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Chef problems

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have problem with my chef. Well actually, many problems. He has decided that he hates me and I think it has something to do with me being a woman. Or rather, me being a woman and not having any attraction to him. He was great at the start but after I told him that I wasn't interested in going out with him he started being an *******. When I say *******, I mean it! Everything that I do is crap. I know nothing. I can't do anything right ect. ect. I have no problem battling it out with him but let's face it, that takes a lot of energy that I don't really have these days. I don't want to quit because I need this man's reference. I work in an internationally reconized restaurant and I would like to put my time on my resume. So I'll hack it out, but are there any suggestions on how to deal with a chef that has decided that he hates you?
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #2 of 20
I have, in all my time working, never assumed that someone had it out for me or didn't like me because of personal reasons. It's a bad presumption, no matter how true or false.

Do you do good work? Are you reliable? Then there's no problem.

When your chef rails on you, is it totally out of the blue or did you actually do something wrong? If it is the latter, then don't chalk it up to the chef having a personal grudge. That's cheating. Take the burden on your back, and fix it. It will make you better at your job. Is it fair? No. Then again, neither is the fact that the server who works a six hour dinner shift makes twice as much as most cooks do on a twelve hour phase shift.

My least favorite thing in a kitchen is a person who blames others, no matter how right they are. It's a bad, bad habit. Keep your head low and do your job. If you can walk out every night knowing you pulled up your end, did everything the right way... then everybody else can screw off.

edit: whoa, "battling it out" ? Battling it out has no place in a kitchen. Chefs may be horrible, awful people. You do not "battle" with them. If a chef insults you without provocation, just say, "yes chef" and do whatever you were doing. Let it roll off your back. If they ask you to do something unreasonable, just say, "No, chef." In my world if someone disagrees strongly with the chef, that's fine. Whatever. If they think it is their place to turn the prep kitchen into a debate hall, then they find themselves at home looking through the want ads.
post #3 of 20

bad chefs

he probably has the "old school" attitude or he has the "God complex' many chefs aquire after sometime. The bottom line is he either follows your lead, and shows you the respect you deserve or it's time to find another one!!!!!
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
LogghiB
I understand what you are saying and I am in total agreance with you. I do my job very well and if I didn't I wouldn't be working in this kitchen. You have to ahve a minimum of 6 years experience in a fine dining brigade system even to get your foot in the door. My problem is that I am not the only woman that he has done this too. What can I do for the women that follow me.
As far as battling it out, your right. It is time to put my head down and work which I do. But quite frankly, I am tired of letting it just slide off my back when I know that I have done nothing wrong. Are you telling me that you have never had a chef that doesn't like you for no apparent reason? Or have you ever disliked someone for no good reason either. Did you act professional or did you do your best to get rid of that person? This idealogy that we are mere robots in a kitchen is mundane and passe. The response " yes Chef" when you know that he's wrong does not push a kitchen forward, it holds it back.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #5 of 20
Unfortunatly, the chef is the BOSS. The only options you have are to find a way to deal with it that doesn't require you confronting the guy (unless he is doing something illegal, sexual harrassment et all) or you can quit (one of the joys of being in a right to work state).

The trick is to depersonalize it, so you can use it to your advantage. Unpleasent though it may, the boss is giving you feedback through his words, actions, and attitudes on the way he wants the kitchen to be run. They may be good things, bad things, or stupid petty things, but it's the system he wants.

I was constantly butting heads with the manager at one place I worked and ended up leaving because of it. I didn't really embrace the "boss is always right" concept untill later. I understand how tough it is to keep temper and attitude's in check. It's always been a problem for me.

All that being said, it sounds like this ***hat is engaging in a form of sexual harrassment. This treatment should be screaming at you to leave this job in favor of another one. I doubt resume history is worth dealing with this guy's harrassment and the risk of picking up his other bad habits. You don't need this guys recomandation, you just need another job lined up before you leave.
post #6 of 20
yeah, I'd like to add -

The only good way out of a situation where the chef is being totally unreasonable to a level you are unwilling to tolerate is to quit. If you try to go down swinging, the damage to your reputation as an employee will do more harm than the resume filler will do good. If you give a respectful two-weeks notice and let anyone in management know why you are leaving, you will likely be able to get a good reference off of somebody working there. (Assuming they aren't all as bad as the chef.)

I worked under a chef once who hated me on a personal level. He was a sort of old school, alcoholic fist-fightin' chef who basically thought I was a scrawny, useless tool with no place in a kitchen. I put up with a lot of crap. A _lot_ of crap. Threats of physical violence, public humiliations, crappy scheduling, etc.

In the end I picked up my game, out-cooked the entire kitchen. I was writing specials, wrote 1/2 of the new menu, made all of our soups, breads, pastas, and in general made myself a valuable asset to the place. Eventually his opinion changed and things got easier. I was later offered a sous chef position which I turned down, and counter-offered with my two weeks notice.

Zing!
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ya I see what you are getting at. I know my choices and how to deal with the consequences. Thanks
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #8 of 20
I have to say I'm a bit perturbed by how casually everyone is taking this. This is, albeit, only one side of the story. But inertia and the "yes chef" attituded in the face of sexual harrassment is the reason why this industry cannot move forward with respect to human resource issues. There are laws against this sort of behaviour, and a woman shouldn't feel chastized if she needs to resort to them.

I've had to quit my job because of sexual discrimination and harrassment. The government saw it my way and allowed me to collect employment insurance while I got back on my feet. I was surprised at how much support I got from my peers in the industry, and my reputation didn't suffer. In fact my career skyrocketted after that (not that there's necessarily any correlation..). Of course, this is Canada, and I think the industry boys' club is not as unshakable as the one in the US.

My advice to you: you have rights, be aware of what they are. Document everything, even the pettiest detail. Whatever you do, stay calm. If there's a confrontation, your poise will save you.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you Anneke but trust me, I am not taking this lightly. I have been documenting everything although I am trying more to change this man's ideals than save my own reputation. I don't know if it's possible but I am going to try. I am very good at what I do and I have the right passion and attitude to succeed in this industry. My own well being is not a great concern of mine. I will always be fine and do well. It's the women that follow me that I think about. I have aplan and if it doesn't work than I will just have to quit. But I don't feel it's fair that I should have to quit a job that I really honesty love because some neanderthal feels that women don't belong in a kitchen. I'm hoping that I can get through to him before I have to quit. Even then, quitting is not my style.
But thank you very much for your advice. I have a feeling that you and I are very much on the same page.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #10 of 20
Thousands of years of women trying to change their men have failed... We're not about to change our bosses! ;)

Seriously, I think you may have embarked on an uphill battle. If he's discounting your work as you described earlier, then it's pretty clear he doesn't care what you have to say anymore, or maybe even whether you stay or go. Take care of yourself girl..
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
I sat down with both the chef owner and the chef de cuisine to discuss my progress. I asked them if they were happy with my work and if there was anything they strongly felt I should improve upon.
The owner replied that he was very happy with my work and he hopes that I will stay a long time with him.
The chef de cuisine felt that I wasn't living up to my potential. He expects more from me because of my training and my previous experience.
I replied that my experience is no different than the training of the other employees. In fact they have more experience and training than I do. I then laid it out on the line.
I said that when the owner was around that he treated me differently. He was more fair. When we worked just the two of us he was angry with me and unsatisfied with my product no matter what my product was. I have just given him the oppportunity to describe what I should approve upon and he gave me nothing to work with. They will always recieve my absolute best and if that is not good enough than I will try harder. And harder. But there will be a point where I will snap.
I asked him if he had any objections to my attitude and does he want me to leave.
He said no.
I said that he then needs to treat me with a little more respect and patience. If I am not giving him the product that he wants than to tell me what is wrong so I can fix it. If I get out of line than tell me. I have no problem working here as long as everyone is professional and honest. I then told them that I appreciate this job a great deal and that I felt they both have a lot of things that they can teach me. I also said that I was grateful that they heard me out.
Since then, the chef d'cuisine has been wonderful to work with. I don't know if it was my sex, or the way I did my job but it seems that honesty has worked again. What ever his problem may have been, it has been solved and I hope to work with him for at least a couple of years.
Thank you for your support Anneke and everyone elses advice. I managed to keep my job and my integrity.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #12 of 20
Good for you! I'm so proud of you! This review format was perfect for you. I'm glad it all worked out.
post #13 of 20
Maybe he remembers the lzbo stuff in the 70's.
TO ME WOMEN, (CHEFS).

They should just act normal.

The j0ob is the job...
Bottom line.. Consider your self lucky.

Ezcept for Bobby Flay..
A man should have your job.
If you belirve thAT..
iTS NOT YOUR PLUMBIBG, JUST YOUR BRAIN..

Can you do the job?

Best retort..

Buzy nite. Getting grief.;

Mg. Says what will you do to fix this,

You take off the apron and, fold it gentley, and lay it on his arm..

When he asks what you are doing, say, "You are too buzy to worry about me".
Have a nice day..
post #14 of 20
way to go 100folds!!!!!!! i'm showing my daughter this forum.
im glad this turned out for you. you handled it intelligently. but just for the sake of being smart, dont get rid of your documentation just yet, either. thats realpolitik.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Britt, I don't understand your reply. What is it that you are saying? You know, the only woman chef in the 70's that I can think of, and she wasn't even a chef was Julia Child. She has never held that position. And all the companies that I have worked with, including Fairmont hotels, never had female chefs. But I don't think that that is the point. If every time you come to an obstacle, especially when that obstacle is another person, and you hang your apron up. How does that get rid of the obstacle. Me being a woman, I think, has very little to do with how I do my job. I get the same pay as the men that work with me, maybe that had to do with me advocating that I recieve the same pay as they do because I can do the same job as they do.

Emotional stability, well I think I have expressed my ability to take it, as some might call it.

Physical indurance, I box, but no, I am not able to pick up a stockpot and put it on the flat top while few of the guys can. Then again, I've worked with guys that are phyically weaker than I am. Should they be paid less because I am physically stronger than them. It just means I have to be smarter.

Knowledge, well I have been studying food and its history for well over 6 or 7 years. That's no including the experience and red seal I have as well. And I know I still need another 10 - 15 more years till I am satisfied with my knowledge. If in fact I am ever satisfied.

Passion, I've been poor and starving like every other cooking freak out there and all I've had to live on was my passion. Now, I make a living.

So in review of all of this, why is it I have to pull my Chef d'cuisine aside to ask if he has a problem with my product when the unspoken truth, whether I can prove it or not, is he has a problem with my sex. He's classically trained and did not work with women until he came to North America. He even told me not to go to France because women don't work in kitchens in France. Which I think is not true. He also told me that he has no less and no more than two women working in a kitchen at one time. He says that it disrupts the balance. He may have point.
And this is not the only chef that Ive worked for that felt this way. My last chef, I was the first female he ever hired. I worked with him for over 2 years and only in my last two months did he hire another girl. When I left, he told me I always had a place with him but to expect that in my career that I will have to work twice as hard and be twice as tough. What kind of bull **** is that.
The chef before him, hit on me!
The list goes on ladies and gentlemen and quite frankly Ive had enough. There have been nights I go home and cry like I was two years old because some ******* feels I don't have a right to work with him. When I know there is nothing else in theis world that I would rather be doing.
We talk about women's rights in a male dominated industry like we are living in the 70s.
I gotta know, are there men out there that feel that when a woman enters a kitchen and she is the only woman, does it have a negative impact on the kitchen? If so, what can we do about it?
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #16 of 20
Anneke has it right,document everything,do your job above and beyond and then report the harassment from pos chef with delusions of godhood to the human resources department (owner or manager) directly after an un provoked attack from him.
Be sure to use the word harassment and sexual in your report. Give them the chance to cool off there predator and keep him in line or maybe you should seek legal help? Whatever you decide no reference is worth that kind of tension.
Keep cookin,Doug............
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #17 of 20
The list goes on ladies and gentlemen and quite frankly Ive had enough. There have been nights I go home and cry like I was two years old because some ******* feels I don't have a right to work with him. When I know there is nothing else in theis world that I would rather be doing.
We talk about women's rights in a male dominated industry like we are living in the 70s.
I gotta know, are there men out there that feel that when a woman enters a kitchen and she is the only woman, does it have a negative impact on the kitchen? If so, what can we do about it?


===== sorry to tell you, but it happens in EVERY workplace where a woman
is the only female person in the place. on a construction site, on a basketball court, in a kitchen ... whatever ... sometimes guys just want to
hang with other guys. it's just this freedom to be a guy, to talk like a guy,
to cuss like a guy, whatever. a woman entering the scene can and often
will change the dynamics.

sometimes some guy will want to brag about his latest conquest, or wonder
why j.lo's butt gets so much criticism when he thinks it is a thing of beauty,
or ask if that irritating itch "down there" can be the crabs ... and all three
of these topics can be considered sexual harassment in every major corporation! he can be fired if the lone woman employee finds any of this offensive even tho the guy might be talking to another guy and she is not part of the conversation ... just being offended overhearing this conversation is cause for dismissal under sexual harassment rules!! and if a guy can't be free to talk "guy talk" at work (certainly can't talk "guy talk" at home!) then he won't want to work there either!

hey ... it doesn't even have to be at work!! when my wife and her sisters and friends are at the house and they are talking in the family room and i have to log on the computer to find out something, the whole dynamic changes there too!! they stop talking, or start talking about a neutral subject, or simply give me the "evil eye" until i leave ... so it ain't just a "guy thing"!!

what can you do about it??? either start your own restaurant (impractical) or work someplace else, preferably with an "open kitchen". at a restaurant like san francisco's famous "zuni cafe", there is a good mix of male/female kitchen folk. talk is polite and businesslike cuz anybody can look in and see what is going on. there are usually hundreds of restaurants one can look into (and as one who likes cooking i certainly make a point of looking into every kitchen of every restaurant i eat in!!) and by keeping notes and asking pointed questions, i am confident you can find someplace you can call "home".
it's kinda like dating ... sometimes ya gotta go out with a lot of people before you find the one who "clicks" with you.
post #18 of 20
I have to say that some of these responses sound more like the "Me Tarzan You Jane" response than anything helpful to 100folds origianl post. Thank GOD someone actually gave her good advice on talking to someone and finding out what's wrong with her work, etc. I get the feeling the reason the chef was nicer, was because the owner was involved in the talk. Owners don't seem to like discrimination lawsuits against them, especially if it's because of one of their employees, and not actually them doing the discriminating.

Good on you for sticking up for yourself!

Don't you find it "funny" that in the "real world" men spend all their time telling women they belong in the kitchen, yet in the restaurant, they are told or made to feel that they don't belong in the kitchen after all?

I documented everything that was wrong with my current job, before giving my two weeks notice, the problem is the owners nor chef want anything to do with what I said. That tells me they not only don't care about me as an employee, but about their business either. No amount of "discrimination" or "harrassment" is worth staying at a job, just to fill a resume.
Life without broccoli isn't really life, is it?
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Life without broccoli isn't really life, is it?
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post #19 of 20

shop around!!

Good on you for sticking up for yourself!
===== same here. the squeaking wheel gets the lube. in any endeavor,
if you don't speak up, others will walk all over you. in restaurants, there
are competitive kitchens and co-operative kitchens. in competitive
kitchens there is all the yelling and backstabbing and put-downs
and harassments you describe. in a co-operative kitchen, the cooks
are supportive and seek to share knowledge and skills. look for
such a kitchen. they DO exist!

I documented everything that was wrong with my current job, before giving my two weeks notice, the problem is the owners nor chef want anything to do with what I said. That tells me they not only don't care about me as an employee, but about their business either. No amount of "discrimination" or "harrassment" is worth staying at a job, just to fill a resume.
===== so it is good that you aren't working there anymore, if simply
for your sanity and well-being! in all future endeavors, document
everything, not just what is wrong with the kitchen (the owner couldn't
care less what you have to say if, for example, he has been in business
for 25 years and grosses $5million a year!!) but also what is RIGHT .....
if there is nothing but negative feedback it will make you look bad ...
if you put down what is bad and GOOD, you will more likely be seen
as someone who has a balanced, neutral opinion, and it might make a
difference. bottom line should still be ... if you don't like where you
work, work somewhere else!
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
I don't know how I feel about your responses hipjoint. There are things I like and don't like with what you said.
I think I'm over this whole ordeal and since my last posting I have recieved a promotion and have started training on saucer.
But it's like this. I am not asking anyone to ignore their sex's natural behavior, I am asking for some good old mature consideration for another human being. Not the oppisite sex, another person. Ya, I understand that I change the dynamics of the kitchen but really now, grow up and start acting professional. We are not in highschool my dear and many of these cooks, including my chef d'cuisine have well over 15 years experience, so why don't they start acting like it.
I don't know. I am thick skinned and there are some people I will never work with again, really that's what it boils down to. This man is one of them. I'll learn what I can from this place and move on. The positive aspect is that I will be saucer in less than 3 months. My Chef teaches me what he can. And what he can't, I learn on my own.
You see, none of this had to do with what sex I am. It had to do with me, as a person.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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