How to soften up a "bull in a china shop" line cook?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by linecook854, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. linecook854

    linecook854

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    So the owner hired a decent line cook, 7 or so years experience. He doesn't have much technique or solid fundamental skills but has a pretty good attitude, is hard working and takes direction decently. Only problem is he is a bull in a china shop for a lack of better words. He's a big guy with a loud outgoing personality and seems to be worth keeping but needs some pushing in the right direction.

    When I told him to make a stock he threw in a fistful of peppercorns and about a dozen bay leaves (had to laugh at that one).

    He took the initiative to get a sauteed veal in the pan while I was away from the line but put so much flour on it I couldn't sell it.

    Told him to mince onions for risotto and got 4 onions cut into huge quarter sized pieces.

    Asked for chantilly whipped to soft peaks and got cream nearly churned into butter (the look on his face was priceless)

    Made a server sauteed spinach for herself and he threw so much garlic in the pan I almost gagged, also scorched it. LOL

    Had him form some burger patties and he was borderline arm-wrestling them haha

    Thinks penne al a vodka is the fanciest thing ever...

    Like I said he seems to be able to take direction once I show him but clearly he needs refining. I absolutely need a grill cook and his temps are accurate so I need him and no other applications coming my way look promising. He has a lot of experience in high volume turn and burns (think I saw the outback and a local cheap steak house that does a crazy amount of covers) so he's fast and hardworking (will scrub the sh*t out of the floors and grill station at closing time and just bangs out menial tasks like dishwashing, potato peeling and scrubbing oysters).

    How should I go about teaching someone like this? He's motivated and I'm willing to put in the effort because I know I can get what I need out of him on grill.
     
  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Don't tell him, show him piece by piece, one step at a time exactly what you want. Sounds like there is potential there so be sure to take your time and be thorough in which case your efforts should pay off with a good employee.

    He has 7 years of experience so  he is probably in the business for the long haul which is definitely a plus. That fact coupled with  a good attitude and strong work ethic is a major part of the battle when trying to find quality employees.

    I will take those diamonds in the rough all day long.
     
  3. soesje

    soesje

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    uhm…..different point of view.

    agree with the above, BUT…..what was the job interview like?

    how come that someone with 7 years experience in kitchens , has so little basic skills like you just described?

    even when working on turn and burns etc.

    so yes keep an eye on him and correct him where needed, step by step teach him basic skills.

    he sure sounds like a good help for the moment and with some guidance only can grow.
     
  4. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    I've never worked at an Outback but I've eaten there.  You may be able to work there for 10 years without ever doing any meaningful cooking except actually cooking the steaks.  A lot of chains seem to utilize a ton of premade stuff; he may never have cooked basic foods from scratch.
     
  5. linecook854

    linecook854

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    I didn't interview nor hire him, the owner did, so I have to take his word that he interviewed well.

    As far as working for 7 years at turn and burns I can tell you he's about average. I'm guessing you, like I have pretty much exclusively worked in more upscale places where technique and and food knowledge were expected. After being exposed to casual restaurants and now have to manage the kitchen of one I can tell you kitchen people's lack of knowledge doesn't baffle me anymore, I expect it. The types of people coming out of turn and burns and chains don't surprise me at all, simply because the standards are not there so why expect them to know anything other than what they've done previously? They simply are not professional, classically trained (or even motivated) people but unfortunately those are the types of applications coming in and I have no one other choice when I need someone to work a station (can't work 2 stations every single night by myself).

    I'm learning at the sous level that being a chef means managing what you have to work with, not what you want.
     
    workaholic likes this.
  6. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/2005/03/index.html

    I followed this link offered to the 18 year old who had quit school with hopes of becoming a chef without the insane hours.

    Eggbeater (her/his name escapes me) has strong opinions on our duty to teach those coming up behind us.

    The old "keep it by giving it away" chestnut.

    Many valid points (easier to teach good skills than have to beat the bad habits out later) that kept me reading.

    Gives a glimpse into the teaching styles of a handfull of successful (think Thomas Keller) chefs.

    Suggest you follow the descriptor search terms as the blog was started in 2005 and the posts re teaching were way more recent.

    OBTW....I totally agree with keeping this guy.

    Work ethic cannot be taught ......

    mimi
     
  7. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    kudos!!!
     
  8. apprentichef

    apprentichef

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    Chef Shuna Lyndon, and she rocks my world with her attitude and posts.

    As to the OP's question, more than likely he's coming from mediocre places that taught him to do one thing only. Looks like this guy has lots of potential for a patient teacher. Heck, he sounds about twenty times better than the mouth breathers I get stuck with that are there for a day or more before dropping out.
     
  9. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    If you need someone  on grill , which in itself is already such a responsible station and this guy can get temps flat and doesnt get fumbled by the wave of tickets, i say take him in....

    He may have 7 years of experience but doesnt mean he may have made the food or worked with the ingredients one place works with just ebcause of that. 

    If he seems to be fast doing certain tasks , that itself is already useful to anyone in the kitchen. 

    I say take him in , and train him step by step on how you want certain tasks to be done. 

    Make sure he knows he can ask questions and ask for help. 

    Also make sure to ask him some questions on his past experience and what he has done and hasnt done in his cooking career. 

    Reagrdless by what you posted seems like he has enough potential. 

    You can teach technique and show them how to do certain tasks, but you cant give them strong work ethic and drive.