Corporate or classical......

Joined Jul 29, 2006
I currently work for a chain restaurant. I so want to leave the job because it's very demanding and not very rewarding (moneywise). it's so unorganized all the prep cooks come in and prep basically what they feel like prepping for the day and have the mentality of oh..... someone else is coming in later and he/she can take care of it. So my whole shift is like an uphill battle.and even if it's slow the darn line cooks are so lazy they won't prep for there station they'll always call on the prep to do it it's terrible. All this can be avoided if the management would step up and take there heads out of there a**es and tell the darn cooks what they need to do to avoid any 86'ing of menu items. For example if I was the Chef in the morning I would come in and see what is lefftover from the previous day or days and i would make the prep list needed for the day, and not leave it up to the cooks. Anyhow...... I'm currently searching for a new kitchen to work in can, anyone tell me the major differences I will see from working in a corporate kitchen, going into a classical kitchen??
Joined Jul 16, 2006
I currently work for a chain restaurant. I so want to leave the job because it's very demanding and not very rewarding (moneywise).

Yep, and you will find in a lot of places that when you start out the money is not very rewarding! As you gain skills, experience and become more employable you will have more to bargain with.:cool:


Joined Jul 28, 2006
From what I perceive from the tone of your previous posts, the differences you may, or may not, see will be insignificant.

Point being, and although I do not work in the culinary profession, the attitude *you* bring to the job will be the determining factor in your happiness and satifaction.

I'll offer suggestions that might make your value to the organization increase many fold... These observations are culled from 40+ years working in a number of different fields, including the food service industry. Many of them are the result of my own shortcomings, or attitude "problems"...

First, do NOT bemoan the shortcomings of your co-workers to the management. You may be on prep, and the "loafers" are working the highly desired line, but the end game is serving the customer. How it happens doesn't matter to the person paying the check. However, if you are fastidious in your prep work, and keep the process rolling (in other words, you can't be blamed for a screw up), eventually those in charge will notice that you are pulling your own weight and more.

Remember that in the darker hours... It may not be of much consolation when the others are picking their noses while you slave away, but there IS personal satifaction in a job well done...

Second, give yourself some time to get exceptionally proficient at just one thing. Maybe it's the most boring thing in the prep area, but strive to be the best in the whole world at it. Study how others do it, and ask yourself where you could improve the process. Once you've mastered that piece, go for another. Make yourself the "go to guy" on all the piddly stuff, and you will be recognized as someone who cares enough about the basics, to be the best prepared for promotion up the ranks.

This will eat into your perceived career path timeline, but without an iron fisted grasp of the basics (practiced and perfected, not just imagined) you'll run the risk of having to depend on others to backfill for you, which can make you appear exceptionally "lame", and not worthy of the respect that you seek...

If I've spoken untruths, I'm sure that the remainder of the board will chastise me heavily, but I strongly believe that these are tenets that serve all in an equal and honorable manner...
Joined Jul 29, 2006
So what your saying is if I want a promotion I houldn't push for it??? If I just work hard it will come to me????


Joined Jul 28, 2006
I don't want to sound like a broken record, or some old fert that just doesn't understand young people, but there are some dynamics that you can use to your advantage...

"If I just work hard it will come to me????"

Yes and no...

Pushing for or demanding a promotion frequently backfires, because more often that not, the person sceaming for recognition of a job well done has aan inflated sense of self worth. I know that sounds rude, but read through this post and let me know if it doesn't make sense, or at the minimum set a light bulb off for you... :)

Your hard work will be recognized if there are no "distractions" to your supervisor's evaluation of your abilities and "drive".

Come to work with the belief that today is going to be a great day (not in some sort of happy happy joy joy crap, but that you've made up your mind that other people's negativity or attitude is NOT gonna make YOU adopt that same sort of defeatism.)

Speak nicely to your immediate supervisor. Be polite. Avoid the temptation to grouse about how you're doing all the work, and nobody else cares.

That last little bit has a small hint in there...

Keep your eyes open. If you see something that needs to be done, or a piece of equipment that could use a little extra cleaning, see if you can squeeze that into your schedule, without interrupting the "flow" in the kitchen. For instance, if a mixer looks nasty, and could use a good cleaning, ASK if it is going to be needed in the next half hour or so (depending on how long you think it's going to take to get it looking nice again). It would be unfortunate if you had taken it upon yourself to spiff something up, only to find out that just after the thing has been broken down for a thorough cleaning that it is needed for a critcal task. That would suck huge.

Also, if you are not intimately familiar with a piece of machinery, don't monkey with it. Let someone walk you through a disassembly and reassembly of that piece of equipment the first couple of times, just so *you* know what's going on...

Ask questions. Never stop learning. The only stupid questions are ones that are not asked at the risk of appearing "dumb". And don't stop reading about different techniques and practices...

Your approach to asking a question can make a big difference in how you are perceived. A phrasing that always shows me that the person asking the question is serious about learning goes along the lines of, "I'm not real clear on how to ...", or "Could you give me some guidance on how to...", or "What's the best way to..." I think you get the idea.

Find a quiet time to speak privately to your immediate supervisor. Ask that person what skills or knowledge you need to improve in order to position yourself for a promotion up the food chain. Also be prepared to hear things that you'd rather not. Accept their critisism, and act accordingly. Let them realize that you've taken their evaluation to heart and are willing to work up to their expectations...

Let them be aware that you value their input, and pretty soon a level of trust and respect will develop.

Above all else, do not argue the merits of one approach versus another with someone who is technically or theoretically your superior. They may be mistaken about a particular "thing" or procedure, but if you confront them, all of your efforts to build a rapport might just as well be flushed down the pipes...

People get sensitive about their methods. Don't make them defensive...

Show the powers that be that you DO care about the success of the kitchen, and that you're willing to make the extra effort to ensure that success. When they win, YOU win!

Six months in a position may seem like an eternity, but think of how much knowledge you have gained in that period, and how much more there is to learn...

In my particular field, you are not considered an "expert" until you've been working hands on for a minmum of five years. And after 23 years I'm STILL learning...

I know it's tough to ditch an attitude (sometimes I *still* get one), but you've got to be able to work smoothly within the "team"...

Give it a shot, I think you can get where you want to be.
Joined Oct 28, 1999
DMT... you are good! Your experience as supervisor/manager shows!

...isn't it a shame that we lose site of that! Often, most of us do!
Joined Jun 27, 2006
Hey D!

I second that. Well said!
Someone once said (wish I could remember whom) "youth is wasted on the young".

ChefITraining. What DMT said is about the most sound advice anyone can give you. There's not allot of room left for comment without sounding like we're preaching to you.

So...Now you have to take the advice and apply it to yourself. I mean make a real and earnest attempt. Not for a week or two but for the rest of your career. If you don't atleast start, and soon, you will find yourself venturing down a very dark and unrewarding path from job to job never being happy. It's one thing to make moves from job to job for advancement and experience but that's only after a year or more of effort. I mean 9 jobs in 12 years can be viewed or explained as a good thing. As long as you show a track record for progressive industry experience.

Ya know it really doesn't matter what we all tell you. It's starting to come down to what you tell yourself. I have to say that I hate to see anyone fail especially for the wrong reasons but for you to be as young and fresh to the industry as you are perceived to be it's almost like someone sold you a bill of goods and now you're either disillusioned, diluted or jaded because of it. I don't really know maybe it's just ..... Can you fill in the blank? Then you'll have your answer.


Joined Jul 28, 2006
Thanks gang... :blush:

The suggestions are pretty universal to *any* field of endeavor, but even mores so when the skills are sometimes aquired through "tribal knowledge"...

Besides, I like to see others succeed!!

I've seen more people sabotage their own careers by getting derailed by other's attitudes.

Negativity sticks to those that allow it, and while it's some times difficult to keep a positive outlook, you gotta!!

And many "newbies" in a job are vulnerable to the complaints of the veterans. If the guys that have been there a while think the place sux, it gets sorta hard to not adopt the same sentiments...

However, somewhere in that steaming pile of a job, there HAS to be at least ONE person that tries their hardest to make the place succeed. Despite the best efforts of the nay-sayers... That's who you need to take your cues from.

The phrase "kiss-*****" is going to creep in here soon, and the best way I have to deal with that sort of accusation is to let the goober know that I'm there to do a decent job, and learn as much as I can, and earn my pay honestly. Besides, unless you're working in a debtor's prison, ain't NOBODY "owes" you a job.

Anybody else got suggestions on how to be cordial with the boss without looking like a Hoover??
Joined Jun 22, 2004
This has been an interesting discussion. I am going to use the problem and discussion for a research problem for my senior class. Thanks for the thoughts and ideas.


Joined Jul 28, 2006
I, for one, would be interested to see what you (and your students) come up with.

Some times "kids" can suprise you...:D
Joined Jun 29, 2004
Chain restaurant:

- Usually a very rigid system, 8 hour shifts, set schedules
- Prep cooks do only prep
- Line cooks only cook and stock their line (very rarely do they do any prep at all, usually no time for it) - if it's busy enough they don't even stock their line, prep cooks do that
- Usually 1 Kitchen Manager, 2 Asst. Managers (1 day, 1 night), and several supervisors
- KM takes care of ordering, paperwork, numbers, scheduling - rarely if ever cooks a thing
- AKM's make sure their shift workers stay on track, set prep lists for the day/service, and then during service they work the pass
- Supervisors do the AKM's job when they're gone, basically just the #1 line guy
- Prep cooks/line cooks do whatever the AKM/Supervisor tells them to do - usually they're given a station and a list by the supervising cook

Classic restaurant:

- Executive Chef, 2 Sous-chefs (day, night), a Chef de Partie on each station, and Demi-CDP or commis
- Executive chef writes the menus, does all the paperwork, deals with suppliers, special functions, etc...
- Sous-chefs basically run the kitchen - usually work the pass, make sure every station stays on track, takes care of ordering supplies/produce, and sometimes cooks
- Chef de Partie - each station has one - they take care of their own station from keeping track of inventory, to prepping for service, cooking during service
- Commis - does whatever their CDP wants them to do
- Schedules are not rigid - you come in whenever you need to be there to get your station ready, and leave whenever your job is done - could be 8 hours, could be 15

Obviously this is not the case for all restaurants, but it's the general template I've seen in the corporate and classic kitchens I've worked in.
Joined Mar 11, 2006
What DMT said really hits home for me to in my current position in a corporate kitchen. It can get you get down. low pay, other peoples negativity about things, and so on. Some of what you have suggested is just starting to come together for me now about 3-4 months into the job. Somethings are very boring but at least the menu changes at for summer, fall, spring, and winter, and that keeps it somewhat fresh. Your post was very timely for me, I may want to print it out and put it on the fridge for those "dark days" as a way to refocus for the next day! :crazy:



Joined Jul 28, 2006
I'm very glad you found something worthwhile in my ramblings...
Joined Nov 22, 2015
So... wanted to resurrect this thread and my activity to get some thoughts on this subject.

I have been working a few months at a restaurant that seems to have the same issues as the OP, although this restaurant is not a chain but rather part of a restaurant group.

I have the problems of production quotas on the stations I've worked there, and have noticed a "someone else's problem" attitude.

There is barely enough time on some stations to make par for daily mise en place components, much less managing large batch cooking during service averaging 400 covers. The major problem I see is that the prep workers we do have don't do or know how to make anything on the line, they mostly prep veg, potatoes and seafood. I've stayed past shift change a few times to make par and backup for the next cook, but everyone else runs out the door. One time 2 hours past my shift was cut off my time as an adjustment! I don't care about the money as much as the principal of being penalized for going the extra mile.

On another note consistency seems to be all over the place as well. Almost every prep I've been shown I've been shown 3 different ways, including ingredients sometimes. Execution and plating also different ways.

Should I seek out a small business with a classical system? Working under the direct eye of an owner/chef has its own issues, but it seems better than under 5 sous who are turning a blind eye because they are competing for menu development opportunities or whatever the case.
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