Ode to the Dishies

Dish Pit

Home of the Dishies.

The dishies. Dishwasher, hey boy, you there, dish bitch, pit pig, etc. This post is to honour all of the dish washers out there who bust their ass every night.

By far, the dish washer is the most overworked, underpaid and unappreciated employee in a restaurant. Beyond this, their job is very difficult to do, and I can attest to this because I have worked with a couple really good dish washers and a LOT of really shitty dish washers. Lets start with the obvious: washing dishes sucks. It’s gross. Scraping off the mauled food left on the plates that the servers couldn’t be bothered to clear is just where it starts. They have to ensure that plates, cups, cutlery, never run out. If there aren’t any clean plates then food plain and simply cannot leave the kitchen.

On top of that responsibility they also have to make sure that every station on the line has the tools they need in order to cook the food for guests. This means having stacks of sautee pans in various sizes, stainless steel bowls in various sizes, pie plates, fish spatulas, whisks, tongs!, heat resistant spatulas, flippers, offset spatulas, and on and on and on. And if the cook put the fish in the pan without making sure he had a spatula for it first, then while it overcooks he will be yelling at the dishie to get him that spatula cleaned before they ruin the fish. That’s right, it’s always the dish washers fault. That military saying “shit runs down hill” is directly applicable to the kitchen, and at the bottom of that hill stands the solitary dish washer.

So that covers the stress they are in during service, but what about before? Often by the time the dish washer shows up, us chefs have created a stack of pots and pans that we need cleaned immediately. They are often given the shitty jobs that the chefs don’t want to do. Some of these tasks may include: emptying the grotty compost buckets out back, peeling 50 lb bags of carrots and potatoes (so we can just grab and cut them, yeah, we are too important to waste our time doing that), pulling pork shoulders, opening packages, organizing the walk in, putting the orders away, blanching fries/wings, cleaning the fryers, disposing of the disgusting used oil, cleaning the grease trap, cleaning the mess when the grease trap overflows, and on and on the list goes. Clean the bathrooms. Sweep and mop the floors before you leave.

The dish washer is always the last person to finish work. While the kitchen staff are in the dining room sharing a drink, they are in the dish pit trying to enjoy a beer by himself while he continues to handle disgusting objects without slowing down at all. Whoever is locking up that night has to wait for the dish washer to finish up their job, so they will be telling the dishie to hurry up and finish so they can go home. But if something was missed during the close or there are a few plates that have food particles on them then rest assured that the dish washer is going to get an earful from the chef the next day.

All of this for minimum wage.

So, to everyone out there in the restaurant industry, make whatever effort you can to help these poor souls out. Servers, scrape your plates thoroughly even when you are busy, and take the time to stack the plates by size. Cooks, feed your dishwashers, make sure you thank them often, and do everything you can to make them feel like a part of the team and appreciated. Chefs, be patient with your dish washers if they miss something, be clear about your expectations and make them realistic. Pay them more than minimum wage.

And to all the dish washers. Know that you are absolutely invaluable to the operation of the restaurant. Without you we wouldn’t be able to make or serve any food. We really appreciate the ridiculously hard work you do for the restaurant. Keep on kicking ass.

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