Written by Mark Hitri.

Photo by James Creange.

There’s no place like home.

For some culinarians, the kitchen is their home away from home. As chefs, most of us get it that we are inviting the guests into our “homes” when they come to dine with us, but what about our staff? Do we treat our staff like guests or like servants? The kitchen should be a welcoming environment and many places claim their work environment is like a family, but what does that look like? I know that every kitchen has different budgets and resources when it comes to equipment but creating a welcoming and safe environment doesn’t cost a thing. When I greet my students, I make them feel welcome by saying at the beginning of every class, “Welcome to another day on your journey to awesome. I am delighted to be a part of it.” When I was starting out one of my early chefs exemplified excellent hospitality by greeting all the cooks with a hearty handshake and an honest inquiry as to how they were doing. Once, when I knew I was going to have to knock out a lot of production, I went straight to the back-prep area and started washing three cases of potatoes, and he came back to find me. That really impacted me and made me not only want to work for him but work with him. If you want people to work for you, they have to want to work with you. If you are not welcoming your staff and as delighted to journey with them as you are serving your paying guest, you are not exemplifying hospitality.