Unfulfilled Kitchen - Trying to Work With Boss

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by tabla kid, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. tabla kid

    tabla kid

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    I work at a little bistro that lost its way at some point.  It is being run by a family duo of owners that seem fairly out of their league.  For the prices imagine a young, vibrant kitchen in Portland, Austin, Vancouver or some other foodie city, special night out.  The actual food is coming out at about at a diner quality.  44 dishes, with 1-2 chefs, being made with mostly institutional, canned ingredients.  Nothing is local or seasonal.  Given the prices, the beautiful dinning-room and patio, you'd expect a lot more effect out of this place.  Rather than focus on a couple of dishes done well the "contemporary-american" menu is a pretty sad spread.  The yelp and such reviews tend towards bad experiences, and I've heard people warn friends about it passing by.  I doubt the owners see it.  The younger spends a fair amount of time in the kitchen, but doesn't seemed worried about the food itself.  He'll tell me to make a salad "look" 17 dollars, as though fluffing the stale prepackaged mixed greens is going to make a difference.  Even with his hours put in on the line, he is way more focused on the websites, hiring a lot of photographers for god knows what, fiddling around with concepts and happy-hours and specials, than making legit food.  The older of the owners just kind of hovers around, makes sure I'm going crazy with the hand-towels or using up too much aluminum wrap.  They seem to be generally nice, hardworking people but this strategy of bare-knuckle cooking a huge menu with a minimum of cooking staff at explosive prices isn't my kind of show.  The owners seem to blame the economy, and when I look at the business being done in our area that seems a sad excuse.  And yet management continues to pay for live music and a gaggle of lazy wait-staff.  What causes this sort of self-destructive behavior in owners? 

    I'd love an inspirational story, about someone young and ambitious who turned a place like this around.  Kind of doubt you're out there, though... 
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  2. someday

    someday

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    Uh...

    Are you a line cook or a chef? If you are a line cook, there is probably not much you can do, unfortunately. If you are the chef, then you have to sit down with both of them and explain, politely, what you think may need to change (from a kitchen perspective). 

    You could try starting with something small...offering a special for a weekend. Do something you would like to see put on the menu, like something freshly cooked and not from a can, and see what the feedback is. Get the owners to taste it, get the staff to taste it, solicit feedback from the customers, etc. SHOW them what can be done. 

    What causes this in owners is most likely a lack of real restaurant experience, bad training, or both. Laziness might play a factor too. Complacency is also a favorite. 

    If you are a cook looking to move up in the world and learn a thing or two, I would honestly recommend you find another job ASAP and get into a kitchen that makes food from scratch and has a real chef who can teach you some stuff. Scooping out of steam tables and opening cans will not teach you many valuable cooking skills. 
     
  3. sherbel

    sherbel

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    Unfortunately some situations are beyond our power to make right. When owners aren't really about the food it's discouraging for an employee who cares, and unless the owners are looking for someone to to steer them right, it's doubtful if your input would be welcome. Always worth a try, though.

    I would be keeping my eyes open for new opportunities.
     
  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Like everyone else writes, there's not much you can do to improve he quality if the owners don't think it necesary.

    However, this is life, and everything in life is experience.  By now you should be aware of the "ratio" of blogging/photos/webwork, etc., to the quality of the food:  More emphasis is on the hype, and the absolute minimum on quality.  You've already known this is not good, the owners haven't. 
     
  5. tabla kid

    tabla kid

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    I heard talk of them bringing on an executive chef.  I have reason to be skeptical of this "exec-chef," but honestly even a olive garden chef would be better than the ad hoc owner/chef thing going on at multiple restaurants.

    The only thing to do is grit my teeth, get up every morning, and make sure my resume is up to date and getting around town.
     
  6. panini

    panini

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    Well, I'll jump on the other side. The owners probably did not hire someone to critique their business. Sometimes we get a big head and chose to

    identify all the negatives. This is cancerous. Please, for the owners sake, Move on. There are not many people who sacrifice everything they own in

    life to throw it down the drain. I mean, I'm just sayin.

    Keep this attitude and you will never achieve the feeling of success. Why not try to identify 1 positive thing each day and expose it.

       I'm not saying walk in their shoes, but please respect and don't dirty them.

    Panini

    Think back to when you were hired. Have you lived up to everything you told them you could do?
     
  7. tabla kid

    tabla kid

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    Yeah, its not my money, but they lie to customers.  About the ingredients, what is made from scratch, and that isn't cool.
     
  8. ashliras

    ashliras

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    Talk to the younger owner, tell him you have some ideas and would like to cook a few dishes for him. Keep in mind when creating menu items that it is not what you can do once, it what you can do 30 times a night or with a full rail. Simpler is better.

    Cook said dishes for the man and see if he likes it. If you know how to cost out a menu item, cost it out for him and show him the numbers.

    The best you can realistically hope for in a line position is to just cook everything that is your responsibility to the best of your ability, keep your eyes open and learn all you can, remember that learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.

    -Ashliras
     
    movingfoward1 likes this.
  9. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    It may not be cool, ethical, or legal, however, that is the owner(s) problem, not yours!

    You may not agree or even appreciate it, but you were hired to do what the owner(s)/chef want you to do. If you do not like it, you may find a new job, if you can.
     

    Listen to Panini! Unless you are hired as Chef (using the term to mean the one in charge of the kitchen), do the job you were hired to do. IF, and only if, the CHEF asks your advice, comment(s), or opinion(s) should you even consider offering any. Even a Master Sargent is intelligent enough to keep his mouth shut until the General, or other superior officer, asks for his input and you are a long way from being a Master Sargent!
     
  10. greg

    greg

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    It takes a certain type of person to do that sort of thing; obviously you're not in agreement with that type of behavior. Even if you change things in the kitchen so that they are not lying, they'll still be that sort of person and that behavior will probably manifest itself in some other way you will not be in agreement with. Given that, the best you can do is move on and find someone to work for that shares your passion for and pride in good cooking.
     
  11. chefross

    chefross

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    Good things come to those who wait.

    AND....

    People always get what's coming to them.  Maybe not now while you're there, but it WILL happen.
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    One day when you have your own place you can implament as many changes as you like. What you should do now is realize their errors, rememeber them and try not to do the same in your place. Call it free training and schooling.
     
  13. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    This is America, where freedom is speech is one of our rights, even if they don't take his input and do anything with it, he still has the right to voice his opinion if he so chooses.
     
     
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, technically, the government can't restrict speech, but private property owners have all the right in the world on their property to do so.
     
  15. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Ah-yup.  And the owners can excersie their rights too, and can his azz.
     
  16. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    I understand that, but putting in positive input or suggestions doesn't seem like great grounds to fire someone (Yes, I know it's still their right)

    I agree that moving on to another restaurant that is more along your style and views on how food should be created would be a better choice, It won't hurt to talk to them and see how they feel about making some possible changes.
     
  17. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    SquirrelRJ,

    You are absolutely correct, Tabla Kid has every right to say whatever he wants/img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gifon public property on his own time!

    His right to "free speech" does not, however, trump the owner's rights to run their business any way they see fit that does not violate local, state, or federal laws.

    No employee has the "right" to tell a boss what to do or how a job should be done, period. That is called insubordination and, to the best of my knowledge, is a termination offense.
     
  18. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    Lying about ingredients has to violate some sort of local/state laws, no?

    I merely think he should still voice his concerns to his boss, that is, if he even wants to continue to work at this restaurant, which seems ill advised to begin with.
     
  19. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    You were hired as a cook, stfu and cook. There was another similar thread a while back. Until you are hired for or asked to give your opinion, stfu and cook.

    Lying or misleading about ingredients or preparations, is it against the law ?, no, is it unethical ? Yes Don't like it, move on.

    Pete could not have said it better......

    Unless you are hired as Chef (using the term to mean the one in charge of the kitchen), do the job you were hired to do. IF, and only if, the CHEF asks your advice, comment(s), or opinion(s) should you even consider offering any. Even a Master Sargent is intelligent enough to keep his mouth shut until the General, or other superior officer, asks for his input and you are a long way from being a Master Sargent!
     
  20. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    So, knowingly lying about ingredients, and possibly killing someone and/or making someone sick who has an allergy to certain ingredients, that's not against the law?