Update on new job

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by ihoop, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. ihoop

    ihoop

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    Hi all,

    Around 3 months ago I started working at a very prestigious restaurant in my city.  At first, I was very excited about it, and was enamored with the idea of working there.  After I began working there though, I began to hate my job.  The shifts ended up being longer than I expected.....Almost always 14 hours.  All the cooks get "Shift Pay" , which means that I only clear 80 dollars per shift.  I end up working 4 days a week, putting in around 50-55 hours, and clear 320 dollars.  Ok , so money is just one thing, and does not really matter that much if you are learning a lot.  The thing is, the job is also always incredibly stressful.  From the moment I walk in the door, I have to move as fast as I can to get all my prep done before service (same with the rest of the line).  The restaurant has 0 prep cooks, and everyone on the line ends up doing prep within the first hour of service anyway, which can lead to a really bad service.  The kitchen has had an incredible amount of turnover in the last year.   Aside from the sous chefs, the senior line cook has only been there for 5 months.....I am next in line.  Honestly, I really want to quit, even though I have only been there for such a short time.  I am miserable, and I feel that cooking should be hard work, but also enjoyable to some extent.   Has anyone ever been in a similar position?  What would you do if you were in my shoes?
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    My friend you are being exploited. Look around for something else. In Florida 50-55 hours in McDonalds you would gross $400.00 to 425 and its most likely much easier. It also explains why there help does not stay long.
     
  3. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    $6 bucks an hr????....leave now!
     
  4. guts

    guts

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    What's the name of the restaurant?
    You might not want to listen to those first two replies...
     
  5. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Hm, $80 clear for 14 hour shift?

    Unless I'm misinformed, a 14 hour shift should pay the equivalent of 16-17 hours straight time.

    Figure, what, 20% for SS, MC, and withholding?, that's a gross of $100/shift, or an average of $5.88-$6.25/hour, about half the going rate for entry level, in my book.

    In my area, Central California, @ $10/hour (and that's the bottom), you'd gross $170 ( $10x8 hours + $15x6 hours), less 7.65% for SS & MC ($13.00) and, say, 15% for income tax withholding ($25.50) ($170-$13 -$25.50 ) or $131.50.

    Unless you're not telling us everything, you are getting the shaft!
     
  6. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Document your hours and days, what you spent your time doing and then report them to your local labor board. 

    You might be entitled to back pay for overtime.

    Then go look for another job.
     
  7. ihoop

    ihoop

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    I would rather not name the restaurant I work at.  Apparently the way we are paid is completely legal (Shift Pay).  I clock in and out every day, and all of my hours spent in the restaurant are documented.  It does not matter when I clock in or out though, a shift is a shift.  If I did end up quitting I would worry about how this would look on my resume.  I have only been at this restaurant for a couple months.   Apparently a lot of the other notable restaurants in my city pay in the same way....pretty depressing. 
     
  8. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    You might want to take a look at: https://www.google.com/search?q=shi...s=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
     
     
  9. leeniek

    leeniek

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    What you've described is what I experienced when I was at the diner and I quit after a little over a month. I was really happy there at first and I was excited about creating the daily specials again, but it wasn't at all what I expected. I cut my losses and got out of there.. and if I had to relive the experience again I'd have walked out int he middle of service when the owner yelled at me that I wasn't listening to her and treated me like an idiot, instead of trying to make a go of a situation that was not what I had thought it was going in. 

    I didn't  put the diner on my resume.. and I was asked in interviews why I left the breakfast place and I was honest... I told them that I had made a bad career move (which I did) and I had only month under my belt at the place (and I was asked to name it) when I felt it was the wrong place for me so I did everyone a favour and quit.  I trialed at a couple of small restaurants and while I think one wanted to hire me, I knew after my third trial day that I didn't want to work there so I didn't pursue it.  The servers were not nice at all to the cooks and after my experience at the diner I was not ready to put myself through that ever again. The other I deliberately screwed up... the kitchen was FILTHY and I spent my time there cleaning up after the cook.  He even said to me that cleaning is not his forte so that was enough for me to say thanks but no thanks. 

    I was honest in the interviews that I had over the summer, and it didn't stop the soup kitchen and the commissary from hiring me.  When I had my second interview for the commissary it was with the exec chef and the owner/operator and the HR person asked me why I left the breaky place and I told them straight that I had made a bad career move in accepting the KM job at the diner and the exec chef right away said that he's done the same thing in the past and he understood my postion.

    So if I were in your shoes, I would do just what I did if you can afford it, and if not, get looking for something new and get yourself out of there asap.  No need to put that place on your resume, you aren't going to be there long enough for them to really see just what you can do.

    all the best to you and keep us posted as to how things are going..
     
  10. guts

    guts

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    Eh, what they're doing is pretty normal practice for the higher end of the industry. If you're worried about labor laws and minimum wage and whatnot, you'd better get yourself into a franchise restaurant, hotel, or the like. The low wages and long hours without breaks are the price you pay for learning from talented chefs in notable restaurants. It's not for everyone.

    Mind if I ask what city you're in?

     
     
  11. ihoop

    ihoop

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    Yes, I get the same impression.....This is a pretty standard practice in higher end restaurants.  I'm in Philadelphia.....Why do you ask? 
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    HIGHER END RESTAURANTS?   PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK.  First anyone who accepts a job like this it's their own fault. It's called jumping without due thinking. Second as long as people do this they will continue to get away with it. Third call it what you want ,I call it  exploitation or BS.  Shift pay in the Palm Beaches relates to service people only and they are additionally compansated by gratuities and can make a living wage. If I were you I waould fake getting hurt and collect comp. from this bum.
     
  13. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Gotta agree with you there Chef Ed. This type of exploitation is rampant in the foodservice industry. NO other business can get away with this type of treatment of their production labor in the us without severe penalties.

    It mystifies me how FS continues to do so.

    I believe it stems from so many midlevel workers just accepting the status quo and this is why there is such a plethora of mediocrity in this business.

    The remedy to the rampant exploitation will only come from people like ihoop standing up for their rights as American workers, reporting such exploitation to the labor board and suing for back pay.

    If fair labor statutes were uniformly enforced in this industry, yes, plenty of restaurants with go under-that's a good thing. It raises the value of what we do, raises overall quality in the business as a whole and helps all workers in the long run by getting rid of the deadwood.
     
  14. thomas rhee

    thomas rhee

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    When I first started in the industry working for some of the top restaurants in NYC, the line cooks were paid a flat weekly rate for 6 days of work which is far lower than what the OP is currently making.  Each shift (lunch/dinner) was supposed to be "about" 10 hours sometimes up to 12.  Of course, those hours were not realistic because of the fact that it was very difficult to get prep finished before service so most of the cooks came in a few hours earlier "on their own time" and typically worked 14 hour shifts.  If one did the math, it ended up being less than minimum wage.  Also, if the alternate shift person gave notice and quit, you would be "required" to fill in until a new person came which was often within a few days.  However, we would need to babysit and teach that position for a week.  This "required" doing double shifts and working literally 18 hour days with no extra pay.

    Illegal?  Yes.  Immoral?  Absolutely.  Yet, this kind of thing is nothing new and happens with many of the top kitchens worldwide where for every position available there are literally dozens waiting to get in the door.

    At the time, I did it because those were the kitchens that I wanted to work in and it was considered the norm.  I also spent many hours "on my own time" even though I was free to go, in order to learn and saw it as an education.  It also communicated to the Chef that I was serious and passionate about my job and it led to faster promotions up the line as soon as openings came up.

    As for the OP, I won't say what to do one way or the other.  However, kitchen's in general are stressful and oftentimes as a line cook, you will be miserable and not enjoy your time being there.  The only thing that concerns me is that I've always felt that you should stick out any job for at least one year.  It looks terrible on your resume leaving a job after only several months and just as bad if you can't account for the time if you leave that restaurant out.  This is part of the reason why it's always a good idea to trail at a restaurant for a day or two to get a feel for whether that kitchen's environment is right for you.
     
  15. guts

    guts

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    "If I were you I waould fake getting hurt and collect comp. from this bum."

    You tell me to give you a break and then post this? Talk about professional.

    Anyways, yeah, it's tough working 14 hour days and getting paid such a low amount. You really have to focus on making it worth your while by learning as much as you can. If you really think it's that awful or immoral, it's not a prison. You're welcome to leave. I wouldn't, however, count on getting better hours or higher wages at any high caliber establishment.

    In the words of Rene Redzepi, high end cooks are "natural born martyrs". You've gotta be pretty fucking passionate about what you do in this industry.

    Oh, and as for wondering where you were, I was just curious about the minimum wage and currency and whatnot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  16. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    BTW-this is called insurance fraud.

    Takes more time, but go the legal route.
     
    tigger likes this.
  17. tigger

    tigger

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    The financial side of things seems to be open to dispute.  Otherwise, you have entered the catering industry, the hours are long, you will not be treated with kid gloves and, also, your personal relationships will suffer.  This is how it was, how it is and how it will be.  Don't get funny ideas about Celebrity Chefs, they are few and far between; most of us have had to work very hard for a living.  It sounds like you may not really want to be a cook, and who would blame you if you didn't?  If you're going to jump ship, jump quickly and you will have time to learn something else.  Me, I love it and it's been good to me, but then, I've done my time and I'm not on the line any more.

    Chefedb has given an opinion, which I do not agree with, especially the illegal advice.  Kind of an easy thing to do for a "retired" chef, don't you think?
     
  18. fryguy

    fryguy

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    man, I,ll tell you the first thing I would do is MOVE if at all possible. I know here in my town (Portland)the only places like that would be the extremely low end Chinese restaurant. The minimum wage here is $8.80 hr.and If your a supposed to be a"high" end restaurant then you would be doing ever thing by the book. I have worked a plenty of high end places but have never seen anything like that. It's monitored very closely with inspections and other compliance laws and ALL places are inspected
     
  19. leeniek

    leeniek

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    Both of my jobs now do everything by the book when it comes to employee relations.  I'm paid better at each job than I was when I was assistant KM at the breakfast place, and when it comes to responsibilities  I have more at the soup kitchen (when I am there I am the only cook so it is all on me to get the meals done for the clients on time) and less at the commissary but as the full timer I am expected to keep my department stocked and running smoothly.  Both jobs are little to no stress for me... I know what needs to be done, so I suck it up and get the job done. 

    I have to admit I've been lucky in this business and while I've had frustrations etc, I've never experienced anything truly bad.
     
  20. xerp

    xerp

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    I Fully agree with this! great post