This is an excerpt from an article prepared and published by our partner, the National Restaurant Association and reproduced with permission. The full article can be read here.
Chef Lior Hillel, running multiple concepts under his Bacari brand in Los Angeles, looks for menu input from all his employees, front and back of the house. Photo by Caroline Ashkar.
Lior Hillel, the executive chef and co-owner of four restaurants in Southern California (the Bacari restaurant group and Nature’s Brew), encourages every member of his staff from dishwashers to front-of-the-house managers to contribute meal ideas for the menu and pays the employee a bonus if their recipe idea is implemented. “It keeps me inspired, and it also shows that I value their opinion regardless of their position on staff,” he says.
Take an empathetic approach. Hillel describes that when an employee is late, for example, communication can get explosively tense over text messages. When you read a text, you read it from your own perspective, filtering the words through your current state of mind. An innocuous message can turn into an accusatory message that the writer never intended. “We train our leaders to first take a concerned approach, asking ‘Is everything okay?’ because you never know what might have happened to the employee to make them late,” he says.
Similarly, as part of their communication training, Biscuit Love employees are coached to assume others have positive intentions when they find themselves in a difficult conversation. “It’s important to not put your feelings on someone’s else’s actions,” says Worley.
Watch your tone. “I can get upset, but I don’t yell,” says Hillel. “And if I don’t yell, no one else yells. It’s unacceptable in our kitchens.” He also says there’s zero tolerance for harassment or offensive humor. “No one should feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or singled out,” he explains.