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Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Michael Quintana, Apr 16, 2018 at 3:31 PM.
How may hours on average should an Executive Chef work during busy season per week?
As much or more than his/her staff.
The Executive Chef should be there when he/she needs to be there. This person is hired to make sure his/her staff is doing their job. If you don't hire back stabbing people who run to the HR Dept all day long they'll be fine. The Exec isn't there to babysit. The better management team you have the better the operation runs. The business dictates the amount of time a manager should spend in any operation.
The answer is you need to be there as much as you need to be there. I don't know your full circumstance as you don't give a lot of information, but you say busy season. Is this a seasonal resort or in a resort town? If so, most chefs I know in "seasonal" situations work on average about 60 hours a week and on many weeks a whole lot more.
I dunno, BillyB.
How the (deleted) do you command respect of your team if you don't work as hard or harder than them? Isn't that what an exec. Chef should do? Lead his/her team based on respect, which is a cornerstone of leadership? I've worked for chefs who use fear and threats, sh*tty chef, sh*tty working atmosphere.
You're right though, an exec shouldn't babysit. H/she should be able to anticipate problems and deal with small issues before they become big ones.
You can't do this if you don't put in the hours.
People think the more hours you work the more needed or important they must be. I feel the smarter you are, the better you hire, will result in working less hours. Respect from your crew is making sure you and your management team are there to help them accomplish their goals. There are times during the day when you have all hands on deck. The Exec Chef doesn't have to be there to watch managers manage their crew. The Exec Chef s/b the manager of managers. Being a good manager is making sure your employees have the tools and experience they need to accomplish their job and your vision. A good manager trains and helps those people until they feel comfortable accomplishing those skills.
My feeling is most Chefs run scared and work more hours than they have to. They are afraid to give to much responsibility to their lower management so they don't take their jobs. This isn't a way to manage, it's running scared everyday of your life....
Every food service is different but, if a Chef of any kind is working 70 hours a week they aren't managing anyone. They are either bad managers or scared shit they have to be seen and get all the credit for the success of the operation.....
When people ask me how many hours I work a week, I tell them as much as I need too. No more and no less. I have found the more experience I have gained, the less I work. My first Executive Chef Job I worked 70 - 80 hours a week, but as I became a better manager and better leader my work hours dropped. As I became a better Chef, I also had to became a better spouse and a better parent.
Thanks for your reply BillyB.
You're the chef, your lead cook needs to go on emergency leave. Do you schedule your second cook to work 5 consecutive 12 hrs shifts/or split shifts while you clock out at 7.5 hrs every day? Or do you put in one or two long days/split shifts so the second cook doesn't have to work 5 consecutive loong days?
One of the reasons I did it when i was chef/owner was because the bottom line was located in the depths of my pocket.
I certainly wasn't scared, didn't have to be seen, nor did I need to get all the credit...LOL, I was also hard to replace because I couldn't afford to pay anyone what I was worth! :~)
Meh. When I owned my business, I never spent more than 50 hrs/week in the kitchen. The other 35 hrs were spent doing deliveries, repairing equipment, and purchasing....
In that same vein, I come to work Saturday morning facing 5 dinners with a total of 3,000 dinners, each meal is different. Dinner service went well on all parties. Now the clean-up begins. Cooks are on hourly, so they have to clean the kitchen spotless and do the closing chores. The dishpit is the one taking the hardest hit at 10:00 pm while the last of the dinner dishes come in. I can't leave. No way. I finish my paperwork, remove my Chef's coat and get in the pit to help the guys. We finish at 2:00 am
I go home get some sleep and am back to work for Sunday Brunch.
As many hours as it takes. That's my job.
When I interpret my vision of what an Exec Chef is I think of want a GM is to a Hotel. I look at a Exec Chef as the Manager of managers. If your not doing this then I look at that person being a Chef. My vision of a Exec Chef could be in charge multi unit operations, Hotel Exec Chefs with Restaurants and catering halls. In most cases I look at a Chef who runs a kitchen with a few cooks and pantry people as "The Chef"....Not Exec Chef....Again my vision of the Exec Chef has a Sous, lead cooks and may maybe even people in charge of pantry and catering.
Lets say you have a normal Friday Dinner service in a fine dining restaurant . I have my Sous and lead cooks working, in fact everyone worth there stuff is working on Friday night. I would put myself on the waitstaff side of the pass through calling out and coordinating orders and setting them up for the waitstaff and walking the dining room when I could get away. My Sous and lead cooks are working the line. As soon as it slows down I'm gone. My Sous stays through the service and helps the kitchen close. On slower nights the Sous may leave and the lead cook will close with the other cooks. This all depends on the size of the operation and the trust and experience of my line cooks......
Foodpump, the Hypothetical Question IMHP is a scenario more aimed at a Chef run kitchen. As a Chef in all my kitchens I ran the line with my cooks. There are times when someone got hurt or had to take a few days off. My cooks would come to me with their ideas on covering the shift. I would then take up the slack if the hours got to be to crazy. I always liked my cooks to make it their idea of how this may work. My question to them was, this is the problem how can we all take some hours and not make any one person work a crazy amount of hours. I also never scheduled a person to work the night shift and then double back the next morning.
The OP asked the amount of hours for an Executive Chef. Again, My vision of what that is is a Chef Manager that manages managers.
I also feel the Executive Chef title is thrown around to much. I'm thinking out business will come up with a new name soon as everyone is now an Executive Chef. I'm thinking "God Chef" will come close.......I also feel many Chefs are afraid of giving up to much responsibility in fear of that person taking their position. I hear a lot of Chefs saying they worked 70 or 80 hours last week. My answer would be " There better be a good reason why" or else your insecure in your job.
The scenario can easily be changed to reflect one of a manager of managers. You are Executive Chef of a hotel property. One of your managers needs to go on emergency leave...
Not trying to snarky or argumentative, just curious about different viewpoints of members.
I'll answer this question by saying it this way. My feeling are the Exec Chef of a large operation should not put themselves in a set position to keep them from performing their own duties. It may be possible to oversee the other managers position from a distance. It could be possible to take a key person under that manager to watch things while the manager is gone. Unless we have all the details it's hard to give an exact answer.
I know the answer your looking for is the obvious. My point is you don't want to hurt the whole operation by cementing yourself in a corner and divorcing yourself from the whole operation. If there are other alternatives then I would take those.....This isn't about being to lazy or feeling it's below the Exec Chef to work a shit. It's all about looking at doing whats best for the whole operation.
Well,yeah, I totally agree that a Chef should do what's best for the entire operation.
I just don't know how you can command the respect of your subordinates if the Chef ( exec or otherwise) works a 8-3:30 m-f, and lets his staff work 1-close every night, as well as on call for bqting. From my experiences of the last 35 yrs, this scenerio usually results in nothing good for the kitchen, it's morale, or its food cost.
Foodpump, The only reason I worked long hours in any of my operations was because of the lack of quality help. If I have a quality Sous and front line cooks I'm home free. First of all I never said I would work 8 to 3:30. First of all I don't wake up until 9AM and my Tee time is at 1:30....KIDDING!!!.......I'm just saying the goal is to get good people into your operation, pay them well and keep them happy. In the past most kitchens overworked the cooks, paid them shit wages and expected a lot out of them.
Man, I wish I had the solution to this! I've worked with "office chefs" that tried like hell to keep it to banker's hours. That doesn't seem to work in my little corner of the real world. It almost goes without saying that most line cooks don't fully grasp all the stuff the Chef does that they never see- stuff like the order, performance evaluations, inventory, creating menus, research, schedules and paperwork, etc. But to them if you're not there in front of them on the line you're not working. So I do think it's hard to command the respect of your crew if it appears to them that you're not working as hard as they are.
But does that mean 75 hours a week? I'd say it's complicated.
Certainly Billy has a great point- the Chef isn't just a line cook that's salaried and works the hours of two people. If you're running it that way as a chef you're probably not doing your job right and it's not sustainable. Seriously, get two line cook jobs and make more money with less stress! A Chef should be delegating and floating "above the fray". You can't be in the trenches all the time. You'll lose sight of the forest for all the trees.
But unless you do own the place it might be hard to hit labor numbers if you're not pulling at least some weight in the kitchen. Again, depending on the kind of place you're at of course.
Of course, if you turn the phrase " a chef( boss, superior, commanding officer, etc.) should work as hard, or harder than his/her subordinates", you turn that phrase 180 degrees around, it can also mean that a chef has managed and organized his kitchen to the point that all the subordinates work 7.5 hrs a day, same as the chef....
My feeling is, the reason we have to be in the kitchen working so many hours is because were dealing with an employee base that can't be trusted. If we aren't in or near the "Front line" we could loose our reputation. To sum this up, we babysit a bunch of employees that can't be trusted to work alone and not be supervised. I don't know any other industry this happens.
Probably because this is the only industry I know of that pays crap wages, probably because this is the only industry I know of in N. America that doesn't have recognized qualifications for its workers.....