Autism and Aspergers Syndrome in a professional kitchen.

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Joined Jul 18, 2017
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.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
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
 
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Joined Jun 18, 2010
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.

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Joined Jul 18, 2017
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?
 
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Joined Jun 18, 2010
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?
 
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Joined Jul 18, 2017
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?
 
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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
 
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Joined Jul 18, 2017
Hey Macstrat, It's Pastry Chef Aspie, I know it's been a while, but I wanted to let you know what has been going on since the last time we talked.
I have been fired/laid off 5 times since we last talked. And I've been trying to keep my diagnosis a secret because since 2017, it's been in the zeitgeist that perfectly functional people like to coddle those with autism because it makes them feel better about themselves.
I've been fired for more reasons than just an asshole boss, I was just fired for clashing with my newest one because she felt I was unprofessional in an open kitchen, and it took me some time to clean up a mess because I wanted to finish a task first before I cleaned. She took it as a sign of intentional disrespect.
I told the higher ups about my diagnosis the day I got fired, but it was too late, although I acknowledge that it's pointless to waste a manager's time when they and I both know they've already made up their minds.
So I'm at a point where I'm looking into other avenues of the culinary industry because maybe restaurant/hotel life isn't for me.
Any suggestions?
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2019
Baking may be the answer, overnight, I feel for you and hope you find the right thing, that you can learn to enjoy. The differences in you, make you very special to some extent, I mean that in the most positive way. As we all must find our way, so must you. Hone in on your attention to detail and perhaps your enhanced ability to focus. Being different is what makes us all special. Best of luck to you.
 
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Joined Feb 18, 2007
Do you know what kind of environment you would thrive in? Do you need quiet in order to concentrate (look for an off-hours shift rather than dinner prep, for example)? Do you like the repetitive nature of something like baking (breads, cake, cookies, bars....) where the technique is relatively the same each time but you need to be aware of when something is "different" (batter flow, consistency, the feel of the dough)? What accommodations do you need to help you work (music, no music, you need to physically move to release energy)? If you identify this during the interview process, you can eliminate places that you won't succeed in. The hiring manager will either not want to accommodate an Aspie so you won't progress with that place, or they know up front how to help you help them succeed.
 
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Joined Jul 18, 2017
Do you know what kind of environment you would thrive in? Do you need quiet in order to concentrate (look for an off-hours shift rather than dinner prep, for example)? Do you like the repetitive nature of something like baking (breads, cake, cookies, bars....) where the technique is relatively the same each time but you need to be aware of when something is "different" (batter flow, consistency, the feel of the dough)? What accommodations do you need to help you work (music, no music, you need to physically move to release energy)? If you identify this during the interview process, you can eliminate places that you won't succeed in. The hiring manager will either not want to accommodate an Aspie so you won't progress with that place, or they know up front how to help you help them succeed.
I appreciate that, and I'm still looking for my ideal place. I'm a baker because everything about it is more direct cause/effect. But I'm currently in a work/progression slump as I just got fired from a really nice place in my area and I just got hired by my old job, which I'm grateful for, but it's a place where I don't feel like I'm progressing.
 
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Speaking as a fellow Aspie please listen carefully to everything I say. It's great that you appear to have escaped the neurodiversity nitwits, who would have really messed up you mind with the most ridiculous and destructively misleading mythologies about autism, and its alleged (non-existent) "super powers."

That said, autism is nothing but a sensory processing disorder, nothing more, nothing less. And for someone high-functioning like you it is also very treatable, accept by worthless conventional methods. Now believe it or not, I happened to be the creator of the only intervention here that actually addresses the sensory processing issues. My book is "Adaptive Imaging Technique," you'll find in on Amazon Kindle for 10 bucks. Go ahead buy it and make me rich. I will also be here to help you with it, I'll PM my email, because I only come here infrequently these days. I'd say good luck, but the smart ones make their own luck.
 
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