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3 D.C. Chefs Share Their #1 Tip For Kitchen Management

January 24, 2017

D.C. has been frequently listed as one of the hottest food cities in the country, prompting Americans to embrace the nation’s political capital as its restaurant capital as well.

But naturally, with more demand comes more supply. In the wake of this influx of D.C. restaurant love, restaurants have sprouted up all over the city and in surrounding areas, making it a more and more difficult environment for restaurants to stand out.

Because of this, hundreds of restaurants closed in D.C. both in 2015 and 2016.

So, how do you make your restaurant stand out in a saturated market?

Despite the importance that restaurant owners place on various day-to-day priorities aside from items on the menu, the 2016 Restaurant Technology in 2016 Industry Report found that - above all else - diners identify delicious food as the top consideration when choosing a restaurant.

For restaurants, this means first and foremost focusing on the food and everything else in the kitchen, including staff, ingredients, and kitchen managers. Once the kitchen is situated, you’ll be able to focus on other tasks like marketing. But remember, the kitchen is the heart of your restaurant - without a great kitchen, a restaurant cannot become great.

In a new eBook released by Toast POS, 21 of the country’s best chefs, kitchen managers, and restaurant experts shared their answer to a very simple yet extremely important question: What is your #1 tip for running an efficient kitchen? The full eBook is available for free download on Toast’s website.

Included in the guide are three chefs from some of D.C.’s most renowned restaurants. Here’s an exclusive look at what these three chefs said their #1 tip is for efficient kitchen management.

Vikram Sunderam, Executive Chef of Rasika, was one of the chefs to give his insight. “The key to running an effective kitchen is building a good team who have a passion for what they do and are able to implement your vision, ideas, and techniques,” he says.

Sunderam’s quote comes at the end of an amazing year for Rasika. The upscale Indian restaurant ranked in the top 25 of TripAdvisor’s Best Fine Dining Restaurants in the United States. Washington Post writer Tom Sietsema goes so far to say that he considers this contemporary Indian restaurant “to be the best in the country.”

In May, Sunderam won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

The book also includes a quote from Rodrigo Perez, the Chef de Cuisine of TICO.

Perez says his top kitchen management tip is “making detailed prep lists. First, they should be filled the night before by the Chef or Sous Chef, which helps to accurately buy ingredients and prevent over production that can lead to waste. In addition, it gives the kitchen management a clear picture of the daily labor of the kitchen staff and aids in efficiently managing other departments.”

While Sunderam’s advice is more team-focused, Perez appears to place more focus on the logistics of restaurant operations. Highlighting the importance of prep lists suggests a priority of maximizing kitchen efficiency through proven systems.

Finally, EatWell Group Chef Michael Bonk, who is heading up The Bird, shared his top kitchen management tip. “Prior preparation prevents poor performance. Use prep lists. Cross-train your staff. Prepare for the unexpected.”

Bonk, whose inventive dishes and ingredient combinations have made local headlines, appears to be advocating for a marriage of the ideas of Sunderam and Perez, highlighting the importance of prep lists as well as a well-trained team.

Bonk, Perez, and Sunderam all hit on great points about kitchen management. They focus on the people and the processes of running an efficient restaurant kitchen, and it’s evident that the three feel a similar level of respect for restaurants and a passion for the craft of cooking.

Care to share your top kitchen management tips? Email us at and you could be included in our next post! You can also subscribe to the Toast Restaurant Management Blog here.