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Joined May 30, 2011
hello this is my first post, i've been a sous chef for 6 years and i love what i do, but there seems to be change in the dynamic of the professional kitchen where as todays cooks seem to have a lack of true love for the craft. is anyone noticing this trend of coming to work for a paycheck and not for the passion for what they were employed to do??
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Hello Noelcvn, and welcome. I'll move your post to a professional forum, but we'd be delighted if you can return to the Welcome Forum to tell us a bit about yourself.


Joined May 30, 2011
The head chef and Sous chef at my work both left in the last 6 weeks to go to higher paying jobs, fair enough maybe. However the hotel that the former head chef went to is up for sale, imo it is not a good idea to take on a job the may not be secure. On a positive note, i got promoted to Sous Chef when they left and i'm loving the new challenge it brings. I'm also fortunate to be working under a very passionate Head Chef, we are building a new team and have employed 2 new commis chefs. The Head chef and I are currently writing new menu's and playing around with new recipe idea's.

Going a few years back i worked for a large airport hotel, where the other chefs did not seem to give a damn about the quality of the food being served. My 1st day working there i was asked to make a tomato sauce, so i started preparing my onions, garlic, etc and started cooking the sauce, one of the chefs comes along and says "what you making there?" i anwsered "i'm making the tomato sauce" The chef replied "oh, we usually just open a can of chopped tomatoes and add seasoning and the jobs done". /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif Glad i don't work with chefs with that outlook now.
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
I think you have to look at the situation from quite a few angles to get a good picture.

Firstly, there are no qualifications for what a Chef is, or what a cook is.

Secondly, because of this, there is no pay scale like many of the other trades have.

Thirdly, the competition for the dining dollar is nuts, crazy, overwhelming.

Fourthly, because of this, operators will cut costs where they can, by hiring un-experienced staff, and by buying convienence food to save on labour costs. If they don't, the competition will eat them alive.  It takes someone with some mighty big Kahunas, a deep pocket, and  alot of experience to buck this trend. And  these people are rare.

Fifthly, there are no stanards or qualifcatons needed to open a restauarant.  Because of this, many first time operators do not have the experience running such an establishment, are ignorent of many of the local laws, and many go bankrupt within the first year.

Sixthly, becasue of the many places going bankrupt, by many others offering inferior food and service, or 100% convienience products, the paying public does not respect a "real" restaurant; nor will they pay the prices needed to support qualified and experienced staff.  Frankly, there's just too much competition.

Bottom line?

The majority of the service staff in restaurants are just there to get them through school, or until they find a "real" job.  The majority of the cooks are working for peanut wages and sooner or later only monkees will work for peanuts.

Nothing will change for the better untill some standards and qualifications  for cooks, waiters/esses, and operators are established--nation-wide, not municipality wide.

But even then, as the others said, there will always be deadbeats in every trade.
Joined Aug 26, 2010
I third what Chef Ed said. With any luck, they eventually get weeded out, but not all of them. Worst cook I ever worked with was on anti-depressants. He thought bottled spring water tasted salty. The meds do affect your sense of taste. Needless to say, his food sucked. And now I hear he's a sous-chef, but the boss was notorious for under-seasoning. Birds of a feather...
Joined Mar 18, 2011
With the economy in the state it is in, people will take a job doing pretty much anything if there is a paycheck attached to it. Families need to be provided for, people need to eat, etc. 
Joined Jan 13, 2011
Would a perfect kitchen be that consisting of every cook with grand ideas and a passion to create? Or, a good mix of cooks with pride, passion and the need to excel along with some drones that are there for the check and do as they're told?
Joined May 5, 2010
Well made food that has been thought out in detail, and service that takes care of the customers wants and needs costs money to institute.

Most people are not willing to pay for this but complain when they go out and get anything less.

Many restaurants go under within the first or second year because, although they have grand and lofty ideas, they are not able to implement them.

Creating some kind of standard would help sort out the not so good from the better than that but some people I know have a hard time with the idea of a government bureau dictating what they can and can not do with their business.
Joined Oct 10, 2005

One of these days though, one of those culinary schools are gonna get the pants sued off of them for "misleading promises", and that should get the whole ball rolling.

'Course if you really wanted the excrement to impact the impellor right quick, you could get a bill passed that made it illegal for Unions to garnishee paycheques, those boy's'd have to line up at the staff lunchroom with a coffee can like the others (Visa, power and gas, etc).   Now THAT would get the ball rolling. 

Just a dream though, and wet dream at that...
Joined Dec 8, 2010
When I started in a kitchen, I looked around to see who was the best and tried to do what they did. The best guys--the ones most valued by the chef--worked hard, always showed up on time, got their prep done and asked for more, and had no problem staying into the wee hours of the night taking on cleaning jobs or whatever. Why? They wanted the job, the hours, the money.

A cook who doesn't want the money but 'respects the craft' will refuse to jump in the dish tank if it gets backed up during service, will complain about having to peel potatoes because the lazy prep guy didn't bother to do so, and won't work two stations simultaneously on a given night. Guess what?--someone else will do so with a smile and take your paycheck.

I love cooking, but I'm first and foremost about getting paid. And that's why I'm a more valuable employee.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
There is room in this profession for all sorts of opinions and methods of working. There is nothing wrong with being good at your job and not having an absolute, soul consuming passion for it. In fact, I would argue that the whole "being a chef for the love of cooking" is a relatively recent phenomenon, at least in the US. Up until, say, the mid eighties, I would argue that MOST professional cooks and chefs did the job with little to no love for the craft of cooking. It was a job, pure and simple. 

In my experience, I've mostly worked with a mix of people...some there to learn and grow as a chef and cook, others there to do a good job and make money. In heat of the moment, it doesn't matter...you can either do the job or not. Why may not be as important as you think. 

I would say that the higher up on the ladder you are, the more passion should play a part. I don't really want to learn from a Head Chef who is just in it for the money with no passion. They are out there. There isn't anything wrong with it, per se, as long as they do the job well and safely, but it's not who I want to work for. 

The place I work now is a mix. Some of us (myself included) are younger, hungry to learn and build our resume, and passionate about food. We talk about food a lot...current trends, local restaurants, cooking techniques, etc. But there are a couple of guys who don't care about any of them. One of them, in particular, is a south American grill cook. Now, this guy is a bit older (guessing mid to late forties) and a stone cold grill man. Pretty much perfect on temps, timing, prep, etc. Comes in, works hard, busts his butt, does the food the way the chef wants it, etc. I could and have learned a lot about managing a grill from this guy. But...he has no ambition to move up, has no "passion" for cooking, and makes it known  that to him, working there is a job. He doesn't hate it or anything, but he's there for money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But he's also almost always in a great mood, has a good sense of humor, and gets the job done.

I guess I don't really understand the OP feeling of a "change in dynamic." In my experience you almost always have a mix of passions, unless you are at the very top like a French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea, Charlie Trotter's, Le Bernadin, etc. where you attract those types of dedicated professionals almost exclusively. 

I dunno...I don't know that the dynamic every changed, other than when cheffing all of a sudden became popular about 20 years ago. 
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