What is so wrong...

Joined May 19, 2014
I understand the drive to be a chef in a hotel or restaurant. Hey, I did it myself. But is it wrong to want a career in a chain restaurant? I have an opportunity to be a kitchen manager at Applebee's.

It's still in food and beverage. I want out of hotels. Is it wrong to want to transition to this segment of the industry?
Joined Sep 9, 2012
There's no shame in working.

Let me edit to add.. there's a niche for everyone and we don't all fit the same mold, thankfully. I don't want to work in a restaurant environment, I prefer retirement communities so that I can nurture the residents and their families as well. Does that make me less of a chef? I'm just as creative and knowledgeable, just choose a different venue.
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Wrong? Wrong according to who exactly? I doubt the almighty would have a problem with it.

Wrong according to the chefs in here? I would guess not exactly wrong, more like a general

opinion that it would be a step DOWN for you, and having been in a more creative and prestigious

position in high end previously, that you might not be happy on a corporate line at all.

(As it happens a position I've been in recently myself. )

All that said, only you can decide whether you're ready to join the corporate infantry.

If nothing else, you'll learn speed and pressure and economy of movement you may not

have had to develop at your previous--which can usefully widen your skillset.

Also, there can be security /stability in an established corp--especially one like Applebee's,

who together under the DineEquity umbrella with their sister IHOP, make up the worlds

largest restaurant chain.

On the other hand, you might also want to inquire as to HOW they do things-- as many

of these chains are tending more and more to formulaic, invariant menus, pouring sauces

and soups out of bags, potatoes out of a box, etc, "fast food" techniques that you may have a.....

if not moral, certainly artistic problem with serving to your paying public.

Point is....right or wrong really doesn't enter into it, what does is what you want.

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Joined Aug 15, 2003
No, it is not wrong. 

It depends on what your goals are. If you want to run a corporate kitchen there are many benefits. Usually health insurance, job stability, upward mobility, etc. If you value creativity, "art," independence, passion, etc, then maybe no, it might not be a good fit. 

It just depends on what you want to do. 
Joined May 19, 2014
With being a new single parent of 9 month old twins I need stability, insurance, etc. It's odd that I sacrifice "creativity" for upward mobility. Personally, for the welfare of my kids I'd stick my head in a drive-thru window if need be. Many moons ago (almost 20 years) I was an assistant kitchen manager at Sizzler.

Tasting the management ranks in a Las Vegas hotel is amazing. I loved it. I love being a responsible parent more..

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Joined Jan 31, 2012
I don't think anyone's saying that you must sacrifice creativity for upward mobility, just that you're

not likely to enjoy that creativity in an environment where the menu, ingredients and execution

are worked out in advance by corporate collars and mandated to the stores collectively.

I'm in agreement with you watching out for your young family, but even if the bills are paid and

the mouths are fed, trust me its much harder when you're miserable  at work, or bored to the brink of madness.
Joined May 5, 2010
What is important here is for you to decide where and what you want to do.

There are some Chefs who look down their noses at persons who cook for franchises and believe that this is not real cooking.

To these people I say that it is not where you cook but how you cook.

Corporate restaurants spend a lot of money on research and development of their recipes.

They create menu items that are tasty and can be put together easily by anyone working.

The problem comes with people who do not understand the work and design that went into the menu

and then try to change what they think might be better with it.

Do not ever think that working in a chain restaurant makes you any less a cook. NEVER!!!


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Haters.  It is not where you work, it is how you do it.  Working at Applebee's and doing it well is just as difficult as working at Fat Duck.  It's just a different set of skills.  Your opinion matters less, and the more you start to lead the more it matters.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
With being a new single parent of 9 month old twins I need stability, insurance, etc. It's odd that I sacrifice "creativity" for upward mobility. Personally, for the welfare of my kids I'd stick my head in a drive-thru window if need be. Many moons ago (almost 20 years) I was an assistant kitchen manager at Sizzler.

Tasting the management ranks in a Las Vegas hotel is amazing. I loved it. I love being a responsible parent more..

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I was a single mom (twice lol....maybe I am hard to live with lol) as well and know exactly where you are coming from.

The first time I was juggling nursing school and tending bar at a upscale chop house and humidor room (until I got too huge to fit the uniforms lol) and the second time had to deal with a nasty divorce and worked days delivering babies (12 hour shifts) while my own stayed with my mom (an angel...miss you mom).

For extra $$ I was on call for a couple of bars and caterers.

I regret the time away from my girls but knowing I had insurance and sick days and family leave time kept me sane.

You do what you gotta do.

I was an office holding member of our local Jaycee chapter.

We had our weekly meetings at a Mr Gatti's that maintained a buffet.

I would buy 2 child's meals and eat pizza off their plates.

Until someone has walked a mile in your blood splash proof clogs they are not fit to judge.


Joined Jan 31, 2012
lol Yeah you have to watch what you order in such places....or rather learn what you should and shouldn't order.

One of the ones I worked in took pride in their half a fried chicken. And they sold a good amount of it.

But you have to ask yourself, if they're not using fresh chickens then how would they do it?

Ans: pre breaded, fried, stuffed in a box, frozen, and shipped from grand central to your local sit down. Upon ordering, it gets

dropped from frozen into deep fryer, then microwaved to heat the middle. So your breaded fried chicken is

actually breaded-fried-frozen-shipped-fried-microwaved chicken. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
Do not ever think that working in a chain restaurant makes you any less a cook. NEVER!!!
@cheffross, I suppose its in your personal definition, I've seen kitchen managers in chain-ops who have

decades of experience and consider themselves (and expect to be called) chef. But IMO they're cooks not chefs.

More of a performer than a composer I suppose, as I wouldn't call a first-chair celloist  "Meastro "
Joined Dec 11, 2013
I don't have an issue calling the person in charge of a kitchen like Applebee's a chef. Their the ones doing the scheduling, ordering, training, often running expo, the person responsible for food and labor costs, and all the non cooking things that a Executive Chef is responsible for.

This would be an outstanding place to learn the business aspects of a restaurant.

As a disclaimer, my degree is in Kitchen Management, not Culinary.
Joined May 5, 2010
Make sure it's what you want because imo it may kill your learning experience and pride.

Ordered a stuffed chicken breast; came with part of the plastic wrapper on bottom. - Should have just ordered from Schwans and heated in microwave myself. And yeah, I wouldn't mind the washing the dishes when the other option is often getting a not so clean plastic drink glass (I guess I should have ordered beer). 

I can't say it's a bad move; I'm just saying maybe look more into it.
Again, this is clearly employees not understanding how to do their job and lacks management.
Joined May 28, 2014
Hi, I joined this site to reply to this thread.  I worked for Applebee's for a year and a half or so after graduating culinary school and doing my externship in a fine dining restaurant that was part of a historic inn.  I wanted to offer the experience I had as a perspective for the OP.  I have seen many young managers with new families do very well with the corporation.  However, that privileged position is usually commanded by the GMs, not their assistants. 

As a kitchen manager you are an assistant manager.  One of the managers that ran the kitchen at my store lived over an hour away and was frequently having to spend the night at another manager's house in order to work his shifts, meaning he would go days without seeing his family.  As an assistant manager you have to cover all of the cook's shifts; you have to wash dishes because they don't hire a daytime dishwasher at most locations; you will encounter the most inane, self-absorbed and self-important slobs of humanity that ever existed, demanding perfection from a $10 steak that happens to be brined, then frozen, then thawed out and it's the crap end of sirloin, you will work with inferior products, ridiculous deadlines and labor percentages (bonuses provided if you hit labor % of less than 20), demanding inconsistent underperforming drug addicted employees that would rather just stand there than do anything productive or think for themselves....

So I know that sounds like a rant.  It isn't.  A friend of mine who was going for management training used to bake his own cakes for his business and his work is amazing.  He got completely burnt out after working for Outback then Applebee's and he doesn't care anymore.  For some reason, corporate chains like Applebee's take the very soul out of cooking.  It's the only type of restaurant I've ever worked in where food quality is compromised to meet customer demand.  The ironic part is that the people that do eat at those chains, are either unsuspecting or don't care at all.

TL;DR  IF you want a life, go for GM as fast as humanly possible.  Be prepared for some godawful politics though.  As an assistant manager you can equate your job to that of a fast food assistant manager, you are a babysitter, not a coach or mentor, and your staff, if you get any good cooks, will soon be demoralized and burnt out due to the sheer pressure of constant speed and no chance at creativity or positive feedback... have you gotten the warm fuzzies telling your server at an Applebee's that that was the best steak you ever had?

Hope my first post isn't too harsh. :)  I have a bad habit of being too candid and blunt.  Hello everyone! :)
Joined May 19, 2014
That was an amazing perspective on the QSR scene.

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Joined Nov 11, 2012
Just for the record, I had the worst meal of my entire life at an Applebee's by my house. I'm not exagerating at all either. It was measurably far worse than anything I had ever eaten in my life...

I have a moral qualm with chain restaurants in general and I really choose not to support them in any way at all. The reasons kirayng just stated. Terrible work situations for their workers. Compromising food quality in seek of massive profits. Chains are the reason when someone says 'american food' to someone in another country, they automatically think 'terrible food'. They have eroded food to mediocrity and have brainwashed the american public into thinking that is decent food and... the standard. They have pushed out smaller, better restaurants out of towns and cities and completely choke out smaller towns to dole out their slop through tax advantages that smaller restaurant owner's arent privy to. I won't even get into the health aspects of most of the food being sold by chains.

So, yes. I have a problem with supporting their industry in any way. I want them all to close. I have worked in multiple chains before, so don't say I don't know what it's like to work for them.
Joined Jul 17, 2012
Hi guys,

I agree with what Vic and kirayng are saying, but only to a point.

Disclosure: I am a sous chef at a corporate chain restaurant. I have worked both indie and chain and I feel they both have their advantages.

Most of the points made are sometimes (even often) valid, but I have to disagree with the final conclusions. It really depends on the chain you are working for. I have the good luck to work for a chain (earls) that believes in fresh prepped food from raw ingredients and invests a lot in their food quality. Of course there are expectations for sales and bill times, but ultimately these things help build and retain a customer base.

At the end of the day, the job is going to be what you make of it. There will be strict budgets, non-negotiable recipes, way too many meetings, standardized training and a whole lot of other things a free spirit won't be able to deal with. On the other side, you will get very thorough training on how to run a profitable restaurant, learn good practices and organization, and be taught about routines and accountability.

I'd say check out the store you're considering working for. Examine their food quality. Try to get a read on their corporate culture - if they're willing to sacrifice FQ for bill times or profits head for the hills. But don't be blind to the fact that this could be a great opportunity.

I know I might sound like a shill, but you're nothing lost by looking closely. Best of luck with your decision!
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Joined Aug 22, 2013
Do hotel positions in Vegas not offer benefits, and competitive wages? I always understood that they have decent insurance packages especially compared to Applebee's, it's not like either is gonna give you an HMO. Also I've known a lot of cooks who've moved around in the same hotel from the banquet kitchen to the hotel restaurant and so forth. And hotel restaurants in Vegas are usually pretty baller. Wouldn't you have more upward mobility in a hotel with hundreds of workers as opposed to topping out as a gm in a place that employs 30 people? I really don't know, I don't know how much an Applebee's gm can make but I know hotel chefs usually make a pretty penny upwards of 90k and more. Comparatively it seems like a no brainer but essentially there's nothing wrong about working anywhere except maybe a meth lab, lol. I often hear that it's great just to have a job in this economy. Congratulations on your twins

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