To Stay, or Not to Stay That is the Question

To stay, or not to stay

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121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
Hi all,

Just joined because I have this dilemna that no one else would better understand than fellow cooks/chefs. I'd love any kind of feedback you can give me to make this decision easier for me. 

Culinary experience: less than 1 year. Started my first job as a fry cook 12 months ago and was let go after two weeks, from what the head chef told me it was because I wasnt able to keep up. However; the sous chef whom I got close to told me it was because during the interview, I had mentioned I wanted to open a restaurant one day and I shouldnt have said that. I figured something was up when I was supposed to make spicy mayo(this was a really popular sushi restaurant) and the owner said he would do it. They thought i was going to steal their recipes and open up a similar concept. It sounds, silly but I dont think he would lie to me. 

A month later I found myself as a line cook at an American Contemporary restaurant with Mediterranean influence. 

Started at garde manger and a couple of weeks moved to saute. Then the Head chef and CDC left to go to open a new restaurant and they asked me to come, they only asked me so i felt special. I told them I would follow them anywhere...

Of course, I had to stay a little longer to help the new chef with the inner workings of this place, we do a little under 2 million in sales. At this time, I had been cooking for about 3 months.New chef arrives and I tell him that I would like to give my 2 weeks. He replies with, there it is,I figured at least one of you would go with them. Over the next two weeks, I told him my one year goal is to become a sous chef, which we already had. He was very encouraging and was a great teacher and we got along really well. At the end of two weeks, he told me if I stayed he'd give me a dollar raise and groom me to be a great sous. 

I accepted and two months later, our sous left and I was offered sous chef and we negotiated a salary of 30k. I was ecstatic, to become a sous within 6 months and to be able to post it on social media,lol. I was speechless. Over the course of the next five months, things changed, his hours dwindled from 50-60 hrs/week to 30-40 hrs/week. Owners and managers weren't too concerned or even noticed because he never clocked in, nor did I. But when he was there, he answered all my questions and in a way became a great father figure. I remember I got frustrated and threw a quart of cream through our expo window, I got fired that night. 

I apologized a few days later and he told me to come in and offered me my job back. Two weeks ago, he told me he was leaving to open another restaurant. He wanted me to go and be his Jr Sous Chef right below his executive sous. I told him heck yea, every time someone leaves, they always want me to go with them. I felt great, but the managers knew this was going to happen and spoke to me. They offered me the head chef position. We haven't spoke about numbers, but I know what my chef is offering me at the other place. 

45k, one weeks paid vacation and insurance(fully paid) after six months, and a quarterly bonus which roughly translates to 4500 a person, plus I would continue my learning under this great chef who has 20 years experience and worked at some badass places in the DC area. 

What would be the minimum amount of money I should receive from current restaurant before it would be stupid to leave with my chef?

One hand, I would continue learning under my executive sous and my head chef, but on the other hand I can force myself to learn new things, get paid well, do what i want with the menu(almost).

I love every aspect of cooking professionally, but i just don't know. Will i ever get such an opportunity again in the next couple of years? My insecurity is that if I compare myself to every other head chef in the area, I would be considered under developed-- I learned so much from my chef--gastriques, demi-glace, flavor profiles and pairings I wouldn't even think of, but I also want to see if i can do it on my own as a head chef along with my line. 

Honestly, I'm just rambling at this point and it's because I'm so torn...any advice? Thanks in advance

P.S. I have till the 25th of January to come up with an answer. I will be getting an offer tomorrow after service from the current restaurant. 
 
2,238
516
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Ok, I'm going to play Debbie Downer here..........

You have less than one year of cooking experience, what makes you think that you are ready for a head chef's position, let alone a sous chefs job?

A sous chef has to be the bad ass cook of the kitchen, out cook everyone else, jump in bail out the line, expo, hit the pit if things are going down the tubes on that side, be the mediator between the FOH and back, schedule, order, enforce the chef's vision, teach and on and on.

These people are fools if they going to offer you the head chef job. What exactly are your qualifications? Just because your Facebook status says that you are a "Professional Chef" does not make one a Professional Chef.

Take a step back and let your head deflate a bit. NO ONE is going to pay a "cook" with a combined year's worth of experience as a fry guy, salad spinner & line cook $63k to be a JR sous or an exec chef.

I have 30 years on you and have a decent pedigree, I would be hard pressed to find a job with that kind of money as would many of the chef's on this board.

Work some decent places as a line cook for a few years, get the experience, gain the knowledge. Stay at least one year at each, move up each time, weather it's better food or a bigger operation. I also suggest some hotel time or catering, learn how to cook for 1500 at a seating, it's a whole different animal than working the line of a contemporary place doing 100 covers on a week day night.

It's all life experience that will make you well rounded which is what you will need some day to actually take a "Chef's Position"

It's late, us old guys have to go to bed.
 
856
33
Joined May 14, 2014
You are, frankly, totally unqualified for a head chef job. No offense meant, but everything chefbuba said is right. If the old chef wants to take you, is offering a mgmt job, and is a good teacher, why would you stay?
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
I got offered 60k, which is similar to my chefs deal to a certain degree. On my plate I have restaurant week, bar menu, dinner, brunch, and valentines day. Not a clue what to do, but I love to hear the feedback. Perhaps, I'm not ready...
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
No insurance, no bonus, no guidance... I hope I'm making the right decision. I'm going to accept tomorrow and hopefully we'll be in business tomorrow
 
4,763
1,012
Joined Aug 21, 2004
no guidance
You will be chef, you are supposed to be the guide, not need guidance. Do your best, either it will work out or it won't. Either way, it should be a great learning experience. Remember that not all learning experiences are about what we should do, many times they are about learning what we shouldn't do. Give it hell!
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
You're right, I'm not turning down this.... This opportunity, this money, this experience. If and only if I fail, that's the only way I'm going out.
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
Wait, I don't mean that. People say don't rush it, my time will come. Nvm, I'm doing it?
 
1,764
257
Joined Dec 23, 2004
I guess I'll be the dissenting voice- I say go for it.  Are you ready for it?  Probably not.  Do you 'deserve' it?  Who the hell knows?  I will say though that there's nothing to lose by trying.  In a way a chef job is kind of like a head coaching job; there are so many people out there and only so many jobs.  Sometimes it feels like the only way to get a chef job is to already have one.  And once you get the job the next one is a lot easier to land.

Let me tell you a true story.  I used to work at a real nuthouse of a restaurant.  We had a guy that did dishes and part time salads.  Just through attrition because of how batshit crazy the owner was he wound up as kind of the temporary "exec chef" for a few weeks with pretty much just dish and salad experience.  He eventually left to go to an ethnic place working for an owner with more money than food sense.  Long and the short of it, after about three months of working the line enough guys left that he got bumped up to "Exec" there too (!).  Now he's a good guy, reasonably smart, but no real culinary knowledge at all.  Yet after a year he was making $70,000!  He ran that kitchen for several years, then left to take a really good job as a broker for a food company.  Stranger than fiction, right?

My point is, he probably wasn't "ready" and surely didn't "deserve" the job according to kitchen custom and tradition.  He didn't give a shit though- when opportunity knocked he darted through the door before someone could slam it in his face.

Go for it, Cook1st!  Take the money and the experience, and do your best.
 
121
16
Joined Jan 19, 2016
I am and I did, the hardest part was telling my old chef. I was scared...I didn't want to burn any bridges and make him hate me, but he was totally understanding and congratulated me. Now to copy and paste some other people's dishes and pass them as my own. Is there such a thing as plagiarism when it comes to food?
 
5,192
296
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Walk like a Chef, talk like a Chef, act like a Chef, delegate like a Chef and you will be a Chef. Stay focused and for goodness sakes don't let the leaches latch on, most of them are conduits to upper management.,

The most important advice I have is don't ever put your business in the street. It can be a little lonely at the top. Have acquaintances and professional friends. Having close buddies or really good friends (brothers,sisters) will usually bite you in the ass at some time or other.

Just my 2 cents.
 
2,522
802
Joined Feb 8, 2009
 
I am and I did, the hardest part was telling my old chef. I was scared...I didn't want to burn any bridges and make him hate me, but he was totally understanding and congratulated me. Now to copy and paste some other people's dishes and pass them as my own. Is there such a thing as plagiarism when it comes to food?
I took bites and pieces of any menu I could find that fit my operation. I would be having dinner at another chefs restaurant, when he/she came over to the table I would tell them that the dish was great.  I also told them it would be on my menu next week, it just won't look the same. You take a menu item put your spin on it and it's yours. 
 
984
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
In 6 months how did you have time to learn inventory control, food costs, supervision, scheduling, ect. ect. ?
 
1,835
541
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I'm calling BS on this. Lol, come on. 

"Now to copy and paste some other people's dishes and pass them as my own."

Come on, he's taking the piss. I know a lot of owner are crazy and stupid, but I don't think anyone would allow someone to be an exec chef for 60k a year without any knowledge of costing, menu development, etc. 

How would he even come up with new dishes!?!?!?!
 
198
15
Joined Sep 28, 2008
I'm calling BS on this. Lol, come on. 

"Now to copy and paste some other people's dishes and pass them as my own."

Come on, he's taking the piss. I know a lot of owner are crazy and stupid, but I don't think anyone would allow someone to be an exec chef for 60k a year without any knowledge of costing, menu development, etc. 

How would he even come up with new dishes!?!?!?!
well I replaced a "chef" that made 65k a year, didn't know how to use a computer, do inventory, menu engineering, none of it.

Made for great low hanging fruit for my first couple of months...
 
282
21
Joined Feb 13, 2013
I'm sorry but does anyone else think this thread is complete non-sense? Less than one year cooking experience and taking an executive chef position? You're not qualified to run a snack bar let alone a legitimate kitchen. I wouldn't trust you breaking down a chicken or cooking a scallop and I certainly wouldn't allow you to make a schedule, order food, write menus or make sound decisions based on "experience". This is either a fake thread or the kitchen is in complete shambles and the owners are clueless. I've seen some hugely stupid owners make terrible chef decisions but there's no way possible they would hire an entry level candidate as their salaried head chef.
 
3,294
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Joined May 5, 2010
 
I'm sorry but does anyone else think this thread is complete non-sense? Less than one year cooking experience and taking an executive chef position? You're not qualified to run a snack bar let alone a legitimate kitchen. I wouldn't trust you breaking down a chicken or cooking a scallop and I certainly wouldn't allow you to make a schedule, order food, write menus or make sound decisions based on "experience". This is either a fake thread or the kitchen is in complete shambles and the owners are clueless. I've seen some hugely stupid owners make terrible chef decisions but there's no way possible they would hire an entry level candidate as their salaried head chef.
It happens more then you may even realize.
 

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