My Chef is a

Joined Jul 8, 2011
I have been working as a sous chef for a little over a year at an upscale Italian restaurant in a small resort town.  I have a lot of skills and many years of cooking experience.  When I first started at this restaurant I could tell from my stage, my "interview", the quality and attitudes of the other cooks that this place had some problems.  Still, I took the job.  It quickly became apparent that the Chef lacks even basic competence in cooking with a limited knowledge of  technique, classic flavors or food science.  He's also disorganized, not a clean worker and not a real leader or mentor in the kitchen.  Basically he was the last man standing when people who worked there years ago quit and he was given the job by the absentee owner.  The owner and GM do most of the bookwork and ordering. 

So for over a year I've had to fight the good fight to try to lift or maintain food quality, run the kitchen, mentor culinary grads, defuse confrontations, and cook damn near everthing.  I have always taken the high road and had the chefs back in the kitchen, even though i vent to my family when i get home. 

I am currently planning my exit strategy and hopefully in three or four months i will be going on to something better.  When I leave I would very much like to let the Chef know what a hack i think  he is and tell the owner what is really going on in his restaurant but I probably won't.   What would you do?
Joined May 5, 2010
Here's some old advice that has served me well for 40 some years:

Never burn your bridges at either end.

You may never now how, or when you may have dealings with this person again in the future.

Be respectful and let him know that you are going on to bigger and better things.

There is no need to be adversarial during you exit interview.

Just let him know that you were disappointed of the fact that you could not learn anything viable from him.

Let it go and chaulk it up to experience.

My $.02
Joined Jul 28, 2001

Chefross sumed it up. Never,never, burn your bridges!!!!!!

If you have to put your business in the street, never do it on exit, it makes YOU look bad.

Joined Sep 18, 2008
What worked for me?

Write down EXACTLY what you would like to say to him/her, in detail, and clearly expressing your distaste. Then read it to yourself, multiple times if necessary, before BURNING IT.

It will get it off your chest, make you feel better, and not "burn any bridges"!

Oh by the way, DO NOT DO THE ABOVE ON A COMPUTER OR SMARTPHONE! DO IT BY HAND ON A YELLOW PAD, THEN DESTROY THE PAD AS WELL. You do NOT want it to ever surface in a manner similar to a s3x tape /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
Joined Dec 8, 2010
You've been there for a year. You can use the chef or owner as a reference. If you mess that up, you won't be able to verify that you did a good job there when you apply to a new place.

A lot of chefs--I'd guess most--are the last man standing, by the way.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I agree on the "Don't burn any bridges" I would take it for what it is and leave with your head high............I've worked in over 25 food Food services, The only thing I ever wanted to do is leave knowing the place was better for having me there.........ChefBillyB  
Joined Jul 8, 2011
Thanks to everyone who replied so far... I understand the the whole bit about burning bridges and I will not ever quit in a glorious f.u. of "you ignorant, lazy, chuckleheaded, ...." And yet still something must be done.  I fail everyone I've worked with and for if don't somehow expose these culinary "crimes" in a sense.  I think chef BillyB said it right with leave with your head high but still... are we just the hired help at the end of the day?
Joined Apr 17, 2006
I left the place I am currently at because I only intended to work there part-time and temporarily. I worked under a guy kind of like what you describe. The owner was becoming unhappy with him but not enough to really do anything about it. And then providence intervened. The business is on one side of the Mississippi, and the majority of the customers are on the other. The state closed the bridge between them because they deemed it unsafe. The guy took a voluntary lay-off, and then the bridge reopened. But then he decided he didn't want to come back until the end of summer (this was the beginning of June). So the owner asked me to take over. I said no, and here I am now running the place. The same could happen to you.  I'm not implying that you should try to show the chef up to the owner in order to get his job, I just mean strange things can happen in this business all on their own. The owner already knows what the guy is, but probably figures he owes him something for not bailing on him when everyone else did and the devil you know is safer than the devil you don't know, from his point of view. And the chef probably realizes he's a hack too,. But what is he going to do?  Go to the owner and say "I know I'm incompetent, therefore I'd like to give my job to the sous chef and I'll go and stand in the unemployment line."? The guy I replaced never was let go. I think he got wind that the owner wasn't happy and took another job. The owner didn't want to bring in an outsider and so talked me into doing it, very much against my will and better judgement. I'm not sorry for it now, as we've gotten through the recession so far with up numbers and I'm actually enjoying it. But at the time I wasn't thrilled about pushing an ailing restaurant through the worst recession of my lifetime. You never know what can happen. Even if you leave, down the road the chef position may come open and the owner may remember you at that time, so make sure you leave good contact information when you go.                                        
Joined Aug 21, 2009
For sure don't burn any bridges and make sure that when you do leave, your replacement has all of the info he/she needs to start off in your position.  When I left my spot as AKM I made sure that everything that I took care of was down on paper for my replacement to see and then it was up to him  how he did the job.  As for your chef, I wouldn't say a word to the owners and let them see things for themselves.  You don't want to leave a job and tell the owners everything that is wrong with a place... just simply let them know that you are moving on to a new challenge and leave it at that.

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