I can't get the chef to train me.

Joined Oct 13, 2010
I've been working at the same bar since January when it first opened, after some shake ups in our kitchen staff the chef offered to train me on the middle station and allow me to work it on one or two slow nights a week.  However he is unwilling to change the schedule around so he has only allowed me to train on Thursdays which can get very busy in this season (the leaf watchers).  Today will be the third Thursday that he has scheduled me to work the middle station, but i suspect he will end up pushing me off and making me go on the backup station (that has happened every thursday the second business starts to pick up). He also insists on standing right next to me while he is training me, he will call tickets and start to fire food, but not communicate with me what he is doing.

I've tried to talk to him about this and even requested to work that station on a monday or tuesday, but he has yet to change the schedule (i think copy and paste is too convenient).  I've tried to trade stations with the lead line on a slow night, but he wont budge.  Does anyone have any advise/suggestions on how to deal with this situation.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Yes. Stop suggesting things. 

Try to remember that you're there to make chef's job easier and not vice versa.  Just do your best during your opportunities on the line, and when you get pushed off go back to doing whatever it is you do that makes the kitchen run best and try to pay attention to what's happening on the hot line -- so next time you can do better.

Practice whatever skills you lack as much as you can.  Practice tossing rice in a saute pan for instance.  If you can toss rice in the driveway, you can toss anything over a flame. 

Cook at home every dinner or lunch you're not at home.  Alternate eating steak, chicken breast, and fish every night until you can press-test for med-rare and get it right EVERY TIME.

Grill a lot -- over very high heat -- and learn to get your hands in and out without burning them.  Don't use long handled tongs or a spat. Quick and deft is better.  

Practice working with HOT pans.  You don't have the same kind of stove so you're going to have to preheat.  Learn to get fat in the pan and immediately follow it with aromatics and/or protein.  Don't stand around and admire the oil smoking.  It's bam BAM.

Learn to cook the menu at home.  Fresh fish, if your restaruant does it, is usually the hardest thing to get right.  Then maybe cooking chicken breast through without drying it out.  Invest in a decent carbon steel or cast iron skillet and practice speed basting fish and chicken -- if your place does sauteed versions of either.  Get a fish spat.

Learn to be clean and organized.  Clean and wipe your board A LOT.

Sharpen your knives every day on bench stones until you're a great sharpener.  That's not only useful for you individually, it's an asset in any kitchen.  When you're good, sharpen the boss's knife set. 

Come in on your off days and just hang out for an hour, watch and listen (with your mouth shut). 

Working the hot line is an endless stream of taste, season, touch, turn, flip, baste, and so on.  Nothing very complicated by itself.  The difficult part is being able to keep everything organized in your head and timed on the stove so you keep all the sequences going and don't forget anything while the orders are flying in faster than anyone could cook them -- especially you.  

Buy everyone a beer now and then.  Ask questions about "how."  Hold off on "why" for awhile. 

Your time will come.  In the meantime try to remember it's not about you.

Good luck,

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