advice for a young sous chef

Joined Jul 19, 2015
0Hi there i jsut recently started working a sous chef for an upscale bar that had been sharing a kitchen with a popular Italian restaurant in my city.

im twenty one and ive been cooking and working in the back of a restaurant since i was 15.

when day while working at the italian restaurant the owner/exec asked if id be interested in helping him with new prject he was working on. so he bought a trailer and packed it full of nice equipment.

me and the head chef have been busting our asses making food that is nothing less than flawless. we have another line cook who cant even boil wter. its just us three and we do everything(cook, prep, clean, wash dishes, etc...) 

right now im making about 11 an hour and im giving it 120% everyday working my fingers to the bone.

when its just me and the line cook ill sometimes havee to take over his station casue he doesnt know what hes doing, which tends to make things pretty hard when the tickets are piling up, the front of the house sees this and think im the one to blame for food coming out slowly

we are trying to get someone to replace our current line cook but weve had no luck finding a new cook.

being a 21 year old i dont really get much respect from the GM or anyone from the front of the house they think im jsut a 21 year old who doesnt know his shit. ive worked hard the last 6 years to learn what i know now, 

but ive just hit a wall and i feel over wrkred for the amount im making and under appreciated being young.

is there anyone out there that might be able to give me a little advice on what i should do/ should be doing

should i stay there and see where it takes me or should i explore my options and test my luck somewhere else

any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
The other cook is a pair of hands.  Adjust your expectations.

These kinds of things will sort themselves out sooner or later.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Originally Posted by IggyLeg  

i feel over wrkred for the amount im making and under appreciated being young.

is there anyone out there that might be able to give me a little advice on what i should do/ should be doing
Time will eventually take care of the being young part...the overworked/underpaid part, not so much.

What you describe is pretty much part and parcel of life in our industry and you will doubtlessly encounter similar scenarios multiple times throughout your career. I would probably give your current situation a little more time to see what develops out of it, but that doesn't mean that you can't explore and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

Don't lose sight of all the things you are learning at the moment because you are being bombarded with a barrage of lessons. Some of the lessons are about other they think, perceive things, have different ability levels, perform, etc...the greatest learning curve occurs when you can apply how you feel at this moment, and then use it to relate to the other you like to be treated and how you don't like to be treated.

Use your current situation to your best advantage.
Joined Sep 9, 2012
Teach him, it's part of your job and it'll make your life a lot easier. If he is unteachable the chef will see that. Surprised the chef hasn't taught him himself by now, I had to teach my pm cook everything including what a roux is or how to thicken with cornstarch and she was here almost a year making cream soups, etc... Lot of work but worth the investment.
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Another life lesson is that a lot of places will give you a fancy title in lieu of any money.

I'm not the grammar police but, punctuation and grammar go a long way. Some won't bother to read your post, I almost didn't.
Joined Nov 27, 2012
Hey Iggy

I am 25 and have been in exactly the same situation many times since I started working ten years ago. The only advice I can give is suck it up and plow through.

Sounds horrible I know, gimme a sec to explain.

What kept me going through some of the darkest spots in my life has been the fact that no matter how underpaid you are or how overworked we feel(are) there is something we can do to get back at them, get back at everyone. The freaking waitress that talks shit about you everytime you turn your back, the maitre'd that cannot get over himself and just do his job, the new guy that knows everything, jaded chef that has made mediocrity an art form, etc. There is something that you can do, the worst possible thing you could do to them.

Wanna know what it is?

Smile and ask for more. Suck them dry. Make them your stepping stones. Grow, better(harder), faster, stronger(damn good song). That is what has kept me going for a while now. No matter what kind of hellhole you are in, there will always be something you can do to improve yourself and grow as person/professional.

Honestly speaking I don't know your situation or needs but in my case I am still young, I can take whatever they can dish out. I'll just slowly take away all the good bits and grow. Money is always nice but I don't need it(until recently, you know shit happens). You don't know when life will come knocking and you will be stuck with a different set of priorities.

My point being make the best of what you have while you still have the luxury of choice. Don't stress out over the details, determine in what way you want to grow and just go ahead in that direction.

Hopefully it made sense, my two cents.
Joined Apr 20, 2017
I would offer this as my 2 cents. I was moved up to Sous Chef of a 3.8 million dollar place after being a Sacier for 5 short months. The number one thing that helped me was that i knew every single detail, ingredient, allergy, plate set, timing, etc of every dish in the place, and second: i was a rockstar at prep. Those two things set me up a multitude of ways for success. The crew respected me, they knew i would prep, dish, whatever it took. That goes miles you cant count. They also knew that i wasnt some schmuk sitting in an office with a shiny white coat while they slaved away on the line. I would argue its more beneficial to have your crews backs, than impress the management.
Joined Feb 17, 2010
I have always said they a good sous should be a beast on the line, know everything better than the crew and do it faster. This is how you get them to respect you. They will seek your advice when they have a problem.
Top Bottom