Managing Anger in the Kitchen

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by nicko, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    ChefTalk has a rare opportunity to have Anger Management Specialist Lynette Hoy of www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com address specific issues chefs face when dealing with anger in the kitchen. Would you please take a moment to respond and let us know what anger issues you deal with in the kitchen that you would like to get more information on how to deal with professionally.


    Thanks for your time.
     
  2. rivitman

    rivitman

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    I am not always able to maintain a cool head.

    Negligence, lack of due dilligence, or concern, or failure to follow my instructions are triggers, but this usually only occurs in the heat of battle, when we are really up against a serious deadline. The rest of the time, I have to engage in a lot of prodding and prompting to get things done, and this distracting and repetitive necessity sets a bad omen for things to come. This constant correction especially on tasks where I instructed and mentord previously raises my blood pressure.

    I never usually become angry with anyone who I estimate is doing the best they can. But absent that and it's drill sgt time. I speak very clearly, and my words are unmistakeable, and woe to those that disregard them.

    My intention is never to harrass and intimidate, but I AM angry. When I bring in someone new, I explain this to them. We a different people when not under the gun. Some understand, some don't. I simply do not have time for the understanding and instructive approach; I need what I need, and NOW.

    Few of my cooks and dishwashers, even after much prodding, can see the big picture of the production day, and instead want to zone out on thier own tasks. This is entirely unhelpful. My job is to bring all those pieces together, and absolute cooperation and total adherance to my wishes are required. I try to bring them in on it, explain things in detail, and it usually does little good.

    I'm not going to say that yelling at the help is justified. It's that after all this time, when push comes to shove, it's the only way I know of to get people moving.
     
  3. andrew563

    andrew563

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    My biggest anger point , when I ask, instruct, or tell someone to do something, and its not done. I feel my temper go from zero to a hundred and fifty in a matter of seconds. Example, the other night my sous and I were hammering it out on the line, the rest of the crew was prepping/dishing, I called for pasta to the line. They just stood there. I finally yelled"I need pasta to the line, NOW!!!" Then they moved. I wasn't feeling that they should jump because the "Chef" spoke. They should of jumped because we needed pasta to keep the tickets moving, which keeps the guests fed, which brings them back. There is times when I want to become the screaming, angry tyrant that I absolutely have hated to work for.
     
  4. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe Gordon Ramsay should spend a few weeks with Lynette. :)

    I got angry at waitstaff more than anything.
     
  5. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I would really appreciate hearing from other chefs on this matter. Please take a moment and add your thoughts on this important matter.
     
  6. ma facon

    ma facon

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    I don't get mad, But I do get frustrated when front of the house staff asks the same questions over and over and they have worked there for years. They don't take the time to educate themselves. I always get the answer-It's not my job/responsability, Or similar excuse.
     
  7. n00bchef

    n00bchef

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    Well, I am not a chef (yet) in a professional capacity, but I have on multiple occasions organized, setup and cooked for parties of people ranging from 5-60 guests...

    When I am responsible for these, I go out of my way to make sure that the menu is well rounded, and that the quality and taste is superb... And making sure of this means doing it my way.

    Probably the only time I experience anger or frustration in these situations is when I catch someone doing "shortcuts" to get to the product finished "faster". (Things like using dashes of a spice as opposed to the measured amount, things like sauteing items well before they should be cooked, or just not following the exact directions in general.)

    All of these situations happen during "show time" and in this time I cannot afford to back track and put the other 10 things I am doing at the same time on hold.

    I hope that helps, I am probably not fully qualified to respond to this in terms of the "scope" of what you are adressing here... I look forward to seeing this develope.

    -Jason
     
  8. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    The biggest thing that ticks me off is stupidity! It is one thing to screw up because you didn't know better, it is a whole other thing to screw up because you weren't paying attention or just didn't care enough. Also cooks who don't care don't usually stay around too long. I don't have the time, or the patience to deal with someone who just doesn't care about the food. If you are just here to "make a buck" go find a factory job. I don't need you and chances are you will p*** me off in the worst way. I one time had a guy tell me I "needed to relax" as we were falling behind in plating a large wedding party. He didn't show up the next day, after my "little chat" with him.

    I am a very hot headed person, by nature so sometimes it is difficult for me to not let my anger rule my actions. I think anger can be a very effective managment tool if it is not used overly often, but allow it to surface too often and it becomes ineffective, people just view you as a crazy, ill-tempered chef, but use it only once in awhile and you can very effectively get your point across.
     
  9. crazytatt

    crazytatt

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    My life philosophy is: Avoid conflict, with calm, poise, and balance.

    I try to keep it in mind ALL THE TIME! My only pet peve is throwing things in my kitchen. Iggnorance is also a blood preasure raiser...but I still maintain my cool. I can count on 1 hand the times I've gone off on someone in the kitchen.

    I feel the best way to manage anger, is going in the walkin/freezer, and screaming your bloody head off!:D
     
  10. blueschef

    blueschef

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    I feel that part of anger management starts with the hiring/interviewing process. Kind of like preventive maintance. If you interview well, ask the right questions and provide a clear outline of what you expect from an employee (FOH and BOH). Furthermore, you have to use your judgement to gauge the potential employees motivation and dedication.
    BTW I agree with what has been writen here by the other chefs. Our job can be very frustrating and does require different types of emotions for different events and people.
     
  11. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    I've got incredible front of the house coordinator that knows that I get really really quiet to just look at the written directions and timelines before asking me a question.....she knows how I want things and is just a joy to work with...self-motivated very hard worker, who buffers when I start critiquing an event....there is no event that is without edit....always. She is gold and I make sure she has a bonus after big events....send her home with food, or wine....and praise.

    The last time I lost it was when one of my staff edited my equipment list and left a needed pan at the kitchen....I sent him back to get it....we had time but I gotta tell you that pisses me off.

    Just went to a conference with ISES on timelines...oh man was it great. Sivek from Chicago who does massive events came down and went through the how toos and gave out an outline. It was really great to see everything written out by sometimes the minute. For offsite catering/events it's crutial to have timelines with everyone's do list charted out.
     
  12. david jones

    david jones

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    I've had a lot of luck with uncontrollable swearing, and lots of violent gestures. Then if you fire someone in front of everyone, you're
    pretty much set.

    Just kidding. I'm a big teddy bear. When I fire someone, they usually say "thank you."
     
  13. diane

    diane

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    Anger is self indugence. I would not suggest that it does happen in an explosion inside you, but to acknowledge it is self indulgent. That is merely a personal, and controlable response. Better to be cold to heat. People may not like you much, may even consider you cold, and/or unfeeling. This does not matter, when you have to sort a disaster that would have the most experienced chef weeping, only be cold. Talk flat and unemotional. Get it done. Shouting has benefitting no one. Nor will it ever. It is not effective.

    I never shouted at anyone in E.R. It sends them fleeing to the refuge of panic. A sure killer. Working quickly, and getting it right is the signature of both circumstances. There is much more than "self" in the mixture, no matter how dreadful the circumstances. We do not have the right to feel emotions. They are superfluous to the matter at hand. And very selfish.

    I hope someone out there understands. Diane
     
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  14. al_dente

    al_dente

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    Managing to keep ones self from getting angry? Or managing how to channel anger in a productive manner? Anger will always be there, be it stated or not,
    and it is there for a reason. Perhaps a better question would be 'When should we call on it?'

    As a young cook I found myself being promoted quickly (which I was proud of)
    yet experience seemed to follow more slowly. I often found myself getting angry simply because people didn't do as I asked. After all, I was in charge and that was that. There would be no room for discussion.

    Thankfully that didn't drive me out of the business, although the pressure was huge. As time passed I found myself getting older and stood fast as I watched all the people come and go in the various places I worked. Then one day it hit me. All of a sudden I was an old guy and all the cooks were where I was back then. The only difference was that now there was a concrete explanation for everything that had to happen.

    There is no room to argue with experience. Things are done in a particular manner for good reason. And if properly explained there can be no aguement. If done this way...this will happen...if done that way...that will happen....we do not want that to EVER happen...etc. And so it goes.

    So is anger cured? Not a chance. Now I get pissed off with loud radios and horse play and having to take the heat for a bunch of young cooks making mistakes as I did years ago. But when I screwed up back then I was yelled at and never forgot it. Worked for me.

    Let them see the anger a few times. And explain in detail why. Chances are they wont push it again.

    Ok, so I still get pissed off when the croutons burn. So there.

    Al
     
  15. pastrytracy

    pastrytracy

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    I can organize things that make me angry and what I do about them in a list:
    1. Lack of integrity. When the Chef de Cuisine forgets to order/ make something and throws something together. Usually, I say nothing. My lack of respect is comment enough.
    2. Asking someone to please do something multiple times and it does not happen. Even worse is when it is something really easy like portioning prep or something like that. I end up doing it and having to go to my boss about this which sucks cause I hate to look like a whiner.
    3. Not being informed. Whether it is somone needing a day off or if there is a party that is coming late/early whatever. The person in charge needs to tell their staff about upcoming events so they can be prepared. Etc...etc...etc...
    I have two jobs, so I have plenty that I get angry about! Unfortunatley, I do not handle anger well. I am one of those cursing, towel-flinging wrecks that you cannot stand. I am working on it. I try to keep it in and let it out in a constructive manner. It is hard to do as I think that people that work in the kitchen are usually creative and passionate. With that comes heightened emotional response. At least that is what I have experienced from myself as well as others.
     
  16. andrew563

    andrew563

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    I love that advice, "anger is self indulgence" and "it is better to be cold to the heat"
     
  17. brewchef

    brewchef

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    quote of the year right there. you don't realize it till you hit that certain age. God i so identified with this statement.
     
  18. mikeb

    mikeb

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    I know sometimes it's hard to control your anger in the kitchen. I'm a very ambitious cook, and I came up through the ranks incredibly quick, learned alot very early... The problem I have is that people don't want to listen to me because of my relative inexperience and lack of any education, yet the chef always backs me up, and is always telling me I need to help/teach the others... This has been happening for a few years now, as I'm nearly always the youngest in the kitchen (younger than most of the commis cooks actually), yet one of the most 'senior' guys on the line.

    I guess sometimes you just have to forget things, you just can't let it get to you (life is too short). Make sure everyone knows that when you get angry it's nothing personal. If someone is a real problem, just fire them and move on, it's easier than trying to change someone. Recently at the restaurant we did this, we're down 2 cooks but services have been alot easier without the other cooks constantly messing up.
     
  19. morffin

    morffin

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    yes.....me too.....worked then,miracles....don't get the new guys. Blew up Saturday night that a line cook was LEANING during service. Is it me? Think not.

    ps
    foodnfoto, erase cache so we can talk..........
     
  20. butt3r_chick3n

    butt3r_chick3n

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    Oh man.

    I heard about not long ago (like a week or so) when one of the banquet cooks came in and said that he couldn't work for the shifts he was scheduled for that week because the other company he works for (a train company) needs him to work and he signed a contract or something. My exec. chef apparently exploded and was chasing the guy out of the kitchen swearing and stuff.

    A shame I missed it, I had to hear it 2nd hand from one of the other cooks. :(