Wanting To Be The Boss So Soon?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by etherial, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. etherial

    etherial

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    I'm puzzled by two of our male cooks.  One graduated from culinary school a semester ahead of me and has worked in fine dining for 2 years.  The other has worked in numerous establishments, but mainly retirement facilities.  Both are nice guys, except the culinary school graduate wants to be executive chef NOW!  He can't cook to save the world.  Our chef may be leaving and has filled both their heads with visions of promotion.

    We all work in a luxury senior facility.  I have been there for 3 months and have improved 100% working on the line.  The difference between me and all the cooks on the line is that I have 40 years of cooking experience and they have restaurant experience.  My shortcoming was not having restaurant experience, however, my working on the line has improved greatly and can handle a rush.  I also don't have visions of grandeur like they do.  One is 28 and the other is 52.  I'm content learning the ropes of restaurant structure and procedure.  But, my two comrades think they are going to be promoted to sous chef and executive chef.  What's strange is when I asked the 52 year old how much experience he has, he skirts around it by saying "lots".  I leave it.

    We just hired another cook and he's fast and kind and doesn't waste time chatting.  I help him find things and explain how some recipes are put together.  He is very fastidious, like me.  We just do our jobs and help each other.

    The puzzle I have is with the other two cooks.  Both have only been there a little over 2 months and chef told them some cockamaine story that he's going to promote them to sous and executive chefs.  Really?  We do have a corporate chef whose in charge of all the facilities.  The one who claims to have all of this experience decided since his promotion hasn't come right now to take 5 days off work; claiming illness.  Well, his calling in affected my days off.  I had to work to fill in the gaps for 7 days.  He has no regard.  When they both told me what chef relayed to them about promotions, I told them consider whose telling you this stuff.  He is not the corporate chef/boss and I had to remind them that I had to complain to HR because this same chef was favoring the males and not giving me a chance to prove my skills and learn on the line.  I also told them that when corporate promotes you, that's when you're promoted.

    But I don't think neither one of them deserves or is ready for a promotion.  Is it me?  I mean I've been there longer than both of them and dare not look for a promotion any this year or next.  A raise would be nice, but I'm still learning the ropes.  Besides, shouldn't you be able to cook a proper meal before they consider that?  One can't cook and the other cooks like a Hofbrau; not fine dining.

    Even though it's a senior facility, it's a luxury one.  These people spend big bucks and get whatever they want and they want it elegantly.  We all get along and laugh, joke and have a good spirit in the kitchen.  Work is fun.  The thing is the residents are complaining about the young guys food and he admitted last night the he can't cook.  Both cooks are complaining to me about what chef told them and are talking about quitting.  So strange to me.

    Please help me; I'm so baffled.  Thanks. 
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  2. grande

    grande

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    Sounds pretty typical. I would guess corporate would, in the event, hire someone in from outside. If he really likes one he might promote him to sous; but, if he needs a sous why doesn't he already have one. Cooks like to boast and gossip.
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Acid test time:

    Ask the 52 yr old what is the most important question he will be asked during the interview.

    The correct answer is:  What was the food cost and labour cost at your last job?

    The person who understands the difference between a cook and a Chef will understand this.  The person who has achieved or lowered a food cost will understand this.

    Judge your 52 yr old on what he thinks the most important question in an interview for a Chef's position is...... 
     
  4. panini

    panini

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    I'm happy for you. Sounds like you really enjoy your work and have dealt with the surroundings.

    I'm wondering if the Culinary graduate went to the same school as you did. Some schools are notorious for filling the heads of their

    students with smoke. They infer that if you spend the big bucks you will be a Chef when you graduate. I've heard that some schools

    have the students call each other Chef. As we all know, that can not be further from the truth.

     Years ago, I had the opportunity to open a large property in a major city. I needed to fill 28 positions for both the bakers at night and the

    pastry cooks during the day. HR had this idea that since we were close to one of the big name schools we should hire as many culinary 

    graduates as we could. Of course I disagreed, so I let my Executive Sous  do the hiring of them. More then being completely frustrated with them it was also quite comical. They marched in every morning like penguins dressed in starched whites. Almost all of them bothered  my Sous and I about when they would be doing sugar work or fancy garnishes. Most of them not capable to cook a rack of muffins.

    Took only a few months before they were all gone (like 10 of them). The only ones to make it were those with previous experience or those students that took advantage of their GI benefits.

    Your 52 yr. old sounds like a possible career changer.

    I wish you the best and I'm glad your somewhat happy. That's all that counts.
     
  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    As the others have noted, this is pretty typical. You are right in thinking that when corporate promotes you, then you are promoted. 

    Don't worry about those two. Keep your focus on doing your job. Don't get caught in other's drama. If they quit, they quit. The employees may change, the work stays the same. 
     
    fablesable likes this.
  6. chefross

    chefross

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    This IS the best advice. Drama will come and go, but the work will always be there
     
  7. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Worry about the job you do, not them. Don't get involved with all the drama. If they want to quit so be it. Just do your job the best you can.
     
  8. etherial

    etherial

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    Thanks, I think the 52 year old quit.  It's been 10 days now, and yesterday, he didn't even bother to call.  The young cook went to the same culinary school as I did, but I don't think he paid attention or something in the sauces and classes.  The other day, I walked in the kitchen to find him mixing corn starch, straight out of the box into scalding hot water, getting ready to pour it in a beef stew (if you want to call it that) that he placed in the steam table for service.  I asked him what was he doing and he replied, "I'm trying to thicken this up".  It was a 1" layer of oil in a pan of what looked like water.  The beef strips were previously deep fried and frozen peas and carrots were floating somewhere in there.  I had to stop him and tell him it's cold water and cornstarch, not boiling and you can't thicken a "stew" on a steam table.  Of course, his meal was the topic of resident complaints that evening.

    The way this young cook functioned in fine dining was because his previous employer gave him RECIPES to follow.  He acts as if he really knows food by sniffing everything before he eats it, but it's not applied in his cooking.  His stews are watery/oily messes that lack proper seasonings.  He didn't know how to fix a separated sauce for the lamb I prepared, so he used an awful pork sauce and used that.  Talk about complaints!  I even brought him a recipe for the beef w/cabernet sauce; he completely ignored it.  At this facility, we're entrusted to use our creativity, but I told chef he needs to monitor this guy.  It's as if chef doesn't care.  He only cares about the marketing parties.  Go figure.  

    I'm concerned about my physical well-being.  How am I supposed to work 7 days a week, because cooks quit?  It's not fair on me.  I use those days to clean my home, fix meals for me, hubby and entertain friends.  I can't do that, if I'm working all of the time.  This Saturday, I'm working breakfast and lunch:  6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but because we are short one man now, I will have to work a double shift, meaning I will work until 8:00 p.m., due to a 100-person marketing event that evening, so I have to stay and help chef prepare for it.  I'm usually off on Thursdays and Fridays, but will forfeit my Friday; chef wanted me to forfeit today, but I am really tired.  I didn't get home last night until 8:30 p.m. and almost missed eating dinner and whatnot with my husband.

    I really love my job because it's what I love doing.  It doesn't feel like work to me, but in order for me to be at my best, I must take time off to rejuvenate.  I sure wish chef would hire someone whose as devoted as I am.  FYI, I'm 59 years old.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  9. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    What are the options? What about the
    What is fair to them?

    Unfortunately, it's the quixotical nature of the biz. The koan of the business world.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  10. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hi Etherial,

    Your experiences and thoughts are not unique, and the best I can say is that your are experiencing this at a stage in your life where you don't have kids waiting at school or daycare to be picked up.

    What do you think the Chef's first thought is when he sees ol' Fred or Wilma trotting off to their car with a block of cheese or a ham stuffed down their pants?

    It's not "How could Fred steal from me?!!" it's more like " I gotta turf this eejit right now, and how am I going to cover the breakfast shift, I have inventory tonight and a big function next day to prepare for!!!!"

    Twenty years ago I got a call at work from my wife who was at the hospital with our then 1 yr old daughter, who had just been diagnosed with pneumonia.  I couldn't make it as we were short staffed.  I still get "reminded" of this about every 6 mths or so, even though our daughter made a full and quick recovery.......
     
  11. etherial

    etherial

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    HA!  Sorry about your daughter's illness, but kids do recover as yours has, but to be reminded of it every 6 months?  Pricelessly, funny.
     
  12. etherial

    etherial

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    I'm not sure I'm following you, Cheflayne.  What about the residents?  It's NOT my facility and my health is very important to me.  I can make a concession and show up on time, perform my job and some extra duties as required, but it is not my responsibility to ensure the resident's have adequate staffing.  It seems to me that an establishment such as this one would foresee instances like this occurring and be prepared for them; not overwork loyal employees.

    The nature of this business or any business for that matter, is customer satisfaction, but if you're trying to achieve that through overworking your employees, you're in for a few nasty surprises like accidents, excessive absences, and no-show/no calls.  I can forfeit one day a week until they find a replacement, but seven days a week is a stretch for anyone who is not a business owner.

    I worked 7 days last week and 6 the prior weeks.  I'm tired right now and still have to maintain my home on my day(s) off.
     
  13. etherial

    etherial

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    He was a line cook at his last job.  I don't think he's ever done costs for food and labor.  He said he left his last job (was there for 2 years and every job he's had, he told me he only stays for 2 years) because he never got promoted.  It was a senior facility, too.
     
  14. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Corporate does have a plan.

    Just like any other business the loyal employees are expected to fill in the gaps until someone is pulled from another department or they hire someone.

    It is not fun but there is a lite at the end of the tunnel.

    mimi

    Use the extra $$ and pay someone else to clean.

    m.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  15. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    What are your thoughts on contingency plans that the business could utilize in the future?
     
  16. panini

    panini

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    @Etherial

    You're just experiencing how most kitchens aren't stable. The kitchen has not grown with the times. It's still pretty primitive in it's ways.

    Personally I feel the way @foodpump  does about hands on training. I agree culinary students should not be admitted to unless they

    have at least a years hands on. I also feel the students should be required to do a graded internship before entering into the field.

    I don't think it will ever change. Cheffing is not really a profession. It requires nothing in the way of experience like some other countries.

    There are a few professional kitchens around but most are commercial. There is a ton of commercial chefs. The kitchens I visit are

    inundated with hacks cooks earning a check. Anyone can work in this field. Without some type of requirements for employment I feel

    we will always have commercial kitchens and very few professional.

    Culinary schools have become a joke. So many shysters takes advantage and prey on the unemployed and uneducated. A pastry

    certificate in 60 days?Resumes are basically a gathering of certificates. That's all I see now. Cert for this and a cert. for that. Heck I was reading

    that people have gluten free certificates. WHAT!

    I take a welding course on the weekends and they told me I will get a certificate. For what! I can't walk into a shop and get a welding job. It's

    the same thing.
     
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  17. etherial

    etherial

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    Flipflop girl!  Hey!  I love the xtra money and everyone:  I will officially stop my rant.  It's one of 22 new facilities this company is opening or has opened and I'm sticking with it.  I'm learning cooks come and go and most are just there for a job.  I'll keep doing my own housekeeping.  I don't want strangers in my home.  Sorry for that, but I grew up maintaining large homes I've lived in throughout the years and my cleaning may not be the same as someone else's; I dust between balusters with a q-tip.  See?
    Well, they're all bit#ching about more pay and "taking care" of employees.  I think they should have people on stand-by, for instances like someone walking off the job and no-call/no show.  I also think employees need time to rejuvenate so they can do the best possible job.  How that? 
     
  18. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I get the hands on cleaning thing.

    Won't let anyone touch my laundry but have learned to let the rest go.... kinda hard pushing a vacuum  around with a fused spine  (not looking for sympathy...it is what it is lol).

    Glad to see you found your ideal job tho.

    A pro kitchen without strict recipes are few and far between.....

    I am giving my kid your email addy in case she ends up sticking me in a "senior's residence" ;-)

    At least the food will be decent as I will be depending on you to slip me a salt shaker lol.

    Could never figure out the severly restricted diets...... dammit I EARNED my right to eat that way!

    mimi

    Sorry OT lol.
     
  19. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Well of course "they" should hire on call staff!

    Thing is, who wants it?

    Even if you offered $30.00/hr, could some guy  pay his rent?

    See, the thing is with on-call, you have to be parked full time in a café waiting for your phone to ring.  You might get 1 shift per month, maybe 3 shifts per month, but there's no guarantee that you can even make rent, let alone toilet paper or coffee.

    The other option for an on-call guy is to have a fairly regular f/t gig and pick up what they can when time allows.  But get this, and this caveat never changes, no matter what the circumstances are, this person's loyalty rests with whom ever can cover his rent.  Can't really argue or complain with that, it's a simple matter of dollars and cents and life in general. 

    You're in senior's care.  Things are very static, it's not like some tour bus is gonna pull up and 55 excited tourists are going to swarm the dining room, right?

    Sh*t happens, every one of us on this site has worked the 7 day weeks for months on end until a suitable replacement has been found.
     
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  20. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, but this is the nature of the business.  Restaurants and food service, in general, aren't known for their really stable environments. But if this is something you want to make a career out of you need to get used to the long hours and 6-7 day weeks.  Most of my chef jobs were 60-80 hour weeks, with most of them being 6 days a week, 7 when needed (which was often).  Even in my current position it is the expectation that I work at least 50 hours a week and because both units that I run have been short staffed since October I've been on mostly 7 day weeks since then.  While you can claim that it's not fair, that is how it is.  This is why so many chefs, and career cooks end up divorced (not all but a lot of them).  Working nights, weekends, and holidays, as well as 6-7 day weeks, takes its toll on relationships, but that is the nature of the business.

    It's been changing over the last few years, but still the problem remains.  Part of the problem is that food service establishments run on such tight budgets and profit margins that they have to run with skeleton crews.  There is just no money to keep extras "in reserve" for when someone quits.  I can't tell you how many times my personal plans have been interrupted because of staffing issues at places I've worked, both when I was a cook and when I was a chef.
     
    chefwriter likes this.