Why restaurant pot washers deserve more credit
The best restaurants have two sides. At the front, they cultivate an aura of calm control that allows customers to relax and enjoy their meals. In the back, frenetic activity is the norm, ensuring every ingredient is delivered exactly on time and waiting times are always kept to a minimum.
Nobody is more at the heart of this engine of activity than the pot washer. When plates, pans and glass supplies dry up, everything else is brought to a halt. The pot washer is a very important cog in the wheel – no matter how fraught things get, they must keep focused to help keep the kitchen on track. When the pot washer is on top of the job, the whole kitchen is in good fettle and everything runs smoothly.
No wonder many chefs look on pot washing as the place to earn your spurs and prove you have what it takes to succeed in the industry.
Commercial dish washers
Logistically, pot washing is no small challenge. A restaurant with a hundred seats will need several hundred plates, pots and utensils cleaned every hour, if not thousands. Because they must be perfect, restaurateurs are sometimes reluctant to consign the workload to dish washing machines (see a range here https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/commercial-warewashers/commercial-dish-washers). Even when they do, the rapid and proper stacking of dishwashers is a skill in itself and supplements the pot washer’s job rather than replaces it.
Although they often have programmes for delicate loads, like expensive wine glasses, it is still a problem if you need to keep those pans, trays and plates rolling through at the same time.
Health and safety
Keeping some items separate is also required by hygiene regulations. Different sinks are reserved for different purposes, and even the gloves a pot washer wears should be colour coded to match the items being washed. The most sensitive items are those that come into contact with raw meat.
Dishwashers are designed to subject their contents to exact temperatures for safe periods of time. Pot washers working by hand must be mindful of the requirements to ensure similar regimens are applied to items in sinks: not easy to monitor in a busy kitchen (see http://www.healthunit.org/foodsafety/factsheets/safedishwashing.htm).
Commercial dishwashers, therefore, help kitchen crews meet all the standards modern H&S legislation requires, even though there is still plenty of scope for human skills.