Serving Iftar to the local community during Ramadan can be a hugely rewarding experience, as you help create special memories for families. But the hectic schedules can take their toll on the mental wellbeing of you and your staff. UFS chef Trishanna Persaud shares her secrets for helping everyone thrive.
Keep staff numbers up
The vast number of hungry diners pouring into your restaurant in the evening during Ramadan can be quite overwhelming, if you don’t have enough people making the food. One of the main reasons why kitchen workers get flustered and make mistakes is because they’re overworked. So plan ahead, don’t cut corners and ensure you have enough staff on duty at all times
Process make perfect
Develop a well-thought-out way of working in your kitchen during Ramadan and make it clear that everyone must stick to it, no matter how busy you are. You’ll all know exactly what you should be doing, reducing worry and keeping things efficient.
Take some of the hard work out of preparation
You can save a lot of time and hassle by using convenience food and items that are warmer and chiller-stable. For example, a batch of Knorr Cream of Mushroom Soup can stay in a bain-marie for four hours. A rich tomato sauce can be made with Knorr Tomato Powder very quickly on the spot or cooked in the morning and chilled. Chocolate, toffee and strawberry sauces from Carte d’Or will also help you make light work of desserts.
When you’re fasting all day, it’s impossible to taste dishes well before service, so use products like Knorr Chicken Stock Powder or Knorr Demi Glace Sauce that you know will deliver excellent, consistent results.
Make staff feel valued
Many kitchen workers say they feel under-appreciated, especially during Ramadan. This can lead to employees not putting enough effort in to their roles, or even quitting. You can’t afford either of those things to happen during one of the most frantic periods of your year. So make sure you loudly and frequently thank and acknowledge your staff. You could give them little rewards, such as extra time off or cash bonuses, for particularly good work or staying late. Ask them their opinion on how you think the Ramadan service or menu could be improved, too, so they get a real sense of ownership.
Find time for families
We know that it’s difficult for kitchen staff to have to prepare food for other families when they are often away from home and missing Iftar with their own loved ones. So make sure they have time off to see their family, if possible, or even just regular opportunities to give them a call.
Organising a staff Iftar will help them feel part of the festivities and increase team bonding, too. After all, your restaurant colleagues are a family of sort!
Resolve problems quickly and fairly
At times, people will inevitably make mistakes, particularly when they’re trying to concentrate while fasting. Don’t be too hard on them and encourage them to ask for advice or help if they’re struggling. Be ready to jump in and assist with even the most basic tasks.
Conflict may arise between hungry, tired staff members, too. Deal with it calmly and sooner rather than later, so it doesn’t lead to bigger issues.
Make downtime count
Let your staff take regular breaks – outside, if possible, so they can breathe in some invigorating fresh air. Make sure you do, too, and unwind at the end of a shift, perhaps by reading a book or going for a walk. Try to get at least eight hours sleep. You’re much more likely to make mistakes if you’re tired.
It’s not enough to just produce great food for your customers. If you want your staff to maintain their energy levels and stay upbeat, you need to persuade them to eat well, too. Wholegrains and slow-release carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat pasta and couscous, bulgur wheat, lentils and chickpeas are great for workers who are fasting.