Possessive Title

Joined Dec 19, 2015
So this seemed like an interesting topic I've been thinking about that was curious on all your thoughts. Mainly wondering your language in the kitchen in addressing your other co-workers (whether you are a Chef or line cook.) The bartender came into the kitchen this morning while on the phone for a carry out order wondering if we could prepare something off menu and she stated "where are MY cooks". The "my" stuck out and I hear a lot of chefs or line cooks taking things possessively, i.e. "my cutting board", "my station" and such. While those are broad examples and I am the chef, I try and make it a point when speaking to include phrases as "we" and "our" far more to include the teamwork and camaraderie. In retrospect, still will use phrases such as "your station" or "you made that mess so clean that up" type phrasing. So I am not sure if I am here with a question for you all but more as a perspective on the type of language and phrasing you use in your kitchens or dining rooms. Obviously, the possessive "my" holds far more leg when you are the physical owner of the establishment, but where does that line draw after that?
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Even though you are leading by example, that sounds like a good topic for a team training session. While respect is common there is always room for improvement. Probably no harm intended but your point about it diminishing teamwork and camaraderie is correct. Maybe even update the employee manual accordingly to use as a hammer in the event of repeated and voluntary noncompliance.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Is English the bartender's second language?

English is a little odd compared to most other languages in the terms of possessive and what you have probably never heard of before called the genitive case.

In other languages the genitive case is used to modify nouns and show a relationship but that requires prepositions in English. In English we usually use the word "of" or "from"or an apostrophe s.

Culturally the bartender may have meant the cooks assigned to fill the bartender's orders. That's not a trivial construction grammatically speaking, especially for someone's second language.
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Lol, wow. I definitely would have spoken to the bartender if I heard them say something like that. That smacks of disrespect in thinking that somehow one non-managerial employee is above another just by the simple BoH/FoH divide. I preach respect to everyone that walks through the kitchen doors--customers, owners, employees, dishwashers, purveyors, delivery drivers...anyone. I don't let assholes work for me, and if I accidentally hire one they either get on board real fast or they are done.

That particular incident isn't in need of a huge reaction, but I feel like I would want to nip that in the bud. It also looks good when the cooks know you have their back.
Joined Oct 9, 2017
Ugh- the guy who managed kitchen before me was so guilty of this- and it's part of the reason he turned everyone off. I think it's something insecure people do to make themselves sound important. Unless it IS indeed their kitchen. It's too familiar for someone who hasn't earned it.
Joined May 5, 2010
I worked with a French Chef in DC for awhile and this topic fit him to a "T."
It was always..."I am the Executive Chef.....This is MY kitchen!!!"
Tempers flared and sometimes things had to be taken outside....
Joined Dec 18, 2010
... but was he really wrong? I’d accept that kind of language from Exec Chef, Gen Manager, or owner...
Joined Oct 10, 2005
I dunno...When the bartender or servers start talking about "their" cooks, then it's time to approach the owner/manager and negotiate tip splitting, 50/50 for b.o.h. /f.o.h..

Sometimes money is the only way you can get your point across.....
Joined Mar 1, 2017
If a chef or an owner has to remind their staff of who's in charge, that chef or owner's leadership skills are in need of work. Every time a chef or an owner reminds an employee of who is in charge or who owns/runs the kitchen, they literally give away their authority.

If a bartender came in and asked "where are my cooks?", this is not an issue by itself that is significant enough for me as an owner or Chef to get involved with. If, somehow, the issue spirals out of hand and starts to effect the operation of the FOH or the BOH, then, it becomes my problem and is handled accordingly based upon the gravity of the issue.

If this bartender has shown a previous pattern of behavior like this, then, they need to be spoken to. If this was a one time issue, let it go, but, I would keep an eye on it to make sure the issue does not escalate.
Joined Jan 11, 2011
Same vein, although I've come to accept it as just a personal quirk of his, I have a server who, while dialoguing with the customers, constantly refers to "my" specials today are..., "my" soups are..., "my" wines are..., "I" have a lovely dessert today...

Ummm, and tell me Mr. Server, which of those are you personally responsible for creating again...?
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi Chefsing,

Based on the information you did share, I think there is more than this single incident that has you troubled.

For someone outside the kitchen staff to say "where are my cooks" denotes a team atmosphere to me, the same way a defensive back might say "where are my linemen" or a Pitcher may say "where are my outfielders". Same team but, very different responsibilities and duties. I have worked with waitress and bar staff that genuinely appreciated what the kitchen staff does and their reference was out of that respect and even affection for us. I have heard them side with, and defend the kitchen staff with the GM. So I would have taken that remark as a compliment!

Since you know the personalities involved I can only guess as to what is going on in your operation.

I do however wish you all the best in resolving any ongoing issues!

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