By Justin Picard
Executive Chef, Robert's Paso Robles

Diners love restaurants for good food, good friends and good wine. Chefs love them because we’re a bit crazy and thrive on the buzz of the business.

The feel of a nice dining room: comfortable, relaxed, an exciting menu paired with a sumptuous wine list. All prepared for the grand evening (or afternoon) that is sure to ensue, “aahhh…”

This dining room experience is a sharp contrast to the energy of the kitchen: slicing, dicing, searing, roasting (better not be burning!), daily special needs prep, where’s the produce order?! The dishwasher called in sick (and the dish machine is broken!), barking orders and warming plates. Organized chaos is what we like to call it, and if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!

This is a huge departure from what I usually do at work. Twenty plus years of go, go, go…and now I’m sitting down, clearing my head, thinking about what it all means, and writing my first blog.

What is it, then, that makes us love restaurants from the restaurant side of life? Obviously, we do it for the customers (no, that’s not just brainwashing!). The beef doesn’t expect us to cook it to a perfect medium rare; the dairyman isn’t interested with where the gallons of cream go. The customer is the who, what, why, where, when and how we do what we do. Sure, there’s the financial thing, but we are in the hospitality industry.

Hospitality: noun: “ The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and /or strangers”.

When it is done right, there’s not just a guest check. There is a connection, an exchange of emotion, a level of mutual satisfaction between a job well done and a job well appreciated.

Whoa, am I writing a training manual or a blog? Sorry, my first time. My understanding is a blog can be a rant or a recipe, so I guess you’ll have to read on if you want a recipe :)

O.K. Restaurants love people too, but there’s more to the equation than just customers. The logistics of making and keeping a restaurant breathing and living, day in and day out is…well, it is what it is; a lot of work! Why do we do it? I just touched on that. How do we do it? Trade secret!

We (in the business) survived another holiday season, making thousands of people ecstatically happy without killing each other in the kitchen, after being elbow to elbow for 12 + hours per day. I believe, that when you have a “killer” staff, you can accomplish amazing things. Hearty Cheers to all of you and all of us.

My name is Justin Picard, the Executive Chef of Roberts Restaurants. I helped open this establishment over three years ago with the help of many exceptionally talented and committed people. Our second restaurant, Estrella, is lead by another original member of the crew, Chef Travis Borba. We are very excited to be christening our newest babe; Roberts in the “Old Village” of Arroyo Grande, with yet another original member of the cast, protégé Garrett Cowan at the helm.

TO EVERYONE THAT LOVES RESTAURANTS:

Stay the course...And make it so!