Family Meal: Feeding the Staff

If there is one thing that I thoroughly enjoy about working in the restaurant industry,its got to be staff meal or better known as, ‘family meal’. Family meal is a tradition throughout restaurants all over where the kitchen staff prepares a meal for the staff with whatever is in hand in the walk-in. These are meals that you’ll never find on the menu nor is it something that any diner will be likely to experience. Family Meal has gained such a reputation that there are books (The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria and Off the Menu: Staff Meals From America’s Top Restaurants) that are dedicated to the meals that the diners don’t get to see. Usually made with no preconceptions of what will be served, all that is known is that there is always a great amount of appreciation from the staff.

Brunch Family Meal: Mushroom, almonds, and crispy jamon salad w/ poached eggs.

The format of family meal differentiates from restaurant to restaurant. There are restaurants that will do family meal in the middle of the day, right before dinner service. Other restauratns will make family meal throughout dinner service and serve it to the staff at the end of service. then there are those restaurants that won’t make a meal for the staff but will have them order items off the menu for their “meal”. I find this not to be the best way to go since it isnt that cost effective and alsom, where’s the fun in that!?

Brunch Family Meal: Sobrosada, Roasted Beets, Red Potatoes, Rioja Vinegar, Poached Eggs.

At The Harvest Vine, weserve family meal at the end of service. throughout the day, teh most asked question from the staff is not usually about something about the menu (they should already know the menu!), but it is always, “so whats for family meal? Family meal at our restaurant isn’t like any other family meal I’ve experienced at places. It’s not to often that I get to enjoy a meal, especially at my job, where all the staff gather around the bar of our open kitchen and enjoy, relax, and recollect on all that has happend the past 5 Hours. We cooks put up all of the fixings for a great meal. A salad from the pantry station, and starches, vegetables, and proteins prepared from the fish and meat station. We spend all day making sure we put up miraculous food for our diners, that we need to make sure that we eat well too!

Apple and Beef Tongue Salad, Glazed Carrots, Rice Pilaf, Roasted Chicken

I find it an amazing thing that we can come together at the end of the night and just enjoy a simple meal together. It’s difficult enough to do this with my actually family, but I feel that this is as close as I can get to an actually meal with my family. These folks ARE my family. These are the people I see probably the most in my life and it is a great thing knowing that we all have such a great companionship and such camaraderie. To show how great our staff is, even our front of the house staff likes to contribute to staff meal. We’ve had some great meals like homemade lasagna, to empanadas to spam masubi for family meal made by those who don’t even step into the kitchen! How great is that?!

Sauteed Greens, Porchetta with Creamy polenta.

I always find great appreciation for family meal. Not only is it a free meal, there is always so much care behind these meals. These meals brings us together and for a second, we get to forget about what we are there for and stop catering to others and get to cater to ourselveves, our family…

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