Motivation and Satisfaction: Ingredients for a Great Kitchen

By Robert Trainor Exec Chef, Hilton | October 28, 2008

Today, that environment is fast becoming extinct. Kitchen employees and many in the top corporate offices of the hospitality industry have all arrived at the same business-building conclusion: Satisfied, motivated employees are productive, loyal employees. Today's cooks are not only concerned with the cuisine and what they can expect to learn from the chef; they are also interested in paying off student loans, health insurance coverage, 401k plans and a balanced personal life.

And they're right to think of these things. The truth is, a positive work environment generates a drive to succeed, knocks down the walls between front of the house and back of the house, and encourages employees to put the operation's success at the forefront of their professional (and sometimes personal) goals. As chefs, it's our responsibility to inspire, educate and motivate staff, not just about producing the finest food possible, but also about the financial and business aspects of the industry.

So how does an executive chef attract and keep good people? How can we inspire, educate and motivate our staff while keeping true to our main objective of creating a dining experience and operating a profitable business?

By inverting that old adage that we are all products of our environment. To make your staff feel motivated and satisfied, you must make your kitchen environment become a product of your creative, controlled presence.

It's all about attitude!

The single most important thing you can do to create a positive attitude among your staff, is to lead by example and maintain a positive attitude of your own. The only thing new and surprising about this concept is that it has's taken this long for many in the hospitality industry to put it into practice in their kitchens.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.