how to deal with pressure?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by soesje, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. soesje

    soesje

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    at my new workplace, now working there since two months, pressure is being built up.

    at my last workplace things were too easy, as in, had not too many responsibilities and was mainly plating the garde manger things aside from cleaning and doing dishes.

    now I am pressured to start thinking again,work faster (turnover on a busy night is 90/ 120 guests in weekends), do more things at once.

    its confronting, and a challenge (which I was also seeking!! working on my next degree)

    I talked to my chef tonight that I felt like I was making many mistakes and not doing much right.

    he told me not to think about it too much but that they want us to be independent working and things running smoothly.

    and yet last week when I went home after work, I felt I was failing on many things. 

    nothing major…..I try to do my very best to meet the challenges, in a way its a good feeling.

    in other ways, not so much as I feel I am failing too often.

    how do I remember all that stuff every day again, it feels like its slipping through my fingers like sand.

    I love working there and in a way I love the pressure. 

    I feel I have to be on the tips of my toes every day, just don't want to fail :) 

    how did you all handle that when you were starting out, I'm just a year into all this, and so far I have learned lots and found a very good working place now finally, with a very driven team and a good teacher…..

    I'd love to read some comments and things to think about :) 
     
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  2. beastmasterflex

    beastmasterflex

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    The absence of criticism is a complement from a chef, they're not known for holding their tongues... at least not good ones.

    Your goal is to be able to make your body do what you need it to independent of your mind. Think of it as a Karate Kata. Each dish has a specific set of movements. Read the ticket and complete the actions call for by the dish, your mind will now be free and you will be able to reach your full potential.
     
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  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    I agree- there's a saying in America that says "no news is good news" meaning the absence of complaint is a compliment.  All you can do is your best.  If you fall short of the mark you have acknowledge it but not dwell on it.  You will get better with time and practice.  Dealing with pressure...well, that's complicated.  We all deal with stress in different ways.  I used to deal with it by getting profoundly drunk after each shift.  Now I have learned to "let it go" and not bring it home with me.  But it took me 25 years to reach that point!

    Best wishes to you!  I think you're on the right track.
     
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  4. soesje

    soesje

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    as far apart as we are, I feel you close to me.

    made me feel better.

    and you're right…..

    nail on the head and it opened my eyes to have to read it here before I realised.

    "no news is good news" (even in my country the expression is the same!)

    there are no complaints.

    there is criticism though, but more in a way of building up the pressure by reminding me of things.

    and they seem to come with 100.000 at a time LOL which brings most pressure for the moment.

    all the rest, I can deal with….so far.
     
  5. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Sometimes no news is NOT good news-- sometimes you have to sense there IS news youre not being told,

    then seek it OUT and rectify the problem.
     
  6. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I know it is hard....

    Prior to punching that clock on your way out consciously leave everything behind you.

    Not to say don't practice or piddle at home.

    Just remember that you cannot reverse time.

    What's done is done.

    The only solution is to learn from your mistakes (and I don't really think your oops are as bad as you perceive /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif  ) and carry on.

    mimi
     
  7. recky

    recky

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    I think you might be dealing with two different types of pressure simultaneously. There is the pressure that all of us are faced with working in a busy kitchen, i.e. processing tickets and getting perfect food out quickly and efficiently. Then you are under learning pressure, getting to grips with a new working environment and having to take on board things you have never done before. I know how hard it is - I've been there myself.

    The two types of pressure cannot be completely separated, as they can have a profound, detrimental effect on each other, where the stress of having to cope with a multitude of new things may completely bugger up those routines which you have already established.

    However, I think it's worth looking at it in this way, separating out problems and pressures and dealing with them one by one, i.e. taking an analytical approach. By establishing routines you will take a lot of pressure and fear out of your workload and it will enable you to stop thinking about your moves in the kitchen. Look at what the more experienced cooks in your kitchen are doing. You will find that they all have their moves and routines worked out. When the menu changes, you will see that they are desperate to establish new routines as quickly as possible.

    I'm the sole chef in a small kitchen that can get very busy very unpredictably, and to me it feels as though it's 90% concentration/10% skill, but obviously that skill is ingrained in me through experience. But I know that if I'm tired, hung over or just not quite "there" and my concentration level drops off, I will invariably experience more stress than I should, because I end up making mistakes, running to and fro because I've forgotten something, or needlessly extending ticket times because I can't concentrate on processing multiple tickets at the same time.

    Starting out in a new kitchen is always difficult at the best of times, but as long as you've got your head screwed on you will be OK eventually. It takes time. And while you're still learning the ropes in a new job, I do not recommend you practice at home or even brood over it once you get home. Get some rest and quality time away from the source of your stress!

    Cheers,

    Recky
     
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  8. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    That IS the trick isn't? Cuz it does tend to invade your days, nights and dreams--just what stress does.

    And it can be fed and grow like a wild animal...or a virus. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  9. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Sure, that's true- but you can normally tell if someone isn't complaining because you're not worth their time.  I don't get the sense that that is the case.  In any event all you can do it try, be mindful and present in the moment and just try to "get in the zone" as best you can.
     
  10. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Oh, i have felt the same way when i started working. 

    Then one day a line cook put up her notice the next day i was responsible for 11 new dishes, when i was only responible for producing 3 XD. 

    The first 2 days were horrible. 

    The first month my timing was off on everything, until one day my chef decided i needed to focus. I knew the menu, i knew what i needed to do, and thats when i began to organize. and literally started thinking on what could be done faster and how it could be done faster. I wanted to be faster, that day i sent food out faster...my chef was so proud lolol because it was the fastest she had seen me work.

    Luckily or unluckily this past year i have worked with chefs who do not bite their tongues (but had horrible experience at some restaurants i really want to forget) <_<. 

    I think its just a matter of getting into the groove.

    Your last job, as you stated had you doing less things and having less responsibility. 

    Now that you may just have to put in more effort it feels abit strange becase the work load, and tactics on a daily basis differs from what you were previosuly used to. 

    In my opinion its a matter of adaptation. Just not giving up is a great way to start. 

    You felt you were making mistakes, but even small ones happen on a daily basis. That and your chef isnt complaining, and in this business criticism is almost the best next thing to compliments lol. 

    You are aware of the situation and want to do better. That is already great news. 

    Remember what doesnt kill you can only make you stronger. 

    Hope everything works out, you deserve it. 
     
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  11. soesje

    soesje

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    well I DO fiddle about at home. But thats just because I actually want to be able to do MY thing and work out new dishes or recipes. Which I can't do at work.

    but I am taking small steps to learn to deal with the pressure.

    sleep enough. (even take naps on days off)

    eat well. take extra vitamins to support the body with all the stress…. and the lack of daylight (vit b complex and vit d)

    and making sure I also do things that are NOT work related at all…. put more time in my hobbies and try to meet people.

    things are taking turns, this week went well (had a 120 plus night yesterday) and someone suggested that maybe in the future I should think about working with people with disabilities.

    as in kind of coaching them in a kitchen.

    not that I think I am ready to be a chef at all, if ever.

    but it sure would bring more statisfaction to my job to enable others to have a job and give them support and teach them things.

    I love sharing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  12. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Well I don't think it's the case in Soesje's case no, I was more talking about mine. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif  

    And not a matter of not being worth their time so much as not wanting to wait around

    for them to take some kinda of action without bothering to give any kind of verbal indication

    theres a problem on their mind.

    And everyone learns at different rates--personally (though no one seems to "get it" ) I have this

    weird learning curve, I learn, learn, learn, then get really craapy again for a while, then.....

    **KAPOW!!**, the lights come on and I have it. Its been that way with EVERY complex task Ive tried to

    learn, from driving, to flying, to learning a cookline. The trick has always been to get those doing the

    training to just....wait it out.

    Sorry Soesje, didn't mean to jack your thread. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smiles.gif
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  13. recky

    recky

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     I think it is the trick, and yet I'm frequently guilty of not sticking to it. I love reading cook books in my spare time, but more often than not it sets me off working, at least mentally. And while it's one of the most fun elements of my job (coming up with new dishes for my ever-changing menu), it keeps my mind occupied with work-related things. On the other hand, I also love cooking stuff I can't serve in my restaurant with my girlfriend on my day off. I don't consider that a work-related activity at all. It's bonafide time away from work.

    Cheers,

    Recky
     
  14. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Oh im going to jack the thread but just for one post lol. 

    So when i get stressed, apperently life gives me all sorts of problems. 

    2 days ago, im stressing about something completely unimportant that i cant even remember. 

    Go to the fridge, and as i go for the carton of milk behind a container i pull it out so fast the container falls and SPLAT!!  , cooked beans all over my leg, crocs, and floor. 

    Well i go and clean it up, and the stress only builds, im swearing, annoyed and that only added to the negativety. Well after the mess is clean, i get my milk, get my cookies, put them all in a cup and crush them (i like to eat them that way) and go sit down. The moment i bend my knees to sit , the cup for some odd reason (i blame my lazy hands) turn and milk pours on me...

    I was so annoyed and literally ready just to throw everything in the trash and go to bed. Well cleaned up another mess, and go eat my food. 

    When im done i go put the dishes in the sink and as i turn my arm smacks a cup, and it shatters into pieces <_< (thirds times the charm i suppose). Well another mess cleaned and all this happened in a matter of 20 minutes... everytime something bad happened i would only get more annoyed, more stressed, curse more, and well it really didnt do me any good. 

    I suppose its the same thing in a kitchen. The more you stress, in many cases can cause you to make mistakes, the more mistakes you cause the more stress you become, and the circle never seems to end until either service ends, or you take 2-5 minutes to calm the heck down. Stress can either keep you on your toes, and make you fumble entirely, i prefer to not be stressed, in or out of the kitchen, but oh well im only human i suppose. 

    Anyway soesje im glad to hear your day went well, and i think your on the right track, as well as appreciating your days off as much as possible. 

    Like i said, its simply a groove. Whenever i start work at a new place im always in that funk, takes me quite awhile before i get into that groove. Doesnt mean though that i dont have my bad days or my bad week LOL. 

    But dont worry, from the restaurant door out, everything that happened stays behind and you are a completely different person. 

    Hope i helped lol. 

    Glad to know i helped you too Meez :D

    Sorry for the thread jacking, but i thought it would be funny showing the cluster of bad events that happened to me because of stress lol... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif  
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  15. beastmasterflex

    beastmasterflex

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    Think of working the line as being in a foxhole during an assault. You do not leave your foxhole, you make sure your guns are clean your foxhole is deep and you have plenty of ammo. Everyone depends on each other to hold their part of the line. Someone that leaves their foxhole to get ammo, doesn't have a clean weapon, loses their cool etc. puts everyone on the line at risk. Kitchen life is war! Your brothers in arms need to know that the enemy will not breach your part of the line, no matter what. Sure people say "hey it's only food" but its not, its peoples livelihoods, its peoples honor, not to mention the customers that save their money for one special meal on rare occasions. I've had stitches in my hand, taken a savage beating on the way to work and gone back to work, not for my boss, not for the restaurant, but for the guys I was in the trenches with, you CANNOT let them down.
     
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  16. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Nice example Beast XD
     
  17. soesje

    soesje

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    hi guys, I am totally happy you hyack the thread and share your thoughts and experiences.

    its really good to read Kai's example what stress can do to a person, totally can relate!

    and how your mind can just keep going when you're home and do work related stuff because you love cookbooks and come up with new ideas as Recky said, too.

    and yet, we have to learn to take care of ourselves and find a way through the maze of all that, to just stay healthy and keep going in this business.

    thank you all for sharing. 

    I had a very good week, tonight the best night of all, because it was all us relative newbies going on with chef during service, instead of the others of the crew with more years on their sleeves….

    so good then to hear at the end of service that we did very well and he was happy. :) 

    it's like having a cookie……and more …. 
     
  18. linecook854

    linecook854

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    Soesje,

    Your feeling of screwing up or not doing anything right is something that all cooks feel in a new place. It's called FNG (f***ing new guy). Even skilled cooks with years of experience placed into a new kitchen won't do something as well or speedy as someone with far less experience who do it day in day out . For example, at my first kitchen job I worked garde manger and I always felt like I was too slow or not excellent at my station. Then one day when I had to fill in for a prep cook our head chef who was excellent on saute was slow and fumbling on GM. I saw his plates going out half as good looking as mine and at one sixth the speed. At the same job when I was low man on the totem pole on the line (fry station) everyone would give me a hard time if something was taking too long or if I was getting flustered. One day our sous chef who was incredibly cocky had to work fry on a Friday and it was a disaster, his ticket times were insanely slow and he was dropping stuff, plates were sloppy and he just looked like a fish out of water. At the end of his shift he looked me right in the eyes (He 43 years old and about 6'2" and 25 years experience cooking and me 19 years old and 1 year experience cooking) and said "I have no idea have you do this 6 nights a week". It was then I realized that even if you feel like you are not doing well just remember that you do play an important role in the kitchen, sometimes it just takes a change of scenery for the cooks around you to realize how the ship sinks when you aren't there.

    For me "pressure" was never the actual work, it was the feeling of not being good enough or feeling like I don't contribute to the team. Being low man on the totem pole can eat you alive especially when you really care about cooking well. Now I look back as a sous chef and it all makes sense, it just takes time and experience. Get through the pressure and stress and if you really care about cooking everything else will fall into place with time and experience.
     
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  19. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    You know, at the end of the day, its never going to be a negative comment that's going to drag you down. The self nagging doubt in the back of your head is what's doing it. Unfortunately, negative feedback will back that up, otherwise one would just shake it off. Best way to deal with it is to accept positive and negative feedback neutrally and remember, just like pain and pleasure, it is only a measure. Don't let the negative self talk do your head in.
     
  20. soesje

    soesje

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    you're so absolutely right.

    and thats enough already to get you going.

    someone recently told me about learning "helicopter view".

    that you look at things and see how they are going from a distance in your mind.

    do the same at the end of the day to see where you can improve.

    slowly learning to let go and not hang in what went wrong, is something I'm learning right now.

    as I'm already critical on my work, thats a good thing, too.