Khadija Malik Spring 2021 Blog
The Dining Room
by Khadija Bano Malik, June 14, 2021
Today Chicago entered Phase 5 of reopening the city. It has been quite a year, one none of us had any idea we would have to live through. As a culinary student, the most significant adjustment was taking the final semester for my AAS remotely. It was a class I was most looking forward to Fine Dining: a real restaurant kitchen serving actual customers, a test of time, endurance, and speed. Due to COVID-19, I had to take other classes to make up for my experience.
As a Teaching Assistant for the previous two semesters, I finally got to experience the class, both first and second hand. I jumped from station to station, depending on when students needed my assistance or could not make it to class. Even though I was working as a teaching assistant, I learned a lot to make up for the course I missed. This experience taught me how to expedite and experience all stations, whether appetizers, mains, or desserts. The most important lesson was how to work well with others, which required me to be attentive and listen to what the students needed help with, whether it was plating, getting the next course ready. I understood the kitchen’s dynamic in a way that helped me navigate who may need assistance on a given day. This also allowed me to work closely with students who each had to produce a special per week. I was able to text their recipes for them and fix anything that needed fixing or help enhance flavors and textures for their recipes.
It brought to a significant realization that any workplace’s real challenge is effective communication. When goals or needs in a workplace are properly defined, everything runs smoothly. However, one tiny miscommunication can cause the entire system to collapse just as well. There were days when service ran smoothly and others, where a ticket called out, was not heard and caused service delays. Every day was a lesson in communicating effectively, ensuring each instruction was heard and adhered to, and any problems were addressed well before service.