Chef as a Cleaner

Joined Feb 8, 2009
I'll call bullshit. It sounds pretty but as a Chef I worked 12 to 14 hours a day. I had my job to do, my crew had theirs. All most all the cleaning gets done after the evening dinner hour is over. If and when I worked the dinner hour I left after the rush. My lead cook or Sous stayed to close with the rest of my crew.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
I’ll clean my or any station that I worked in, thats only fair for the next person who gets the station.

If an oven or grill needs heavy cleaning—to the Point where parts/components need to be removed I’ll do it and then get staff to clean specific parts. Same for “deep cleans” in walk ins, store rooms, etc.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
This OP posted the same question in another thread that had a bit more substance to it. Here it is.

I was wondering if you’re a chef??? Have you ever been seen in your kitchens cleaning? I mean DEEP cleaning? Or do most of you make your Dishwasher clean everything??
I personally lead by example and deep clean my seasonal kitchen at the beginning and end of each season. It’s a shame that the young chefs these days only think they have to “Cook” to be a “Chef” but unfortunately there’s more to running a kitchen than being able to make a Sauce Bearnaise. The mentality of chefs these days is very disappointing as none of them really want to work! All they want is a chef coat w their name on it and some Crocs🤣

This question taken in conjunction with the OP's question in this thread provides a more detailed context.

First, not all chefs operate seasonal kitchens. I sure didn't. I was operating 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year for over 40 years until I retired. So, those "deep cleanings" were done twice per month and "regular" cleanings were done daily.. Every member of my kitchen staff understood that cleaning was part of the job.

Now, did I have time to engage in these daily cleanings? Typically, no. I was busy with the responsibilities that were unique to me as an owner/operator. However, when those deep cleaning times came around, they were deliberately made a part of my schedule because I believed that this was one of the tasks that I, as the owner, must supervise. As part of that supervision, I cleaned with the staff so I could assess their work ethic as part of my responsibility as their employer. It was also my opportunity to train them on health code standards, what the health inspectors look for, good cleaning techniques, where dirt and funk can hide and most importantly, an opportunity for them to invest themselves in their kitchen and take ownership of the outcome at inspection time. So, when the inspections came around, scheduled or not, we had little to worry about. I trained them to believe the successful outcome of the inspections were because of them, because they were and I rewarded them for it. This is part of the reason why I had such low turnover in my kitchen staff.

Getting in the trenches with your staff is only a small part of what it means to be a "good chef.". Chefs train and teach. If that's not the heart of our profession, then what is? There isn't a professional chef in this thread who hasn't learned at least something from a more experienced chef at some point in their career. Nothing says that such education has to be restricted to only how to make food.

As for the claims that young chefs only want a chef coat with their name on it, that's a rather unfair generalization. There are plenty of young chefs out there who have excellent work ethic. Of course, there are those who don't. Its the chef's job to assess their staff and seek out those with poor work ethic (preferably screen them out before hiring) and either train these individuals properly to develop a work ethic or weed them out. Dealer's choice.

Cheers! :)
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Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I never did as chef. There was just way too much kitchen. But I never ran a restaurant. I was a hotel chef.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Chefs train and teach. If that's not the heart of our profession, then what is?
This big time, yes, yes, yes! One place I worked had a porter crew that came in after closing to clean. The Chef went around to each porter when they arrived and shook their hand and welcomed them. He then made small personal talk for a few minutes because he knew all their names. He knew their wives names. He knew their kids names. This Chef was teaching and training me, and it is a lesson I took to heart and carried forward.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
This depends a lot of the operation. The Chef should be doing whatever is the most important thing that needs her attention. On the one hand the Chef shouldn't be "too good" to clean, but on the other hand anyone can degrease the hoods but not everyone can sit down and analyze the P&Ls, write the schedule and create the seasonal menus. As a chef you need to have a view from 30,000 feet at times and not get bogged down my the daily minutiae of the daily grind. It's fine to pitch in and help with the line work and cleaning but don't post the feature menu late because you were detail cleaning the ice machine.
Joined Aug 13, 2019
I don't think the higher ups would appreciate paying as much as they do for a good chef would appreciate seeing the chef cleaning castors and equipment. Apart from cleaning as you go or the occasional clean up of a spill, its just not part of the job in a larger operation. In return i would not expect a dishwasher or cook to do inventory or follow purchase orders around. Brigade system. Been around for a while.

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