Want to move up, Chef problems.

Discussion in 'After Culinary School' started by marcgregoire, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. marcgregoire


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    Culinary Student
    Hey everyone,

    Lately I have been having a problem moving up at the restaurant I work at. I got into cooking almost 3 years ago and worked in a high volume restaurant for a year before going to culinary school. After that I moved to a bigger city and began working as a day prep cook for a top restaurant for the next 6 months. It was hard work and I learned a lot and they offered me a line position on the cold side at the other well regarded restaurant. Now its been 5 or so months and I am trying to get on the hot side but I feel like the Chef isn't giving me a chance to move up.

    Last night we had a new dish on the menu. I asked him earlier in the day what I needed to prepare, what to add to my prep list. He told me that he would come over and help me prep it later. So an hour before service I ask again and he quickly tells me a few ingredients I need and, I gather them, and he says he will show me the rest when he gets back. 10 minutes before service he tells me I need to cut and chop another 5 ingredients, and then he tells me that the prep cook roasted a vegetable earlier for the dish. They didn't roast enough and he then yells at me for not having enough. I then ask how I could have known what he wanted and he says I need to be more creative and wont be working the hot side for even longer(he has said this before when he got mad at me few weeks ago).

    How do I deal with this situation? I followed his orders, I did what he told me, he didn't communicate to me what he really wanted and I didn't want to piss him off by just making something up when he said he was going to show me how he wanted the dish.

    I am supremely frustrated.
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    We all have to deal with bosses like this in the industry. Even chefs who normally have a positive attitude get stressed out and snap at their cooks. I am not justifying this behavior by all means. You were not clear what he wanted from you and in turn he got upset at you. How can you be "creative" when you don't even know the dish you are supposed to prepare. If you completely winged it he would have gotten upset that you didn't do it right. Maybe in the future if you don't know about a dish one of your coworkers might know more about it then you can confirm it with the boss. I think it would be beneficial for you to have a one on one talk with him before or after your shift, to clarify what more he expects of you to be able to move to the hot side and share your concerns. Try not to be whiny about it of course, just once again express your motivation for the job and how you want to do better.

    As for the time span of moving up, remember you have only been in the industry for three years. You shouldn't expect much less then five months to get another promotion at a high end restaurant. Of course you want to feel like you are making progress in the business, and his comment that it would take you longer to move up was uncalled for especially if he said that in front of your coworkers. My advice is to talk to him and be patient. If a few more months down the road you really don't feel like you are learning anything new then maybe it's time to move on, but you would hate to leave to job on bad terms with your boss.
  3. cheflayne


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    Professional Chef
    I am not justifying the chef's behavior but chef probably had a gazillon things going on. In the future, if your first approach to the chef doesn't yield results after sufficient time, try your luck with the sous.

    Even if he doesn't have the answer, you have alerted the "powers that be" to the fact that you need some direction before proceeding with prep. He should go in search of the answers.

    Basically work the chain of command in reverse if necessary, just be sure to do so in as diplomatic manner as possible and allowing time for it to operate. That is about all that you can do, if the chain of command doesn't work, it is not your fault.

    If you see a pattern developing that is disconcerting, you can start weighing your options.
  4. kaiquekuisine


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    Line Cook
    Agreed with layne. 

    I won´t justify the chef and his work method , but i do also think you should have asked , and been more assertive. 

    If i need to prep something and i wasnt told , and time starts ticking i ask and try to get an asnwer ( of course in a well mannered fashion ). 

    If the chef wasnt free i would have asked the next in command , if the sous wasnt free , then i would have at least done the obvious and peeled the necessary , washed everything , and pre-heated the oven. 

    I understand the dish is new , but the fact its on the menu means it has a name , and probably a describition , im sure that would have been enough to prep at least something. 

    My opinion is his situation could have been avoided if you had just been more assertive and asked innocently while still being respectful.

    Now as for working the hotline:

    If you really want to move up and work the hotline .... you must dominate your current tasks , as well as start watching the line cooks when possible. 

    Start prepping faster , and help when you can. Be efficient and attempt in being more assertive , because you will need it. 

    Tell your chef you want to try working on some dishes on the hotline when your station may be slow some nights. 

    I believe Daniel Boulude had a quote that went somwhere along the lines of " to learn a the basics of a new station , you must observe those who work on that station " or something like that ( read the quote in portuguese , so this is a rough translation ). 
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  5. alacarte


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    Culinary Student
    If its a new dish going.on the menu.that.nite than the front of house wait staff should know about it to sell it, or it would of been advertised to.customers to order so maybe u could of had a look at the written description to see what was in it, and thats when u can use your chef initive and wing it...
  6. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Culinary Instructor
    Cheflayne  nailed it, he can't yell at you for at least showing some initiative on your own