Am I being selfish?

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Joined Nov 3, 2014
I have worked in this bistro for about 8 months and beginning of January they gave me holidays. It's the least busy time.  I came back from holidays only to find out that the other chef has got all my hours and I now need to find another job.  Not a word was said to me in advance about this.  But they want me to give up my recipes. 

Before I started their menu was pretty basic.  Coming from a restaurant background I tried to make the menu more interesting, as much as it is possible within a bistro with a tiny kitchen.  So they are asking me to teach my adaptations on the food I did there.  I am unwilling to do so.  Even though I believe that a recipe is bigger than any one man, if that makes sense.  Also, I am thinking, why didn't the other chef learn anything while I was there? If I see a colleague do something I don't know I will always ask, I think that's normal.  Once in a while I used to get questions like this: "I tried to do garlic mushrooms from a recipe online and they tasted disgusting. How do you do them?" (she burnt the garlic)  So this is the level we are talking about.

My question is, do you think I am being selfish by not wanting to share after I lost the job?  What would you do?
 
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Welcome to ChefTalk TazP.

First, I'm sorry this happened to you. It is not uncommon though.

IMO, you don't owe the place anything.

They are your recipes.

The management is at fault here for not taking steps to insure the food quality and consistency.

It should have been up to them way back in the beginning to validate the recipes and keep them on file for as long as the menu is in use.

If they fired you there's is no going back to show the new Chef.

How dare they!!

There is another side to this though.....

I don't know your location but small town people talk and gossip.

Would your actions cause you to burn bridges further down your culinary road?
 
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Joined Nov 3, 2014
Thank you, chef Ross.  I am glad to have my thoughts confirmed.

With regards to the small town thing, yes, it is a small town and people do talk. However, I have worked in a few places around here and have a good reputation. Well, good enough for other places to try and head-hunt me a few times in the past.

If I find a place I like I wouldn't mind driving a distance anyway.
 

kuan

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Tell them you will do it...

after you cash your severance check consisting of three month's of pay.  
 

phatch

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If part of your condition of hire was you would develop recipes for them, then you owe them the recipes as work for hire. If that wasn't spelled out, you're free and clear.
 
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If part of your condition of hire was you would develop recipes for them, then you owe them the recipes as work for hire. If that wasn't spelled out, you're free and clear.
Condition? Spelled-out?  I am in Yorkshire.  Have you ever seen "American Werewolf in London"? Remember the Slaughtered Lamb pub?  That's Yorkshire.  The idea of a contract is a foreign thing here :)
 
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     I won't disagree with my learned colleagues.  Chef Ross is correct. I have to wonder what management was thinking by letting you go before recording the recipes. After the situation you describe, I'm not sure it would do any good as the other chef chose not to learn from you in the first place.

However,….Should you share the recipes? For free, No. But if you are teaching them the recipes, then you are working, then you should be getting paid for the time that it takes to teach.

     There's a lot I don't know, like the attitude of the other chef, the trustworthiness of the owners in paying you for time worked, etc. But you are obviously creative and talented and coming up with new recipes or adapting the old to a new place shouldn't be hard for you. So if you can work out the pay situation and the kitchen staff is receptive, you have an opportunity to be a teacher (consulting chef). I believe consulting chefs can command a higher price per hour. Lol.  In this way, you show generosity of spirit (no hard feelings, guys) if they show generosity of finances. 

And as an aside, I recently discovered my paternal grandmother and her parents emigrated from Little Horton back around the turn of the last century. Visiting is now on my bucket list. 
 
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When someone stabs you in the back, don't give them the pleasure of watching you die. Walk towards the door, turn and wave good bye knowing in your heart it is their loss. .....Good Day!
 

kuan

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Seriously right?  Someone hires you, makes you do the recipes, then fires you immediately.

That's underhanded.

Like I said, say yes, after they give you your three month check.
 
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Joined Jan 15, 2017
 
Welcome to ChefTalk TazP.

First, I'm sorry this happened to you. It is not uncommon though.

IMO, you don't owe the place anything.

They are your recipes.

The management is at fault here for not taking steps to insure the food quality and consistency.

It should have been up to them way back in the beginning to validate the recipes and keep them on file for as long as the menu is in use.

If they fired you there's is no going back to show the new Chef.

How dare they!!

There is another side to this though.....

I don't know your location but small town people talk and gossip.

Would your actions cause you to burn bridges further down your culinary road?
Could not agree more. You don't owe them anything. I am a firm believer in you teach people how to treat you. They treated you very poorly in not being honest about there plans, I would give it right back. If those truly are your recipes, they have no rights to them at all. If they had recipes and you slightly changed them, thats a different story, but I don't think they would try and sue you. 

Your recipes = YOUR recipes. If they weren't smart enough to have ALL recipes standardized before you were let go... thats on them... they sound like poor operators anyways... no standardized recipes, have a chef go on vacation and replace him while gone..... 100% unprofessional. I would move on and never look back
 
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So they are asking me to teach my adaptations on the food I did there.
I would just say that window of opportunity no longer exists and I wouldn't feel bad about it. Someone else closed the window, when they did...poof...it disappeared and no longer exists.

As to small town gossip, people that pay attention to it, without considering their source, are people I wouldn't want to work for anyway.

I live in a small county with an active gossip community. A few years back, I had a not great experience (round peg, square hole) working  with the owners of the most recognized fine dining restaurant (whose reputation extends to nearby large metro area) in this area and was let go. I had jobs find me and was actually hired by the upscale caterer (who has a close relationship with previously mentioned owners) directly across the street.

Over the course of my career, I have had countless times where jobs find me. Stick to the high road and gossip won't stick, but your reputation always will.
 
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Joined Jan 9, 2014
I would simply say to them:

" In order to teach a lesser chef how to cook, I will need to have this many hours"

And then just say your original amount of hours.

If they say no, simply tell them it is not possible to teach the others how to cook your dishes properly with less hours, and that you have mental recipes, that you know by taste etc.
 
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