Need help from Chefs please!!!

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cheftobe, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. cheftobe

    cheftobe

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    Under my apprenticeship program I have to put so many hours in at different stations, I currently have enough hours at one of the stations and my chef refuses to move me to another. He comments that the school will never know what hours are spent at each station and that he will simply sign off that the hours were completed. I feel that this regresses the learning process and I told him this fact. He was upset that I questioned him. I will do whatever is necessary in the kitchen, any task, I will man any station. I also realize that I have to put my time in as an apprentice.I have zero problem doing the work!!!!
    I also entered a chaud froid competition and told him that I wanted to go ahead and make 2 particular dishes, he told me that they would never win. He also stated that since I am working under him, that I would have to do what he suggests since I will be representing the restaurant. Again, I told him how I felt and again he was upset. The day before the event I stayed after work to finish my project, he decided to take over and pretty much did my project.... Not happy about that either, he slopped the dishes together, he would ask me what I wanted to do, I told him, then he went and did something totally different. I actually spent 3 hours before the comp. "cleaning" up the dishes. Luckily I ended up getting a Bronze.
    I do not want to sound big headed, I am really down to earth with my thoughts. I have SO much to learn it is unreal, but I feel that he is impeding my learning process!! What can I do?

    PS> There are 2 other apprentices and they all feel the same way in regards to the learning disability. We all really feel that we are spinning our wheels!!
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Cheftobe.
    Keeping you on one station for his needs is totally unacceptable!
    The show piece thing is just something you are going to have to deal with.
    I'm one of the older ones here. I am going to suggest some things, and you just have to think out your situation. Nobody is going to make a decision for you.
    First, I would definatly contact the Apprenticeship advisor. Make them aware of your situation and ask for guidance.
    Second, distance yourself from the other apprentices when there might be bashing going on. Don't get yourself into a negetive group situation. You need to take care of You.
    You should always be able to approach a chef in a mature, private, relaxed setting.
    You can learn how to speak to someone with respect and not have to talk up.
    If not, and you're in a position that will have no resolution, then take all of your negetive energy and soak every last bit of knowlege out of the guy. This is definately not an uncommon occurance in this industry.
    pan
     
  3. chrose

    chrose

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    Welcome to the real world! You will run into these people here and there. I agree wholeheartedly with everything that Pan said. You should contact the apprentice placement people and let them know everything that's going on.
    And like Pan said, the rest of it there's not much you can do about it. You have an insecure "know-it-all" and the best you can do is soak up the good and bad and learn from all of it. Face it if all of life was rosy you would never know what to do in bad situations.
    Best of luck!
     
  4. cheftobe

    cheftobe

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    Thanks for the input, I am 36, and really feel I am level headed. I know what I have to do in this business and can totally accept doing the grunt work, I actually enjoy it. My chef is only 27, and I truly feel there is a sense of threat of me to him. That he is actually purposely holding US back from improving, keeping us for his lackies. I have no problem telling him when I put my 2 weeks in, but he will try his best to make them 2 **** weeks!!!! He always comes across that he is really helping us out, but in actuality he is making tasks easier for himself!!! very frustrated at this point
     
  5. panini

    panini

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    cheftobe,
    Sorry for speaking to you like a 19 yr old. This also is a situation that will come up again. My last day in the industry as an employee came about after doing a really nice dessert for ten persons to include some important people, Gen.C.P. etc. After meeting with the guests and chatting I returned to my office to find a note on my desk from our new F & B director. One year out of Cornell, and maybe 15 yrs. younger. (seemed to be obsessed over the fact that I made almost double his salary.)
    " I will need the cost of that dessert on my desk at 6am!!!"
    Needless to say, I had a master key(something he didn't) I entered his office. I neatly folded an apron, placed a schedule for the next week, with him inserted into my place overseeing 16 people. My keys on top of that. Called the wife to see if this was ok with her. I wrote an appology, copied it and slipped one in each of my workers lockers and never looked back.
    pan
     
  6. aprilb

    aprilb

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    I clearly knew and was driven to excel more than the "head baker promoted to F&B manager" at the place I hired onto. She was probably 10+ years younger (and about 2 feet shorter) and just couldn't get her head around anyone being more creative than she "was" at the position that I was hired on for.

    Her weakness: being a manager at all. What she did?: Hire a "head baker" (unknown even though my track record was impeccable) that had Restaurant Management experience. A little suspect about her motives?

    I really loved my position. Everyone loved my work. She did a disservice to the "Resort" by having personal ego issues.

    "artistic egos" seem to be fairly common. You have to have a huge ego to try things that Frey, Batalli, et all try to accomplish. It's just food bottom line, right? Just done in a great way with your own personal bent on it.

    I think I would have issues working with your "Chef". I'd probably get into a ton of meatball chucking fights. I mean, if you're good, there is no mistaking it.

    Those that can't do, teach...<Woody Allen>
     
  7. chefa1a

    chefa1a

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    Apprentice-ship is a tough deal especially depending on your pay scale

    my friend went to france said he was plucking chickens, scaling fish and peeling potatoes for free for a month before he got to "stag" on the line

    work as long as you can at your place for a good reference and find something else

    when your employers look at your work history they want to see your stable and stayed at a quality place for a while, so you have to make the decision.

    If its bad where your working, maybe you want to cut your losses. That why you pick good places because you want to learn something as well

    anyways best of luck its a dog eat dog kitchen out there
     
  8. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Ummmm, Apprenticetobe this is the same post as you did last week on the "Culinary Students" site, right? 36 yr old with two other apprentices and a 27 yr old Chef? I rode you hard on that site, and I'll do it on this one too.

    I've got a problem with the "I'm 36 and he's 27" business, allright? He's the Chef, and as you stated in the other post, also the o/o of the place too. I apprenticed late in life, got my papers when I was 22, and didn't open my business untill I was 37. So at 27, either your Chef is very competant and a good business owner, or a heckuva con artist with wealthy suckers to support him. And you still haven't told us what year of apprenticeship you' re in, or what kind of experience you had prior to your apprenticeship.

    Bad word, isn't it, experience? Why can't I just get off your case?

    In the hopitality biz, experience is everything. Hypothetical situation for you, allright? Last summer my Dad had to have a cataract operation. He could choose between a 26 yr old surgeon with over 130 similar opertions under his belt, or a 32 yr old, who worked in a related medical field for 10 yrs prior to med school, with no experience. Which would he choose? Which would you choose? Knowledge you can get out of a book, or coax it out of a chronic alcoholic saucier before he has his morning shot of Kirsch. You can get it from a cooking school too, you just have to pay for it there. With an apprenticeship, you get both knowledge and experience, and you get paid for it. If you're good and smart, you can even put your Chef out of business after you get your papers, happens frequently.

    If you go shopping and walk into a hardware store, you'll find hammers and paint. Might not be what you're looking for, but that's what you'll find, and you'll find booze in a liquor store, even if that's not what you're looking for either. Now, you post on a site that's frequented by Chefs, some of whom are European apprenticed and trained, some N.American, but all of whom have years of experience, with food, with employees and situations like yours, with ******* F & B mangers who fire if your food cost goes up by more than 1/2 %.

    So you got your advice on the other site and your pity on this one. Now get back to work and don't think that because you're older than your Chef that you've got something over him; your whining proves conclusively.
     
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    The post I mentioned is on this site, Cheftalk, "Culinary schools/Culinary Students" under the heading "Troubled apprentice, what do I do?
     
  10. panini

    panini

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    Cheftobe,
    Chef talk is one of those places where you can come and make yourself comfortable. You can express any frustrations you might have and seek advise or opinions from very experienced professionals.
    I think people have conveyed that your situation is not all that uncommon, by sharing some similar situations. Most of us know that you will do what you need to do, but maybe we can offer some guidance.
    I'm personally interested in this topic because I know in a lot of houses this is very common practice. This is the only reason I gave up the whole apprentice program here locally. I was supposed to be visited by field supervisors, perform virtual reviews in the kitchen, etc. None of this happened, and most of the paperwork I took a lot of time, energy, and thought, was just stuffed in a student jacket and not even read.
    I am a firm believer in teaching the art. I have a few co-workers that have come to me green. I would never pidgeon hole someone into performing a task base on how it is done here, or fill a spot. I feel it my responsibility to give them a career. I can proudly say that if someone was to leave, I can feel very confident that they will be sucessful in any position they may take because of a well rounded background.
    This business is not any different than others, you will encounter many different personalities.
    pan
     
  11. cheftobe

    cheftobe

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    First, I didnt know which forum to put it under so I put on both.... Second, I am not looking for pity on either of the forums, I WANT TO LEARN ALL THAT I CAN DURING MY APPRENTICESHIP YEARS!!! The chef is a good chef, but he is NOT, repeat, NOT a teacher, yes , he has taught me somethings, and I do not expect him to follow me around waiting for me to ask a question or wonder why or how carmelization works. He is a minority owner who was funded by his very wealthy parents. As I had mentioned in previous posts, I do not want to come across as being an arrogant SOB, but I do feel that he is threatened by apprentices(not just me), that they will become better than him. He is a very insecure man. In between posting I have spoken with former apprentices of his, they have told me what I have found out firsthand... i.e. No movement on stations whatsoever, "(we are fully staffed and have been since I started), being told not to worry about working the required hours at an individual station because he will just "sign off of it. <-- that takes the cake..
    In response to "experience", I started washing dishes when I was 14, moved to prep within a month(I was thrown in by owner for another set of hands), bussed tables for a couple of months while prepping, started cooking lunch in the summer at 15 (nothing crazy, burgers and ff), worked the dinner crowd at 16, moving from fry, saute, grill, where needed basically. Continued that til I was 18, went to school worked in the cafeteria, moved to the beach began waiting tables, bartending, prepping, cooking, and day managing over the course of 5 years. Moved out of the country( to USVI) and helped a start up restaurant (as hired help), helped develop the menu, along with initial bar, dining room, and kitchen set up. This is when I knew what I wanted to do for a career. I was edjamacated by 2 French brothers who didnt know didly squat about the front of the house, we made a trade off of I'll show you, if you show me kinda deal. I learned invaluable techniques(ranging from basic skills to complicated french dishes). Did that for 14 months and then the island was destroyed by hurricane Marilyn, Sept 16th 1995 to be exact. Moved back to the beach, continued bartending, then took up another profession, then I was laid off which brings me to this point. There is my experience that I have, not sure if that is enough for ya foodpump, but I definently feel it is a **** good base.

    Always looking to learn more, because the learning process is never ending.

    By the way, I am well versed in the hospitality industry.
    I am in my 2nd semester of Apprenticeship
     
  12. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Yup, thats good experience, thanks for elaborating, the information is important. You'll have to excuse me, but I've had some pretty bad experiences with apprentices in N.America, especially career changers.

    O.K., second year and still haven't done most of the stations is starting to get dicey. Next time your Chef is in a relaxed mood ask him what his plans are; when does he plan to send you to the next staion? If he can't give you a straight answer then maybe it is time to check with the Apprentice's board. Of course, there's no telling how your Chef will react when they start asking him questions. Worst case scenerio you can use the Apprentice's board to look for another place to finish off your apprenticeship, this has been done in cases like yours. If you have to change kitchens, do it this way.

    Mind you, most places I've worked in, the saucier station is holy ground. In some of the places I've worked in, where the Chef is highly decorated( Eidgenoissche Diplomierte in Switz.) and even a member of the Apprentice's board, his own apprentices would only spend a token 2 or 3 weeks at the Saucier station.

    Meanwhile spend your free time at library. I was at a distinct disadvantage during my apprenticeship because I couldn't speak German fluently. When I could, then I was shunned because I didn't speak with a Swiss accent... The only way I could keep my head up with the others at work and not get dumped behind the entremetier station turning pommes nature, or even with my teacher at school, was to know more than them.
     
  13. jolly roger

    jolly roger Banned

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    cheftobe,
    I hate to belabor the subject, but I have a question...Why have you chosen apprenticeship as your path to becoming a professional chef and especially so far along in years? Don't be offended at the "far along in years comment, I'm 35 myself. The reason I ask is because there are many opportunities, as you well may know, where you can work your way up the ladder. I have two friends that went that way through a corp. atmosphere and then left the company after they had sufficient time under their belts and went to work at much nicer establishments. As for myself, after fifteen years of training and having held two different chef positions, I decided to go back to school to get me ACF certifications.
     
  14. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Just re-reading your posts, Tobe. My mistake, you said you were in your second semester, not second year, as I had thought. Oh well, talk to your Chef and see what his plans are...
     
  15. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Mmmm, no replies from ol'Toby. Kinda like that old Manfred Man album, "The Roaring Silence"
     
  16. jolly roger

    jolly roger Banned

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    What's up with "tobe" anyway? Yo!, Cheftobe...what's up wit' you dog? How's it goin' with your A-hole chef? Don't leave us hangin', bro.
     
  17. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Now, now, he's not a Chef yet, but an apprentice, so lets just call him Tobe...
     
  18. jolly roger

    jolly roger Banned

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    Right on, foodpump. Did you happen to see my brief rant in the late night non-food related forum? Cakerookie got her paties in a bunch because I adressed the whole calling oneself a chef when oneself is not really a chef deal.
     
  19. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    Not a she. A he.................
     
  20. jolly roger

    jolly roger Banned

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    Sorry 'bout that cakerookie. Man! Don't let me near any cocktail parties anytime soon. I'm liable to clear the room.