I’ve only been cooking professionally for a couple years, but I’ve been cooking my entire adult life- some of it self taught as a housewife back in the day and the rest of my education came from culinary school. Culinary wasn’t my first choice as far as education goes. Early on I allowed myself to be talked out of criminal justice studies in favor of culinary arts. Now I feel I should travel back in time and punch myself in my stupid face for listening to these people. I do love to cook, I have a passion for it (when I’m not on the clock) and I’m pretty good at it too. I’ve worked my way up to Sous for a few different places and even ran an entire kitchen on my own most days at one of my more recent jobs. But there was one common factor in all these jobs that I otherwise enjoyed. I liked what I was doing, the crew I was with and the decent money I was making. But I was also paying for all of that with time away from my three kids and my now husband. I very rarely saw my kids when they were not sleeping. They are young and their bio- dad recently died. My husband and myself are all they have. My husband works wonky hours himself but makes exponentially better money than I do. Something had to give so someone could be present for these children. So I gave up being a line pirate to go corporate. First for a retirement home and now I work for a high school. I’m basically working as their private event caterer, but they rarely have need for catering. So on my downtime I’m basically a lunch lady. I can’t argue with the benefits, the weekends or having the same time off that my kids do. It’s perfect in that sense. What isn’t working for me is the culture. I guess I’m just used to the free spirited nature of the restaurant kitchen. This place is so fixed on rules, regulations, paperwork and conduct that I feel so unfit for this job. Of course I always try to portray professionalism and some decorum, but I feel so out of place here. No one talks to me, my immediate boss has made it clear she doesn’t like me as a person, there is zero communication going on for having such a large kitchen staff, and no training is provided for new staff. You’re supposed to “just know” and read minds. They were aware I had never worked child nutrition before yet they are giving me nothing in terms of information I need to do my job properly. I confronted my bosses about it and every time their big excuse is “ “You didn’t ask”. So I guess I’m supposed to spend day and night thinking about what they want me to ask because they refuse to communicate with me on the most basic level. Even when I ask questions I get the most vague answers. Then if I do something wrong they don’t even tell me about it. They write it up for a performance review that they can slap me with later. Today I was given a verbal warning for something my manger flat out lied about to save her own skin. I’m a woman, and I have never felt like that has stopped me from doing my job well or getting along with my crew. I expect no special treatment and normally get along fine with the rest of the kitchen rats. But then again, I’m usually the only woman on a crew full of men. This is the first place I’ve ever been where I work with literally all women and they are conniving as hell. There are cliques, pecking orders, gossip, and backstabbing galore. I am literally back in high school and I feel like jumping out of my skin to go back to cooking at some hole in the wall 60 hours a week with the guys. I need this job but it has absolutely robbed me of any self esteem or longing I had for this business. I have worked for some hard ass chefs before and it was never this bad. This is like being 16 all over again. And not in a good way.