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Need some opinions...

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
I havn't posted here for a while, but I need some help.
I am the Head Chef at a decently high volume restaurant.(we have 8 people on the line at once)
But anyways, I need some advice from fellow Head/Exec chefs, Sous Chefs, or whoever can lend a word.

My head sous left 2 weeks ago, and the new sous that I hired started on monday. Now granted its only thursday, but I have some major bones to pick with this guy. When I interviewed him, he showed me all his credentials, and his work experience, so on and so forth.
The man is 39 years old, and has also worked in many different restaurants around the Boston area.
Cutting to the chase, I gave him the Job.
I came in at about 740 on monday morning, and he was already at the Restaurant waiting for me to open it up, so I thought it was a good sign.
PLAIN AND SIMPLY its been 4 days and the guy SUCKS. And believe me, I dont like saying that about people that are slow learners in the kitchen, but from the credentials he was throwing in my face and the experience that he had in other restaurants, I dont know how much longer I can wait for this guy.
He cant do a thing for himself. I told him to clean chicken while I set part of the line up, (this was on his first day so I just wanted to get his feet wet) but to him, cleaning chicken was putting in a rondo and running water over it. When I came back he was roasting garlic, I asked him why the chicken was in the sink, and he said he cleaned it!!!!
I then had to explain to him he need to separate the 2 breasts, and cut the fat off, evidently he didnt know what I was talking about, so AGAIN I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
He just plain sucks, I'm sorry.
The past 3 days I've had to have him on salad station. I am paying this guy alot of money (as head sous) and he is doing work that I can have my 17 year old prep boy do, who I pay 9 an hour.
I dont know what I should do.
For christ sake the guy cant even expedite the tickets when they come in.
I cant/shouldnt fire him after less than a week can I?
I really dont know wat to do. I was hoping this guy would be good and I can train him well, and he could eventually open the restaurant because I cant be working open to close 6 days a week, especially with the kids going back to school.
Any advice?
post #2 of 54
I ran across this same thing a few months ago, hired a 50ish woman who had years of experience, ran her own kitchen, worked for years at a hotel as exec....had worked for one of the best pastry chef's I've known.

long story short, she was slow....very very slow, she burned multiple batches of pate sucre with euro butter, she took 40 minutes to fiddle with a cheese platter until I'd finally had enough and slammed it out in 15 minutes.
My 19 year old niece was in the kitchen....with no experience she asked questions. The older hire was not asking questions but fumbling around....

So, were my expectations so high and my explainations not sufficient? I don't know....probably a combo. But man I really resented cutting that higher check with lower return/loss of product. My normal OP is to hire experience and pay for it.....next time I'll have a learning curve....start at this rate and work up, if you work well you move up quickly.

Catering is not restaurant work....but thought I'd offer up that learning curve.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 
I dont really have time to give this guy a learning curve. I need he to be had of the line. Its hard to cut the guy slack when your doing 200 counts from 12-2, and thats only for lunch. Which is the only time hes worked so far, i would like to see him 4-1030 when dinner rush comes.
Bottom line, I hired him because he said he had experience at running a line.
IM SOOOOOO frustrated and really not wanting to go to open the restaurant in the AM.
post #4 of 54
Chef, its time to terminate the dude. You shouldn't need to train up this guy to be a sous if he's lacking basic skills. It's costing you a lot more then his salary to keep him on staff. Think of all the time you'll have to spend cleaning up his messes and covering for him. Think of how crew morale will be with his ineffectual leadership.

Take it as a lesson to check references and have canidates do a stage. Most places I've worked at brought sous up from within or the new sous was someone that the chef had worked with before.

Would it be possible to move #3 up to #2?
post #5 of 54
You don't say if you checked his references, and called previous employers.
So I'm assuming you didn't. But I will share that I once had a hire, who wasn't who he said he was, found out when I called references and they told me he was still employed, in fact he answered the phone. Taught me to ask for a look at the driver's license.

Over the years I've come of the opinion that "I tell them it's not working out for me and today was their last shift." I say no more than " that it's not working out for me" and I have yet to have anyone ask "why not?" Either they already know or they don't care what the problem was. It is always a feeling of relief to have it over with. If you don't think it will get better, bite the bullet.

Suggest that check his references if you haven't. It might re-enforce what you are thinking. Do what you have to do. Also, suggest from this time forward that you hire with a 30 day probation period.
post #6 of 54

Not knowing what the Labor Laws are in your state..... I would still have to say you have two choices. Either give the guy a fighting chance to reach around, grab a handfull of hair and pull his head out of his assssss or..... Explain that things just aren't working out and take your losses immediately.

If you honestly can say the ability is not there now is the time. The longer you wait the more difficult it will become to cut the guy loose when you really need to. Most HR folks cringe at this approach since they want you to nurse, nurture and just about carry the person while letting them suckel at the ....... Well bullpucky! I hate that approach. Months can be spent writting the person up, laying out 30, 60, and 90 perfomance objectives and stillyou are no better than you were when you started things. In fact you're more frustrated and beat to he!! since you've had to do all the extra crap.

I know this sounds harsh but having been in this position before and following the misguided advice of the well meaning HR person..... Let's just call tha advice hindsight. It always seems to be 20/20.
post #7 of 54
No need for a probation period if you are in an at-will state. Sometimes if you include probation period type phrases in the employee handbook or offer letter you can damage the at-will relationship. This can come back to hurt you if you term an employee and they decide to litigate.
post #8 of 54


Did you call his references? ditch him if he's no good you can't train someone with credentials they are trained already..your just got a smooth talker. someone that thinks once he got his foot in the door he could learn what to do.
post #9 of 54
You can't afford to stress out over this. It is not your job to be a culinary instructor. Give him his walking papers. Tell him it's not working out, you cannot forsee it working out, and wish him better luck elsewhere. (Denny's for instance) :D
post #10 of 54
Most labor laws in the US accept that 30 days from time of hire is a probationary period whether stated in the original employment contract or not. Therefore, you are within your rights and well protected if you let him go within a 30 day period.

That said, I think you should be a straight shooter with him regarding his obvious lack of skills and general knowlege. Just be direct and say something like "Your work since you been here does not measure up to the standards and expectations I have for a Sous Chef. You need to be able to clean and prep chicken, etc, etc, without being told how. These are some of the basic skills I take for granted that a qualified sous at your pay scale should know. Clearly, this is not the case in this situation." You could then either give him the choice of accepting a less skilled-lower pay position (if available) or leaving.

Do not discount the affect his bungling has on your other crew!

On another, obliquely related note--I've noticed that several posters here have used the phrase "reach around" as a euphamism for acceptable, capable and courteous behavior. This is interpreted in some quarters as an extremely offensive reference to certain types of sexual behavior and in MHO should not be used in this forum. Of course, that is up to the moderators.

One might also look at the origins of the phrase "rule of thumb" and while I'm not trying to be some kind of PC language police, it would be fine if this was dropped from our accepted vernacular.


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!



Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #11 of 54
Hey Chef, fire the bum!
I have always done working interviews for any hires to a senior position. Bring your next possible hire in for a shift and see if his "credentials" match his abilities. This has saved me on several occasions by not hiring a bum and having a certified professional on the job.
Just my opinion though.....
post #12 of 54
Dude, you do not want to refer to it as a employment contract unless you have an actual written contract with the employee because if you do, you will destroy the at-will relationship.

This means that you have less of an ability to fire the employee for whatever reason. This also gives a terminated employee added leverage in litigation if you did not term for "just cause."

Furthermore, several courts have found in situations where the employer had a probationary period in the handbook, even in an at-will state and even without a written contract, that there was an implied in law contract with the employee. This is usually based on the handbook implying that after the probationary period, the employee would only be fired for good cause.

This destroys the at-will presumption, which no employer should want to do.
post #13 of 54
I'm a little surprised by the hesitation. This is not a personal decision, it's a business move. Above all, you must protect the operation and your staff.
post #14 of 54
I've never hired anyone until they've worked a shift or up to a week for more senior positions. At the beginning it is clearly stated that they are "trailing" and when finished we'd talk about salary etc.. It's like an audition. You tend to see the best of what people have when they are working to earn the position. And you get to decide if what they're asking for is fair.
After two days with this guy I would have told him to hit the road and only paid him what every other "trailer" gets: $50 a day. So I'd be out $100 bucks but would have learned a very important lesson: call people's former jobs and never just take someones word when it comes to cooking and running a kitchen. The proof is in the pudding.

Resumes mean nothing
Keep those fires burnin'
Keep those fires burnin'
post #15 of 54
Dear foodnfoto,

WOW! For 25yrs I have used that and this is a first. I certainly hope that whenever you see the words "reach" and "around" used together in a sentence that images of a "sexual" nature do not continually pop up in your mind. I understand that by even responding to you it gives the whole situation some sort of validity but that is my nature. I understand you have been here a long time and mean no disrespect with the reply. I just wish people would quit reading between the lines or putting actions in others mouths. Ya know you could always PM me if you have a problem/question with my reference to something in a post. Again part of my nature to respond to such things.

Yet, For the record......
There is, was nor ever will be an implication of a sexual nature in my use of that particular statement. In most of the Chefs' and restaurant circles I have been around it refers to having "one's head up their asssssss" and "provides a way to extract such". Unless told by the moderators or Nicko himself I will continue to use it as a metaphor for the actions that the described Sous Chef has displayed.

I offer no apology but hope this explaination will help clear the air and your mind as to it's intended reference.

Jeezus what is this Bevis and Butthead???:confused::rolleyes:
post #16 of 54
I think he doesn't want to get stuck with all the workload since he's got kids and all. It's the "Bad help is better then no help" theory.
post #17 of 54
Thread Starter 
That is part of it tincook, but not all of it.
Here is the rest of it.
I am only the Head Chef, I am not the owner of the restaurant, and here is a part that I purposely did not tell you guys, the owner referred this guy and told me to interview him.
USUALLY, I would not be hesitant to fire him, but its the fact that I dont want Barry (store owner) to get upset or irritated that I didnt give his "guy" a shot. But I have been thinking, and when I took the Head Chef Job at this restaurant 6 years ago, he gave me FULL CONTROL of kitchen operation, so I know I shouldnt be hesitant, but you guys prolly get it, its just the whole idea. But it looks like i'm gonna have to do what I have to do, which is let him go, and it may come as soon as tomorrow.
I'm going to tell you what he did, and you guys will probably think im lying, but it is the gods honest truth.

I told him to make cannoli shells, he put them in the oven.
I told him to make Volcano Cakes, he deep fried them.
Seriously, and ridiculous as it sounds, its the truth.
post #18 of 54
Jeeeeeez, this guy is some sort of culinary dyslexic.

Tread carefully Chef. Hopefully you can do some damage control instead of firing the guy outright. No need to piss off the Owner.

If you can manage it, have the Owner get tired of the sous' antics so he will terminate the sous for you. Till then, maybe find a corner to stick him in where he can't broil the salads or whatever.

Edit: I would also remove any names from the posts, just in case.
post #19 of 54
Thread Starter 
I wish that I could wait for the owner to fire him, but he is rarely ever in the kitchen. I really think im gonna have to do it tomorrow morning, because he is on the schedule for the PM rush. We will easy to 230+ covers and our line, while not tiny, is not big enough to have a statue in. I think im going to make one of my Asst. Chefs, Head Sous. I know he will be willing to do it, and has one of the best, if not THE best work ethics i've seen.
The only think that I am regretting is that i will have to be on the line tomorrow night, while my daughter is having her piano recital, but I guess i'll have to suck it up.
post #20 of 54
Things to consider...

There may be underlying reasons why Barry asked you to give "Scooter" an interview, such as an out of work family friend sort of thing, or what ever.

You need to let Barry know, before you let Scooter go, exactly why you are doing so.

Explain that you get the impression that Barry has an interest in Scooter's well being, and you thought it might be best to discuss the past week's evaluation of Scooter's capabilities with Barry.

This is the point where you (politely and clinically - no extranious adverds or adjectives) detail each and every gaffe that you can recall, and simply state that the various skills that you expect to be exhibited by your head sous chef have not be fully seen in Scooter's performance so far.

Reinforce the notion that you have a kitchen to run, and within that responsibility you need to ensure that not only are your portions of food sized to turn a profit, but also the "seasoning" of skills/labor/salary added to each dish are just right. A 'dash' of solid experience beats a 'pound' of befuddlement.

If Barry's interest in Scooter is of a personal sort, express that you wish you had the luxury of time for ramping up Scotter's skills to meet the requirements of the head sous job description, but regretfully this is neither the time nor position for what seems to require in-depth training...

Ask Barry what his thoughts are at this juncture...

At which point have a back up position in mind, just in case this is one of those "mercy jobs".

Best of luck!!!
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
post #21 of 54
I'm not sure trashing the Owner's pet hire to the Owner's face is the way to go.

But definitly ask the Owner his opinion on how the Sous is doing. Maybe even have the Owner watch and evaluate the sous' performence for himself.

If the Owner says that everything is going GREAT! Then you have a huge problem. If he expresses some concern, then you can go into how much money this guy is costing him rather then focusing on what a slow, stupid, putz the sous is. Always dollarize.

I'm sorry you have to miss your daughters recital. My dad was away on business most of the time when I was a kid too. We've got a pretty good relationship though, and if anything, the time we did spend as a family is more precious then ever. Hang in there dude.
post #22 of 54
Thread Starter 
Yes, but how much longer can I keep this guy in my kitchen. Im starting to think if I just let him go, I can explain to the owner what happened. I will also have all of the other peoples on the lines opinion too, which are all that he stunk! I dont know. Honestly if I have to work with him tomorrow, and he shows the same Non skills and NON leadership and NON everything, I really might put him on dishes or potsink. But, that might even make things worse. I Really dont know what to do.
post #23 of 54
I just don't want you to get fired in the process. If you think the Owner will back you up, then by all means fire him. You know him better then any of us will.

I wonder about this guys connection. Remember back in the day, when the owners and managers would put their dealer on payroll just so they had easy access? Or even the classic hostess is sleeping with the owner, gets promoted to manager, and wrecks the FOH but won't get fired?

I can only guess about this guy you are stuck with, but it seems to me that he doesn't want the responsability or the work. He may even leap at the chance to get out of it. I'd be letting him go early, giving him as many breaks as possible. Assign him some easy prep or staff meal. Make him do inventory, every night.

If I thought I could get away with it I'd have looking for my left handed parsley curler.

The tricky part is keeping the rest of the staff happy and informed of the situation.
post #24 of 54
Bring in Scooter and another strongman, and go to the recital.
post #25 of 54
Having been recently "enlightened" to the full nature of your situation..... Just talk to the owner. Obviously you're in charge of the kitchen because the owner has faith in your abilities, judgment and professional opinion.

Personally, When I suggest a person it's only to open the door for them. It's then up to that person to walk in and then keep from getting thrown back thru the door be it still open or closed.

Just a side note....Having all the info upfront makes giving advice a whole lot more effective and leaves less room for misguided statements.;)
post #26 of 54
Thread Starter 
OldSchool, sorry that I did not present you with adequate information my first post...
Tincook, I wish I could have him do busy work or inventory or something like that, but I'm paying this guy serious money. My head sous starts at 59k salary. I CANNOT be paying that for somebody to chop me up a mirepoix or to salad prep or depoullage stock, I just cant do that.
post #27 of 54
Yeah, but he can't do what you are paying him for anyway, This is just to keep him out of your way so service isn't harmed, until you can term him safely, which is probally going to happen soon. Right?
post #28 of 54
Thread Starter 
Im hoping so tincook.
My daugther called me when I was at the restaurant telling me about a brand new song that she is playing at the recital that no other girls or boys are playing, just her.
This is such a dilemma.
post #29 of 54
Awww man. Did you get a tape?
post #30 of 54
"Trashing" the pet hire wasn't the objective.
If the guy can't perform, that is the primary basis for removal.
You have to have concrete reasons, not just "He isn't working out..."
If ChefTorrie has the responsibility of running the kitchen, then there has to be authority given to mold the team, otherwise, it's a hollow job title.
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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