Five Signs You Need to Can Your Cook

As a manager or operator, you have your hands full with scheduling, inventory, shift notes and more. Which is why handling employee turnover is such a bummer. Finding quality help in the kitchen is a job in and of itself. Here are a few strong signs that it's time to fire your cook. 

1. He's more interested in stuffing his face than the guests'. 

If every time you peer down the line a cook is popping something in his mouth, that counts as stealing. Tasting for quality control is one thing, but if one of your cooks is constantly whipping something up for himself instead of prepping for dinner service, his priorities are out of whack.  

2.     His ticket times suck.

It’s a cook’s job to deliver plated food quickly and precisely and sometimes it takes some time to get the hang of a new station. If a cook isn’t making improvements to a slow ticket time, then you’ve got a serious problem when it gets busy. Guests don’t care if it’s a new guy on the line. They want their food and they don’t want to wait long for it.

3.     He’s always sniffling.

If your cook sounds like the president-elect did during the presidential debates, you both might have a problem. Relying on a daily coffee habit is one thing, but needing an illicit pick me up to make it through a routine shift is certainly problematic. If your staff has a habit, you shouldn’t know about it and it certainly shouldn’t be evident in the day-to-day.

4.     He’s always complaining.

No one goes to work in a kitchen because it’s glamorous. Most people know what they’re in for -- long hours, cramped quarters, endless tickets. If your cook is constantly complaining about these things they’re likely to quit anyway. If they can’t stand the heat! Well, you know the rest…

5.     Their station is a mess.

Handling a ton of orders in a short period time is no easy feat. It requires a good memory or at least a working system for keeping orders organized. A good cook cleans as they go and doesn’t let debris build up. If their station is constantly a mess, even when it’s not busy, it’s likely the dishes they’re producing are, too.


There is a variety of moving parts in any restaurant. Good service relies on a skilled front of house staff, but producing good food promptly is the job of the kitchen. Don’t get a bad review because your newest line cook can’t keep up with the onslaught of tickets.