Am I being unrealistic

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by smitties009, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. smitties009

    smitties009

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    Hi everyone,

    to cut a long story short, Im a head chef and do private catering. I am coming into my 6 th season. Food is very high end. I have had a young assistant chef along side of me for the past 9months. I now have a manager whose knowledge of food is very limited, she is pushing me to get this guy to cook my breakfast dishes, I take pride in what I do but I'm struggling to let go, and it hurts big time to see my dishes being done looking NOT how they are meant to be and some of the cooked components aren't being executed good enough & he forgets components. I feel like I'm being pushed out, I've worked so hard to get where I am. This manager and young guy know each other outside of work. I critic she undermines me in front of him, then says I need to make dishes simpler. I'm not liking my job anymore and would leave if I could. I'm the only income earner until my husband has his operation.

    Is this a common thing for other chefs, what would you do? Am I being unreasonable? Should I suck it up and let him dish up food that's motto my standard. Are my expectations and standards too high.

    I would love you're feed back.

    Cheers
     
  2. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Part of being a chef is knowing how to delegate responsibility. If you don't do this you will never make it and burn yourself out. The other part of being a great chef is being a teacher and a mentor. Here is my advice based on my experience focus on your job and your food not on these two. If you expend too much energy focusing on these two you will be miserable. Come up with a plan to train this cook and work with him each day. Also be realistic about your dishes don't be afraid to take some constructive criticism? For example how many covers are you handling for breakfast? Are your dishes something your current staff can handle? If they aren't then you need to pair it down and commit to training them to handle more involved preparations. Make it a goal to the menu you where you want. You may not have the staff trained yet to execute what you want.
    I can't stress enough that as a chef if you don't delegate and let others handle the load you will not make it. Hope that helps.
     
  3. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    All of the above, but never forget that if you feel like your manager is trying to push you out it very well could be true. We've all experienced that, at least I have. Not all managers are good at managing and some come in to a new organization not understtanding the history and past values. Some do not care either. Some are insecure, or maybe even jealous, and it is sometimes expressed in passive-aggressive or aggressive behaviors. some want to form the organization "in their vision" even though there's nothing broken with the stays quo. Do some soul searching to understand your managements values, needs, and desires. Then either adapt or consider alternatives like moving on. I know your problem and it's not unique to the culinary world. I'm living that nightmare too at the moment.

    And be very careful about what you say to your assistant... that's a direct line to the manager. Always say nice and positive things!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    About your "complicated" dishes.
    Are your recipes going way over SOP food costs?
    If not and the clients are reordering it would be foolhardy to change those... maybe moving forward you could bend a bit to her request.
    In other words choose your battles wisely... like @nicko pointed out micromanaging every little detail can be wearying and is a proven cause of burnout.

    mimi
     
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  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The reason why I became a Chef is because I couldn't find anyone else to do things the way I wanted them done. In most cases this happened in private clubs. I would be the Manager/Chef sell the banquets, cook the food, meet and greet the guests and walk the dining room. Needless to say, I had a hard time giving up my baby to free myself up when the business grew. In your case your also having a hard time letting go. that being said in most cases it's hard to find people who can do things exactly the way we do it. After 9 months this person should be able to accomplish your method of cooking. You said it was high end. There is no simple short cuts in High end. It takes care and concern with ingredients and presentation at all times. Your not being unreasonable, it's your Baby and you want things done right.......Good luck.......Best wishes to your husband for a fast recovery......ChefBillyB
     
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  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you should be able to let go of this little bit. Choose your battles. Are there other opportunities that open up if you move this person to breakfast? Can you move another more motivated person to banquets, someone who is willing to learn and take charge?
     
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  7. smitties009

    smitties009

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    Thanks everyone, our guests pay $140.00for a continental and cooked breakfast. We have exclusive luxury residences.

    It's really hard seeing my dishes I've created not the same as I would like it and I feel it's my reputation. So I should really just turn a blind eye, and leave him to it is what I'm hearing. Appreciate all advice given.
     
  8. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Perhaps you are being overly protective since it is your baby. Get unbiased second opinions from guests (where they don't know who was cooking on those shifts) on food you produce and food your assistant produces.

    Either way, it will be a positive. If you are shown to be overly protective, then maybe it will be a little easier for you to let go and delegate. If it turns out that there is a distinct difference, you now have evidence to back you up on future decisions.
     
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  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    One thing you can do is work with, and not dictate, and very important, spec out together all the items that go on the breakfast menu. You do this for a lot of things, the most wonderful to your employer's eyes will be cost savings. Employees love ownership and you can let go of it a bit and work together. It's work but it's worth it.
     
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  10. cronker

    cronker

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    $140.00 for breakfast? Oh my.
    I can understand your concerns at that price point.
    I was going to say that breakfast is generally a loss leader, because generally you don't have the opportunity to sell alcohol into the shift.
    I think a good idea would be to bring your breakfast chef into the menu planning and engage them into the entire operation of the breakfast shift. Make them take entire responsibility for the offering, cost and bottom line. This frees you up to concentrate on the more profitable areas of your business, although I now think that $140 for breakfast couldn't possibly be a loss leader, so...
     
  11. smitties009

    smitties009

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    Yeah it's a lot of money, but people pay for this as it's all organic farm to table meals. This young chef I associate with a robot hard and fast no finesse or creativity. I would prefer him to design his own dishes and then he can take full responsibility.
     

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  12. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    That's breakfast? Holy Moly!
     
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  13. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    You are the chef, he should take ownership of his work, but the full responsibility is yours.
     
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  14. smitties009

    smitties009

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    How do I do you mean. I tell him it's not good enough manager tells him it's lovely???
     
  15. smitties009

    smitties009

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    The same breakfast in both pics which would you prefer?
     
  16. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Is the manager your boss or is she strictly the manager of the FOH?

    Either way I would talk directly with her, keeping it as non-confrontational as possible, just making casual conversation. Explain that you are both working towards the same goals and how important it that you both are on the same page and support each other in your efforts at achieving the common goals.
     
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  17. cronker

    cronker

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    Put it this way-
    If I were the manager in any venue that could get away with charging $140 for breakfast, i would not be putting my two cents worth of opinion into the kitchen.
    Tell her, discreetly, that you are concerned about the quality of the breakfast offering, and gild the lily a bit by saying you have seen better offerings for far far cheaper around town.
    Sorry, I'm still trying to get my head around that price. We get complaints about our $32 buffet breakfast which has the most beautiful, amazing product that every other hotel on our CONTINENT try to emulate!
     
  18. someday

    someday

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    Something's not computing here...

    You are the head chef? Why does the FoH manager have any say in what goes on in the kitchen? Is she your boss? I don't understand.

    You have every right to expect your cooks to execute your food how you want it executed. That is what being a chef is all about.

    If the cook isn't willing or able to execute your vision, just let them go. Find someone better able to do the food you want to do. Why does the FoH manager have any say in who does what, when and why in your kitchen? Someone undermining you in front of the employee is 100% unacceptable...how is this happening? Why haven't you put a stop to it?

    Who's the boss?
     
  19. smitties009

    smitties009

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    I'm the head chef and she is the guest service manager.
     
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  20. smitties009

    smitties009

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    I do need to put a stop to it yes.
     
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