Negative kitchen team

Joined Aug 13, 2019
Hello fellow chefs, looking for some kind of help. I recently started a new lower position in a luxury fitness club kitchen after taking a break from past positions and needed to cool down and take pressure of after being a kitchen manager for 6 years. I now work with a small team of chefs which are by far the most negative and poorly mannered people I've worked next to. Everyday is a new complaint of everything and anything to the point the so called head chef lets lose as if he's Gordon Ramsay on the more spineless member of the team who has now walked for obvious reasons. Now as I have worked from washing pots to kitchen manager I've learnt as we all do so much with attitudes and temperament in people but these are a different breed to deal with when you have no power. To the point I'm thinking of starting elsewhere due to not being able to tolerate and watch this unnecessary bullying behaviour. The sous chef goes behind the heads back complaining about him and everyone else of course whilst being unable to do some very simple tasks, whilst all of them treat bar staff like enemies when they are actually pretty good at their jobs and are nice people. I'm reluctant to leave this due to working hours are better than restaraunts etc and wages are very reasonable but even with my experience struggle with how to handle a head chef without vision and a back bone, 2 sous chefs with no love or passion for the kitchen or the team around them as well as a cdp who has been there too long and too comfortable treating people like suit. Any advice would be brilliant guys? Thank you
Joined Oct 31, 2012
A quick thought before I head off to bed.
How long has everyone been there?
I ask because in any situation, nothing lasts forever. The head chef, the sous or the rest of the staff will eventually move on, either by being fired or quitting. When that happens, would you be willing to step in as head chef and change the atmosphere?
Until then, do your job and ignore the naysayers as best you can.
You could have a formal, private talk with management and see what the response is.
You can also find opportunities to chat with various members of the entire staff and commiserate a little. They will probably share their opinion and some useful knowledge with very little prompting.
I'd want to know- How did chef get the job? How does he keep the job-by contract, nepotism or apathy? Yelling and belittling isn't tolerated these days. Who is in charge of running the place, do they know of the poor atmosphere and do they care?
In short, gather enough info all around before you make the decision to leave.
I've learned this through sad experiences, leaving good jobs too soon b/c of bad environment that would have changed in six months anyway but I was too impatient.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
How much BS are you willing to tolerate? That's really the only question that matters.

We've all had direct experience with negative people in the workplace and frankly, they make for a very long and torturous shift. However, I was fortunate because I could get rid of any toxic personnel with a word and the stroke of a pen.

Is this position that you have really worth it? Its not on you to make things better. You can either deal with it and wait things out like chefwriter chefwriter suggested, and perhaps one day you will be in a position to make things better......or you can leave.

I look at this business through the focusing lens of many decades. So, I have far less tolerance for things that are broken like toxic and necrotic kitchen staff. If it were me and I couldn't change things without swimming in the dirty water, so to speak, I would leave. There are plenty of job opportunities out there for qualified and skilled kitchen personnel in kitchen that are well run and non-toxic.

Good luck. :)
Joined May 30, 2019
A toxic environment is the responsibility of management. They let this exist so talking to them about it is most likely futile. Either put up with it or find a new position elsewhere. It it were me I would find a new job.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Negative/toxic people effect me only as much as I allow them to. My ego tells me that when everything falls into place, I will be peaceful and happy. My ego has it backwards, when I am peaceful and happy, everything falls into place.

“Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others.”
― Gerald G. Jampolsky
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I think it's important to remember why you're doing what you do. I moved up in this business by accepting every challenge put to me. The people I worked with weren't always up for the challenge or even moving through the ranks to better themselves. All the negativity will make zero difference when you look back. Be the positive one in the kitchen set the example. On my way and working is 20 food services. I made enemies and even had my life and families life threatened. Like others have said you can only control your actions. You're building a future and a better life for your family. I left all those people in my dust so will you. No regrets! ChefBillyB
Joined Sep 17, 2018
With all the places you have worked I believe you know that no place is perfect. Eventually something will get to you about your current work place but again a lot of that depends on you. Just figure out the pros and cons of the situation. I deal with a lot of BS because I get a lot more freedoms a traditional restaurant setting wouldn't allow and in this stage of life, my family is more important to me than the machinations and politics of the restaurant industry. While I enjoy certain aspects of my work at the end of the day it is just a job to me and not my life. If the environment is so bad you cannot just tune it out I would suggest going to management and filing a complaint, especially if it some sort of corporation. In today's climate with harassment, bullying and discrimination companies are very worried of lawsuits and the old school style of kitchens and chefs in the past is fading. But that being said if the stress is so bad at work that it is affecting your home life then maybe start to put out feelers, but as another posted commented, nothing lasts forever and these problems may resolve quicker than you think. Good luck.
Joined Apr 15, 2019
If the whole team is negative it’s most likely a result of something deeper. Management or ownership... at the very least they are neglecting to deal with the negativity... at most there is something about the way things are being run that has resulted in a unanimous discontent. Just my 2¢ based on experience.

As a new employee, especially a new employee that isn’t the manager, I wouldn’t assume the responsibility of reviving the culture. Bail before you’re infected. It’s a pretty well-established maxim of organizational behavior that negativity spreads more easily and quickly than positivity.
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