run D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys but no battle is fiercer, more intense than the longest ongoing battle ever. The battle of the front and back of the house!!!!

First let me define the opposing teams, what they consist of, and the battle field.

 Team FOH (Front of the house) is led by a Manager, look at the manager as a 4-star general, the Commander if you will. Well groomed and riding so “high on his horse”. His Army, aka the wait staff is a hardworking bunch that makes up most of the army with a few higher ranked positions in between. The problem is that they are unreliable most of the time and can be sidetracked by the smallest interference. Some have even been known to leave their posts during battle and never seen again!

The Hostess represents the team and is usually well manicured and pleasant, the bartender is a glass hoarder who is usually stern with the “soldiers” and doesn’t take lightly to jokes and horseplay during battle but is the first to celebrate once the fight is over. Win or lose!

The FOH are like rebels that would desert their team and/or the whole battle for that matter if there was another team in a battle somewhere that had better “accommodations” for their soldiers!

Team BOH is run a little different. A closer group of soldiers, a more……structured bunch. There are not as many as the FOH however they are more powerful and experienced in battle than their counterparts.

The BOH is also led by a 4-star general called a “Chef”. Usually dressed head to toe in bright white attire that is smeared with the blood from battle; this is the person nobody wants to mess with! Even the whole FOH are petrified of the Chef. There are many stories of the powers that the Chefs have. They are not pretty and do to the graphic nature of most of these stories I will leave it up to you to research some of this horror. The “Sous” or 2nd in command is probably the cockiest “soldier” from both teams. Arrogant, boisterous, demanding…..these guys are like short-fused firecrackers just waiting for someone to come along and light their wick and would not give it a second thought before slapping his underlings back if they were to get out of line. Those underlings are called “cooks”. Not very happy with the rank they’ve been given, the cooks while respecting the Sous watch him like a hawk, hoping that a serious mistake by him will free up an opening and move them up the ladder. The lowest ranking BOH is the dishwasher, often underestimated, these “soldiers” have played large rolls in past battles. They play dirty!

The Restaurant is the field of fight, separated by a wall in the middle and a revolving door. Although both sides of the wall are open for battle, most of the fighting occurs on the BOH side. The rules are pretty much thrown out the window except for one. The FOH can enter the BOH and take jabs whenever they want but for NO reason can the BOH army ever enter the FOH side. If they do this is a very serious offense and will be terminated.

As a Chef I have led my team to victory in numerous battles but have endured some extremely volatile exchanges. The bartenders versus the dishwasher, the Sous versus the wait staff, even the hostess and the manager. I just don’t think that this battle will ever end.

What is it that fuels the rage in this ongoing struggle to bring both sides together and what can we do to bring this fight to an end?

I have this vision that someday, somewhere, both sides can coexist in harmony. After all they are both striving for the same goal!

Chef J.J.