Hospo Voice

FOH vs BOH – who works harder?

November 12, 2020

Not Rackers and Sam

We take on the widespread Front of House vs Back of House debate

It’s the age-old debate. Who works harder when it comes to Front of House and Back of House. From bars in Brunswick to restaurants in Rockhampton, everyone thinks they’ve got the raw end of the deal.

We’re going to go through some key battleground areas and make a definitive decision…

To help us battle it out, we’re joined by Rackers and Sam. Rackers is a front of house manager from Victoria and Sam is a chef from Queensland.

The first topic up for discussion:

Who has the worst shifts?

Rackers: FOH. I work long-arse hours, double shifts.

Sam: Nah it’s BOH. As a chef, you do 4 hours in the morning. 4 hours at night with a 4-hour break in between. You feel like you’ve been working 20 hours a day.

Rackers: At least you get a 4-hour break, mate! I do a whole 12-hour shift with just a smoke break!

WINNER? BOH. There’s nothing worse than doing a 12-hour shift and only being paid for 8 of those hours.

What’s more physically demanding?

Sam: In back of house meal service you have to remember up to 30 meals at a time in the order your chefs want them in. If you do it in the wrong order, he or she will probably throw it to you.

Rackers: Yeah I’d have to agree. I go on autopilot often during FOH. The only time that’s not the case is if you’re a cocktail maker as you have to remember 20-30 cocktails on the menu.

WINNER? BOH.

Who cops the most abuse?

Rackers: FOH! You have intoxicated, abusive customers and you have to keep your calm. BOH can be themselves. No one’s looking at you, you’re not getting abused by strangers you haven’t met.

Sam: Yeah you’re just getting abused by the same person instead of strangers.

WINNER? Eek. No one wins that one. Who wants to be abused at work?

What about OH&S?

Sam: You know that flash when you flambé something? Turns out it’s bad for your eyes. I wondered why my vision was fading.

Rackers: Oh yeah I’ve had to climb on to the top of the bar to get things because there are no steps, or it’s just a rickety ladder. I’d rather have a customer pull my pants down while I’m getting their top-shelf liquor than stand on that ladder.

WINNER? Permanent eye damage? BOH takes this one.

What’s the best thing about your section?

Rackers: Free chippies. You’re working a long shift, you go up to the chef and say “do you have any spare chippies?” There might be 2 or 3 that didn’t fit on the plate and they might be on the colder side of warm but oh god… salty, starchy goodness.

Sam: The best thing is why we’re so easily exploited– we enjoy what we do. We like sharing our art form with our customers.

WINNER? FOH. That was very poetic Sam but sorry, we can’t go past the free chippies!

What’s the worst thing about your job?

Rackers: Covering all of BOH’s mistakes, serving customers with a smile when I want to kill the chef.

Sam: The toxic culture. The culture that says if you ask for your rights to be upheld, you’re a bad worker.

WINNER? Technically it was Sam’s answer but it’s a tie because that’s a problem for both FOH and BOH.

What you wish others knew about your job?

Sam: Mine would be that chefs aren’t arseholes, people are arseholes.

Rackers: This is partly because misogyny is still a thing but just because I’m a FOH worker, it doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I know what confit duck means.

Sam: It means it’s cooked in its own fat.

Rackers: Wow….

WINNER? FOH. No one wants to be mansplained.

How can you improve BOH & FOH relationships?

Rackers: When the boss respects everyone, it makes a big difference.

Sam: Have joint meetings with BOH and FOH.

Rackers: Family dinners are great. Sharing tips with BOH also make you feel part of the same team.

WINNER? Regardless of which section you work in, there should be respect.

Overall winner?

It’s a tie….

Turns out we didn’t come up with a definitive conclusion. We all know each role has its challenges but ultimately we’re in it together.

If this blog has highlighted some workplace issues you’re dealing with, take a look at Hospo Voice. We’re the new union by hospo workers for hospo workers, supporting each other to make hospo a better place to work.

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