Communicating in the Kitchen

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Joined May 30, 2015
There's this lady at the restaurant I work at who refuses to communicate. She's a good cook from a technical standpoint, but horrible to work with because she is unwilling to talk. When she's assigned to do expo, she just throws the plates on the bar and doesn't keep them in order and won't communicate with the FOH and gets plates out of order so the FOH can't figure out which items are rare, medium, etc. and I usually have to step in and start running expo and get another cook to work the grill. However, that's just a mild annoyance compared to what she's started doing lately.

Anywhere I've ever worked, it's protocol to say behind, on your back, permiso (when I worked with a lot of undocumented workers), etc when you're coming behind another cook, and especially if you're standing in their station's staging/expo area.

Twice this week, she's been doing her own prep/outwork in my station's staging area with her headphones on in complete oblivion to anything else going on and without letting me know she was on my back and, when I turned around to plate some meat, she got lightly knicked by a hot spatula (no major burns, thankfully).

All the other cooks there signal if they're coming behind someone, especially if they have to stay in or near someone else's station's staging area for an extended time (there's a mic over it, and sometimes other stations have to use the grill station's mic if theirs is backed up). I'm not territorial, so the problem isn't that she's in in the grill station, it's that she creeps up behind me and doesn't let anyone know she's back there and half of the time has her headphones in and is off in lala-land.

To make matters worse, she takes zero responsibility for getting burned, saying that I'm just a dangerous cook and that I don't work safe. I understand that I ran into her, but to me, it's at least partially her fault for sneaking up on me and not saying "behind" or something of the like.

Am I completely out of line for expecting her (or anyone really) to say "behind" when she's coming up on me, especially when she's worked for nearly 2 years at said restaurant and has at least 5 years of restaurant experience?
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
To me....the whole idea of wearing headphones at work is so very wrong, especially in a restaurant situation where communication is key.
This cook has a definite problem and until it is addressed, the situation will remain. Where's management?
 
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I agree with the others on "Where's the chef" and that the kitchen is no place for head phones. It's time for a sit down with the manager/chef. Everyone in the kitchen has different levels of experience. When it comes to safety there is no excuse for anyone not following all safe procedures. You'll be doing management and yourself a favor for speaking up to management. I figure she already hates you so you really have nothing to lose. You have safety on your side and that should always win any argument....ChefBillyB
 
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No, you are not out of line at all. You have every right to demand that your work environment be as safe as possible. This is a straight no go situation. The head phones and the lack of communication are just disasters waiting to happen.

I agree with the others - where's the chef? Why isn't he/she taking this matter in hand before she gets hurt or worse, gets someone else seriously hurt?
 
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She absolutely should not be wearing head phones and should absolutely say "Behind you".
This post reminds me of when I was in working the line as part of a class in culinary school many years ago. An older, experienced female classmate stopped me in the middle of service and said "When you work on a kitchen line, anytime you are near anyone for any reason, you say "Behind you" loud and clear. Every time. Don't be embarrassed. It's for everyone's safety. Got it?"
I got it.
I am also wondering where Chef/Management is regarding this and the headphones. They should put a stop to this immediately.
 
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what the OP describes shows a situation in desperate need for some management/owner involvement.
 
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Joined May 6, 2010
There's this lady at the restaurant I work at who refuses to communicate. She's a good cook from a technical standpoint, but horrible to work with because she is unwilling to talk. When she's assigned to do expo, she just throws the plates on the bar and doesn't keep them in order and won't communicate with the FOH and gets plates out of order so the FOH can't figure out which items are rare, medium, etc. and I usually have to step in and start running expo and get another cook to work the grill. However, that's just a mild annoyance compared to what she's started doing lately.

Anywhere I've ever worked, it's protocol to say behind, on your back, permiso (when I worked with a lot of undocumented workers), etc when you're coming behind another cook, and especially if you're standing in their station's staging/expo area.

Twice this week, she's been doing her own prep/outwork in my station's staging area with her headphones on in complete oblivion to anything else going on and without letting me know she was on my back and, when I turned around to plate some meat, she got lightly knicked by a hot spatula (no major burns, thankfully).

All the other cooks there signal if they're coming behind someone, especially if they have to stay in or near someone else's station's staging area for an extended time (there's a mic over it, and sometimes other stations have to use the grill station's mic if theirs is backed up). I'm not territorial, so the problem isn't that she's in in the grill station, it's that she creeps up behind me and doesn't let anyone know she's back there and half of the time has her headphones in and is off in lala-land.

To make matters worse, she takes zero responsibility for getting burned, saying that I'm just a dangerous cook and that I don't work safe. I understand that I ran into her, but to me, it's at least partially her fault for sneaking up on me and not saying "behind" or something of the like.

Am I completely out of line for expecting her (or anyone really) to say "behind" when she's coming up on me, especially when she's worked for nearly 2 years at said restaurant and has at least 5 years of restaurant experience?

She sounds very inexperienced to be working in a professional kitchen. Number one the use of any type of headphones during serving hours should be prohibited.
Communication is very important in preventing accidents like that, perhaps you and the chef should have a sit-down with her to give her a better understanding of why this is so important.
 
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Agree with all of the above - especially the headphones.
Headphones in the kitchen - no, no and again, no. That is just not acceptable.
What's next - texting during service?

Every kitchen I've ever worked in, from land to sea (haven't had a gig cooking on a plane yet) - I've never seen headphones in the workplace.

They are for after work.

Communication in a kitchen is KEY
 
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Joined May 6, 2010
Agree with all of the above - especially the headphones.
Headphones in the kitchen - no, no and again, no. That is just not acceptable.
What's next - texting during service?

Every kitchen I've ever worked in, from land to sea (haven't had a gig cooking on a plane yet) - I've never seen headphones in the workplace.

They are for after work.

Communication in a kitchen is KEY


When I had my restaurant I asked all the employees to leave their cell phones with the receptionist until work was finished. I believe when your being paid to do a job, you should show a little respect to your employer.
 
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Joined Nov 2, 2016
There's this lady at the restaurant I work at who refuses to communicate. She's a good cook from a technical standpoint, but horrible to work with because she is unwilling to talk. When she's assigned to do expo, she just throws the plates on the bar and doesn't keep them in order and won't communicate with the FOH and gets plates out of order so the FOH can't figure out which items are rare, medium, etc. and I usually have to step in and start running expo and get another cook to work the grill. However, that's just a mild annoyance compared to what she's started doing lately.

Anywhere I've ever worked, it's protocol to say behind, on your back, permiso (when I worked with a lot of undocumented workers), etc when you're coming behind another cook, and especially if you're standing in their station's staging/expo area.

Twice this week, she's been doing her own prep/outwork in my station's staging area with her headphones on in complete oblivion to anything else going on and without letting me know she was on my back and, when I turned around to plate some meat, she got lightly knicked by a hot spatula (no major burns, thankfully).

All the other cooks there signal if they're coming behind someone, especially if they have to stay in or near someone else's station's staging area for an extended time (there's a mic over it, and sometimes other stations have to use the grill station's mic if theirs is backed up). I'm not territorial, so the problem isn't that she's in in the grill station, it's that she creeps up behind me and doesn't let anyone know she's back there and half of the time has her headphones in and is off in lala-land.

To make matters worse, she takes zero responsibility for getting burned, saying that I'm just a dangerous cook and that I don't work safe. I understand that I ran into her, but to me, it's at least partially her fault for sneaking up on me and not saying "behind" or something of the like.

Am I completely out of line for expecting her (or anyone really) to say "behind" when she's coming up on me, especially when she's worked for nearly 2 years at said restaurant and has at least 5 years of restaurant experience?


She sounds like trouble. It's a matter of time before someone comes along behind her with a hot pan or worse, hot grease and she's off in her own little world......then one or more of your staff is off to the Hospital. That alone is grounds to 86 the headphones. As to the "not communicating" thing? If she's screwing up orders, let her. Just be sure to let the powers that run things know EXACTLY who screwed things up. She'll likely be out on her backside in a blink.
 
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