Pavlova’s dogs (Alex. 2010)

Pavlova’s dogs (Alex. 2010)


Can the use of positive reinforcement alter built in behaviour of, a small, well established, front of house team, as regards to the leaving of condiments and olives in the pastry section of a busy restaurant?


The experimenter is the overworked and underpaid employee of a busy fine dining restaurant, the pastry chef to be precise. His section includes several work areas. Due to his often sloppy manner similar behaviour has been exhibited by some of the other of the pack. A recent drive to tidy up his act has not been reciprocated by the front of house section of the group. Namely when a customer asks for olives or condiments the remaining container is left on the surfaces.

Although not one to espouse the “broken window theory”, the current situation in the section points, anecdotally at least, to its validty. After several other solutions were formulated and poorly implemented; including the “For fuck’s sake how hard is it to put it back in the fucking walk-in?” and the “Do you do this shit at home?” paradigms, said pastry chef was wanting for a solution.

It was not until 20.30 hrs today that a possible solution appeared. One of the pack actually broke trend and put the Dijon mustard back on the shelf from whence it came, leaving the section free to send the party. Seeing a window of opportunity, said experimenter, rewarded behaviour with a bit of marshmallow. After reward, said behaviour was adhered to.

Subject 1, as she will, from now on, be known, is a Beta female with a propensity for sugary sweets. Her higher ranking than said experimenter means that the early chastation of bad behaviour held no particular weight. Perhaps as they say the carrot is better than the stick (especially if you have no particular stick other than hiding the Brie at end of service).

Initial conclusions

Although there has been marked, positive behavioural adaptation in one subject, it is too early to draw a conclusion as to the effect of marshmallow treats on the behaviour of a whole species. Initial results look positive. This pastry monkey would like to open this up to peer review and as such publish here my marshmallow recipe:

okay, I have left my pastry book at work, so here is the James Martin one. As much of a smarmy bugger he can be, I do like his recipes and would recommend his cook books:

Final word:

If you are carrying out this experiment, please use marshmallow as a treat as we cannot change too many variables at once. I think peanut brittle would be a happy substitute but then you have to factor in allergies and things.

Anyway, pastry monkey out

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