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Lets Hypothesize (WARNING: This is long!)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'd be interested in knowing my peers thoughts on this hypothetical situation:

You take a job to be the chef of an established restaurant. You will have no financial stake in this place, you will be on a fair fixed salary. Your new boss is buying the place from the current owner of 20 years. You eat there together and decide it's awfull. Wanting to keep the name and good reputation, nothing can be drastically altered in the menu or front of house. Changes are proposed and menus are written. Staff are talked about being replaced. You see the kitchen and it is a mess, filthy top to bottom with stacks of the previous nights dishes and glasses left to rot untill the next day. The front of the house is the same, everything left for tomorrow. Unswept floors, dirty dishes and glasses half full with various drinks left on the bar. You are appaled. You express this to your boss and he agrees that drastic change needs to occur. Finally after a lenghty process a deal is made with the old owner and you start.
You are told that upon opening the entire staff will remain intact and literally walk in one day and say "Hi!, we're your new bosses!" Everyone is told that they're job is secure and that no major changes are planned. You are instructed to take note of everything done in the kitchen and be able to replicate it in case the current staff decided to flee. Basically the old chef is told he's the "chef d'cuisine" now and he's fine with that because besides you being there nothing is different. He gets the same pay, same days off, same prep and you to decide the specials and take the blame if the shitake hits the fan. The Maitre 'd runs the place. Has been there for over 20 years and thinks he has veto power over nightly specials. If he doesn't like something he'll either ask you to change it or just not tell the tables. Or he'll just complain to your boss about it untill it gets back to you.
The boss really likes the old chef and wants him to stay at all costs. This crew has been together for 8 years with the most junior member already there for two. The old chef and gard manger are related as well. It is apparent that firing one will result in a mass exodus of the rest. You assure your boss that would be ok. You assure him you can assemble and train a kitchen crew that will be superior at every station. The old owner had the same crew(4 guys) on a Tuesday night doing 20 covers than he had on Saturday doing 100. A weekly labor over $2000. Add you and it jumps over $3000. He decides its a good idea to hire someone loyal to you in case of a mass quitting by the old staff and to see what you could do with a new hire. You hire a culinary school grad who is very green but is doing well. A good kid who likes to cook and feels lucky to be in such a nice restaurant. Cutting a day off a couple of cooks and making this kid a tournant should send a message right? The new cook does really well and makes the old crew look sloppy and slow. But your boss continues to pay the old staff the same salary. So it's like they get a raise. Work five days instead of six and get paid the same.
Then finally fed up with the dirty habits of the old staff, you pull them aside one day and adress the situation. After months of trying to motivate them into cleaner habits, you lay it down: Everyone has one week to get their shitake together. One week to re-learn proper restaurant hygene and execute it on a daily basis, or you will replace them with proper cooks. They go and cry to your boss about your "threat" and he tells you that you over stepped your bounds. And he tells them not to worry about what you say because he is the boss.
So, unable to give the new kid more than part time hours and minimum pay he gives notice and two weeks later is gone, leaving you with the old crew who by now just goes about their business like you are not there.

You feel:
A) You must be doing a crappy job if your boss doesn't trust your decisions.
B) This being his first experience in the business, your boss is paralyzed with fear making hard decisions.
C) All of the above
D) None of the above

Remember this is a hypothetical situation to imagine yourself in. What do you think? :confused:
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post #2 of 20
B.
And it won't change.
Up to you if you feel you can continue to work in a place that treats you with no respect.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #3 of 20
agreed B it is
post #4 of 20
B

However...
Sometime the enemy is your best friend, and you can use him/her to your advantage. I'm talking about the Health inspector of course. If He/she says to get the mess cleaned up, then you hafta, and you can blame him/her. Foh should take some of it for the messy bar and dishes too.

One phone call, and you've circumnavigated the old guard, (and made them look like filthy eejits) circumnavigated the frozen boss, and got the place cleaned up quickly.
...."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 #5 of 20
That's a no-win situation, unless you're given the authority to run the kitchen, you'll be forever second guessed and and told that's not your decision to make. If the person in this scenario is a young chef with his first position, the only thing he can learn is how not to do things. It seem like a good gig, but the best poker players no when to muck pocket K's and wait for a better hand (does that make sense?).

E: GET OUT FAST!!
post #6 of 20
i agree with option e however i would certainly try the health inspection route first.
post #7 of 20
of course what could happen is they get a sh***y score on health inspection, point the finger at you, chef, and fire you...
then you have been fired from a job through no fault of your own instead of leaving of your own accord.
i understand the impulse to tough it out in the hope that things will change, and i admire your tenacity, but sometimes you just have to recognize when it's time to go.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Let's say that a week after you take over, your health inspection comes and is a joke. You're in a new county with supposedly "stricter standards" and compared to the city, the inspection is literally a joke. As long as there are no stray cats around :eek: and the food is actually inside a refrigerator (even if it's 45 degrees) it's a walk in the park. You get some small violations that your boss quickly corrects, but the bigger picture goes completely unnoticed.
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post #9 of 20
Time to start looking for other opportunities, bummer.....

learning curves can be a bear sometimes.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 20
I would tell the new boss, I want at least a 10% stake in the restaurant and with that some say in running the place. In return I will work for at least 10 years and revenue will not fall below $X.

He'd have to know you'd be ready to quit on the spot if he says no, so you want to know
1. How hard it would be to find a comprable chef to replace you
2. What would happen to the restaurant the next day, the next week, the next month if you weren't there
3. How hard it would be for your to find a comprable job

Of course you would want to get this all in writing and have an attorney review it.
post #11 of 20
I think only number 3 is pertinent.
Number 1, he is not allowed to chef, the previous chef is still there, so the owner would not look to replace him.
Number 2, the restaurant would not change if he left, for better or worse, because he has not been allowed to enact any changes since his arrival.
Again, the owner has a comfort zone in having the old guard still around, which means he will feel no need to do anything but the status quo.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #12 of 20
If the non-chef may enter an opinion...

It's the other way around-you WILL do a crappy job if your boss doesn't trust your decisions. As I understand, the generally-accepted definition of "chef" is translated both literally and figuratively as "chief." If you aren't the chief, then you're a cook, and as such have no responsibility to deal with any of the crap you're being given, beyond keeping your station up to snuff.

In my business, this is the exact reason that a sales manager does not have personal sales goals-if you're expected to be in charge, then you can't be preoccupied with the niggly little stuff.
post #13 of 20
Re: Re: Number 1, I think he is referring to himself indirectly here, he is Executive Chef

Re: Re: Number 2, a lot of owners couldn't run the business with out one or more specific peons, I doubt the owner is doing the menus, ordering, and cooking.
post #14 of 20
It's not too hard to imagine any of what you have "hypothesized" especially when you have had a first hand experience with that or worse. Why does it always seem that this business would be better left to the Chef's to run instead of mindless, tactless, greedy, inexperienced owners.

After the slap in the face by the owner because you over stepped your bounds and then telling the staff not to worry about what you say since he's the boss "hypathetically" of couse:rolleyes: (emphasis on the pathetic) I know what I would do. I'd probably call the guy on the statement and ask exactly what the heck (maybe a tad more colorful than that) he wants to get out of the operation, you, it's employees and it's reputation. I'd also clarify where his head was and that his statement was not only unprofessional but completely uncalled for. But that's me.

Hypothetically.....How are you set with things? Do you have an out? Have you made enough of an impact with the property that your rep has carried outside the four walls? Can you afford to be without a kitchen for a couple weeks or longer depending on the market in the area? If you can answer yes to one or more it's time to take the show on the road. The grass may not be any greener but it might be easier to chew and I'm sure there are more respectful bosses/owners out there. It's never gonna get any better and can only get worse. You've been publicly stripped of your standing and any form of leadership with the staff. So all you're doing now is taking up space. If you can live with the fact that you really have no real purpose to be there oother than take a check then you're set. But from the sounds of things and what we've seen of the work done/expected you're in this for more that just a check. JMHPO

Good luck with this "hypothetical" situation.
post #15 of 20

Let's Hypothesize

I stayed in a job where I was suppose to have authority, but was undermined by the person who had the "real" power. You will be more and more fustrated as time goes on and going to work will be harder and harder. You will continue to ask questions like "how crappy a job am I doing?" Answer is you are NOT!!!
Start looking... Hypothetically of course! :) When I was in that position I didn't leave in time and ended up leaving a profession I had been in for 30 years, not just the job. BY the time I left, my confidence was gone with the job. If it is you, and I believe it isn't, you can't fix it. Save yourself.

Oh and shroom is right... the learning curve bites!
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 

Shroomgirl is wise indeed

It really does bite the big one..:crazy:..Bourdain said it...never work for the newbie. He aslo said equadorian line cooks were gods gift to restaurants which I think my boss took a little too seriously....hypothetically of course. Here's the job my newbie cook just got http://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/fbh/526175207.html
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post #17 of 20
Holy sh*t. That kid got it good.
post #18 of 20
both people need to grow a Hypothetical pair! One to "ride" his staff and the other to give the Owner the ultimatum that needs to be given.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

Bullocks?

First, It's important to have another offer on the table(in the works) before throwing ultimatums around...especially with a wife and three year old son at home. And second, my "pair" were pretty much cut off by the boss a month ago as far as the other staff are concerned.
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post #20 of 20
Don't get your knickers in a "twist" you posted the question as "HYPOTHETICAL."

Next time when you need advice...don't be afraid to just come out and ask for it, everyone here ...if they haven't been in similar situations...maybe or know of someone and any advice is good to know.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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