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Are Chefs Abusive?

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hi guys, there is a an interesting thread going on in the UK, what is your take on the subject.

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post #2 of 47
I like that thread. There is a lot of truth in what was posted, and I have to agree with most of yet. Also the abuse that happens only happens to those who mess up in one form or another. I'm not saying it's right necessarily but the chef is not going to cut your head off if you do something right. Of course if the chef doesbn't like you then you might as well move on because it will likely never get better for you. I have worked for great chefs and a-holes, and I myself have been a great chef and an a-hole at times, same with employees. It's a 2 way street. Some people on both sides can truly drive you to distraction!:beer:
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #3 of 47
I've been known to utter the f-word a few times myself. :D
post #4 of 47
Uh, stands for "fine job," don't it Kuan? :blush:
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 47
The kitchens ever since the first one in France has been run like the military. Why? Because it has to be done like that. We have people waiting on the meal they are purchasing, which means they need immediate gratification. So does the Chef running the kitchen! Is it abusive? How is it said?? "hey why did you do something so freaking stupid you dumb ***" or "hey why did you do something so freaking stupid why are you acting like a dumb ***" Needless to point I have been a HR nightmare, I call no one names directly, I simply ask them why they are ACTING like such n such.
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Phillip Winkler
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Executive Chef
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post #6 of 47
Give them a break... they HAVE to be a little abusive because there are a LOT of expectations from the customer. Which is why I never did and never will have the guts to work with chefs or in the cooking industry, period. Who can stand the abuse is braver than I am, and they show potential to thrive in that environment.

Anyone remember that "Friends" episode with Monica being forced to hire Joey so that she could ultimately make a big scene and fire him in front of everyone? :lol:
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Ladybug all dressed in red,
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I'd creep among the flowers too!
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post #7 of 47
My absolute favorite!

I actually don't mind abusive chefs, a lot rides on them and I've been in their shoes for the cafeteria (yes, a lot of pressure and high expectations there too). What irks me the most of managers being abusive like chefs. Its 1 thing for someone who complains about something they know about, but to argue about something that doesn't make sense. I went toe to toe a couple times with our new director, he made lots of huge changes to the whole cafeteria, introducing new concepts and changing how things ran. We've been opened for 3 days and its been total chaos since and all I can do is have that big "I told you so" grin on my face. Chef and I actually, we grin together whenever he passes by.
post #8 of 47
abusive? no way.....:) always a lady......
F bombs overused lose their effectivness.....thus utmost care must be used in selecting the right time to drop one.....or so I've been told.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 47
abuse is a bit strong for what goes on, i call it pointed motivation. its never been my prefered style, i choose to be very mellow and friendly and patient, but when i do raise the voice it has that much more emphasis. also, i am a BIG fan of the sarcasm. "No, actuallly, thats better , i dont know what i was thinking ... that porkchop should be burnt, here I was leaving all that flavor and moisture in it , what a lie ive been living, what a sham of an existance"
working on my book, Better Management Through Sarcasm.
post #10 of 47
I am like a lot of people and will do even worse when I am stressed. My boss flips out a lot. Now I try to let it not stress me as much. But it took a while to come to that point. It also means I don't respect what she says as much, but she is still my boss and I learn to cope better.

Abuse is defined by the recipient, I guess, but you also have to be able to shake it off somewhat. That's part of the job, as I see it.
post #11 of 47
Every chef loses it once in a while. It's expected. Calculated mental abuse is not tolerated in my kitchen and I don't really give a rats *** who might think it's old school romanticism to behave this way. It will not motivate your cooks to be better at their jobs. Mentoring, behaving in a manner that defines professionalism and having patience with struggling cooks will create a loyal environment. I'm 6'5" and weigh 300 lbs. I don't need to yell. Just one look will speak volumes and I've learned from "screamers" that they are creating a compensation that must not lie in their pants. :eek:
post #12 of 47
Even if someone is 8 feet tall I don't see it. I see the person.
post #13 of 47
The last restaurant I was a sous chef at was in a environment of a constant screaming chef. He was divorced, his girlfriend left him and he was bragging about how his behavior cost him a lot but hey, that's how it is and he seemed quite pleased with his foul behavior. I quit. If you hate going to work everyday, what's the point?
post #14 of 47
Unfortunatly in todays kitchen we have lost a lot of the work ethic and chain of command mentality. It is one of the truths that we deal with. I am an HR nightmare, but those that survive are those that have what it takes. Every plate is my plate it is mine because I designed it and formulated it. It is mine because the customer wants to see the Chef when things go right or wroung. It is my reputation on the line with every service, so yes I can be a little :crazy: over the top. But there must be accountability. I use the F bomb only when needed and I have yet to actually kill some one for screwing up, I dont consider my motivationaly moments to be abuse.

Cheers fstfrdy
Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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post #15 of 47
I think this is a good topic. Alot of employees do not understand the kind of stress that the Chef is under. The other day at work, after having two days off, I return to work only to get my tail kicked by the boss because of something that happened while I was gone. As they say crap rolls down hill. I wouldn't say that I am abusive but if you mess up I will call you aout on it. Because so much rides on things being done properly there is no time for unprofesional people in my kitchen. I believe that it is my kitchen I take ownership of it. I am responsible for the product produced in it, the actions of the staff that work in it and anything else that comes around , so it is my kitchen. I will defend it and make sure that everthing everyday is done to my standards. The way that I want them done When I want them done. So if I have to beloud and abusive at times and drop the f bomb a few times to get people to notice the I will.
David

First you need to know the rules only then can you break the rules.
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David

First you need to know the rules only then can you break the rules.
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post #16 of 47
I guess I'm lucky that I've never really been "abused".Sure,in my early 20's I got my fair share of "What the F**k are you doing?" simply because of lack of experience and immaturity,but it wasn't taken personally.

I've always had the reputation of being easy to work with and for,but with the disclaimer of "Don't tick her off because you won't like it". If someone is doing something incorrectly or any other issue,it's always been dealt with privately,not in front of everybody else if possible.

There are some exceptions,of course...like a blatant,STUPID mistake [too many examples]..well,I will admit to some nasty remarks coming out of my mouth....I've even made a couple of servers cry:o
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #17 of 47
In an ideal world all our staff would be telepathic and we would understand totally when they screw up when we need them most...Theres no time. the heat's on as well as the noise and the adrenelin is coarsing . We all need a pat onthe back when we do well and to be forgiven when we mess up... So long as we dont expect it during service.I deal out the praise due once the dust settles and a few appologies after the event, when i know i've been a bit OTT. Re-hashing where WE may have gone wrong is done during clean up. Any major problems on both sides are written down and brought up during quiet times..
Seems to work
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #18 of 47
I've even made a couple of servers cry

NO WAY!!! ME TOO.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #19 of 47
:)

So,what did you say?

This server kept forgetting to ring in her add-on's,so you know what kind of nightmare that can be during a rush.I told her that if she had any less brain function,she'd have a machine breathing for her.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #20 of 47
I have worked with the extremes on both ends of this "abuse" spectrum. While I'll admit I don't have much personal respect for the chef who wants to be one of the guys during down times and be friendly and approachable, then turn into a raving jerk during service, I'll take it anyday over the current chef who is laughing and joking,conversing with the waitstaff and involving himself in every conversation taking place in the kitchen, even during the rush, while his buddy broilercook sends out charcoal briquettes that a starving dog would have trouble choking down.In essence I prefer a chef who treats his job seriously,and respects his cooks and the food, who cares if a cuss word pops up or a well timed personal jab motivates someone to concentrate a little more on their preparations? The guy who avoids confrontation, and discipline,and quality control, cares not for mentoring,teaching or the betterment of his staff; only cares about his falsely inflated ego, and his fat executive chef paycheck, this guy should be in a different business or at least be a dining room manager!
post #21 of 47
let's see, one was a young woman who would not stay out of my dessert area as I was slamming out loads in a rush....don't remember exactly what I said, but after saying the same thing a couple of times I get this tone in my voice that apparently (I've been told by several) sounds intimidating.....the register goes at least an octive lower it's almost a growl, combine that with eyes that shoot fire and you've got a combo that scorches. Not something I'm proud of (well not much, and certainly does not in the end make things easier to have to calm down waitstaff) funny thing kitchen guys never really are affected by "the growl".

Oh, and another time I was directing a food stage, which means I arranged two temp kitchens out of thin air with equipment behind a curtain to stage/prep for "talent chefs" and then the stage setup in front of the masses of people. Well one morning a year and 1/2 ago, one of the sponsoring grocery store manager's wife (now I've been at this gig for 5 years and have a great relationship with the manager)...wanted to walk off with my equipment. NOT COOL.... REALLY NOT COOL. I was in the middle of breakfast run down with my externs/pro staff when one of them said, "someone is taking our shtuff"......so I stopped everything and went over to the "wife" and asked what's up.....she proceeded to tell me that she had permission to take stage equipment.....I proceeded to tell her NO way did she have permission, and even if she did have permission from the guys who loaned the stuff to me, we needed it and the mainstage takes precident over pretty much anything else. She pulled attitude, I pulled growl. She cried. Her husband chewed me out an hour later finger pointed at my chest....was not a fun morning. My cooking staff was sitting 20feet away, didn't hear any of it.....I was told by "the wife's buddy" standing next to us that I was screaming.....that would be the power of the don't **** with me voice.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #22 of 47
Well. I used to work under a chef that it was a very big pain in the back; totaly in the use of that psicology that makes you feel like a little bug. I hated it. I believe that some times as a chef, you have to put things in the right path but, without losing the sense that you are working with humans, they fail once in a while....
There is nothing like a weekend off!
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There is nothing like a weekend off!
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post #23 of 47
I've found over the years that being abusive and demanding only leads to chaos and confusions, not mention a lack of respect. As I've grown older I've found that talking to my staff in a calm and collected way produces the desired effect more than yelling and letting my head explode. Granted over the years I've had employees that just couldn't get the grasp of what I expected from them and have had to give them their walking papers. In this day and age the biggest hurdle I'm trying to overcome is the lack of a work ethic and personal accountability. I try to emphasize to everyone of my staff that "Would you eat this dish if it came out to you looking like this?". Nine times out of ten the staff sees it from that perspective and corrects the problem. I've even grown to the point of allowing my staff to produce their own signature dishes. You'd be surprised at how much cooperation you can get when you allow the staff to share in the "spotlight". They tend to see things more from my perspective when it's their name and reputation on line in the same manner that mine is.

Best regards.
post #24 of 47
In my experience, chefs who are abusive are unconcerned with how the food goes out; it's more about dominance in the kitchen. I saw a chef scream at waitstaff for asking if he would put more cilantro in the ceviche, when he'd used parsley because he didn't order cilantro. I saw the same chef butterfly a filet, cook it to well done, beat it with his tongs (pieces of the steak were flying everywhere), weight it down, and throw it in a convection oven, mind you, it was already well-done.


The chef I currently work for plays elaborate mind-**** games that only make sense to him (not entirely true, I understand it's to show me that he's in charge, I just don't understand why he's so insecure...):

Me: Chef, I need shrimp for fried shrimp, should I defrost this box of U 12s?
Chef: Yes.
I deshell 4 shrimp.
Chef: What are you doing? I don't want you butterflying all those. Just stop. Use the 21/25s, Jesus.

1 hour later

Me: Chef, we need bacon-wrapped shrimp, do you want me to use 21/25s or U12s (there's at least 8 pounds of defrosted, uncleaned U-12s in the walk-in)?
Chef: 21/25s.
I deshell 8 shrimp.
Chef: Just stop! Use these (U-12s), Jesus you're an idiot.

This chef believes I'm stealing coats from the restaurant, has told me I need to restock my own plates (dishwashers imo) and meez (despite being the busiest station when i'm busy, and others are free to call for **** when things are slow), and gives me **** when I follow to the "T" what he tells me to do. I've actually gotten **** for wearing khaki cargo pants instead of checks (sorry, dog; it's electric or gas not chef pants or Armani suits) and I don't think my 100% cotton pants are going to melt if oil gets on them, since my ****ing checks are 100% cotton too...

I have had the opportunity to work with some great chefs/managers/cooks/whatever, and I can say assholes are not the norm (it's more 50/50, like life). You always read that a chef is a cook that manages; but, what does that really mean? The lithmus test I'm using now, as I search for a new job, is whether the chef is going to answer my question or tell me I'm an ******* for asking. :beer:
post #25 of 47

just bringing this back because a friend of mine just had a bad experience in a kitchen... how far is too far? beating the staff with a stick probably isn't ok, right?

post #26 of 47

Years ago they were tyranicle if such a word. Today is different. If one strives for perfection and you screw it off, yes he could be.Customers are sometime

very abusive to staff. Everyone has an off day.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huy Bui View Post

just bringing this back because a friend of mine just had a bad experience in a kitchen... how far is too far? beating the staff with a stick probably isn't ok, right?


How "big" is the stick?

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #28 of 47

i didn't bother to ask, but sounded a bit excessive to me... especially since he fired a cook earlier and made him cry.

post #29 of 47

It has already been mentioned, but constantly berating someone and yelling at them loses its effectiveness after the first few times. The person just tunes you out. I find a well placed "This is extremely disappointing, I know you're better than this" is more effective. It makes the point that you are not pleased and also re affirms to the cook that he/she has mad skillz and isn't just a bumbling f**kup.

post #30 of 47

I have worked for screamers, and I don't care much for them.  Worked for an "Eigenosische Diplomierte KuchenChef" the highest rank Switzerland has to offer a Chef, and I kinda liked his style:  He'd ride your butt, but only to the point of "general p'o'd" never in meanness or contempt.  If he though you wre un-capable he'd pull you off the line, and if it happened again, he'd fire you.  After work he'd buy everyone a drink while we were cleaning up and could make very interesting idle conversation while we were cleaning and sipping our beers.  And then next day he was back to riding our butts.

 

I have been known to embarrass a few people.  My second last d/washer for instance, would come in stoned.  The first time I took him aside and explaind he would have to go home, and if there was a seond time he would be fired.  A few days later he shows up stoned again.  Sent him into the walk-in for, zuchinni, I think in.  Waited two minutes, opened the door and found him exctly as I had imagined,staring at the case of zuchinni infront of his eyes.  I walked past him, and in a 250/ second,  whipped out a handfull of zuchinnis, shoved them into his arms, and melted away from the walk-in.  A minute later he walks out,dumps the zuchinni on hte table and walks out.  Never showed up after that.

 

Another prep cook I had , I whinged and harped on about leaving a teaspoon of mayo,or a single, lonely pickle in a 16 ltr bucket.  "For F's sake, scrape out the last teaspoon in a 1/9 insert, willya" I'd whine.  A week later the eejit does it again, happened to be on payday too.  End of the shift I told him checks would be late.  After work, I grabbed his check and the bucket with a teaspoon of mayo in it, looked up his address, and delivered both to his door....

 

Or the banquet waitress.  Giving instructions to a group of 20-odd serving staff and this chic interrupts me, saying  something like at" At "X" (very large and famous catering co.) we did it so-and-so way.  My ears turned red.

"Oh, so you work for "X" eh?"


"Yes, part time for 2 years now."

 

"I thought "X" could train staff to follow instructions and shut up, are you sure you work there?"

 

She shut up..........

 

I'm not a screamer, nor am I a thrower of things, but I usually get my point across..........

...."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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