Tell me about your new job!!!

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by crazycookin, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    I actually got this idea from misreading another thread title, in where I thought they wanted to hear about MY new job.

    So, I have been at my new job for 6 days (70 hours) plus one day of orientation. I am a new Chef de Cusine. 

    In my orientation, they informed me that I would be in training for TWELVE weeks. I about had a freakin heart attack when they told me this. My first day, 10 hours in dishpit. Same for the second. So I spent 20 hours in the damn dish pit. The things that were positive about this experience were that I a) learned where every single dish, pot, pan, utensil goes, and can find everything, and b) I can take apart and put back together our dish machine. 

    I learned all of this in probably 4 hours total, so I spent an extra 16 hours feeling like a lame-o because my line cooks have ZERO knife skills, and food waste in this place is horrid (they are running at a 36% food cost, another thing that almost gave me a heart attack). 

    The next 50 hours were spent in a position called "Prep 2". This position should really be called "Prep Lite" since they do things like, thaw and bag shrimp, pull meats and other things to thaw, and very, very basic prep work. 

    These first few days have been somewhat soul crushing. There is so much going wrong, and I am literally NOT allowed to do much of anything about it. I even had a very bad start with the GM, who basically said he wouldn't call me Chef because he's 'not used to having a chef there'. I thought he was a total jerk about it. We've since smoothed over some of our differences, and seem to be getting along well.

    There are positives to this. I am getting to know my crew, and enjoy working with almost all of them. No one is placing blame on me yet, which is good because a LOT of stupid stuff is going on (and I am eager to fix it). 

    So everyone, tell me about YOUR new jobs!
     
  2. left4bread

    left4bread

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    My bad.

    i-started-a-new-job-and-felt-like-soundboarding

    Fixed.

    I followed your "interview advise" thread with great interest.  Glad everything worked out for you.

    Guess they weren't joking about the 55/hr per week. 

    Sounds annoying, but it also sounds like they're being smart by not just throwing you into the Chef de Cusine position.

    I spent my first week NOT cooking the line on purpose.  I was hourly for that time and I just wanted to observe/absorb the surroundings.

    I'm excited for you.  It sounds like you and your employers are going to be happy with your work.
     
  3. someday

    someday

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    This is also a golden opportunity to see, from the ground up, what/where/when/who the problems are, so that by the time you ARE in a position to do something about it, you should have a pretty good idea where to start. 

    Don't get TOO close with your crew, since you will have to be their boss soon and may have to crack the whip. 
     
  4. cosanostra

    cosanostra

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    Have been out of the industry for about a year just generally trying to put myself back together again.

    Saw an advert for a Head Chef job in the town I grew up in and sent off my CV, had a brief chat with the owners and got offered the position straight away! It's pretty different to what I'm used to doing, having come from a mostly fine dining background and this place is more of a bistro. Just been planning menu's out at the moment, working out staff rota's, re-organising the kitchen etc as I don't start officially for another couple of weeks, but I'm really looking forward to it. It's exactly the kind of place I'd like to own myself one day. Owners are already talking about giving me a piece of the business to keep me here long term so who knows what will happen. The reason I left in the first place was because there were no good restaurants for a chef to train in so off on my travels I went, it will be really nice to raise the bar a bit in the local scene but am a bit concerned whether customers will mind paying a little more for higher quality food?

    I've worked with all my kitchen team before so no nasty surprises waiting for me there although I'm slightly concerned that even though I've told these guys that I'm looking to do simpler food here than in my previous positions I'm not sure they quite believe me yet. A little worried they might not like the new direction I'm trying to take and all leave pretty quickly, but only time will tell I suppose.

    The front of house looks a total shambles. I'm used to working in teams where the FOH generally put as much time and care into their work as the kitchen, but here the service looks very slapdash and a bit amateurish. I spoke to the owners about this and advised them that it probably would be a good idea to hire a restaurant manager as at the moment no-one seems to be in charge and they all seem to do what they want. I'm concerned because I have very little experience FOH myself so can't really start telling people what to do but at the same time I know what good service looks like, if that makes sense? How can I, the chef advise them on service without sounding like an arrogant know-it-all? I'm just worried that it will end up with me losing my temper and blowing up at one of them. This was a regular occurrence in my last job and don't want to start like that again.

    All in all I'm really looking forward to it, think I have learned from past mistakes and so am looking to deal with problems before they happen rather than wait for the inevitable water drip build up and inevitable implosion.

    I suppose in a nutshell what I'm asking is how do you guys keep calm and not lose your temper when you feel like you're about to explode?
     
    rgm2 likes this.
  5. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    Thanks for the feedback guys! At first I didn't see this as a good thing, but now that I have had some time to be there and adjust to my new place, I am actually pretty ok with the training. I am taking good notes and figuring out everything that needs to be done to get this place where it needs to be. Now, don't get me wrong, the place is doing GREAT from a customer standpoint. We have awesome nights, and in fact, on Monday night, they did just as good as a slow Friday. So the business is there. There are just some things that need fixing... Recipes not being followed, high amount of waste and over prep, some ordering troubles... I mean hell, the place has had no BoH leadership for TWO years. Considering that, I think they are doing ok.

    The one really bad news I got was the day our Corporate Chef came back from vacation, he decided to part ways with the company. It sucks because he and I got along GREAT and I was SO looking forward to working with  him. He and I spent some time talking yesterday and he told me that he would help me out in ANY way he could. He also told me that per his severance he is required 10 consulting sessions with me over the next 20 weeks. He asked me what I wanted to do with that, and I told him what I REALLY wanted to do was some molecular gastronomy (which in NO way will help my job, but its some cool stuff, and I wanna learn about it). He said that was great, and we'd do that. I'm pretty excited about it.
     
  6. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    Forgot about this in my other post.....

    I will be the first to admit, it took me a long time and a lot of growing up before learning how to not explode on my staff. Some times though, I think its necessary.... like say, if you saw a staff member throw away a whole prime rib for no reason, or if for the 7th time you have told them "Look we are in an open kitchen, stop F'ing EATING ON THE LINE". 

    I find what works best for me is stepping away, be it outside, or whatever, for a few minutes to just collect my thoughts, and then sitting down with the person, and being direct, but not forceful. 

    This doesn't work for everyone, but its worked ok for me. Mostly :)
     
  7. rgm2

    rgm2

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    The best advise I can give you on this is to take an empathetic mindset with all of your staff in the beginning. Your FOH needs leadership, this does not mean a tyrant... FOH is typically full of much thinner skinned folk. Train them, set standards and allow them to learn as you would a linecook on his first day. Teach them and hold them to the standards, but be mindful of their timid souls :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  8. rgm2

    rgm2

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    I have just crossed the 3 month mark in my role of cook. It has surprised me how at home I feel in the kitchen. As I have said before in other threads, I do not really work in a "real" restaurant, but in a cafe on a tech company campus. In my training I worked in the busiest cafe we have here and it totally did not prepare me for my actual job. The guy that works the grill there does about 3/4 of the total covers I do, but he does not have to do hardly anything for prep because the Sous Chef there is like a Yoda fighting Count Dooku. He is a freakin beast in the kitchen. Anyway, I don't have this in my kitchen. I butterfly 20 pounds of 5 oz chicken breast, make 2 different marinades, slice all the 6 different cheeses we offer, make 2-5 specials for 20 portions each, slice a box of tomatoes, prepare 2 sides of "healthy options" that nobody hardly EVER eats. I made a double batch of fresh bread for one stupid vegetarian sandwich 1-2 times a week in the biggest steal bowl I have ever seen with a freakin whisk(we have no mixer available like the other cafes). It is just way more than I had imagined based on my training cafe. hahaha. I freakin love it, my Chef gives me a ton of freedom to invent my own stuff(of course he must sign off on it) and they have gone through 5 people in my role in the 6 months before I started and not one could handle it. So I give it 2 thumbs up... other than the training hahaha
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  9. left4bread

    left4bread

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    8 days in and I got almost every BOH guy pulling me aside and questioning my intentions.

    Planning a meeting next week so I can explain my method of attack.

    Then I lay down the law.

    Not in an oppressive way, just in a "I respect your opinions, but let's get labor down and let me get FC under control...

    Then we can be creative."

    I kinda feel like I'm in the same boat as you, only your thread has replies.
     
  10. leeniek

    leeniek

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    One month in and I quit.  It was just not for me.  The place has lots of problems and when I would come up with a solution I was met with the standard "this has worked for two  years why cant you see that?" response.   I think I knew it was a bad move for me but hey I had to see what was out there.

    My new new job is all about getting my own business off of the ground.  I'm looking at a small scale catering and personal chef service.  It's going to be alot of work and I know that but I'm ready for the challenge!
     
  11. airforks

    airforks

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    crazycookin, left4bread- I definitely know where you are coming from (although months/years of gruntwork is SOP in the AF). In my experience- it is worth it. There are very few people in this world who truly want to be excellent. When you show, over the long haul, that you are one of those people- opportunities open for you (even if you find out you aren't ready for them). I developed a reputation as being someone who care a whole lot about the smallest task I was assigned, and I've now got way more "exciting" tasks than I can handle (in a *mostly* good way). What matters is what you make out of your opportunity.

    I recently ready some FANTASTIC articles about leadership, check them out (I'd be interested what any more experienced members think of them too):

    http://streetsmartleader.com/2011/03/06/how-to-manage-your-ex-peers-following-a-promotion/ -- How to manage your ex-peers following a promotion

    http://streetsmartleader.com/2010/10/03/the-challenge-for-your-authority/   --  How to handle the (inevitable) challenge to your authority

    I will say this- the nice thing about the AF is that, if all else fails- you're allowed to yell at people! On the other hand, the bad thing about the AF is, if all else fails- you're allowed to yell at people. If you're losing your temper, people are losing respect for you. (but sometimes....)
     
  12. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    I really appreciate that I have a good time to train, but I am running into problems with my line cooks (I have not yet been 'allowed' to work on the line). First off the one guy who is somewhat acting as the KM (not really though, he just knows how to work every station and can do some bad ordering) is all butthurt because he didn't get my position. He spends most of his shifts pouting, which is REALLY annoying. His shit attitude has got to stop. Secondly, they are HORRIBLE at clean up when it comes to closing time (another thing this supposed KM is in charge of most nights - I however am not scheduled to close until the end of this month). Third, I don't think they take me very seriously as far as a 'boss' position goes, because they know I am stuck in this training program. I think they think it means I don't have any say. 

    Sorry this is a bit disjointed. I have been sick for 2 days, and I think its getting to me.
     
  13. left4bread

    left4bread

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    You need a pep talk!

    You TOTALLY got this under control.   This is something that you KNOW you can do.

    That KM got you down?  [email protected] that guy.  Fire him.  Or at least confront him/grab him by the neck in some way. 

    Explain to everyone that you have a plan of attack for the kitchen (even if you don't, but I'm sure you do).

    Demand respect; you deserve it. If not through experience, then by rank.

    Throw out some new arbitrary rule.  It doesn't need to be arbitrary, but put your foot down on something.

    Establish your authority. 

    Talk to your superiors about your concerns.   Chances are they will agree and that is why they hired you.

    Because they trust you and they trust your experience.

    Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.  Over-communicate.  Don't be annoying, but communicate.  Be honest with them; tell them your concerns.

    They will appreciate your candor.  

    The kitchen staff don't know what to think of you right now.  Of course they're expecting the worst.

    By all means, make friends if you can, but let them know that they are replaceable if you need to.

    I like to give kudos for something before I correct some bad behavior. 

     That's just me tho.

    You got this one.  You can do it.  And you want to do it.

    This is YOUR kitchen, whether you can work the stations or not.

    Don't let some punk line cook get your goat.

    Take a deep breath.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Let it out.

    I don't know you at all, but you got this one...  easily.

    Get some rest.  Be refreshed.  TCOB.

    Feel better?
     
  14. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    Wow, that was awesome. Thanks!
     
  15. rgm2

    rgm2

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    step 5: profit
     
  16. left4bread

    left4bread

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    OMG I hate that.  Why even bother trying?  Glad you got out.


    Those were kinda good articles.  I already knew most of the techniques, but now I feel affirmed.


    Anytime.  For reals.  I got your back. 

    You got a bigger crew to manage than I do, and I'm in a mom and pop bistro, so I feel bad that you got heavier worries than me.

    So I'm on the same page as you, but way smaller scale.

    My pep talk was just what I said to myself a week ago.

    Don't take what I said too lightly, though. 

    You are the chef/chief.  It's your kitchen.  Let them know that, one way or the other.

    This is the place to vent, but don't let them know that you need to vent!

    step 4: ???
     
  17. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    I spoke with my boss about the KM situation. I was basically told, "You are the chef. You need to manage this!" So, on Wednesday, the KM and I are going to sit down and have a little heart to heart talk about what I expect from him. It was also made very clear to me that if this guy is not KM material, we'd replace him in a heartbeat. I don't think I will word things so harshly, as I don't want his little feelings to be hurt, but I will make it clear to him my intentions and expectations. If he can't step it up in the next few weeks... well, then I will have to make another decision. 

    I get to do the special on Thursday! I'm excited because this is the first actual "chef like" thing they have let me do at my job in 3 weeks. I'm thinking a Pecan crusted Grouper with a warm Butter Pecan sauce. Can't come up with a side yet though.
     
  18. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Was ready to walk today.

    Almost teary-eyed hopelessness.

    Stress, hours worked, dreams... 

    Got my second wind, or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

    No one said it was going to be easy.

    Wait...  That's EXACTLY what I told myself and my employers.

    Never said that I wasn't a liar.
     
  19. crazycookin

    crazycookin

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    Now I am having a problem with another line cook, this guy everyone has been telling me about but I never saw any kind of attitude.... Until last night. He's got one of those "everyone's out to get me" kind of problems, and really, he's just out to get himself. I know pretty much every one is fed up with him, so I don't think he's long for this job. 

    left4bread, sorry to hear you had a bad night. I know how you feel. Today is a new day. Just keep on truckin'!

    In good news, I ran my first special last night, and we sold out in 2 hrs and 20 minutes. I was totally stoaked!
     
  20. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Lol, it would stress me out if we ran out that soon!

    What did you decide for starch?  I was thinking a fried risotto cake, but that would be too heavy.

    Kinda phoning in my specials until I get my feet firmly planted.

    Ribeye with a reduced wort (local brewery, un-hopped) /bourbon sauce (Yeah, I know. Sounds too aggressive for a ribeye. It works, though).

    Smashed fingerling potatoes crisped in olive oil. Market veg.

    Fresh sockeye with a compound butter.  Meh.

    Haven't done a nut crusted fish in a loooong time.  Hmmmm...

    Sous Chef is gone for a week so I got to buck up and not let things get to me.

    Food costing is semi top priority for me. 

    Changing recipes next.

    Still trying to work the line (only done 3 legitimate nights).

    The problems that I have with the line cooks can be worked out.  I think that I've got a good team.

    They are all willing to work whatever I throw at them while I try to work out the schedule and reduce labor.

    Some of them even work off the clock.  Commitment.

    There aren't a lot of venues of this kind to go to in this town, and two higher end restaurants closed in the last 2 months, so...

    I just freak out when we don't have clean jackets and towels and I see the salmon fillets bathing in water in the walk-in and there are unsanitary prep procedures and, and, and... ad nauseum.

    Been biting my tongue a lot.  Don't want to be "that guy", but I need to start being... well, a chief about it.  I gotta stop worrying about peoples feelings, or find a way to confront them without hurting their feelings.  This is a smallish town.  I've found that it's better to NOT make enemies and that coming down with an iron fist will lead to unemployment.

    Next week's sandwich special is banh mi with char siu (been working on a recipe for a while) as the protein.

    Pork tenderloin "teriyaki" (not gonna call it that) with coconut milk jasmine rice [edit: and] a mango coulis. 

    Some undecided trio of stuffed fried wontons as an app.  Prolly bbq pork, smk salmon w/ cucumber, and sweet potato.

    Feels a bit contrived, but easy and executable given that we're all still kinda new at this place.

    A bit overwhelmed, but at least I can go home and have a bottle of wine and cry about it all over this place. ;)

    Sorry for venting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011