Stations in the Café

Two young women serving at the Café counter.

The counter | Image © Satyadarshin 2011

Cooks and Shift Co-ordinators

Each shift usually has a cooking team of two and a Co-ordinator. Given that these are key roles, they are usually recruited from amongst core team members. The lead cook usually focuses on the day’s Special dish, whilst the second cook makes standards like our coconut curry and vegan chilli recipes. We have training documentation for General Staff and Supervisors in another section of the website.

The Counter

The Café can get quite busy, so this can be a high-energy job. It is vital to remember that, in this role, you are the public face of Buddhafield and therefore should behave appropriately; remain calm and polite. Don’t stress if there’s a big queue: focus on the person in front of you

There may be up to three people on the counter at busy times. Communicating and working together is very important, work out a system that works well between yourselves, usually it can be best to have one or two people serving and one person taking money — money should not be touched if you are serving food (health and safety).

Sometimes (particularly at the end of an event), customers may try to get free/reduced food, whilst remembering the spirit of generosity also remember the food is very expensive! Counter stock costs the Café a lot of money and must not be sold at discounted prices to any one apart from Café staff.

Always Keep the counter clean and tidy and ensure food being served is hot. Presentation and care is very important.

Possibly give instruction on quantities/prices?

Veg Prep

Veg prep

Image courtesy and © Satyadarshin

Vegetable preparers are to consult the cooks about what vegetables need preparing. All prepared vegetables should be stored in square plastic tubs, always with lids on, on the rack (usually at the end of the prep tables at back of Café).

No unwashed vegetables are allowed in the kitchen — All veg is to be washed outside — taking particular care to wash potatoes/muddy vegetables separately.

Generally it is good to have two different salads being served, (usually one leafy, one grated). When its busy there always needs to be at least one or two salads ready to be served waiting on the rack. Always check with the cooks what can be used in the salads — sometimes things need to be used up/saved for something.

A fruit salad needs to be made at breakfast time.

Always clean your workspace as you go and whenever you start a new task. Compost goes in buckets that need to be emptied regularly (usually into IBC container or compostable bags). When giving sharp knives to the washing up team always inform them.


Shape burgers using round Barley cup lid and make a few trays, cover in cling film and store on rack.

Always keep plenty of burgers and onions on the griddle (turn down gas when quiet to warm rather than cook). Use the times when quiet to prep more burger mix/shape more burgers & prep onions in long thin slices.

Keep an eye on what’s happening at the counter and keep the counter supplied with hot burgers and onions.

Washing Up

Washing up

Image courtesy and © Satyadarshin

The Buddhafield Café uses a three bowl washing up system: Scuzz, Hot wash, Very hot rinse.

When the water needs changing the wash water is poured into the scuzz bowl, the rinse water is poured into the wash bowl and the rinse bowl is refilled from a hot urn. The water moves but the bowls stay in the same place.

The scuzz bowl is for the initial rinse/soak and can get quite cold and dirty, when it needs emptying it gets poured into an IBC container (usually outside the back of the Café).

The washing up bowl should always be fairly warm and clean with plenty of washing up liquid.

The rinse bowl should always be hot, clean and bubble free, add a few drops of tea tree oil (natural antibacterial) each time the water is replaced. Refill from the urn adding a little cold — it is best to use washing up gloves to avoid burning hands. Never let anyone else put their hands/dirty objects/cloths in the rinse bowl before using the first two bowls.

Work together in a team to make an efficient system, always try to keep on top of things to ensure the Café will not run out of plates/mugs/cutlery and the cooks have plenty of pans, etc.

Never leave sharps in washing up bowls, always inform your co-workers when washing sharp things.


Image courtesy and © Satyadarshin

Sometimes people will volunteer to do an hour of washing up in return for a meal, welcome them and make sure they know what their doing — either integrate them into your system or set them off on their own task, often pans can be scrubbed outside if the weather is nice.

End of the night: if you are on the night shift no one finishes until all washing up is done and the Café is cleaned, this is a time when everyone has to really pull together and help each other in order to get out as quickly as possible whilst leaving the Café lovely for the breakfast shift.

Be inventive and create new washing up systems — find extra bowls or use large tubs/saucepans, organise yourselves into pan scrubbing/cutlery rinsing/etc — find something to clean. When everyone helps it doesn’t take long, particularly if washer uppers have worked consistently throughout the shift.

Additionally the hob, counter and front of house all need cleaning and the floor needs sweeping and sometimes mopping.

Urns and Fires

Always ensure urns are topped up and there are always at least two boiling at a time. Never let an urn boil dry. Top up regularly, particularly watch out for when one is used to refill washing up bowls. Gas can be turned up if an urn needs to be bought to the boil, but always remember to turn it down again when it reaches the boil.

Morning: ensure the counter has a supply of fresh hot tea and coffee to serve with breakfast.

Keep the urn and tea area clean and tidy.