Burnt bridge?

Joined Apr 23, 2015
Years ago, when I was a line cook, quit a job without notice.

I have recently applied for several Executive Chef positions.

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from the same restaurant I walked out on. I was scheduled for an interview.

The interview went extremely well the owners fell in love with me and I have been offered a position pending a tasting.

I was very surprised that nobody recognized me during the interview. The interview was with 3 people whom I had previously worked closely with.

My tasting is in a couple days and the kitchen is still staffed with people that I worked with. One is a buddy.

Until my tasting is over I still face the risk of management discovering my past with the company.

Any suggestions?

P.S: I hope the line cooks and young chefs reading this learn from my mistakes. It is a very small culinary world.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
Obviously it's not wise to burn a bridge but in this business it's not unheard of for this to happen.  If you left over some legitimate beef, and especially if the chef you worked under left on bad terms, it's not surprising that they wouldn't necessarily hold it against you.  Personally I strive to keep on good terms.  There's only one place I left with no notice, just told them straight up that it wasn't working out and I was leaving.  But I'd live in a cardboard box and sleep under a bridge before I set foot in that place again anyway.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I would come clean with them. Maybe wait until after your tasting is over, but definitely mention it. Highlight how you were younger and less mature, how you've grown as a person and as a chef, and how being a chef/sous chef has given you more perspective on staffing and how it impacts a kitchen when someone walks out. Basically, show that you have grown and learnt from your mistakes. 

Let them know that you don't want to badmouth anyone but if they want more information on why you left be open and honest. Don't talk shit, even if it is warranted, and take the high road. Bring the focus back to YOU, and how YOU have learned and improved. Someone pointing fingers and not taking responsibility will not be looked favorable upon for a leadership job. 

Good luck!
Joined May 5, 2010
I wouldn't say a thing. It happens all the time in this business.

Some places even rehire people they fired once.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
Yeah, it's surprising how often someone gets fired and rehired down the road.  In this biz sometimes you'd rather go with the devil you know...
Joined May 14, 2014
To be fair to you, you aren't applying for the same job you left. I'm curious how long ago it was if the staff is still the same, though.
Joined Apr 23, 2015
To be fair to you, you aren't applying for the same job you left. I'm curious how long ago it was if the staff is still the same, though.

One of the floor managers is now the GM, he was at the interview along with the owners, I'm really surprised they did not recognize me.

I know one of the cooks and prep cooks are still in the kitchen and I recognized a bar back.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I would not bring it up unless asked. If asked, I would answer honestly and forthrightly. You say they don't recognize you. Perhaps not. But perhaps they recognize you as different in character. If you have matured and now recognize the need for giving notice then that change is notable in other ways. You now have the professional development to apply for the Exec. Chef job. They recognize that. 

If given the job, show in your actions that you deserve it. They seem to be letting go of the past. You should too. 
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