When you want to give up

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Lolush, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. Lolush

    Lolush

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    Hi I’m new here.
    Been running this kitchen at current job for 3plus years.
    This week, I lost one cook to health issues, another cut one day off her schedule for family reasons, and another solid long time cook to moving on to other things in his life.
    This leaves me and 2 prep cooks..resumes im receiving are
    Frightening to think these are my options. So question; how do you all handle this situation? When you have absolutely no one all of the sudden to work for you?
    I just want to quit this whole thing the stress is reducing the quality of my life (what little there is of it)
     
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  2. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    This happens too many Chefs including myself. In fact it happened to me so many times it became normal. I've had kitchens I had to walk in and fire the whole crew. That left me with hiring a few people fast and me being the center of what's going on. In my case I saw this as being a challenge. In the later years of owning my business I wondered how I could manage my operation with the lack of quality employees. I loved the food service business but began to hated it because of the job market. It got to the point I was just hiring warm bodies. I'm not sure a few were even warm.
    If you don't see it as being a challenge then I would recommend going someplace where things may be a bit better. The reason I'm say this is because this will eat away at you day in day out. You can only control your needs in your life. It's not your fault this business has a terrible job market. If you don't have a few people in your kitchen you could count on you'll feel a heavy burden daily. It looks to be taking a toll on your health now. I bet you're working your butt off trying to do the work of two.
    I would start looking around for another job. If it's in this business then look at a kitchen you could manage with very few employees. I could say things will get better but, in my case they never did. At this point control your own destiny. Making this change in your employment doesn't mean you lost. It just means you're getting out before things drive you nuts. At that point you'll quite with nothing to fall back on. Stress will always win in time if it's not controlled......Good Lock......ChefBillyB
     
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  3. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    Depending on the type of restaurant, it is possible to grind through such situation.

    Something similar happened once when I worked at a casual fine dining place, and another time at a gastropub.

    What we did was, first, let the servers inform the customers that there's some technical difficulties in the kitchen and that the food will come out a bit slower than usual. Then we bring the owners, the managers, and the servers in to help preparing the food.

    The whole thing only lasted just about a week both times, and we managed to survive.

    By the way, if you quit, there will be even less people in the kitchen; and missing the leader is more damaging than missing anyone else.
     
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  4. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi Lolush,

    My first thought is to offer a limited menu... A limited time only "Autumn menu week", "Favorites week" or "Owners Wife Anniversary week" "Kitchen staff walked-out on me week, "or some local event "week", "Burger week". By marketing it using the word "week", your loyal customer base will know it is not permanent change.

    Cut back on the prep, save your soul!

    Perhaps communicate with the owner that the choices are a limited menu until staffing is fixed or you in the hospital from stress and exhaustion and having to close the doors...

    Good luck!!!
     
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  5. Lolush

    Lolush

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    Thank you for the replies, greatly appreciated that I can talk to people who can understand this.
    I have considered cutting down a few of the menu items just so I can keep up and not burn myself to the ground.
    My problem is....the owner is a very greedy, money hungry, doesn't care what state I am in person..
    She wants it all, all the time, and doesn't want to understand why I can't do everything she wants.
    It getting to the point where I feel like I'm not doing enough, or that I don't deserve the salary I get (which isn't even the going rate of an executive chef anyway). I feel guilty when I fall short of doing the most I can, but in this case with all this change and cooks going out all at once, I don't know how to approach her.
    I am kind of a shy person by nature and I struggle now and then with how to stand up to her and tell her how things need to be in order for my kitchen to function smoothly and more importantly to keep morale up in the kitchen so my cooks are happy because I depend on them.
    I wish I could be more strong and direct with her but I always beat myself up about not doing enough for her even though she is making very good money from the business.
    Even things like..allowing the kitchen to close 15 minutes before closing time of the cafe she will fight about with me. I feel becacse shes the owner who I can't have a say on anything...is this normal?
     
  6. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi Lolush,

    I'm not an aggressive person either, I do like psychological warfare though!

    The only thing I can think of that might help you is if you "phrase" or "package ideas" in a way that she would like or is better from her point of view.

    Something like "If we went to a limited menu, the reduced labor would increase your profit margin".

    Does she have any sayings she likes to repeat? Try to incorporate those sayings into your pitch for relief. If the idea makes sense as to why it is in HER best interest or if you can even make it sound like their idea all the better the chances are of her allowing you to take your desired course of action. She probably won't listen to why something is good for you but, bring up something that benefits her and you will get her attention.

    If you share some of those things she always says, I'll try to suggest something...

    Good luck!
     
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  7. mike9

    mike9

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    Start looking for a new gig - seriously. When I quit the trade I was running a place where the absentee franchise owner liked to hire ex cons and other marginal people. So I had an ex junky who got back on the junk lock himself in the bathroom, shoot up and nod off for hours, another guy did a stretch for counterfitting two of the check out girls were making change for mimeograph $10 bills for their friends. I had a delivery guy shoot a kid because he tried to rob him with a bb gun. I was so happy when the franchisee took the money and ran and the place closed for a week - I quit. I would walk in the door and start to itch from the waist down and it wouldn't stop till I locked the door on the way out. My best friend was a milk crate in the walk in. Life is too short - oh and I thwarted an attempted robbery with a pistol that had a broken firing pin (I found that out later).
     
  8. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Hi Lolush. Unhappy chefs do not cook to their potential. At this point in my life I tend to rail against owners or managers who believe the chef and salaried staff are the apparatus to keep labor cost in line. Owners love people like you or me who become emotionally attached to our careers. The owners use that to their advantage by playing up the emotional side then manipulating the financial side. It is evil. It sucks. It continues to be an issue in kitchens in so many places. We have to enable ourselves to understand our place and value in the organization, demand proper staffing, set realistic expectations of what the outcomes of understaffing will look like. We have to be fearless in representing our own interests and learn to ask for what we are worth. I hope that a sincere and concise dialogue can help you and the owner to move past this episode. You practising voicing your best business sense will at least move the conversation forward, and if anything else provide some good practice for you in the future.
    Good luck!!
    Tessa
     
  9. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    As you can see this is a common issue for managers, especially ones that actually give a crap about their food and place of employment. Unfortunately you can't make others feel the same way. Sometimes you are full staffed and sometimes you have to work your butt off just to keep afloat. I understand the feeling especially right before the holidays. You put all this time and effort into a place and the people and feel betrayed when they pull crap like this. I know here at least the job market is very bad still for skilled labor. Anyone with worth their salt wants money I can't give them and the turn around time to hire someone is usually a half year or more. Sometimes though you have to decide if you just need some bodies in the kitchen to buy you some time and get a little self preservation. I've had people who I thought would be terrible work out and vice versa. As for being shy, I once worked for a chef that was a lot like that. He was very mild mannered and didn't like confrontation at all, but was an outstanding cook. He counteracted this by employing a very strong sous chef to deal with the bad stuff for him and it seemed to work out well. Also you should never feel guilty to your employers if you know you are doing your best for them and the job, it's a mutual relationship and if they are treating you like crap it's probably a good indicator of how they feel about you.
     
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  10. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I feel there are two kinds of chefs. One being a person who gets a lot of satisfaction in achieving their goals on a daily basics. These Chef's don't need pats on the back to feel good. They also don't need kicks in the ass to get jump started. These Chefs are happy just accomplishing their goals.
    The other kind of Chef needs outside accolades in order to feel they are doing a good job. Both of these Chef are fine in their own way in a perfect world. If I'm working for an owner who doesn't appreciate what I do and how I do it, I wouldn't be there long. There could be many reasons they may feel this way but, lets face it there could be a better fit for me someplace else.

    The OP has to realize he/she is there to follow what the owner wants, needs and requires. The OP said
    If the owner says she doesn't want your opinion then you don't have an opinion. Somewhere along the line you must have misunderstood what the definition of owner is. She, as the owner can set up the rules and polices anyway they want. If the owner says we are open until 9PM and the kitchen serves until 9PM then those are the rules.
    You need to realize you're an employee. You're paid for what you do, and if be what she instructs you to do. This isn't always the norm in many kitchens. If this is the way it is in your kitchen you may need some soul searching.

    I've worked in 25 food services that I was always appreciated for what I gave to the operation. There was one small restaurant chain I worked for that I didn't agree with after working with them for a few months. There was lots of back stabbing no loyalty, power struggles and it just wasn't a good match for me. IMHO, leaving and moving on to another job for the right reasons is a good thing. Don't be afraid to take your talents and move on. Try to use every job as a stepping stone to a better position where you can be happy and accomplish your goals.
     
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  11. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I hate to say it, but the years I was in charge of a crew, I second guessed each one, every day. I had a contingency plan for each one the minute I walked in the kitchen, I.e. “ If joe the dishwasher doesn’t show, then Mary will wash up to 10 am, and Frank from 2-4. If Frank doesn’t show, I’ll get Joe to prep the ——, and give Mary 2 hrs o.t. All this would take place in my head within a minute of walking in, and disappear as soon as staff showed up on time.

    Now, if the owner had hired each of those cooks personally, and had given you a straight budget of x$/ mth. for labor no exceptions, regardless of increased sales, or any other contributing factor, I’d give in my two weeks, not a day less, not a day more. The owner is ham-stringing you and doesn’t give a rats azz about the kitchen.

    If, however I had hired those people, and never checked with them on what was happening with their lives*, I’d stick around until I got the kitchen running more or less smoothly, and then think about quitting.

    * Not saying you have to play psychiatrist, just keep an ear open: does Fred have a family member at home that needs constant attention? Does Wilma feel bored and want to learn something new that your kitchen can’t offer? Does Barney have financial obligations and is pretty much forced to hop around to the place across the street that pays a buck and a quarter more per hour?
     
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