It’s All About Timing

I was recently talking about my work history with my wife, Elise. I told her about my job as a short-order cook at Bill Knapp’s. In a very short period, I had worked my way around the various stations and often ran the kitchen. Not bad for a 17-year old.

When you ran the kitchen, you ran the grill and had to coordinate with the fryer station, sandwich board, salad/plating station, and prep. During the rush, you would have 20 or more orders to fill at any given time. The trick was considering the whole order – not just your responsibility – and determining what was going to take the longest. (Project managers call this the critical path.) You then prepared your food, so it would hit the plate at the same time as the rest of the order.

To add to the complexity, different kinds of meats take different times to cook. Steaks come in various thicknesses and customers want their steaks cooked differently. Eventually, it became second nature and I challenged myself to not have one order sent back because it wasn’t hot and cooked the way the customer wanted.

After this conversation, my wife said my work as an event planner made more sense. “Your job is all about timing,” she said. I’m not sure if working in a kitchen helped me develop the skill or if it came easily to me because I already had the skill. Regardless, it has served me well.

Planning an event – or planning how the event unfolds – all comes down to timing. That skill is best learned and honed by starting small, so you can fail small. That’s why my training in the kitchen started as a prep cook. How did you get your start? Email us at and share your story.