A bit of an update and a request for some advice.

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by coastalwanderer, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. coastalwanderer

    coastalwanderer

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    So when I joined the forums in April I have in march only just taken over running my first kitchen. Its a Broom Closet to be honest but its still mine and I'm proud of what I have accomplished with the state of things when I took over. Though I'm still growing and learning everyday ways to be better. My biggest issue is 2 of my 4 cooks. One is a 19 year old who worked 6 years in his mom's kitchen and now is to be honest lazier than I ever was at his age. He's slow has no sense of urgency and though hes a solid cook its the other work he lags in. The second problem child I have is an experienced 27 year old who's formerly run his own kitchen and now only wants to do what he wants to do and not cook or do what I tell him to, now his personal life is sucking and its affecting his attendence to the point I have to play taxi. The 19 year old replaced the owners stepson in my kitchen 2 months ago and I just need help figuring out how to reach him. My older issue I inherited from the last chef and is pissed he didnt get the offer to run the show. 

    I guess what I'm asking is with the 19 year old its a matter of getting through to him, he has potential. The older one is just defiant his way or no way stubborn and lazy when it comes to prep. Its a small kitchen. 4 plus me. Any advice how to motivate the younger and what to do with the older?
     
  2. itswhoiam

    itswhoiam

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    The young guy should be relatively easy, Find out what his goals are and let him know that you will help him get there. But he has to step up to the plate and do it. Let him know he will only go as far as his work ethic takes him. Let him know it's your JOB to push him, to make him better, faster and smarter.

    The older guy is gonna bae a tougher nut to crack. Sour grapes at not getting the job makes this situation tough. People don't like change, and most times the bad apples will end up leaving. But this is your JOB to run this kitchen. Not his, You are being judged on what goes on in the kitchen, NOT HIM. so it comes down to "My way or the highway". Sounds harsh, but that's the reality of the situation. Never let ANYONE hold you hostage. He may leave, you may fire him, but you'll be better for it in the end and it will show the other cooks that you have the integrity to run this kitchen, because believe me, they are already judging you based on how you deal with him.
     
     
  3. coastalwanderer

    coastalwanderer

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    True enough and I guess its time to run a craigslist ad for a new line cook. After service friday night I've been considering just what you're suggesting in terms of firing him. Friday I about did on the spot. I have my flattop grill full melts and sandwiches typical friday in a grill and pub. I told him to get me some bacon in the oven, he proceeds while I was plating to drop it on my flattop when I turned around, my melts had bacon grease all over the bread. 5 new sandwiches. I've never had to fire anyone and dont relish doing it now but, yeah. you are right. I am being judged by the others on how I deal with him and letting hi walk over me isnt going to help me in the long run grow into my shoes so to speak.
     
  4. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    I assume he knew better and just dropped the bacon to f*** you up, and not because he's a dumbskull? If so, he defintely needs an attitude adjustment before he finds a way to do some real damage. The big question is CAN you let him go, i.e., how much control and backing you have for those decisions. I've found that often owners expect their new kitchen manager to "work with what they've got", not go round firing the incumbent help.

    Next step is to start lining your ducks up in terms of getting  a new cook before taking action--cuz being short a cook for any length of time is also going to affect how you look as a kitchen runner.

    Then, have the "talk" and let him KNOW you're in control of his fate, that you intend to put the kitchen first, and that he'd better start feeling the same or you're ready and able to hand-pick someone who does. Watch him closely in that meeting, to see his level of sincerity vs BS. Also let him know you'll all be happier on the job if you work as a team. He needs to be clear that his destiny hangs in the balance with his attitude toward the business, his job, and...you.

    19 year olds, especially those prone to laziness, are often still about "fun", and also "approval". He didnt hang around that kitchen since he was barely growing peach fuzz because he was bored and unhappy--he must've got some enjoyment from it.

    They key is to keep him having fun, while increasing his motivation to get better and faster.

    One thing that worked when I was young and starting out was having friendly competitions within the kitchen, like seeing who can make certain things the fastest etc. And most youngins love being the "king of the hill" at something. And again....praise praise, keep his self image alive and well, "thanks for today, couldn't have done it without you" etc etc.
     
  5. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Another option you have is to hire and train a new cook and then cut the problem cooks hours down to 1 very short shift per week and on call. The power of the pen is very mighty indeed and this normally results in a no show and the employee quits. Now if the problem becomes so bad you must act quickly and with integrity. Good Luck and let us know what happens. Doug...............
     
  6. coastalwanderer

    coastalwanderer

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    Okay so. My 19 year old is stepping up majorly. I followed Meez's advice on that one. Now running my kitchen with the older problem child? He went around me this week to have his hour adjusted to not close at 10 then be back at 10am. for lunch. Soooo...that set off a bad service to start but unsual for me I was able to not say a word until after service and again did what meez suggested and reminded him this is *MY* name on the food and its my reputation not his on the line. I bluntly told him its my way or I'll enjoy watching him work 1 shift a week and pick up the hours myself, I mean I'm cheap labor. No overtime to worry about. He said fine fine usuall bs. I had a talk with the Owner and finally have him backing me up. As soon as I get back from visiting my daughter in August I'm going to be able to let problem child go. And get someone in willing to do it the way I want it done. I'm slowly realizing its *my* reputation on the line as the chef not just the restauraunts, and if I ever want to run a place on capitol square I have to build my reputation and name in the area. Slow realizations I guess. I dont know if I'm old to have my first kitchen or not at 32. I know in this area I'm aboout 5 years older than most running kitchens down town, but in major markets like Chicago and NYC I'm young by comparison. Sorry rambling. Long night and early morning.
     
  7. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    I never understood why age matters directly, its all about energy levels, hard work and plain ol competence.

    From the interactive standpoint, I personally think you're the perfect age for the job... not so young as to spark

    resentment among older line cooks etc, yet still young enough to identify with younger people, like your 19'er.

    Anyway this is all awesome, glad we could do some good! And your case is interestin' so perhaps

    you could keep us updated--and other issues might come up as well, you know where to find us. :)

    Luck!

    -Meez
     
  8. rbandu

    rbandu

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    My 2 cents:

    I agree with Meez.  You're the perfect age. (We're the same age).  Whereas I ran my first kitchen 10 years ago, I met a lot of resentment from older cooks and applicants.  Now it's much easier to deal with, and I've made a name for myself.  We're young enough to run circles around the rooks as well as the old fogies.  We're old enough to know what we're doing.  That's perfect, as far as I'm concerned. :)
     
  9. liza

    liza

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    OLD???? 32???

    for real??

    Sorry I have to laugh, I just had someone look at me and say 'holy crap, you're older than me?!'

    **sigh

    not sure if it's been a good day
     
  10. chefdave11

    chefdave11 Banned

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    Relax, Liza.  Take things in context and you'll be alright.
     
  11. liza

    liza

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    ya ya Dave.. just getting harder when you're old and bitter like me /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  12. chefdave11

    chefdave11 Banned

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    I'll take your word for it!
     
  13. chef nettie

    chef nettie

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    I tend to let poison go in my kitchens. I dont keep them around if I have to beg them to do their jobs. I can only motivate someone so much and if I have to motivate at all...something is lacking in them. I look for self motivators and people who actually show they enjoy working in a kitchen. I dont have the desire or time to manage lazy people. Too many hard workers out there that need work to play with people who don't. I believe in sharing my knowledge and expertise with those who want it. I just dont have the patience to deal with less than someones best. Aside from my being a team player, and consistant with my own work and standards,  If they have their tools, the proper training and know that I am there for them if they need help and encouragement...Ive done what I feel is my share of the deal. The rest is up to what should be responsible workers. ANything less is a danger to the kitchens moral, and customers, and not to mention revenue in the long run.
     
  14. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Very well put chef!
     
  15. coastalwanderer

    coastalwanderer

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    Okay so another update. Yet again 19 year old stepping up and kicking up thse slack..hes actually decided he wants this life as a career.The older problem child is still a problem. Last night at 1am he called off of breakfast/lunch so 3 hours later I'm in the kitchen plugging away. My boss once more has been ignoreing my requests to get help wanted ads up and try to get me a new cook because he refuses to let the guy go. On a side note, after spending almost every working hour of my life in a kitchen since I was old enough to sling a bus full bus pan, I finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. Suprise Suprise. I enrolled in MATC's Cul Program to get my associates. I want to end up in running more than the grill n pub scene. And most places here want the paper. So I guess I'm in both categories now since I'll be working still running my kitchen and going to school for the next two years or at least trying to. So theres the update any advice or thoughts are most appreciated.
     
  16. rbrad

    rbrad

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    put a blind ad on craigslist and see what comes up, you're the chef;why does your boss need to approve that? if you get some good responses sit the guy down and tell him the way it's going to be. firing someone is hard but sometimes you need to do it once to show everyone that you can do it. if your boss doesn't like it then quit. if you're going to school you need people that you can rely on. you can't allow this guy to affect your career, sit him down and let him know he is in charge of his own fate which means he has two choices ...... change or don't change.
     
  17. coastalwanderer

    coastalwanderer

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    Because the owner hates firing anyone and a top that tge problem here hikd is best buddies with the gm. Ot seems like rhe only control i get over my kitchen is specials and ordering. The director at tge cul school has offered to find me a lateral job that will work around my school. Monday if this doesnt change anything i am going to take hin up on it.
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    You are the chef, the buck ends with you ddddyou earn  and give respect. The old one has to go as he is set in his ways and you will never change him. He resents your authority and thinks he can do YOUR job better then you. By letting him go it will serve as an example to the younger one to shape upor ship out. Start looking around before you let him go, so you have somene on the back burner . Good Luck
     
  19. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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     I'll give you one piece of advice: SPELL CHECK.......It's that little ABC button on the top of the tool bar.
     
  20. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Heya Wanderer, appreciate the update....you know it's too bad you can't line something better up, exit what is looking

    like a Kobayashi Maru (no-win-scenario), and take dedicated kid with you. :-{

    I think you got the jist of how I feel last time....I dont think it very fair that you're pretty much responsible for everything,

    from production to quality to timeliness, yet feel unable to cut loose a huge barnaccle that has the capacity to sink the whole

    ship or, even if you CAN, the presonal element between the two might open a whole new set of problems for you.

    Looks more grave than before actually, an owner who puts personal before business can be a tough scenario to rectify. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif