Guys, new to the forum but not new to the game. I need some wisdom and feedback.

Joined May 23, 2015
What's up boys-

I'll start by saying, I know I fucked up kind of.

Recently I took a job with a new company. A massive international restaurant group as an "executive chef". I left a job I didn't love but a restaurant I opened from new construction and had emotional ties too, you all know what I mean. I worked my ass off building the establishment I left over the three years, facing turnover, hardships, walk outs, the whole nine. I don't need to preach. The reason I put "executive chef" in quotes was because I am a kitchen manager. I took a job putting out food that I don't believe in. I made the transition for quality of life, and a massive part of me feels dead inside. I by no means will ever say or even think I am worthy of Michelin stars, or James beard awards, but I have a tremendous respect for food, and more so the execution aspect of making good food. I have been with this present company 6 months now. The concept its self is something we all know, and for my jobs sake I'd rather keep it anonymous for the time being. The restaurant is slow, we do about 48k a week and the time just doesn't go by. Tonight we were busy but all night long on the line I was thinking to my self what the fuck am I doing right now, as my expo was calling down to the pantry station asking them how long before the "salmon is defrosted". I am getting paid, I have ridiculous benefits, I just don't know if they are worth justifying sacrificing belief and integrity in food. I even tell the cooks to call me by my first name sometimes when they pop off chef this or chef that. The massive restaurant group puts labor before everything and really doesn't hide it from the hourly employees so moral is just shot. I would really appreciate feedback on a few things.

6 months on a resume. Dangerous. Any experience with explaining that on an interview and how it worked out for you? My resume has exec experience 3 years, 2 years, 3 years.

Paycheck to product. Should we stomach a sacrifice for what we believe in for the extra buck, or the right to leave a doctors office with out maxing out our low limit capital one cards.

Quality of life. I see my girlfriend 4 nights a week sometimes 5. An open is 9-5, a close is 4-11, a mid is a true mid. 45 hour work week average. I can even pop a weekend off if I want. Two "sous chefs".

What would you all do?
I'd really like too hear both sides of the coin.

Love you all and thank you for the efforts and contributions we make to our industry and our tight knit community daily. Let's all have a successful weekend and beat the shit out of tomorrow night.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
Man, that's tough.  No matter what you wind up doing the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence.  As you're well aware the kind of job you have is pretty damned rare...a well-paying kitchen job that allows you to have a life.  Lots of folks would kill for that.  But I've been in jobs that were soul crushing, and when you do find yourself in one it's hard to find solace in the money.  Plus it's like the lyrics to the old Temple of the Dog song, Hunger Strike- "I don't mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadents.  But I can't feed on the powerless when my cup's already overfilled..."

I'm really at a loss to give you advice.  My current job is satisfying but I take quite an ass kicking at times.  Tonite we got pummeled and I'm literally aching in places I didn't know I had.  I'm paid decently but I haven't had back to back days off since I started here.

Guess I just wanted to say, "I feel ya man".
Joined Jan 17, 2015
ChefGraz I think life is too short to be doing something that makes you feel dead inside. I have done a job like that last year, it was paid great but I hated it with passion and wish I have never done it. I managed 3 months and left, I have been with them for 6 months before that, developing the menu witch was great but working there was like a sentence. My wife now tells me that she never saw me that unhappy ever since we got together. Every day I went to work I said to myself "One of these days it will be your last day there", now that is not a way to live I think.  6 months on the resume, who cares some jobs don't work out. Just as an example, at the moment I rent a kitchen in a pub and keep all the sales apart from percentage that I pay to the owner, I do 60-70 hours, go shopping on my motorcycle, 5 AM once/twice a week to the meat market, I wash up and do all MEP and make half of what I used to make at my last job but I am HAPPY. You can't buy that, I know what the sensible thing is to do but as I said before life is too short....
Joined May 5, 2010
Chef...welcome to ChefTalk firstly.

This is clearly something YOU need to work out on your own. No one can make the decision but you.

Yes, it is indeed a true crapshoot.

Do you sacrifice your professional standards or do you seek a more fulfilling life?

As Chefs we know what needs to be done in order to be happy with ourselves. Our lives are not complete otherwise.

I too am reminded of places I worked where sauces came from a powder mix or can, and the soups came in vacuum packed boil and serve bags, but I had a life, a wife, and a personal existence. That was 35 years ago.

Everyone on these forums has their own story. No two are alike. do you explain this kind of reasoning to a potential employer who only sees 6 months on a job on a resume?

Unless they themselves can identify with what you are going through, it is a tough deal.

I wish you well, and can only say again, that this is something only you can decide. Best of luck.
Joined May 23, 2015
Thank you for the feedback. I have to sleep on the decision making for a few more days. I have a few colleagues that are recruiters and I'm going to speak with them about the 6 month scenario since they deal with that on the daily. I want to be part of something real. Going shopping on a motorcycle sounds pretty bad ass!
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Quit! Ok, Quit after using your head looking for a new position. Don't worry about your 6 month gig at this restaurant, explain why at a interview. I was involved in 25 food services in my career. Most of those gave me the opportunity to grow, succeed and display my passion and skill. Most of those didn't give me or my family a quality home life. I needed to find balance so I could have my cake and eat it too. Im my case I did it outside the restaurant business getting into Corp feeding and catering. I owned a Food Service Management co and Catering business that gave me what I needed for my food passion fix. My suggestion to you is the same, find balance. Find a position that gives you both. You won't be happy unless you have a position with passion and lets you display your skills. Your girlfriend and you won't be happy with long hrs and not seeing each other. The best thing that ever happened to me was taking a position that I thought at the time was beneath me and my skills. I learned during this time that, It didn't matter where I was as long as I was able to be who I am, where I was. I always say, It's ok to be a big man in  small town as long as it's the small town your happy in...........Sometimes our life deserves a lot more thought than we give it........Good luck.............Chef Bill
Joined Nov 15, 2015
As a mentor of mine told me, "THE GRASS IS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE BECAUSE IT'S FERTILIZED WITH BULLSHIT" and my saying is suck it up princess. Cook that food to the best of your ability no matter what it is and take pride I it. This will rub off on your crew over time. Also sounds to me like you have a decent relationship with the GM/owner so you must have room to experiment with your own theories. Don't even get me started on the new menu that was made without my input at all.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi ChefGraz!

     Like any situation there are good and bad aspects. I was in a similar situation to yours although I was working two jobs. One was a private Country club doing really good food that required a person with advanced training and at night I was a more of a production manager that made twice as much money but served mediocre food. I was miserable and could not understand those dynamics. 

     You work for an international group? Well, how about changing location to another country! Any cuisines you would like to explore? With the down time you describe you would have ample opportunity to gain knowledge that could satisfy your culinary world as you see fit. I ended up rolling the dice and went to Germany for a three years then to Belgium for another six years. From Stuttgart, Ge I was less than two hours drive to Switzerland, Austria, and the Alsace region of France! Does your "group" have locations in Italy? Yum…

     If changing locations doesn't float your boat, use your time to get some education (do they have a plan to help pay for this?).

     Does your "group" even have a position you would be interested in? Find out the requirements and go for it!

     Make plans for what you would like to serve from your food truck! Come up with ten killer products eh…

     Make your business plan for opening a restaurant that would make you happy and thrill your customers! 

     Money flows to good ideas. If you have the passion and a plan, you can have what you want.

     As long as you leave a job on good terms with the employer, there should never be a problem with length of employment. In my early career, I left a management position to take a prep cook job at a Chinese restaurant to learn some details about that style of cuisine and how that type of kitchen is run. It worked out fine and I still got a letter of recommendation from my previous employer even though he really couldn't understand why I would leave for a lot less money. 

     Obvious to me that you are unable to be happy as things are now. Here is a little something to ponder…

     A young lady confidently walked around the room with a raised glass of water while leading a seminar and explaining stress management to her audience. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'Half empty or half full?' She fooled them all. "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

    Feeling "dead inside" is a lot of stress. Take a little time and a few deep breathes to refocus on your priorities in life and the answer will come to you!

    Good luck on your path!
Joined Feb 8, 2009
If I have learned anything in the 1/3 of a century I worked in food service it's. No one could pay me enough to do a Chefs job, I do it because I love it. When I got to the position that I couldn't enjoy my job any more there was nothing keeping me there. If you work as a Chef for the money you will never be happy. If you work this position because of the satisfaction you get from it, you will have a wonderful career.......It took me 18 years before the money fell into line with the career that I love. If I only chased the money all those years I don't know how it would have turned out. 
Joined May 23, 2015
Thank you a lot for that. My group has some locations through out Asia. Nothing in Italy! That would have been awesome. To fill everyone in, I connected with an old colleague that owns three restaurants in the hamptons and I think I may have landed an opportunity to take a pay cut, how ever still make a living. Things are looking good.
Joined Nov 15, 2015
When I'm in the restaurant i want to leave sometimes. But when I'm not i can't wait to fe back in it. I can barely have a normal conversation with someone outside food service.

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