What on earth is going on with American chefs

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by hamlrt, Jul 26, 2014.

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  1. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Hello there , I don't post often however I feel the need to ask this question . What is going on with American chefs , firstly a little about myself , I am a chef of some 26 years I trained in Europe and have literally worked around the world in mostly high end establishments .
    My last position in Europe was with the military as a head chef . I left Europe to start a new life here in the USA with my wife . And I must say I am quite disgusted .
    I currently reside in Raleigh NC , and I was very aware that I would probably have to start again .
    Whilst waiting for permanent residency I needed work , so I got off my backside and went to find work , and I did find a job at a large international Hotel chain . The position was of evening shift supervisor , was I disappointed oh hell yes .
    A so called exec chef who was home by 2pm every day , a sous chef who gave me rotten meat to cook with , lazy and apathetic cooks . A filthy kitchen with grease everywhere
    And rotting over ordered food in every fridge , I was told at the interview the kitchens were old
    Not a problem really as the kitchens I was in in Germany were from the 1950's ....however they were clean and I kept them clean . After three days in the position I was expected to run a function for 300 and manage a very very busy restaurant , with no senior members of staff
    around , I am very capable and professional but a new guy running such a large function on his own ....really .....,how stupid and careless could you be .
    So I searched a new position which I attained , again I was met with apathy , laziness
    And a general couldn't care less attitude , plenty of staff members with big Texan hats and no cattle ( as my wife would say) , a supervisor who had worked everywhere 911 first responder , college tutor, ex policeman , ran several high end places in New York .......so when exactly did this person gain culinary experience ....,,
    Second supervisor apparently ran a jazz club in NY , and worked at the ritz Carlton in Georgia ....yet cannot roast a prime rib and spends most of his time talking .....
    I'll tell you that these jokers couldn't run a beer party in a pub with the beers poured out behind them.
    I am disheartened and ashamed to call myself a professional chef , my heart bleeds when I see the garbage these people produce . In fact I am so disgusted I am pretty much done with being a chef , and it's what I loved and what I have done all my life .
    I understand that in this profession there are good guys and bad guys same with every profession and it's about time people stood up to the mark and became professional
    But that just isn't going to happen is it .
    And to tell you of my career awards so you don't think I'm some yahoo Brit spouting off....
    1977 Salon Culiniere Plymouth ( my first competition against adults Highly commended certificate , I was 11 years old)
    1986 Salon Culiniere Torquay bronze medal
    1989 Salon Culiniere Torquay silver medal
    1992 Young chef of the year award
    Cooked for Hollywood A listers
    Cooked for British and German Royalty
    Ran high end functions and so on ..

    Your thoughts please
     
  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    It is pretty difficult to respond diplomatically to a fairly scathing post on my profession and my country.

    I am proud of where I currently work, what we produce, and the way the establishment is run. The same goes for the vast majority of establishments in my past. When on occasion, I encountered an operation that didn't fit this description, I quickly moved on.

    Just so you won't think I am some yahoo Yank sounding off... I have worked across the United States and internationally as well. I have worked with lots of Europeans (some good, some not so good), plenty of other nationalities, and of course countless Americans.

    I try to stay away from making blanket judgements.
     
  3. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Hello there , it's not just a scathing attack on your profession , it's an attack on my profession as well .
    However it is a well deserved question to ask , and a question I've been cogitating on for some time now and finally decided to ask . Yes I have met many chefs across the world some good some bad , and I have taught and trained juniors in many establishments .
    However I seem to have met a plethora of bloody idiots in a very short space of time .
    How are we supposed to enthuse young people into a very hard profession if all they see
    are idiots ...
     
  4. someday

    someday

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    My thoughts? My thoughts are you can't lump an entire country and community of chefs into one category based on your 2 places of employment in the US. 

    What if I were to watch Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (UK version) and think that must be how all UK chefs operate. 

    If you have such great experience my advice would be to get a job in a position that can affect change and go from there. 
     
  5. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    by not being one myself. I can do nothing about idiots. They exist. They are a fact of life. I believe in safety in numbers, so to protect myself from idiots, I attempt to lead by example and thereby surround myself with non-idiots.
     
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  6. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    It's not lumping an entire country and community on the experience of two jobs here in the USA
    It's the experience of my years in the industry , I have actually, Kind of worked in the us before on cruise lines , I say kind of worked as I was at sea most of the time .
    And I'm sorry to say that Chef Ramsays " reality tv shows" are great tv entertainment , and nothing more . And I also expected the " if you don't like like it " kind of answer too.
    I wanted my thoughts to be shared amongst professional chefs. And I'm ready for the inevitable outpourings of offended chefs and cooks everywhere.
    May I ask you how long you have been in the industry? And what kind of establishment you are currently in , are you just a line cook or are you specialising .
     
  7. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    I never said that you were a idiot , I asked how do we enthuse young people when all they see are idiots . It's very good that you surround yourself with non idiots.
    All I have done is shown my upset over a profession I once truly loved and still do to a extent , I could not have done the extreme hours and many years in the business if I truly did not love the business.
    I truly and honestly expected to meet chefs and cooks who were passionate and professional and cared about what they did .
     
  8. someday

    someday

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    You said "what on earth is going on with American chefs." That is lumping an entire country. Working on a cruise ship doesn't count. And I know that Ramsay's shows are for entertainment purposes, but it does show that very, very bad kitchens and chefs can work in, gasp, Europe. They exist everywhere. 

    And again, if you are going to lump an entire country full of chefs based on your limited exposure of 2 kitchens, then the problem lies just as much with you as it does anywhere else. Find a kitchen you can be proud to work in. Find a job where you can affect change. If you have been in the kitchen for 26 years why are you putting up with it? Why aren't you running a kitchen yourself?

    Would you feel better if I posted my CV for your review?
     
  9. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Mr someday , I don't need to see your CV . Yes I have been in kitchens my entire working life , and I can tell you working on cruise ships brings a whole new meaning to working hard . And why aren't I running my own kitchen , well that's a whole different story of which I am not going to divulge here .
    I have expressed my disappointment in the American chefs and cooks whom I have met and the disappointment which I personally feel. And for your very educated opinion I am not putting up with it , I am searching for a decent kitchen , but that sir is none of your business and again I do not feel the need to outline .
    I seem to have hit a raw nerve here haven't I .
     
  10. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I am able to find them. Perhaps you need to be more selective when you interview. Attitude starts from the top position and filters down. When you interview, make sure it is a two way street. Ask probing in depth questions. Ask to observe shift or two before making a decision if a position is offered.
     
  11. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Look at the title of your thread. I don't think it is so much hitting a raw nerve as much as it is more like a razor slash from your keyboard. What type of response could I expect from a thread entitled "What on earth is going on with British chefs?" I doubt I would receive much love.
     
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  12. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Cheflayne , yes you are right attitude does start from the top , I have never expected anyone to do work that I would never do . I have always led by example .
    Yes I am a immigrant to the USA , and I knew I would not be able to just waltz into any position I desired , I knew it would be tough , I knew no one would understand my qualifications ( it runs different in the UK ) however I truly thought my resume would speak volumes ..... How wrong was I .
    But that is by the by .
    And that's a great idea of observing a shift or two before making a choice , I would never have thought of that . And yes a interview is two way I totally agree there
    However there's a fine line between probing questions and downright arrogance , it's a interview not a interrogation .
    But you know when your back is to the wall , and you have to work to survive , you can't always be so terribly picky .i just did not expect to experience what I have experienced .
    However the pin on the hand grenade gas been pulled ......
     
  13. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Yes a razor slash is what is needed sometimes , I wasn't expecting love , hugs and chocolates . I quite expect the " who the %#%# does this Limey think he is "
    Oh the outrage of somebody like me , telling the truth about his experiences . I hope that people will read my post and be outraged because I am outraged .
    I don't enjoy upsetting people or being a arrogant tosser from across the pond , but I feel I wish to make my feelings of disgust and disappointment known.
     
  14. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I think you have.
     
  15. someday

    someday

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    Again, what does being American have to do with anything? There are bad cooks, lazy chefs and substandard quality everywhere in the world. You are in the position you are in because of the choices you've made. You work in the kitchens you work in because you chose to work there. You are in the US because you chose to come here. 

    You want to come on here and bitch about your job, that is fine. Nothing wrong with that--this forum is a good place for venting. But don't act like every chef in America is like that because you've worked in 2 bad kitchens in the US, in North Carolina. It's smacks of elitism and snobbishness--not very good qualities in a true chef. If the title of your thread had been "Why can't I find a good job" or "Why does every place I work suck" then we could be having a different conversation. 

    And just to clarify, when I said working on cruise ships "doesn't count" I only meant that it doesn't count as working in an "American" kitchen. I'm sure the experience was valuable. 

    You have to seek out the best--obviously you haven't done that. 
     
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  16. hamlrt

    hamlrt

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    Mr someday , if you had read the post rather than incensed by it or rather so offended by this snobbish Brit who is elitist , you would have noticed
    That I had said. , I knew it was going to be hard and also that I was probably going to have to start again .
    Yes I chose to come here and I expected that sort of reply as well .....the kind of " if you don't like it here " comment . You Sir have no idea of how hard I have tried to find the right position and you also have no idea of what I as a legal entrant have been through , You sir have taken a knee jerk reaction
    To me disrespecting the industry that you Sir have been a part of for the last couple of years , And yes I do disrespect the lazy dirty apathetic bums whom I have had to deal with in my limited time here , and they would be American chefs because they sure as hell ain't Chinese . If you feel that you Sir can make a
    Rational reply , please do . And no I'm not expecting hugs and kisses either , but if you could enlighten me to the wisdom of your obvious vast experience I shall be glad to hear it.
     
  17. grande

    grande

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    Actually, I can sympathize with our OP. It can be hard to find a good chef to work for, especially in unglamourous working kitchens, places where the minimal local labor pool can't produce enough talent to fill all the local kitchens with hard working, food loving people. Of course it's shocking when you come to a new country; if I went to england, without a job, and landed a gig in a real $h*t kitchen, i'd be telling all my friends, "You won't believe how they do things here..."
    Sure, it's only two kitchens, but if you got two in a row like that, you'd start to think it was the norm, wouldn't you?
     
  18. someday

    someday

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    Disrespected the industry? No, you disrespected an entire group/culture of chefs who have just as much experience, work just as hard, and care just as much as you because you worked at a Marriot or some shit in North Carolina. You feel however you want to feel about where you work, but don't come in here and blanket every American chef because of your limited exposure to American kitchens. 

    And also,  I fail to see what about any of my responses was irrational. I'm quite rational. I read every one of your posts. But I guess labeling my response as irrational makes it easier for you to dismiss the truth in what I said...so go on. 
    Everyone who has ever worked in the industry can sympathize with the OP. That's not the issue. The issue is pigeon holing an entire group of chefs based on his 2 job experiences in the states. And no, I wouldn't think that it's how they do it in England, I would think that I worked in some shitty kitchens and find new ones. I certainly wouldn't blame the entirety of British Chefdom in the process. In fact, I would say that probably in most of the world there are more shit kitchens than good ones. Not abnormal in any country. 
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  19. matthew bauman

    matthew bauman

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    It sounds like these restaurants that you mention lack leadership. Changing the mindset and culture in an establishment is an uphill battle. Sometimes it is easier to clean house and start over.
     
  20. alaminute

    alaminute

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    Oh man, where to start... I'm really tired of the stereotypes and over- generalizations. "Young cooks these days", "American laziness", etc. like WOW!!!
    Dude, Alaine Ducasse is the man, and I loves me some fat duck twitter but we've produced Thomas mother lovin Keller! Restaurants like le Bernardin (I know they're French, but the spot is on NY) and other underdogs like Sean Brock! Two words: grant achatz!!!!
    I'm still willing to bet that statistically the same amount of chefs/cooks who cared in the 80's in Britain about they're careers care about food today in America. It's a brave new world.
    If you want to work for a good place then research your area. I'm sure there are decent teams around you that'll give you a run for your money. Don't just take any job, if you're as good as you say you are then you'll be able to pick your position. I guarantee my restaurant doesn't have lackluster employees working in a grease stained kitchen and our building is a historic residence dating back to the 1920's.
    This is one of the most narrow minded and frustrating things I've heard in awhile, and I post belligerent one sided posts all over this site!
     
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