A Day in the Life of a Chef

By: Matt Behrens Email
By: Matt Behrens Email

For many of you, preparing a meal for one, two, or the entire family is stressful, but imagine cooking for an entire restaurant full of people!

In the first part of our series, "A Day in the Life," we headed into the kitchen, to find out how one local chef handles the heat.

"Every day's a little different, depending on what's going on with our banquet space upstairs, and then reservations, that kind of thing," says Executive Chef Joshua Braatz of the City Grill in Wausau.

But the first thing Braatz needs to do is make sure his books are in order.

He says, "I (come) in, making sure I (have) everything, I had, you know, crossed my T's and dotted my I's for everything."

But the cooking doesn't start when the order comes in, as there's actually quite a bit of prep work to do before opening.

"I'll work with my Sous Chef, make sure everything's set on his end, check on my line, make sure my line for a la carte dining is all in fine tune... It's making sure you have raw product, like having raw vegetables, or chicken cleaned, or steaks ready, that kind of stuff... Once we get that order in we'll marinade that steak, grill it off, let that go."

And once the doors open, those orders start coming in.

Braatz says lunch time can be busy or not, depending on the day, but dinner is always a rush.

He adds, "My favorite part is when it gets busy, when tickets start coming in, and you don't see the servers in the kitchen anymore, so you know you're about to get ready... It's a good stress though, it's a positive stress... It's just being focused, having all of your stuff ready, being able to look at a ticket in half a second and being able to see what was on that ticket."

And when the orders start flying in, Braatz says it falls on him to keep everyone focused. "On my line, pretty much I'm the person talking, the servers come up to me and then I relay it to my guys."

But it doesn't all fall on his shoulders either. Braatz says, "You gotta have entrustment on people, and... I have some extremely great people that work underneath me, I even brought one person with me that I've known for quite some time."

He adds, "Communication is everything, if you don't have communication with your guys, I might as well not even be here, and everything will just domino effect."

But Braatz says he prefers to be there. "As one of the chefs I like to be very, very involved, so I'm not going to sit back and just watch, I'm going to be there every minute... I love working the line still, you know, executive chef, I do not mind the heat at all, I love still pan flipping or grilling, it's the job I love."

"You're on your feet the whole time pretty much, and there's days you won't sit down, which ain't bad, I mean it's doing something you love, and when it's busy time, one second it's 9:00 in the morning, the next second it's 11:00 at night, wow," laughs Braatz.

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