Tell me why!?

Joined May 2, 2014
So I have been cooking since I was 13 in restaurants. (Obviously it wasn't legal but what can you do.) I have been through culinary school and now I am a new KM for a very well off restaurant and bar that is very quickly expanding. But I have one small issue I have never thought of being a Manager at this point. I love what I do and I love working with the people that are in my kitchen... However my GM and my DO are driving me up the wall with all this corporate BS. I get a weekly budget for food and produce that is nothing short of impossible to stay under without running out of items. This store does a ridiculous amount of volume and the new menu roll-outs and the opportunities are awesome but the Upper management paper pushers and number crunchers are ruining my passion for this. I love cooking I love designing menus and I love training and teaching people how to cook in that crazy high stress environment when it gets slammed. Any advice to a chef turned KM?
Matty B
Joined Aug 19, 2012
It doesn't sound like you want to be a KM or exec chef. Without the interest in the business side of it, you aren't going to enjoy yourself. Maybe you should ask for a demotion to an assistant position? You would probably get a lot of respect for telling them you like working for them but you want to focus on cooking and teaching and aren't ready for the business side of being a KM.
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Joined May 2, 2014
I actually have been thinking about that a lot I am not completely sure how they would take that... I do love the training and cooking. I also have gotten next to zero training for being a KM. They sent out a KM from another store and he had two weeks to "show me the ropes and the ins and outs" of being a KM and even he looked at me and told me that it wasn't enough time to train me to do this job effectively. Thank you for the feed back Chef Brandon!
Matty B
Joined Apr 6, 2014
WEll, I am an Exec chef, but not in a corporate.

 Almost all of my time is spent away from the stoves, if I can work one shift a week  on the pass or the line, that is a lot :0

Targets are always hard to meet, and they should be.

Until you have run a kitchen you are not a chef, you are a cook, nothing wrong with that, just the way it is. 

 Unfortunately the modern world requires chefs to be businesspeople  first and craftspeople second.  it took me a while to fully understand that cash is not king, cash flow is

You need to understand that financing and cash flow, costings and expenses are much more important than what goes on a plate. 


And I hate to say that.

 If you want to progress your career  you will need the experience of managing kitchen finances.  If you read  most help wanted adverts these days  the position of head chef almost always requires a knowledge of finances and business. Working for a corporate with all their support systems is a good way to gain that experience, even when you decide to go back to freestanding kitchens.
Joined Aug 7, 2008
I spent many years as a Corporate Exec. I can't say I see Cash flow as more important than what goes on a plate, although it may seem like that at times. Irrespective of whether you work in a corporate environment or not if you fail to grasp the significance of cost and cash flow then your career at the top will likely be limited. What goes on a plate is equally as important as the bottom line or parameters that your employer sets for you. This will never change in a corporate environment.

I'd suggest not allowing yourself to slip into that mental state where you find that annoying but rather take it as a personal challenge. Even if you don't hit your numbers after a period of time you should be able to show consistency. Once you are comfortable with that talk to your GM and tell him the numbers need to be adjusted based on the numbers you see over time from your unit. Your GM may have more wiggle room on this that you realize. Some times you can negotiate credits to those numbers that will give you some flexibility.

Stick to it. To me it sounds like you are plenty ready for the job but experiencing the same initial challenges that almost every other Chef that moves up through the ranks faces.
Joined Apr 30, 2014
Im not an exec, but I would probably put pen to paper or work out some spreadsheets on cash flow versus food costs, labor, etc. Get a very good idea of where things are going. Try to come up with some innovative ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. if these things just aren't.possible, then you at least have a spreadsheet to sit down and show your boss (es). Explaining the situation will always have more significance when you have the numbers right in front of them.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Unfortunately, this is what almost every chef is up against on a daily and weekly basis-how to put out the best product possible yet stay within the budgets we have.  It's not enough to be a great cook, an awesome trainer, and mentor, a chef needs to have good business skills.  Without those you will never move beyond a sous chef level, if even that.  While just about every chef I know wishes they had a better food or labor budget, we understand the reality of things and work hard to do the best we can with what we have.  To me, that challenge is part of the fun of being a chef and trying to develop a menu that meets both my expectations and standards and the budget that my bosses (owners, or corporate) has set for me.

If the place is doing as well as your posts makes it sound then it sounds like your bosses have probably given you a pretty decent budget.  If it was too low my guess is that they would have turned off people by now and you wouldn't consider this place to be "well-off."  Since their formula seems to be working (unless there is more information than you have provided) then it seems to me that you need to adjust your perception and figure out a menu mix that meets the expectations of your bosses. 

Unfortunately, much of what the chef (or KM) does gets done away from the line.  Ask most chefs and they will probably tell you they'd like to spend more time cooking, but the focus of the chef is much more "big picture." The challenges change as you climb the ladder, in the kitchen.  It's up to you to decide if you want to advance your career or if you want to remain a line cook.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
What do you mean run out?  The reason you run out is

1)  You are not using your dry goods efficiently.

2)  Stuff is in the fridge and freezer

3)  Theft

4)  Improper pricing

I suggest you come in one night and inventory all product in the kitchen.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Keeping tighter control of your portions might help as well. Like, pre-packaging the perfect portion (portion cups, baggies, etc) for each order can eliminate waste. You cook might be heating up extra garnish for dishes (more veggies, potatoes) then he/she needs for a dish. Those extra beans or asparagus (or whatever) usually end up in the trash. If you throw away the equal of 10 orders a week of asparagus, that might be why you are running low or out of it by sunday night. 

Make sure people are using ladles for sauces, for soups, etc. One portion of soup in a 6oz ladle, one sauce is 2oz, or whatever. 4oz turkey for the sandwich, 6oz burgers, all that. 

This is a bit of a pain to do, because you have to spend time during prep to portion things, but it ensures consistency and minimal loss of product. 

The more volume you do the more critical the portion control. A little bit here and there can add up to a lot by the end of the week. 

Just a thought. 
Joined Apr 12, 2010
I'm just a line cook, but I know a bit about management, and you're always going to get the lowest budget possible.  Your boss's job is to look at the finances and figure out how to make the owner/investors as much money as possible, and then you are the guy that puts it into practice and operate the place within the standards they give you.  Especially since you are new, they may be trying to see what you are capable of doing with a tight budget.  Do you know what the budgets were in the past months/years before you took the job?

Definitely waste is a big part of it.  If you've been in business a while and keep track of your menu mix, then you should be able to set fairly accurate par amounts to limit over ordering/prep.  Does your menu have items that use a lot of the same ingredients?  Or items that can use the trimmings/byproduct of another item?  What do you do for staff meal?  

Are you using the same venders for as the previous manager?  When doing purchasing, sometimes you can save in bulk with nonperishables, but keep in mind that doing this, especially with dry/canned items, it can throw off your budget by spending a lot one week, and much less the next week.  I've heard of people who end up really blowing their monthly budget trying to buy canned goods for a year!  Not always the best idea, but if you're breaking cases 2x a week, then just buy the whole thing!  Does that make sense?

Anyway, if you want to advance your career beyond a cook, and I think you do, you have to learn all this at some point, so why not now?

Again, I don't have the most experience, and you may already know most this, so just ignore it if you do haha.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Food and labor cost need to evaluated pretty much weekly or even daily depending upon your situation.Remember that Soup is your friend as well as Specials on the food cost end ( dont forget to watch out on the theft)! Manage your hours and productivity which has become the biggest thing the big wigs looks at as far as how can we get more money with less labor! Maybe instead of moving down a position you should take your skills to another employer.

I feel for you and I am sure many do here also as the world of financial gains have pushed so many mid level managers to the edge! Good luck, Doug
Joined Jul 17, 2012
Having worked in many roles at corporate restaurants for some time, I think it would be useful to get some more details. How many restaurants does the company operate? How much flexibility do you have with menu and suppliers? What corporation is it - if you can tell us of course. This info would help.
Joined Aug 7, 2013
The Numbers are the key to any good business. Without The Numbers, there is no business.

If you want to move up, there is no other option.  It is one of those things that you must accept and stomp through.

Learn it and get good at it.  It's okay to hate it, but you've GOT to do closing the kitchen by yourself on a Saturday night...

and the dishwashing machine is broken.
Joined May 15, 2014
You'd better know what you want first I think because if you love your job  no matter how crazy the stress is, you'll always find ways to overcome and why not to manage it; if not try to find the best position.

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