Comments/Suggestions for dealing with "difficult" owners.

Joined Feb 2, 2016
I've been a chef for 10 years spent most of that time working in fine dinning as Sous Chef, Dinning Service Director, Closing manager so on and so forth most of my experiences has been positive, but recently i've become a Chef De Cuisine, for a small 100 seat Italian restaurant.  Originally during interviews the owner said they had problems and directed all the issues on her kitchen manager.  I accepted the position and came on, the first thing i noticed was that there is no cross utilization on the line b/c the owner took recipes from over 150 Italian cook books and created the menu herself.  I have been working there for almost 2 months, and have seen 5 cooks come and go, found out recently since the restaurant opened 4 years ago they have gone through 6 Chefs.  The owner orders very high end items on my day off and doesn't tell me or consult with me until the day it comes in only giving me 2 hours to come up with a special, but if she doesn't like my idea for a special she goes online and takes what other people are doing and tells me to do it.  We are horribly understaffed in the kitchen i myself am working 70-80 hours a week b/c the owners think that b/c of my experience i can take the position of 3 cooks i spend from 6am-9pm on the line and only leave the line to use the bathroom. when i try to talk about issues they blow me off and tell me they will talk to me in a few hours when it ends up being busy, but working myself to death and am worried about the staff i have being over worked as well.  and i cant forget to mention the constant micromanaging.  The restaurant has 0 debt but yet they say they are hemorrhaging money in the labor department when, the last place i worked brought in the same amount at the end of the year and they had debt but they had an executive chef, sous chef, kitchen manager, and closing manager for the back of the house as well as 6 other cooks.  so how can a business that brings in roughly 100k a month not be able to afford staffing when they have 0 debt and only one manager in the kitchen who is keeping a 22.5% food cost.  Any suggestions would be appreciate.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
My advice-get out.  6 chefs in 4 years is a huge red flag, and tells me that these owners aren't willing to allow their chefs to run the kitchen.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I second Pete. Get out. If the owner has so many answers, she can do everything herself and apparently doesn't need a chef. It won't change or improve. Leaving before you have a heart attack is the best option. 
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Have you seen the movie "CHEF" when the Chef has a argument with owner Dustin Hoffman in the kitchen. Dustin Hoffman tells him to do the menu and if he doesn't like it "Pause". The Chef leaves and opens a Food truck......I would leave! The reason being she doesn't want to give up control. You have a 1000 times more experience that she does and she's telling you what to do........Grab your knives and hit the road. If your going to work 80 hrs a week make sure your enjoying it. Take it from a guy who has been there, If I Chef a kitchen, no one tells me how to run it........
Joined Aug 21, 2004
If I Chef a kitchen, no one tells me how to run it........
The owner has a similar attitude....If I run a restaurant, no one tells me how to run it...

Unless chef has "/owner" following his title, he ain't at the top of the food chain, even then bottom line is that guests rule the roost as to final say on success or failure.

So who really runs a joint anyway?

I just know that I would run from this one. The owner is not going to change, so I would change my place of employment.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
There doesn't seem to be anything to salvage out this situation.  Leave before you go insane.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Me three!

The first red flag was the owner doing the entire menu herself.

Yeah o.k. , Owners have input in the menu, one or two favorites that have to stay, sure. But, "here's my menu, you have no input, not now or later, you just cook it.", is the first red flag, ordering high end stuff without telling you, but making sure you're responsible for the food cost is the second, turfing all those cooks (not Chefs, mind you, the cooks who cook) another red flag, then turfing the Chefs, then, I dunno, I just see red flags....
Joined Jan 17, 2015
Run for the hills....I had a job working for an women owner like that, she was second guessing me all the time and springing surprises on me nearly every week. I would come on Monday and find out that we are fully booked for dinner for a special all chocolate menu...than she would give me a recipe off the web I remember it being chocolate pasta ravioli with beetroot filling it was absolutely awful....Never mind that we would have to do all MEP on the day on top of our regular lunch....In the end I left although they had Charvet range there.....As others said she went through a few chefs and I don't see anything changing from the way you described it
Joined Jan 25, 2016
Ow, I wonder as I have one of the dream in my list to become a chef and work for one of the big hotels. I know that's only dream, but I want to do this for at least one day if I can.
Joined May 5, 2010
Ow, I wonder as I have one of the dream in my list to become a chef and work for one of the big hotels. I know that's only dream, but I want to do this for at least one day if I can.
Great...come on over to my place for a day. You think that these examples are bad...just wait until you face reality.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
I remember my first job in Switzerland, tiny resort hotel near the Matterhorn.  Owner insisted on doing  all the work schedules himself.  First one he did I stared at for almost 10 minutes until I realized he had omitted "wednesday " from the whole week, I mean it ran: sun. mon, tue, thur, fri, sat, sun .

Ah.. memories.....
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