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Sous Chef In Real Need Of Advice

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've been working at a private club for the better part of nine years now. I've been sous chef for around 6 out of those 9. I was recently informed that the executive chef will be let go tomorrow night and that the assistant manager ( a man who has been wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to get the chef fired and at the same time attempting to supplant the club manager as well) has been telling board members that I will be more than happy to take the position which is far from the truth. I do not want the job, I've turned it down 2 previous times now (in between each chef that has come and gone) due largely to the fact that I dont enjoy nor wish to have anything to do with the paperwork aspect of day to day opperations. Im truely, to be quite honest, scared that if I reject the job this assistant manager will turn on me and embark on a smear campaign just as he has with the chef and general manager. It's a touchy situation I'm unsure of what to do, if I wasnt married I'd quit and move on but that is not an option in my situation...Any advice would be appreciated the anxiety is tearing me apart....
post #2 of 22
Country clubs suck!

Congratulations on surviving the politics for so long. Depending on the situation, your longevity might be shortened if you do take the Exec job.

Is the assistant manager going to take the CM's spot

On the other hand...

The AM could be the new rising star, and wants to take you with him.

If you take the job, you can always find somebody like me who doesn't mind doing the paperwork.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
He is definately attempting to take over his position, that much is certain. He appears to have major support from members of the board (they seem to take what he says as gospel). And yes in a country club invironment im suprized to see myself here after such a long time, we all know in this business that, (especially a country club) 9 years in one spot is atleast something that may look appealing on my resume. Well it all goes down tomorrow night, I cant seem to fall asleep with everything running through my head at the moment..If only these people knew how this man actually conducts himself behind the scenes as well as on the floor....
post #4 of 22
As a rule of thumb, unless the owners are absentee, they probally condone this kind of behavior if not practice it themselves.

So it looks like from tomorrow night on, you are the interim exec. Time to embrace it.

Look at it this way...What would you do if the exec was shot on the way to work? If you think about it like, it takes all the personal issues out. You've got to focus on keeping the kitchen together first.


You find it easy to be the pliant tool. Why play power politics if you have nothing to win?

I wonder about the AM. If he just likes to play power games it'll be a difficult work enviroment no matter what. It sounds like he has serious pull with the board.

I wish I had better advice to give you.
post #5 of 22
Welcome to the life of paul-ticks. It is un-avoidable and a fact of life. Your ***. Mngr seems to have a good run of the club and won't rest untill he controlls all aspects of it, which includes you--which is why he is saying that you will be happy to work as Exec (for him.... after all he promoted you, didn't he? Now you owe him, right?)

G & C.C's and Hotels are famous for this type of paul-ticking and backstabbbing. A great Chef is a good administrator and either watches his back very closely or backstabs first before others can get him. Survival of the fittest, so to speak, not much to do with cooking other than new menu ideas once a year or so... If this secenerio isn't attractive to you, I suggest you get out and try the restaurants, or, like myself, open up your own place.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #6 of 22
Hmm.. my abreiviation for assistant, as in assistant manager, was written up as "A, double S" with a period. Not my intention to make it a bad word, but maybe it fits?....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 22

Re:

get a
Secretary.
post #8 of 22
BEEP: Wrong answer. Life is a result of choices, and chefcrank has made a choice NOT to become the Chef, which given the facts, is a pretty sound choice.

The facts. Well, we know that chefcrank doesn't want the job, but is the backbone of the kitchen. The assistant mngr, let's call him M&S for short, for mover and shaker, is someone to watch out for. We know that he was behind getting the chef fired and is now telling staff that chefcrank is next up. The hiring and firing of top mngmnt positions is usually the realm of the GM, the member's comitee, H.R. or all three, yet the M&S seems to have a pretty good grip on the hiring and firing of top mngmt postions.

Let's assume that chefcrank takes the job. He's already in the doo-doo becasue he hasn't kneeled down and bowed to the M&S for his "promotion". M&S's need some way to control people, one good way is to either promote them into their postions or to let them think that the M&S was responsible for this--and they never let you forget either. This explains M&S's letting "slip" to others of how chefcrank is top choice for the job. Problem is, chefcrank didn't want the job, M&S is aware of this and must now find another way of controling the Chef. Easiest way is to control the staff, and judging by how he's influenced other positions, this seems to be his way of choice. Other ways are in order of preference; cooking up new budgets--effective immediately, controlling the suppliers, controlling the A/P who cut checks for suppliers, and by interfacing with the member's comitees long before the Chef knows about it, thereby having tremendous power.

Make no mistake, M & S's need to control people. While working under one particularly energetic M & S who couldn't get any dirt on me, he finally resorted to extracting a zapped fly out of the ultra- violet light fly zapper and placing it ontop of an almost-empty 6" deep hotel pan of mashed potatoes in the staff canteen. His claim was that the fly was in there since coming from the kitchen--allegedly buried under 20 odd pounds of mashed pots. The fly was remarkebly intact and devoid of any crushing or even of any mashed pots. The eejit forgot to jam and grind it into the pots before making his claim, but like a cat that lands on his feet, he came out O.K. Last time I heard, he's the GM there now.....

Yeah, yeah great story. Just watch out for the M & S's, because if they can't control you or find any dirt on you, they'll invent something. In order to survive in a managment postion in a hotel or club you can't be on defense all the time--that means just to watch your back; --you have to go on offense, which means backstabbing first.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 22
Crank,
If you're considered to be the natural replacement then I think you are well within your rights to make requests.
Never approach these things with problems , but with resolutions. Don't tell them about the paperwork, but request that you would not want to lessen your strengths in the kitchen, and that would involve securing a sous with strong administrative skills to create the perfect team.
just a thought.
also curious? Is your food and labor budget membership driven or revenue driven from your outlets?
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
It did indeed happen tonight as I was told it would....A few highlights:

They made the assistant into a food and beverage director who now oversees the chef position, previous to this the chef answered to the GM or Board members only. Hes gained a vast ammount of power overnight and at the moment in his eyes im viewed as his right hand man, but we all know the first sign of trouble who will be blamed don't we? It's like a bad dream that I cant wake up from haha. Here I sit at the computer at work still, my crew went home hours ago, i'm here alone pondering the thought "whats next?"...Orders staring me in the face, lists of member meetings to discuss menu options for parties/wine tastings/tableside menu's ect....I hear the familiar voice stirring in my head from long ago when an old french chef I worked for told me "one day you'll understand the headaches of what I truely do and the politics of a kitchen". I've done the work between chefs for this club before, but never have the politics been as prevelant as they are now. I'll keep everyone posted as to how things shake out. Thanks for the advice so far!
post #11 of 22
The first thing to happen needs to be MORE MONEY in your pocket.
The seconds thing you need to do is smile, take the money, and plot your escape.

If they don't give up the money, get out.ASAP.

They did it to your chef, they WILL do it to you.

NOBODY and a mean NOBODY cares about cooks and chefs, except cooks and chefs.
post #12 of 22
Hoo-boy, worse than I figured. ol' M & S has moved and shaked himself a plum, this gives him control over everything, including on who gets hired and fired. He's really got them in his pocket, and he figures on not buying anymore terlet paper for himself, now that he has you, and the bar manger, and the restaurant manager, and the..... Watch out, next thing will be budgets and impossible to reach food and labour costs (well, impossible to attain within two months, anyway...)

But what did YOU tell THEM?

That you are now one or possibly two men down and will insist on personally handpicking your own (Sous) replacement?

That you expext to be paid a compensation for taking on the Exec's duties in the interim?

That you will officially give in your 1 mth notice, but will require some time off during nomal hours for interviews and such?

Do something , anything, fast. Just make it fast. Or I'll guarantee you you will be miserable before ol' M&S cooks up his first report on his new feifdom.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 22
Hey Crank,
I just want to pop on again from the other side of the coin. While you were sitting at your desk last night, there was a little bit of a good feeling there, right?
Your there because you own it! Take control and enjoy the experience. Noone knows what tomorrow will bring, so why worry and try to second guess?
Accept the challenge and Show em what you got and you'll be compensated and have fun..
I've learned a little about the politics over the last few decades. Only commend or critisize face to face, have no confidantes, don't speak anything of someone that you would not say to their face. Most important, never put your personal business in the street.
Congratulations and enjoy your new challenge!!!
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #14 of 22
I dunno, Pan. In his very first post, cranks says that he most definitely doesn't want the job, he also tells us of how the assistant manager operates. I guess after 9 years of watching the Chef's enter/exit door swinging in that club, he knows what the odds are for him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the power of positive thinking and siezing opportunities, but the odds aren't in his favour.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #15 of 22
I agree with Panini, he might as well take control of the kitchen and make the most of it. I think that chefcrank1 the OP could a very good chef if doesn't let the politics overwhelm him. Even if you have to kiss the new F&B's ring it could be worth.

Besides, if the new F&B is going to turn and burn him (worst case scenario) anyway whats the OP got to lose by making a go of it?
post #16 of 22

Re

yes I Agree, At first I didn't want my new job I learnt about it on my vacation the asst exec was offered a job in a new hotel, I really did want to move up. I felt I wasn't ready for it. But I decided whats the worse that can happen ,So I found out its not so hard (I'm a decent person with good people skills)so I tried it. It a learning experence every day. and If I decide to leave.I have skills that will help me in my new job .I say go for it. and see what it does for you.
post #17 of 22
[QUOTE=Besides, if the new F&B is going to turn and burn him (worst case scenario) anyway whats the OP got to lose by making a go of it?[/QUOTE]

What's to loose? Well according to Crank the AM/F&B has gotten rid of one Exec Chef, attempted to get rid of one Mngr, and started a few smear campaigns. If the new Chef doesn't meet the the new F&B's expectations, guessy guessy what happens? This scenerio is not fun, it also has a way of being mis-interpreted. Seriously now, look at the resume: 9 years of stellar performance as Sous, only a few months in the Chef's seat, and if the F&B is true to form it won't be a pleasant few months OR a pleasant departure. Don't have excellent "optics" does it?

With my staff I seriously take into considertion if they want the job or not before I offer them a higher position. True, I might encourage them if they have second thoughts, but I won't force them. It has to be their decision, not mine. Crank doesn't want the job, that was in the second line of his first post, and by reading his posts he has turned down the same offer on two other occasions when the Chef got turfed. Don't tell him it will be a wonderfull opportunity when he already feels it will be the opposite.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #18 of 22

Cover yourself

Looking at these posts you have a realy slippery nob on your hands.

Right if you take the exec job you got to cover yourself from day one, how do you do that? get it written down in your new contract. Agree on your food cost % and get it in the contract, agree on budgets and get it in the contract, get everything down on paper.

Then if rambo starts his crap and does turn the board against you it is going to cost them a looot of money to get rid of you.

Secondly start compiling your dossier against rambo. How did this guy get so popular, you can only do so much talking, so the guy has been giving out freebies. " Here Mr blabla try this wonderful new 15yr single malt", its on me!! well actualy its not its on the company.

This has to show up somewhere, the only way that it is not is if he is making a surplus elsewhere, the elsewhere comes from functions when he charges 10 btls of wine instead of 8.

Other service staff will have clocked this, so write it down in a little book to be used in event of rambo getting his way eventually, which i doubt because you have everything in writing.

just my take, good luck

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post #19 of 22
No, tcapper, no. If you're looking for a fight, you will get one. Have you got the money and the time to duke it out though?

Listen, you can tell alot of a man by his dog. Guy with a rottweiler and a big supposedly empty barn is something to take into consideration, eh? Now, a GM of a C.C. with a slimeball assistantant mangr/ F&B is something to consider too. Maybe the G.M. is a total eejit--highly unlikely but a possibility. Maybe the G.M has no pulse on his own property and has no idea that Exec Chefs come and go waaay too fast on is turf, usually influenced by smear capaigns orchestrated by the asistant mngr. Maybe the G.M. has no idea that the assitant mngr has weasled himself up to F&B position and effectively by-passed the Club Mngr., but has gotten himself very cosy with the member's committes. Maybe, eh? Highly unlikely but maybe.

So when push comes to shove, when the Chef takes precautions as you've described above and makes a stand, what then? He'll still get turfed, no matte what precautions he takes./ So, what then? State Labour board? Small Claims court? Reality sucks, anything that has to do with lawyers, courts, and judges will take a few years and more than a deep pocket to see through, it's T.V. movie fodder. There's a million ways to cook a P&L statement, a million ways to B.S. an inventory, a million ways to smear a Chef, even AFTER he's left, right? If the F&B's gonna pull a few tricks, you can bet he's got the backing of the G.M./ club or a very large and expensive set of balls.

So why put up with this crud? After 9 years of experiencing this type of stuff going on, what makes this particular situation so special, why won't this happen to Crank? If there's smoke, is there really fire? Has Crank got grainy B&W photographs of the F&B getting it on with the G.M's wife? A 1 million dollar gift certificate in lawyer's and legal fees? No? This is just another sacrificial lamb, that's all. Best leave it alone. If the F&B had any respect for the Chef. he'd have made him a decent offer BEFORE they turfed the last Chef, but they didn't do that, now did they?
The promotion isn't worth the aggrivation, leave it alone. It's not a sin, it's not stupid, it's foresight.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #20 of 22
Too much "As the Stomach Turns"crap for my liking. I'm with you foodpump. The writting is on the walls and all chefcrank1 needs to do is spend a little time reading it. So it was seen fit to include him in the "Circle of Knowledge" with the previos Chef being ousted. But all this says to me is that once he takes the position, what's to keep the same thing from happening again, only with crank being the one ousted.

9yrs looks good on a resume. Get your resume and portfolio together, find a new place and put it all behind you. The politics of the position are always going to be there. But only you can decide what you're willing to put yourself thru. Personally I believe if you spend too much time looking over your shoulder, you never see what's in front of you. Good or Bad.
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm still hanging in there haha....17 hour days with an understaffed kitchen and no chef/sous chef to assist with parties/ala carte service is really no fun at the moment....But im plugging away, atleast my guys enjoy the extra money from overtime lol....Now that old chef is gone im doing the duties of the chef/sous chef and still baking for every party that comes along, gotta love the biz sometimes but I must say I wouldnt still be here if I didnt love it...I'll post my newest tableside innovation along with the new 5 course meal our wine commitee president devised lol at the moment im tired and need the sleep see yas tomorrow...
post #22 of 22
But the news, Crank, the news. Did they up your salary? Have they budgeted/actively looking for a Sous replacement?
When the A/P or payroll people start whining about the kitchen overtime, will you get more staff, or will they ONLY THEN install a mickey-mouse Sous to put on salary and THEN bump up yours?

Please have a back-up plan and start looking/dropping off your resume.
Believe me, I've been there, done it, got the t-shirt, did the 18 hr days/no holidays/two days off per month schtick, and I am still kicking myself for being duped, and this was over 10 years ago.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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