The Dishwasher Is Just As Important As The Chef

It’s the summer of 1974, and I am just 15 years old…

I was chosen to be the dishwasher at Camp Sussex, which was a camp for disadvantaged kids. Back then being a dishwasher was a promotion over being a waiter, and I can promise you it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had working.

Washing dishes in high school and during my college years is where I learned some of the most important lessons about what it means to be a hard worker.

Fast forward years later to when I was the Assistant General Manager at the Hard Rock Café in New York City.

Everyday I would go into to work and pray my dishwashers would show up, because I knew if one didn’t, I would be the one cleaning the dishes based on the volume of customers I knew would be coming that night. Most nights we would run out of silverware, and as you can imagine at this point the evening would not go well from there.

One day my prayers weren’t answered, and one of my dishwashers did not show up to work. I strapped on my gloves and began washing. While the dishes were flowing in, I couldn’t help but realize how important the dishwasher position actually is. In the simplest of ways, without any plates and utensils, there cannot be any meals.

Without any dishwashers, there isn't a restaurant!

But most importantly as a dishwasher you are also the one to realize how much food is coming back from the tables and how much of the food wasn’t eaten. At this point I would run out to the tables and see what the reasoning behind this was. Each customer would vary, but you would sometimes hear the chicken was too dry or the food was cold.

Your dishwashers have the most intel on how well the kitchen is working, how slow the service is, the customer’s response to the meals, etc.

This is why at Steiner Sports I walk around our warehouse once or twice a week. I like to see what the energy is like down there, what’s selling, and what the inventory looks like (not what can be seen on a spreadsheet). Our warehouse staff is the best, and in many cases they are coming up with some of the greatest products we have to offer.

Looking at what happens in the Steiner Sports warehouse, just like washing dishes as a kid, helps me understand how the role every person in an organization holds is vital to a company's overall success.

Our lives are busy, and a lot of the time we focus on ourselves and what we need to accomplish. It is just as important, though, to recognize the work that is going on around you.  Without others helping you along the way, you wouldn't be able to achieve the thing you need to.

Take the time to appreciate everyone, no matter what they might do. They may be the receptionist at the front desk, the person who delivers your packages, or your doorman who is there to greet you every morning. Whoever it may be, take the time to thank them for all that they do.

Do you take the time to appreciate and value each person who lets you be successful each day?


  • Great article. I wish all leaders would share your same passion.

    Nick Heer on

  • Gratitude and appreciation! Goes a long way!

    Cedric Solice on

  • In 2003 I finished what would become my showpiece house.
    Many in my market don’t know be by name, but they know that house. And they usually respond with, ‘YOU built that house??!!”

    My answer is NO. It took about 70 guys. I just made the calls.

    Martin Freebern on

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