Ken Burgin

restaurant training games

30 Quick Training Games for Restaurant & Cafe Staff

Use these enjoyable and instructive games to engage your front-of-house and kitchen staff – they’re designed to prepare and run quickly. And a reminder of the old trainer saying: what we learn with pleasure, we never forget! Make sure to take photos and share on your social media channels.

Designing short training games or ‘microlearning’, involves several principles to ensure they’re effective, engaging, and suitable for the purpose:

  • Relevant to the work environment and reinforce key skills or knowledge.
  • Games should be fun, exciting, and interactive, making people more likely to participate.
  • Encourage healthy competition to motivate participants to do their best.
  • Easy to understand and play – complicated rules will distract from the objectives.
  • Give immediate feedback so participants understand their performance and can make improvements.
  • They mirror real-world scenarios that participants might encounter in their roles.
  • The games are short – delivering maximum learning in minimum time.

15 Training Games for Front of House Restaurant and Cafe Staff

Menu Mastery: Divide staff into teams and have them take turns describing a dish on the menu as enticingly as possible in 30 seconds. The team with the most mouth-watering descriptions, as voted by peers, wins.

Table Set-Up Race: Each team is given a tray with different tableware. The fastest team to set up a table perfectly in line with your restaurant’s standards wins. This helps refine speed and precision.

Wine Tasting Quiz: Blindfold your staff and have them taste a selection of wines. The goal is to guess the wine’s type, region, or characteristics. This game helps improve their knowledge about your wine list.

The Tray Relay: Staff members must navigate a course carrying a tray with six glasses of water without spilling any (yes, plastic cups are recommended!). The fastest and driest wins! This can help with balance and poise while serving.

Role Reversal: Waitstaff takes turns being demanding customers, and their teammates have to manage the situation. This fun role-play exercise also helps staff deal with challenging scenarios.

Taste Test: Blindfold your staff and have them taste various ingredients, dishes, or drinks. The aim is to identify the item correctly. This game improves their knowledge of your menu and palate.

Charades: Play a quick game of charades, but use restaurant-related phrases or words, like ‘bill splitting’, ‘reserving a table’, or ‘spilled drink’. This lightens the mood while subtly reinforcing important terms.

Order Memory Game: One staff member starts by saying “I have an order for a…”, then lists a menu item. The next staff member repeats the previous order and adds another item. The game continues until someone needs to remember an order.

Flashcard Fun: Create flashcards with different scenarios a waiter may encounter. Each team has to act out the best response to the scenario. This game helps improve problem-solving skills.

The Perfect Greeting: Have a competition for who can come up with the most welcoming greeting for customers. Staff vote on their favourite. This game helps reinforce the importance of making customers feel welcomed.

Guess the Bill: List several orders with multiple menu items, then have each team estimate the total cost. This helps improve their menu price knowledge and speed up their check calculation skills.

Menu Pictionary: Divide staff into teams. One person from each team has to draw a menu item without using any words or numbers, and the rest must guess what it is. This helps enhance their knowledge and representation of menu items.

Upselling Challenge: Staff members take turns suggesting the best side dish or drink to pair with a randomly chosen menu item. The most convincing upsell, as judged by peers, wins. This game hones upselling skills.

Cultural Exchange: If your restaurant serves food from a specific culture or country, have a quiz about that place. This game builds team spirit and enhances their knowledge about the cuisine and culture.

Mock Service: One staff member plays the role of a customer while another serves them. Encourage them to come up with diverse scenarios (e.g., dietary restrictions, customer complaints) to improve their handling of different situations. The team that demonstrates the best customer service wins.

Remember, the aim of these games is not only to teach and train but also to build team spirit and a positive work environment.

15 Training Games for Restaurant and Cafe Kitchen Staff

Ingredient Identification: Blindfold your chefs and have them smell or taste various ingredients. The one who identifies the most ingredients correctly wins. This game enhances their knowledge and familiarity with ingredients.

Kitchen Tool Relay: Lay out various kitchen tools and utensils, then describe what each one is used for without naming it. The first person to grab the correct tool gets a point. This enhances tool recognition and usage understanding.

Recipe Challenge: Give your chefs a mystery basket containing four or five ingredients. They must quickly come up with a dish using all of these ingredients. This sparks creativity and tests their culinary knowledge.

Knife Skills Challenge: Have a competition for who can julienne or dice a vegetable the fastest and most accurately. This can help improve knife skills while emphasising the importance of safety.

Cleaning Race: Turn cleaning tasks into a competition, such as who can clean their station the fastest while still passing a white glove test. This encourages maintaining cleanliness and speed in their routine.

Ready, Steady, Cook!: Have a quick cooking competition where two teams must create a dish from the same ingredients. This sparks creativity and tests their ability to work under pressure.

Guess the Dish: Blindfold your chefs and give them a taste of a dish from your menu. The goal is to identify the dish and its components. This helps with menu familiarity and enhances their palate.

Plate Presentation Challenge: Have your chefs compete to see who can present the same dish in the most appealing way. This can foster a sense of pride in their work and increase their attention to detail.

Culinary Quiz: Prepare a list of culinary questions covering various topics such as cooking techniques, ingredient substitutes, food safety, etc. The person with the most correct answers wins.

Time Challenge: Set a timer and challenge the kitchen staff to complete a specific task, like peeling potatoes or plating a dish. This encourages speed and efficiency, critical elements in a busy kitchen.

Herb and Spice Recognition: Blindfold your chefs and have them smell various herbs and spices. They have to identify each one correctly. This game helps enhance their knowledge and familiarity with different seasonings.

Safety Hunt: Prepare a list of potential safety hazards in a kitchen. Divide the staff into teams and have them identify and correct these hazards quickly. This reinforces the importance of kitchen safety.

Efficiency Race: Time your chefs on different tasks, such as assembling a dish, cleaning up, or preparing ingredients. The one who does the task the quickest and most accurately wins. This encourages efficiency and speed.

Flip the Pancake Race: Who can flip a pancake the highest and catch it most times in a row without dropping it? This light-hearted game can serve as a fun break while also subtly improving hand-eye coordination.

Recipe Relay: A game where one team member starts a recipe, then after a minute, another takes over, and so on. This tests communication, teamwork, and knowledge of recipes.

These games are fun and provide opportunities to enhance skills, develop teamwork, and grow a positive and supportive work environment. Encourage staff to take turns preparing and presenting them.

See also: How to Use ChatGPT to Create Training Material for Restaurant & Cafe Employees.

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

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