Problems with executive chef.... need advice pls

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by eddie metal7, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. eddie metal7

    eddie metal7

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    Line Cook
    I have been recently working for this new brazilian steakhouse and things are not going so well in the kitchen.

    Ive been working with the executive chef for a while and I thought I had a understanding of his leadership and exp. in the kitchen.

    Im no executive chef or even sous chef but I can see all the problems in the kitchen. Food is not the best quality at all, there are way, way to many shortcuts and premade foods, the system is all over the place, 95% of the recipes are from the internet and havent been fine tuned or even tried.

    I see all these problems occuring and know I can help and make a difference. Im like the assistant to the executive chef and usually do all his paperwork and head of the line cook station.

    I need help on what to do because I get alot of pressure and shit for taking on some of the executive chefs respsonsibilities. They dumped them on me and I get shit for not being top chef and i still get paid like a line cook.

    What should I do.
  2. black dog

    black dog Banned

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    Hello, Eddie. 

    I apologise in advance because this is going to be a longish one.

    Almost certainly, your exec is working with the tight budget the owner's have made available, or worse still, what the accountant allows.

    I'm just guessing.

    But anyway, a tight budget and excellent food don't always make for a happening thing.

    Even in France in recent years, there has been a veritable epidemic of tourist level restaurants selling pre-made food, which basically just has to be defrosted and warmed up, on demand. Yes, shock, horror. Even in France!

    There is a huge industry based on this, and driven by tight budgets and the quest for ever bigger margins.

    Thankfully, today there is a big crackdown on this, because the restaurants concerned, advertise their dishes as being entirely prepared in house. And they lie about the ingredients as well! 

    One example might be, "Velouté de pommes de terre au beurre de truffe noire", which, I can state, without fear of contradiction, has never seen a truffle in it's life. It will, at best, have had a drop, maybe two, of truffle essence added, and even this ain't real truffle essence. No Sir!

    It is a chemical concoction dreamed up in a laboratory somewhere by guys with white coats and test tubes. Cookery it is not!

    So, the budget is the first difficulty, and you, Eddie, are unlikely to be able to influence the loosening of those purse strings. I would love to be wrong about that!

    Next, the internet recipes.

    The Internet is very much a double edged sword.

    It is both at once, an excellent resource, and at the same time, a repository for the most unspeakable crap.

    N.B. Apologies to the moderators, but this IS the truth, and "The truth", as they say, "is always with us!"

    There are, on the internet, fantastic Michelin starred chefs running fabulous hotel/restaurants, posting their recipes and divulging their culinary secrets, so that we, lesser mortals, may attempt to replicate their masterpieces.

    In doing so, they are also promoting their establishments, with the aim that those with exceptionally deep pockets, will turn up in droves, and top up the owner/chef's retirement plans. 

    For every one of these excellent websites, there are thousands of others, who have little, or no idea, what they are talking about.

    Worse, many of these gastronomic enthusiasts imagine themselves to be chefs.

    I am no longer a professional chef, but I am still obsessed with wonderful food and the methods by which it is created.

    A great chef can take a handful of ingredients and produce a dish fit for a king. I was never blessed with the ability to invent dishes, unless completely by accident, and so I have always followed the masters. Escoffier, Careme, Savarin, Fernand Point, Pierre Herme, Michalak etc etc and others far too numerous to mention.

    My reasoning for following them being that they spent decades, bent over those red hot coals, producing the finest food on the planet, so why would I try to reinvent the wheel, with my meagre, somewhat pedestrian abilities? but..., I CAN read, and I do have a whisk, so..........!!!

    Michel Roux Snr and Michel Roux Jr are French born chefs running Michelin starred restaurants, The Waterside Inn at Bray, and Le Gavroche in London, England. They have maintained their Michelin stars for decades. Getting a Michelin star is one thing. Getting several and keeping them, is something else altogether.

    Then there is French born, Raymond Blanc, of Le Manoir au Qaut'Saison, in Gloucestershire, who has maintained his two Michelin stars for almost 30 years. He is a legend, and completely self taught.

    I mention them all because if you Google them and their recipes, and YouTube them, you will find recipes and videos of some of the very finest cooking on the planet. They are all passionate about food and they want you to discover their secrets and develop your skills.

    Great food demands excellent ingredients, but these guys will show you how to produce fantastic food, in your restaurant, even if you don't have huge amounts of money to spend on ingredients.

    Since you aren't the boss, your biggest trick will be finding a way to influence matters without stepping on toes, or bruising inflated egos.

    The easiest way is to talk around the subjects and gradually make them think that it is their very own idea. Sneaky but effective!

    It also very much depends on what style of cooking the owners and head chef want to prepare. You say that it is a Brazilian Steakhouse?

    Is there really room and a desire to develop the menu? What fresh seasonal Bio produce is available at nearby Farmer's markets?

    Working with local producers helps them and should bring some excellent produce into your kitchen for you to work with.

    When I lived in Paris, I did have a Brazilian girlfriend for a time. She was great fun, and had certain delightful and enormous attributes.

    Sadly, cooking perfect steaks wasn't one of them. But Hey, you can't have everything in life! :)

    If you want further information re the chefs I have mentioned and their recipes, just send me a PM and I will be more than happy to oblige.

    Good luck anyway.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Retired Chef
    Before you do anything rash I would try and understand it from the exec's POV.

    File it under growth and not cooking.  There are many reasons why people do the things they do, and in this case, the restaurant might be perfectly positioned to use premade items.  So please, don't be too quick to judge.