When it's time to close the chapter on a young cook.

Joined Feb 13, 2013
I have had my fair share of culinary students, inexperienced aspiring chefs etc. and I try to take the time to show them proper technique, tips on working faster, insight into the industry once you climb the ranks amongst other life tips anyone can use in their ascent into the culinary world. I know pretty much from the get-go which ones won't last, which ones will no-call no show, which ones will plateau professionally at line cook level and which ones potential will be reached one day. Of course I may never be 100% correct in these evaluations but generally they are accurate.

I have one young cook with a little culinary school experience at a local college and has been with me on garde manger for about 16 months. Started off with the right attitude and showing desire to learn and grow but has tanked since. Attitude and arrogance is pretty high, performance is shaky on GM at best and some days doesn't give a single f*ck about anything. He's become bitter in this kitchen because he's still doing GM and feels he should be doing hot line (funny how they all feel this way isn't it?). He's done some slow nights on hot line supervised and I've let him venture into cooking proteins and starches for functions and of course needs to be supervised the whole time because of his inexperience. He gets very resentful of this because in his mind he knows better than everyone else, he's the next Thomas Keller and is being hampered by his time in the kitchen. He didn't really earn the right either to those few hot line shifts, they were given to see if his attitude would perk up with a change of scenery. He gets incredibly down on himself when he messes something up because I think he's starting to fully realize the reality is he is nowhere near as good as he fancies himself. I've extended and olive branch before, telling him I've felt your way too at one time with experience you'll realize it takes time to get to the point you want to reach. Falls on deaf ears. Another time I've had a long sit down about just the industry in general, how dues are paid by students and apprentices, how knowledge comes in time, nobody starts off at the top, it takes years to be a sous, even longer to be great etc etc. Again deaf ears mostly. After a very bad prep and service (86'd a dessert because he scorched the batch at 5:00, his amuse got a send back and that's NEVER happened as you can imagine I forgot to check it before pre-meal that day, staff gave him a hard time about his undercooked pasta staff meal, every charcuterie plate was missing a different component each time, plates were looking messy all night and had 5 ticket times that were just way unacceptable and there's even more to this night than I'm telling you about). After that service had another sit down with him but this time the tone was different because these are the same mistakes being made over and over again, some were caused by lack of effort and some just by arrogance. This sit down resonated with him for about a week and after that went back to his old ways.

Speed up to today and I KNOW his time with me is over. There's no question in my mind. I've done my part, I've put in the effort and patience but he is not going to get to the point of running GM correctly let alone advancing to hot line. What disappoints me is his tenure with me wouldn't be over if his attitude wasn't so bad. I have a lot of patience but I don't have tolerance anymore for him making excuses for his shortcomings and blaming me and everyone else for them. I know he's not that bad of a kid underneath it all whats driving his attitude is his huge disappointment in himself and he's lashes out at the wrong people. If he just showed how much he wants it in a different way he wouldn't be getting fired. He's no longer accepting input from anyone in any form because he thinks he knows better and I just can't get to through to this kid that he isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread.

His attitude and eagerness to learn has taken a complete 180 from day one to now and it really pulls at my heart strings. I think he'll end up taking a job at a chain and bounce around place to place the rest of his career if he holds out longer enough. There's still a chance he'll do well but it'll never be in this kitchen. Anyone with similar experiences with people that just won't work out no matter how much it hurts?
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Joined May 14, 2014
I had a kid who interviewed well & looked promising, but when he got in the kitchen he was late and stoned every day. He 86'd himself before i could put too much into him, though.
Joined Jan 3, 2005
From reading this I would say congratulations are in order, because you sound like a good manager who has put thought into this instead of reacting from the frustration you must feel.
It is hard to handle these situations, but letting him stay would not be good for the kitchen or for him in the end.
I have had a few wake-up calls in my life and they have driven me to be better. It might be better for him to be forced to face reality sooner rather than later.
Joined May 14, 2014
Then there was the guy who wanted to learn, paid attention, asked questions, but.... just.... didn't... get it. He lost the job later because of non-cooking/personal issues, went to work for a friend of mine, same story; confident beyond his skills, stubborn, and unwilling to make work a focus w/sick calls, etc.

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