The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Once it's baked all care is lost!

Kailarina's picture
Kailarina

Once it's baked all care is lost!

I'm ripping my hair out over here! 

I produce all of the bread for a busy resturant in Northern WI.  I work completely by myself and maintain very high production levels... or in laymans terms:  I work my ass off every day!  And much to my chagrin, the final product is completely mishandled. 

After the bread is baked and cooled, the prep cooks put it on speed racks in the walk in  (!?!), usually uncovered.  They stack the bread up and it is smashed down by the tray above, they are constantly pulling the newer bread so some of the bread ends up sitting for multiple days before it is served.  Once it's out they either pop it back in the oven to warm it up for 10-15 (!!)minutes or like the hamburger buns, they toss them on the grill where they char them.  They have the bread sitting in uncovered containers down by the waitress station or on the line and will often reheat it again after it has sat for a day..  As a result, my nice soft bread is served to the customer dry, dense, and stale.  The worst part is that this is a pretty nice resturant and they do a great job with most of the things they do.. just not the bread.  I've complained and spoken to the owner but they just don't really care.. and some bread component of mine is on every plate that they put out! I just have to ask myself, why bother making fresh from scratch artisan bread everyday?  At this point supermarket bread would taste better then my bread that they've ruined. 

I'm feeling really frusterated here and am seriously considering finding a new place to work before I ruin my good reputation! 

Advice anyone.. and yes, I've tried talking to them about this but to no avail.

LizvandeVal's picture
LizvandeVal

 

If you can afford it, go away! They dont have any respect for your work and no respect for the food. ( Once my husband has a job as a painter and the carpenter came every time my husbands paint was wet. It was unrespectfull to him and his work so he left. )

Kailarina's picture
Kailarina

I'd love to but I've only worked here 3 months and I'd like to work a year here before I move on for the sake of my resume and reputation.. allthough I may be better off if this is the bread that I become known for :)

Mebake's picture
Mebake

If the restaurant's customers aren't complaining, why should you care? Artisan breads' flavor will always outweight other virtues. Do you bake with sourdough? or yeasted preferments?

Don't think of their abuse as being an insult to your wonderful endeavors to produce quality hand crafted breads, rather, it is they who are insulting themselves and being ignorant and abusive.

I salute you for your efforts to craft artisanal breads. Please, do not be deterred by their abuse, keep on baking. Hiring some help will relieve some of the frustration you feel, by reducing stress.

You could also sell your lovely breads to more appreciative restaurants or hotels.

Bake on!!

 

Kailarina's picture
Kailarina

I really like your attitude :) But I do care about the product I make and maybe the customers are complaining.. idk. I bake using preferments, spent grain, and an enriched poor mans brioche.. The only thing I dont do is sourdough because I cant leave feeding the starter to anyone else when I'm not there.
I do agree with you and appreciate your comments. I wonder though why they would hire a baker & go though the process of establishing this bread on the menu if they didn't appreciate it or care about it.. I suppose that would be the owner and not the kitchen crew. Everything that they do is scratch and local- including the bread since now they have me :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

over what happens to the bread after it is baked.  

Have you tried bagging the cool bread and dating it?  This might help with keeping the bread rotating.   It also might help to keep the bread covered more.  Ask for paper and plastic bags and a good permanent marker and something to seal the bags (ties, tape, or barbed wire.)    And place them yourself onto a rack or box in a preferred storage room.   Make it easier for the oldest bread to be removed easily stacking fresher bread behind, under or out of sight.  Having the bread in bags also makes it easier to freeze if the bread starts to pile up before the weekend.  Freeze the fresh loaves then inside plastic bags when you see there is a back up so the older bread is used up first.  Not too old mind you.   

The attitude about the bread might have something to do with how it is recieved (handed over from you to other employees) and how it is served to the customers.  If that interaction is brought to a higher level, perhaps the bread will be respected more.  Something to think about.   What exactly happens to the bread after being baked?  How is the bread presented to the customers?   

Kailarina's picture
Kailarina

I arrive early, as we bakers do and leave as the rest of the staff is just showing up. My bread is left still warm on the cooling racks. I do organize & label the bread that is cooled and put away & I leave notes that even a 3 year old could understand about which tray to grab first & I've asked the servers to keep the bread in their station covered. I've spoken with the kitchen staff about not storing the bread in the walk-in but they don't agree with me. They also have no problem serving the previous days bread after it sat all night-they just pop it back in the oven for 15 min. I think that because I have little interaction with the rest of the staff and the bread is allready made, it's secondary to what everone else is doing.. understandibly I guess, althought I would never treat their products this way!
I guess when it all boils down, if I care about the products that I make and the way it is served to the cusomers I need to be a bit more adamant and lay down some rules... ehh..

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Laying down rules just might meet with more problems.  I would leave a note on the cooling rack that I will return in say two hours to bag up and put the bread away.  I would be punctual and punch in my time.  

While there in the morning remove the old rolls and toss them (quality control.)   :)

If rolls should be covered at the stations, what should cover them?  If a napkin or towel, place such towel and tongs into a pretty bread basket at each station for just such a purpose.  Or line up baskets and covers with the rolls so that the cooling rolls can be immediately whisked off to stations, just the way you envision them to be.  Set an example how you want the rolls presented, even if it means bringing in some cloths and baskets.  You are also dealing with a work pattern that the rest of the staff was used to before you started working.  In order to break that pattern, some eye catchers and helpful changes are important.  Show interest in those who handle your bread.  If they are strangers, stick around and introduce yourself.  Keep things positive and shake hands with them.  Direct skin contact is important, not only will hand shaking leave a mental impression but you are showing you care about their job as well.  You build a bridge for better understanding.  Don't skip over anyone.  Sticky notes are often ignored if they contain more than 3 words.  

My take on the rolls being squashed into the walk-in is that they got put there to get them "out of the way" and that by leaving the rolls alone and undefended, that decision is left up to whoever finds the rolls first or finds them in their way.  Hence my suggestion that you come back later and show you care about the rolls.  Make sure that they are not in anyone's way.  If the cooling racks are in someone's way, then you might need to solve that problem before any others.  

It can be that someone will wonder why you came back when you didn't need to.  Don't show that you are mad and want to lay down rules, just show them that you care what happens to your bread after you've finished baking it.  Don't gripe, be pleasant and friendly.  Keep in mind you are looking for solutions not more problems.  After a few days of coming back, someone may offer to care and bag (or basket) or roll the cooling rack to another location for you otherwise come back everyday and look out for your reputation.  You have the most vested interest in your bread.