In a commercial kitchen, prepping for service is more than just getting everything done. It is making sure that everything gets done right, that everything gets done perfectly. Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure involved. Part of dealing with that pressure is getting into the right state of mind, finding a rhythm, and choosing the right playlist for the day. The right soundtrack for the day's work is really important; the playlist can set the tone for the rest of the shift.
There is definite ebb and flow to the way music gets played on the line, especially when there are multiple cooks banging out prep for service. There has to be a consensus, there is nothing worse than trying to work to music you hate. Everyone has their favorites, but compromises are made in the interests of everyone involved. It's kind of like driving music, like going on a three hour road trip every day. Everybody gets their say unless the chef is driving, in which case it's whatever they are in the mood for.
Everyone has their preference, Hotel Za-Za Executive Chef Jonathan Jones finds his rhythm in hip-hop, "lots of Outkast", while Blacksmith's Erin Smith gets her groove on with 90's boy bands. Underbelly Executive chef Chris Shepherd on the other hand prefers Rage Against The Machine, something a bit heavier to get the blood flowing. If he had his way, Randy Rucker would have Widespread Panic playing on a constant loop for the rest of his kitchen days. Underbelly sous chef Ryan Lachaine (Canada) works well with Wu Tang Clan playing in the background, although I know for a fact that Journey reminds him of "every blue collar bar in Winnipeg."
Trying to satisfy everybody can sometimes be a challenge and so sometimes genres are better than specific artists. Goro and Gun executive chef David Coffman likes 90's rock, at Underbelly, if left to our own devices, the cooks listened to a lot of 80's pop, and Tinyboxwood's Amanda McGraw uses Pandora stations. "The Black Keys or The Strokes, they're both peppy and they keep the momentum going." Bartenders have to prep too and before a service at Goro and Gun, head bartender Alex Gregg will be listening to punk, or metal, or if it's been a rough day, some delta blues.
Whatever your preference, having a great soundtrack can really enhance your kitchen experience. So the next time you find yourself getting ready to make dinner, turn off the TV and pump out some of your favorite jams, it won't make the food taste better, but you'll have more fun preparing it.