First time Executive Chef Advice

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Joined Mar 3, 2017
Hello all i am just looking for your 2 cents on what would i be getting myself into.

I have been in management for about 5 years now as kitchen manager/sous chef.

I stepped down from my sous chef role at my current employer to have a monday to friday schedule.

I really have humbled myself because i mainly wash dishes and cook when someone calls in.

After 6 months i have spent valuable time with my wife and kids and finally feel a work/life balance.

In addition to my full time job I also have a part time breakfast cook job 2 days a week in a retirement home. It is a 5 mins drive away from home.

The Chef just walked off and i have been offered Director of Dining Services/Exec Chef.

There are about 100 residents with 4 dining rooms.

Has anyone ever struggled with quality of life versus job titles/experience opportunities?

Any advice of feedback is appreciated,

i lack front of house experience and scheduling but i got all the other skills necessary.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
Good luck with the new position. First I would find out why this happened " The Chef just walked off and i have been offered Director of Dining Services/Exec Chef." You shouldn't have any problems with crazy hours in this kind of food service. It sounds like it's an assisted living situation.
I had a few years in a Hospital setting in my early years of cooking. I made sure I learned diets and how I could make someones day special with food. In your case three meals a day is what they look forward too. Make sure you make each meal special. You want these people bragging about how well you treat them. Walk the dining room and get to know them. You will hear all about how most people will enjoy your food but, there will be some that are never happy. Put yourself in their position and understand it takes work to make their day. Don't get lackadaisical with the menu. Put the menu front and center as the most important thing you do daily. Quality and variety is what will keep you in good graces. ...........Go Luck.................ChefBillyB
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
As for your quality of life situation, retirement home food service will allow you to have a life, a lot more than being an Exec for a restaurant, or hotel.
That being said, my best piece of advice for taking on this position is for you to always be aware of your employees, especially on the weekends, when most retirement places seem to rely on a skeleton crew.
I've been witness to the lack of care that happens on the weekends as a cook myself in the situation.
I think this a great opportunity, and I agree you should do some detective work to find out why the last Chef walked out.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I think everyone struggles with work/life balance to some degree. I work in a similar type of establishment as you are stating. While there are a few things about restaurants I miss, overall I do not regret changing. I may not have the most prestigious job but in the end I get a lot more time for my family which is way more important to me at this point in my life. That being said there are downsides like any other place. Going from a M - F schedule to this may be a bummer, and at least in my experience you have to deal with a lot more administrative/employee problems than you do in a private restaurant. Food industry already has a large turnover rate, and add to that the turnover rate of healthcare/adult care and you can get a picture of what staffing issues are like. But like I said before, the overall benefits out weight any negatives for me at the moment.
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2017
Thank you Billy,Ross & Seoul for the feedback currently my full time hospital job has amazing benefits and averaging 45k a year

The retirement home is offering 65-67k a year w/ no sous chef,dining room supervisor or pm cook. Also i would have to re-tool the 3 week cycle and write a recipe book since they are lacking.

The upside is the retirement home is close and i could possibly get paid to get my certified dietary manager training.

I also struggle with the fact that money will always be there and even 5 years from now i could still have a management role down the road. This is just the first opportunity to present itself.

The biggest factor is to be with my children and see them grow up. I have 3 little ones ages 3-6 at the moment.
So is 20k really worth the headache if im expected to be the man and wear all the hats in a place with no infrastructure.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Thank you Billy,Ross & Seoul for the feedback currently my full time hospital job has amazing benefits and averaging 45k a year

The retirement home is offering 65-67k a year w/ no sous chef,dining room supervisor or pm cook. Also i would have to re-tool the 3 week cycle and write a recipe book since they are lacking.

The upside is the retirement home is close and i could possibly get paid to get my certified dietary manager training.

I also struggle with the fact that money will always be there and even 5 years from now i could still have a management role down the road. This is just the first opportunity to present itself.

The biggest factor is to be with my children and see them grow up. I have 3 little ones ages 3-6 at the moment.
So is 20k really worth the headache if im expected to be the man and wear all the hats in a place with no infrastructure.
Here's some of my two cents on your information:

Just fact for fact, I would probably take a single job with a approximate 50% pay increase over having two jobs (counting your PT breakfast cook job)

After having hour long commutes each way, I don't underestimate how much of a hidden cost/pain that can be. That is wasted time/fuel/wear and tear on your car so a closer employment is always a plus.

I would want to know what the differences in non salary benefits are between the two jobs. (Is the hospital a union that offers a pension while the retirement home has a 401K option?) Plus future compensation options (Raises, ect.)

Are you currently at the maximum career level you can be at your current job? Sometimes having no upward mobility can be a bad thing.

You're going to have to decide if the extra pay is worth the extra time/headache. I would be a little curious as to why the kitchen has basically no staff, and how much you are going to be expected to do to make up for it. Making 20K more may seem great until you are working triple the hours you were before. The job you are at now seems stable, but I would be concerned with taking a job that seems to have a lot of walk-off by the staff.

I took a pay cut going from private restaurants to where I am now but it has done a couple things for me. It has improved my family time as an overall and it has opened new doors and avenues in different, but related fields to my own that I could pursue if I wanted to change career directions. An extra 20K in my paycheck would be huge for me right now, but I personally wouldn't trade my family time for it if I had no guarantees of how my work schedule would be. Money isn't everything and you can't get that time back.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
It took me years to get a M-F 40 to 50 hr position in this business. Soon after that I started my own business that was also M-F. That being said, during my first 15 years in this business my family had to come second on almost everything. The business dictates everything. The business won't yield, my family could. We all want whats best for our family, we think money to buy them things are the answer. I was one of those people. Looking back and even to today I learned that balance is the answer. I need to manage my business and not allow the business to manage me. I need to delegate so I don't need to work crazy hours.

You Said: The retirement home is offering 65-67k a year w/ no sous chef,dining room supervisor or pm cook. Also

Question ????? Are you expected to cook all three meals ????? and how many hours a day/ week will you be working. Do you have weekend people ????

It looks to me they are willing to pay a good wage for one person to wear many hats. This could be the reason why the other chef left.........
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2017
i would have to build my staff from the ground up so the positions would eventually get filled. In the beginning it will be brutal so I'm expecting the worst.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
i would have to build my staff from the ground up so the positions would eventually get filled. In the beginning it will be brutal so I'm expecting the worst.
So even though you are making more, you're really going to be doing the job of 4 people.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
Going back I was hired to Manage a private club. After a week I fired the whole kitchen. It wasn't easy but I was able to set things up as I wanted. I became the Chef/Manager for Catering sales, Ordering and then cooking lunch and dinner and catered parties on the weekend. Dinner was only Thurs-Sat. I restructured all the menus and hired new people that had some loyalty to me. If you're going to do things like this you need to hire good people.

In your cases I think it's real important to find out what happened to the dining room manager and PM cook. I have a strange feeling the Chef may have been the problem. A Chef may be a good cook but, may lack experience in the total management of an operation. Know what your getting into. It's ok to work crazy hours when your building on new operation. It's not ok of it goes on for a long period of time........ChefBillyB
 
410
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Going back I was hired to Manage a private club. After a week I fired the whole kitchen. It wasn't easy but I was able to set things up as I wanted. I became the Chef/Manager for Catering sales, Ordering and then cooking lunch and dinner and catered parties on the weekend. Dinner was only Thurs-Sat. I restructured all the menus and hired new people that had some loyalty to me. If you're going to do things like this you need to hire good people.

In your cases I think it's real important to find out what happened to the dining room manager and PM cook. I have a strange feeling the Chef may have been the problem. A Chef may be a good cook but, may lack experience in the total management of an operation. Know what your getting into. It's ok to work crazy hours when your building on new operation. It's not ok of it goes on for a long period of time........ChefBillyB
Had to do the same basically. Restructured the kitchen, staff, flow, menu, ect. Worked a lot of long hard hours but if done right you will reap the rewards from it in the long run.
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2017
That's the idea a whole lot is riding on me making it work for me. I am waiting for my offer at the moment but whatever happens i am still in a good position no matter what happens.
 

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