A professional relief chef and kitchen consultant tells us the most common reasons a kitchen is failing. 

James Cathcart is an “emergency” chef, serving pubs and restaurants across the UK when their own head chefs are unavailable.

He is also a kitchen consultant and from his experience in hundreds of kitchens he has summarised three of the most common areas businesses need to improve on back-of-house.

James is set to appear on Kitchen 999: Emergency chefs, on Channel 4 this Thursday (April 6), where he is called to The Crown pub, in Alrewas in the Midlands and must cook more than 80 meals during the busiest night of the year.


1. Staff morale

“If a chef is trained by someone shouting at them, then they tend to be shouty themselves. It’s not always necessary. Morale in the kitchen can make a massive difference to retaining staff and actual efficiency.”


2. Kitchen layout

“When I first walk into a new kitchen I work out where things are and if they need re-organising. This is really important especially in small pub kitchens.

“If I’m making something every day and have to keep walking over to get equipment then those few seconds a day add up. It’s about cutting footsteps to save time.”


3. Protocols & systems

“You need set systems and methods of working. If staff aren’t fully aware of why a kitchen does something in this way (e.g portioning the butter) then they won’t do it. I always look out to see what chefs are wasting and if they’re over ordering.”