Kitchen coup d'etat

Joined Jun 4, 2016
Evening all, I thought I would share a recent experience with you and see what people think, was it the right thing to do?

I've been in the game for almost 20 years, so am no spring chicken and been working as sous chef for two years alongside the head chef, who I would say we became friends as well as professional work colleagues. About 9 months ago, he was caught by his Mrs cheating with another woman, well sending dick pics etc, his girlfriend was three months from giving birth to their second child and suffers depression.

He also has a serious cannabis problem, where he will have three joints before work, even when on breakfast and go out for a spliff or two in the afternoon also. To be honest, I've never seen him sober and he became a mess. Ordering was haywire, running out of the same things each week, wasting the same things, couldn't seem to get it right. Often rocked up late, was incredibly lazy, always left huge amounts of prep for us to do on his days off and never did any deep cleaning.

Whenever he was working, service was always debilitatingly slow and his quality was inconsistent. Further more, he became very angry at the drop of a hat, once threatening to 'smash the face in' of a 17 years old waitress for making a mistake on an order. On one occasion, he thought we were talking about him (weed paranoia) and starting kicking off and eventually just went home, wish I could do that when I wanted! People rejoiced when they found out he was off and momentum grew to push him out.

6 weeks ago, the owner had me in the office and offered me his job, I'm quite mild mannered and would have nothing to do with the plot. The situation spiralled and every day became unbearable until two days ago, the boss, the other two chefs and I had a meeting. We did an anonymous vote by putting a yes or no card in an envelope, each card said yes, he had to go, the next flare up and he would be sacked.

I felt so bad for him as he has many problems, including financial issues, but these are self-inflicted as he's on 30 grand a year. The next day, he came in and was in a terrible mood, the bad vibes were flowing, the first thing he said to me was having a whinge at something I didn't do, so I told him where to go and I wouldn't cooperate. He stormed up to the boss expecting him to reprimand me, only to get sacked.

Never seen anything like this in all my years, a complete sociopath but I also feel that we may have stitched him up, however much it was deserved. What are we saying, can I sleep easy tonight or should I be riddled with guilt?

Do your worst!

Joined Dec 23, 2004
This is not a coup d'etat.  That would be up insurrection, and uprising, trying to usurp control.  The owner owns the place and calls the shots, period.  It sounds like the chef isn't doing a good job, has been underperforming for years and would know it deep down if he wasn't on dope all the time.  Friend or not he's in a pickle completely of his own making.  If you feel any professional loyalty you owe it to the owner, not the chef.

Sometimes a Sous is Sous for a reason.  S/he may just be waiting for their shot but some people would rather be 2nd in command instead of Chef.  Believe me, there's nothing wrong with that!  The Exec has a lot more weight on his or her shoulders for not a lot more money.  But if you feel like you're ready and want to take on an Exec job this seems like a great opportunity.  The staff already knows you and considers you "in charge" so the step to Exec should be smooth.

This is probably the situation as often as not.  For every smooth, well-run kitchen in the world there are five Kitchen-Nightmare-type places.

Provided there are no huge red flags or deal breakers at your job, your taking the Exec job will probably be the smoothest, best scenario for everyone involved.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
By all means take the job with no guilt. You earned it. He earned losing it. Someday he'll sober up and realize that but whether he does or not is not your concern. 
Joined Jun 4, 2016
Thanks for that, Phaedrus you have summed up the situation very well. I have been quite happy to play second fiddle but the situation couldn't carry on. Everyone is keen for me to step up (except myself) but I'll have to see how it goes and try and make it work. One thing is for sure, it won't be any worse than it has been!
Joined Apr 17, 2006
You shouldn't feel guilty. Management should have had the balls to sack the guy without everyone having to vote on it. The only involvement should have maybe been your opinion on his quality of work. If he was a long term employee and this behavior developed recently, I could see management asking you discreetly if you knew of any reason for the behavior. This usually happens when they want to retain a valuable employee that may be having temporary or resolvable issues, such a health issues. In this guy's case, they might have given him an ultimatum to get into substance abuse treatment if he wanted to keep his job. He made his own bed, and you have to look at the whole picture. The people who work there rely on their jobs, and his performance affects their jobs. He was being selfish by jeopardizing the livelihood of everyone there, including you. Everyone else is working hard, and this guy negates their hard work by wrecking the place. No, you can feel sorry for him, but you are guilty of nothing except trying to improve the place and help see that it stays open.

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