Autism and Aspergers Syndrome in a professional kitchen.

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by PastryChefAspie, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. PastryChefAspie

    PastryChefAspie

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    I just recently signed onto this forum. I am a second year cook IV with Asperger's syndrome. I work in culinary banquets at a resort. It's frustrating when certain things Ina kitchen come harder for you, but it's even worse you have co-workers that don't know or care to know what it is. I just need to talk to someone who at least get it and FOR REAL understands the things I struggle with.
     
  2. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Welcome to Cheftalk. Restaurant kitchens are not the most compassionate places on earth. Don't expect much help from anyone caring, it's every man for themselves. That being said, not all food services are Restaurants. I saw much more compassion in Hospital food services, Corp kitchens, or any other food service that doesn't have a crazy busy front line. We all pick the place that makes the best sense for us. If I'm knocking my head against the wall everyday, not getting where I need to be, I should find a place that fits me. There is nothing wrong with finding the right fit, we all do it.......Good luck........ChefBillyB
     
  3. macstrat

    macstrat

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    Hey...fellow aspie here. Ive been working in kitchens for longer than i care to think about, in everything from bars to 3 star restaurants. Chefbillyd is right in that a lot of the time, its every man for themselves. I will also add that it really depends on the head chef and the culture that they bring to the kitchen. If you got a shitty chef, youre gonna have a shitty time. The best places Ive worked in raised a culture of teamwork, and that everyone is in the same weeds together.

    It gets harder with autism because working in a kitchen requires massive amounts of communication and Aspergers itself is, for lack of a better term, a disease of communication. We dont pick up on the same signals other people do and we fundamentally, communicate differently. I was lucky in that I had an exec that had a son with autism, and he let me fly.

    You gotta find a way to make it work. find a way to use your unique gifts like hyperfocus to benefit the team as a whole. Even when I was working as a sous chef, my favorite thing to do was prep because it allowed me to kinda tune out everything else before the battle of the rush, and prepare myself mentally.

    Eventually I found my home in teaching and working as private chef/caterer. Im sure there are others on here that fall in teh spectrum. PM me if you need to.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. PastryChefAspie

    PastryChefAspie

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    The stresses are even harder for me because my boss is an asshole and everytime he says I screw up I just get so angry and I struggle with letting it go. So much so that today I was fired. Macstrat how did you deal with the anger?
     
  5. macstrat

    macstrat

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    I shoot A LOT of pool, and dig my heels in deeper into the work. Ive also been known to dice a whole weeks worth veg in an afternoon. I found a way to make it fun. instead of thinking of it like work I think if it more like a game. I have this much time to get this task done, and every ticket is a new level. Part of that is realizing that there will be a few Game Overs. I dont know a single chef that hasnt been fired at least once by a toolbag running a kitchen.when you get the boot, look back on what happened, and grow from it.

    How do you relax and wind down? Do you enjoy repetition?

    Then there is the responsibility of the station.
    "This is MY station. It is under MY control. If something goes wrong, I am responsible. I am part of a team, and I MUST do everything that I can not to let that team down"
    Even if something goes wrong, and you know with 100% certainty that you had nothing to do with it, your station is ultimately your responsibility. You take the damage for that. One thing to remember is that the line is a battlefield. Things get said, people yell, emotions run wild and please dont take it personally. The more you work, the more you pick up things here and there to get you thru the day. Thats experience.

    The general rule that ive been brought up with is what happens on the line, stays on the line. It is frustrating, and infuriating, and at LEAST once a week, I seriously debate throwing something at someone. But when all is said and done, its just another day. you go home, you recharge your internal batteries, and prepare yourself for the next day. Cooking is a passion. Some people like cars, some like cooking. I love the science, I love the stress of the line, i love the history, I love teaching it, and I can and have, talked for hours about it. Part of getting thru the rough times is realizing that you are doing what you are passionate about. Thats not something many people can say.

    what did they let you go for?
     
  6. PastryChefAspie

    PastryChefAspie

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    My toolbag account boss just made me so angry that sometimes I hold my knife in an "inappropriate position" they said. The other day I just did it once too many. I know why I was fired, but how do you let that feeling go without losing what you love to do?
     
  7. macstrat

    macstrat

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    In the short term, you really don't. Not everyone is like that, and nobody else is him. If you do have to deal with people like him,
    then think it from an engineer standpoint: whats causing the issue, and what can be done to fix it.

    When I first started out, I was fired more times than I care to count. Once it was for wearing the wrong shoes to work (I wear EMT duty boots almost religiously); another time it was because they changed the schedule on my day off and then called and asked why I wasn't on work. There was one boss who insisted on yelling at you 2 inches from your face. Assholes are everywhere. With the last guy, I was standing there shaking with a util. knife in my hand. After that I figured I had to find a new way, so I took up pool, and when possible, I took other crew members out for beer/dinner. It gave me a chance to work on my own social skills, and also let them get to know me, and my autism. I made it clear that I wasn't trying to use this as an excuse, and that I just functioned at the basic levels differently than everybody else. Things got MUCH better after that.

    I know how easy it is let things get to you, when it feels like you are backed up against a wall without an escape, and the feeling as it just sits there and gnaws at you for reasons that you just cant put into words. Especially when that anger starts bubbling, you get shaky, panicked, and you know you are seconds away from going total apeshit on them. Don't let that feeling control you. That's how supervillans are made. As someone with autism, sometimes you need to pull them aside and let them know that your priority is to get the job done safely, well, and above what is expected of you.but because you are autistic, you might do things a little differently than others. Doesn't mean its wrong, it just means its different. If they cant accept that, start looking for a new job, because things will end badly.

    Right now, start looking for another job and don't let one guy or experience get to you. If you harp on what happened and over think it or let the emotions get the better of you, you will destroy your own passion for the job. You live your life; don't let some asshat determine how you live.

    In the mean time, find a way to distract yourself. Grab a culinary book, and start cooking at home. Use the time to work on your own skills. Keep that love going.

    Also, sorry of I tend to ramble