The continuing saga - for real this time!

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by marmalady, Apr 26, 2002.

  1. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Okay - deep breath - Opening day has been pushed back again - maybe the end of May!

    Latest news is that they fired the head chef last week - IMHO, totally justified; he didn't show up for two important meetings with the equipment people and a food supplier - said he 'forgot'; and had the police show up one day to serve him a warrant for nonpayment of child support. Other little things, too, that just added up over time.

    So the search is on for a new head chef - any takers out there?!!
    Seriously, we're in central Jersey - the restaurant is going to be a 'family' type place; lots of sandwiches, fries, salads, and some entrees and 4 pasta dishes for entree. One neat thing they're doing is 'burgers 10 ways'; 10 different types of burgers - Mexican, California, Swiss, etc. - but you can order any 'type' with either a burger pattie, or chicken breast or veggie burger. I think it's kind of neat, but I know it's going to be a nightmare at first!

    They're estimating about a 50/hour work week right now - I think it's doable - I'll be running the day shift, and doing a lot of soup making, and 'specials' prep - so they're figuring the head guy/gal could come in around 1 and work til close - 9 on weekdays and 10-11 Fri/Sat. They're also closing on Sundays - I know, crazy; we could do a huge brunch and ice cream business on Sundays, but it's a religious thing with the owners and right now they feel pretty strongly about it.

    Since I'm the ex post facto only chef on board right now, I've been called in to go over what the ex-chef had ordered in terms of food and smallwares. What a nightmare!!!

    Had some final inspections yesterday, and the fire inspection failed, but it was little picky things so I don't think it will take long to get the final. All the big stuff like the fire alarms and exits and Ansel (sp?) worked.

    I told the GM I'm going to work on the assumption that we're not going to have a head chef by opening, and I'm in the middle of developing some recipes for the 'homemade' dressings/sauces they want. The owners are 'honey-mustard' freaks:rolleyes: so I've come up with a 'creamy honey mustard dressing', and a honey mustard dipping sauce for chix tenders, as well as a mandarin orange salad dressing for a 'tropical' salad, that I'm actually quite proud of!!!

    Anyway, I apologize for the crazy post last week - shot my mouth off and then got a phone call from the GM asking for this website so she could post a quest for a chef! She hasn't done it, and I know she's forgotten the name of the site, so I think I'm okay!!

    More later..............gotta go meet with the equipment guy who sold the owners the absolute wrong setups! (i.e., the only burners we have are a 4-top on the line; a convection oven that only holds half-pans; a pizza oven that only holds half-pans; - need i go on?!!)
     
  2. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Marmalady, sounds like you are doing great and jumping in wherever you are needed. Why don't you offer up your services for Ex. Chef job. You seem quite capable of the task, and if you are already taking those responsibilites on (at least for now) why not make it permanent (along with a raise).
     
  3. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Two and a half years ago, I started keeping a saltwater aquarium. I figured since I seem to have average intelligence and enough money to support my hobby that I would be able to take care of my new charges. I read and did my research, talked to experts, did everything the pros told me to do. BUT THAT FIRST YEAR WAS ROUGH. And for as bad as it was for me....those poor little fishies got the worse end of the deal, believe me.....
    Now I am significantly MORE EXPERIENCED, but the poor fish that gave their lives so I could learn what I was doing are still dead, even though now I could probably take care of them just fine......
     
  4. suzanne

    suzanne

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    I want to be like you when I grow up!;) You are one strong lady.
     
  5. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Dear Marmalady,

    You are in my thoughts,

    It's people like you that continue to show the dedication and passion that is our industry.

    Thanks for all your hard your and incredible attitude.
    I tip my hat to you
    cc

    Oh, PS...

    Suzanne, Don't ever change! you certianly grown up in my eyes.:chef:
     
  6. momoreg

    momoreg

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    I'm tired just reading that post! Well, marm., I'd come down there and lend a hand if I could. It sounds like you're learning a lot, at least. Good luck-- I hope you find a chef soon!
     
  7. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Thanks for all the words of support, peeps. I just feel like I'm putting one foot in front of the other right now, and doing whatever gets thrown in my path gets taken care of!

    Exec chef - no way!!!! First off, I can't work nights, because my son can't be left alone, and hubbie works nights, so I have to be home by 9. Secondly, I know next to nothing about restaurant pricing, food costs, all that; it's so different from the catering I've done, and frankly, i just don't want that responsibility. I just want to cook, and have some creative input!

    Didn't mention above re the problems with the kitchen setup; it's a small nightmare to say the least. The owners got rooked into buying equipment we don't need - like a 6 basket fryer - and a smalll, 4 compartment pizza oven that will only hold a half-pan (when we're only offering pizzas as a small item on the menu); a 4 burner top on the line, and no oven on the line. Walk ins, freezer and prep area are downstairs with a small convection oven that will hold 5 racks of half-pans. No oven.

    And my major concern is that the pass-through is right over the griddle and 4-burner. YIKES. I had a talk with one of the owners today, and she turned green while I pointed things out to her, but I think she listened. My solution was to get rid of the 6-basket fryer for a 4-basket one, move the griddle/burners/grill over to the right, and then we can put a counter top or something in the space that's left in front of the pass through, for plating, or whatever. They still owe this doofus money for the equipment, and I strongly suggested they not pay him til we get this resolved. I'm so angry that he pulled the wool over their inexperienced eyes like this! So we'll see - more later!

    Oh, the other problemo - they only bought a 4-slot toaster for a huge breakfast menu. Gulp. Suggested a conveyer, and their answer was why not use the pizza ovens for the toast? I - graciously said, okay, I'm willing to give it a try - and was promised that if the pizza oven doesn't work, he'll get me a conveyer.

    We certainly are living in interesting times lately!!!!!

    Again, thanks for all the support - gives me the confidence to keep on keepin on!!!!
     
  8. panini

    panini

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    Making toast in the pizza oven??Hurry! put something on the menu that requires a lot of croutons!
    Good luck to you, you have a lot more know how than you let on. Get compensated for the extra effort or you'll resent the chef when he or she finally walks in and everything is done.
    Just tying to avoid the post"this jerk has no idea what we went through to get this place open!":D
     
  9. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Hey Marmalady dont throw in the towel yet . This is a typical situation that arises from the chef and the owners not being on the same page with there vision of foodsevice . Realisticaly there either has to be a menu change or an equipment evaul now . You can make it work , as an executive chef in a former life talking from experience, but the strain and the improvisional measures you will have to maintain will be tough . Look for weight loss and long hours to initially pull it off good . The odds are bad though unless you can talk the owners into getting a grip before opening .
    How many seats do you have ? Location ? Estimated covers per day ? Employees ? Food cost ? Overhead ? Parking ? Feasability of the operation ?
    You allready see some of the negatives in the production kitchen , 6 baskets of frier space , only a 4 burner stove , no oven , and much more as you have stated . You know what you need Marmalady , good luck and any help I can be let me know .
    Yours Douglas
     
  10. marmalady

    marmalady

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    LOL, Panini - Yes, I'm already trying to think of specials involving 'crouton du jour'!! I was just trying to be diplomatic when I told the owners I'd try the toast in the oven; I know it won't work, but they need to see it for themselves. We're going to be playing in the kitchen for the next two weeks (opening May 20), and hopefully they'll see it for themselves.

    The owners are really sweet, dedicated people who -of course- know nothing about food, other than what they like. They've had some bad breaks - a la the equipment guy who sold them this bill of goods - and are pretty emotionally raw right now, between the stress of all the inspections (Health Dept. tomorrow), getting everything done (there's still minor building going on) on time, firing the guy they hired as head chef - who, by the way, saw no problems with the kitchen setup!!! So I'm trying to be gentle but firm.

    I approached the pass-through issue to them as a safety one; I'm actually a little miffed the fire inspection guys didn't catch it. I just keep emphasizing the safety of the line cooks having to reach over the hot grill to the pass-through. I think they're at least getting that, and actually if they replace the 6-basket fryer with the 4-basket one, I'll save them some money; more hassle, yes, and a last minute equipment change, but better in the long run.

    The oven (or lack of one) is another story; there's no room on the line upstairs; there's a huge basement area for ice cream prep, pastry prep, and the cold prep for the line upstairs. And no way to run a gas line downstairs without ripping up the basement. I was thinking - if the fire codes allow it, have to research that - of suggesting a used 6-burner w/oven and a propane hookup with tank on the outside of the building. There's an outside wall where the propane connection could come in, and space for an oven.

    I really am okay with all this - I'm taking a pretty Zen approach to it; all I can do is suggest things, and if they want to make their restaurant work, I think they'll see the light. Like I said, they got some pretty bad advice in the beginning. The GM sees all the problems, too - she's heard it from all the chef interviews she's had; but I think all she wanted was to have a 'food' person back her up.

    Doug, thanks for the support - ya know, a little weight loss would not be a bad thing! As for long hours, they know my situation at home with my son, and I've been pretty firm about what hours I can and can't work. I'll do as much as I can, but can only pull one night shift a week, so I feel pretty okay about that, too.

    Re your questions - "How many seats do you have ? Location ? Estimated covers per day ? Employees ? Food cost ? Overhead ? Parking ? Feasability of the operation ? "

    90 seats inside, patio about 30, but no service on the patio, only for the window takeouts who want ice cream or whatever. Location on the main road of a little village, road a major route to all state roads - lots of new developments going up - community economy can certainly support this. Loads of community support already, people have been bringing in old pics of the village to hang on the walls, the owners live in the community. The ice cream is going to be a big draw, as is the breakfast service, there's nothing anywhere around except for Dunkin Donuts and Bagelsmith. And the only 'family' restaurant besides a Perkins within a 5 mile radius is a former sleazoid bar that's trying to change its image. Oh, and parking is great - they put in a huge parking lot in back.

    No idea about FOH staff - I've stayed far away from that!! BOH so far is 9 line cooks, 3 preps, 2 dishwashers, a pastry person, an ice cream 'engineer' (position still open), and 2 chefs. I think I could pull a prep person up onto the pantry for pizza, cold sandwiches and salads during rush hours.


    I've already discussed with the GM that when they do hire the head chef, I still want some creative input, and she's with me on that. It's going to be hard for me to get into the 'yes, Chef' attitude with all the input I've had so far. I really am not in this for the glory, but the learning curve for me has ramped waaaay up! I love problem solving, and when I can combine that with a little food creativity, I'm a happy camper.

    Thanks again everyone for your support; being a part of this forum has boosted my confidence 'notches unknown!'; I feel like I have a whole set of new friends - who I never even met yet!!

    The saga will continue!
     
  11. suzanne

    suzanne

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    May I make a suggestion re: staffing? OMG, only 2 dishwashers?:eek: I really think you need 1 more, probably at least 2 more, since you didn't mention any other "clean-up" kind of person. With the hours you expect to be open, you need to cover multiple shifts each day you're open. And you need somebody to clean.
     
  12. cape chef

    cape chef

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    another note in regards to your utility staff.

    If you have a standard industrial machine, you will need one to recieve the dirty dishes, siler, glasses ETC from the service staff, he/she then orginises and passes to the one who feeds the machine, then one recieves all the clean goods and puts away. The first and second positions can not touch the cleaned dishes, because of re contaminating.
     
  13. mofo1

    mofo1

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    Marmalady,
    It sounds to me like you ARE the chef. Talk to the owners about some workable hours and go for it. The stuff that you said you don't know can be learned on the fly. There is no better school (at least for me) than the old "trial by fire" method. Most of the really good stuff I've ever learned has been by this method. GO FOR IT.
     
  14. marmalady

    marmalady

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    the staff I listed was only what's been hired so far; they do have plans for more dishwashers to be on board, and I think I heard some talk about the buspersons doing some of the initial scraping before the dishes go into the machine - they DID buy the industrial machines - thank goodness!

    Mofo, Thanks for the vote of confidence! You're right, I am the 'chef' right now; I just don't see how I could walk into a head chef position, not because I couldn't learn as I go, as you said, but because of my situation at home; I have a 25 year old son with a spinal cord injury, who's wheelchair bound and can't be left alone for medical/safety reasons. We have a daytime aide who works 7:30-2:30, which are the hours I would be at the restaurant. My hubbie works nights, and leaves the house at 9 or so, so I would have to be at home when he leaves. We've found a part time evening aide two nights a week, but aides are so ridiculously hard to find (my second mission in life is to write a book about the deplorable situation with home health aides in this country!). So I'm stuck with day hours, and wouldn't feel right if I were the head chef, not being on site during dinner hours. I do appreciate the support, tho - More than all of you will ever know!!! This is my first full time gig since my son's accident, and I feel like I'm finally coming out of the nightmare of the last three years, and regaining my 'self' again.
     
  15. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Dear marmalady,

    Thank you for sharing that very personal story with us.

    It's obvious that your inner strenghts are boundless.
     
  16. panini

    panini

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    day chef, night chef.kitchen manager, chef...who cares about the title, you seem ready for split responsibility.. plant the seed now so they can adjust pay scales. Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask, right? before my place I was on the opening team the last six positions I had. The saddest persons working were those who did not negotiate something in the begining.
    I'm sorry, you have enough on your plate right now. disreguard. I guess I would like to hear that your happy working there in the future since your so excited.
     
  17. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Marmalady, this industry needs more people like you. You are an inspiration!!:) :) :) :)
     
  18. marmalady

    marmalady

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    :blush: :blush: :blush: :blush: Aw, come on, guys! I'm just trying to be totally zen about all this, and am practicing 'washing the rice'. My mantra for when things get so complicated you can't seem to see your way out, and the best thing to do is just concentrate on what's right in front of you at the moment.

    Still no head chef; the first food order came in today, and the owners want me to cook breakfast for them tomorrow! As the sautee pans aren't in, I can do anything they want on the griddle:D ; I'll even do the toast in the pizza oven!:D :D :D
     
  19. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    Accept and do not judge . You said it Marm . As the Buddah said to his disciples when he was asked what they should do when he left them , Response , just do the best that you can . What else is there ? Remember , there are no justifiable resentments and wisdom is avoiding all thoughts which can weaken you . Remember that we cannot solve a problem with the mind that created it . Just my opinion but this does work for me . At peace with life , Douglas.......
     
  20. plum

    plum

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    How did breakfast for the owners go, Marmalady? Good luck. If you love problem-solving it sounds like you're going to have fun...

    Best wishes

    Plum.