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Ending career?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hello all. I'm sitting here watching Anthony Bourdain on TV and wondering why my career is about to stop. I've been cooking since I was a kid, when I graduated high school I went to a local culinary school. I went for one year, taking all the Pastry classes they had. I wasn't looking forward to three years of management, so I didn't go back. There aren't many high end restaurants around here, and even less with a bakery. I worked at Walmart for about 8 months in their "bakery" and quit. Anybody can take a dry frozen cake and ice it. ( offense if thats what you do...I just love making everything from scratch) I ended up as a manager at a local $1 theater and a trainer at Burger King. Then one day I got a call, the only place within 50 miles of my house that uses real bakers. Glade Springs Resort and Hotel. The head chef was the woman I trained under at culinary school, and she thought of me for her bakery. Now I am one of 3 bakers here. All was going well. I have worked there about 7 months, but a few months ago the owner let the head chef go and now we have a new head chef that rivals those trying to make good tv. He loves nothing more than to come up to you when your on the last piece of sugar, or putting the last bit of piping on 5 tier wedding cake and yelling/cussing in your ear. Over half of the kitchen has quit or been fired and I'm apparently on my way out as well. I'm down to 20 hours a week. He is turning down the customers that ask for me by name, I am no longer allowed to make orders, he has forbidden rolled fondant cakes, and I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. Now, I know I'm not the best at what I do, in fact, I have a long way to go, but I have never had a complaint, never missed a deadline, my food cost is low, and have no problems with any new recipe, I'm always early, my work area is always clean. What is going on? Is it really the degree? Ever since he started he's only hired people with degrees, and he's been letting those of us without them go. My new supervisor just finished school, she knows a little bit of what to do, but add a little pressure and she falls apart and comes looking for me to fix everything. We just had a plate up for 250 people, a simple bread pudding with vanilla sauce, and she freaked out. At least a few times a week she comes to me asking how to do things. Now, I haven't been doing this long enough to claim Pastry Chef, (only a few years) but now I hear that unless you have a degree you can never claim this? WTH? I thought a kitchen was based on how long you've been at it, and how good you were. Not what school you went to. Is a degree really that important?

I'm not sure what to do, if I get fired from here it's back to fast food...and thats not gonna happen. No matter what. There aren't many other places around here, this is West Virginia, everybody goes to walmart for baked goods. My own place is out, I don't have the startup money.

Here's another question. The three of us do all the baking, thats breads, deserts, ext. for three restaurants and a cafe. I make $8 and hour, and the head pastry chef only makes $8.50. Are we under the normal wage? By how much?:confused: I love what I do, and would do so for min wage, even with all the crap from the new chef.
post #2 of 22
Sounds like the new chef is inexperienced, experience not only means how to bake but also how to lead. Some people are incrediby talented but have no leadership skills. Sounds like your situation.

There are laws against the stuff you see on food channel, cursing at employees is harassment and should not be tolerated. See the management about that. If I cursed out a staff member I would be written up immediately and after 3 strikes terminated.

It is a dod eat dog world, I would let your new supervisor crash and burn, refer her to the new chef when she falls apart, maybe you can get the job.

8.50 an hour is crap, at the restaurant I work the dishwashers start at more than that and a pastry chef (me ) makes 3 times that amount with benefits. I think you are being taken advantage of you should start looking for another place IMO. puts an assistant pastry chef at about 35,000 a year as the median salary range in West Va.
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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, he's the head chef, he can get away with it. Only the owner of the resort is above him here. A few people filed reports, thats why there are only three of us bakers left, lol. I tried reporting him to the unemployment office (I didn't know where else to go) they say they can take a report, but that I have to give my name and position. LOL, that means I'd be fired the next day. I didn't bother. Were a "right-to-work" state. Which means he can literally fire me for any reason and I cant do anything about it.

I cant not help her when she asks for help. She'd just write me up. She already knows I do a little of everything. Besides, let dogs eat dogs, I'm a cat person. :-P We don't even get to sign the write up here. I knew we were in for **** when on his first day. We were taking a short break in the break room and he comes in, says he is our new "kitchen god", and rips the min. wage act poster off the wall. He said "you come here when I tell you and leave when I tell you you make what I let you. There are no breaks, if you have time to stop, then you can go home and stop costing me money" I can put up with it (so far), but half the kitchen quit the first week.

I've tried to ask him about some of the things he wants. (*like no more baking cheese cakes, we have to make the gelatin instant kind now) he says "I have trained 54 master chefs, who are you to question anything I tell you?" I did a google search of him and had no returns...none. I had half a dozen. I'm crap, and I had 6. I also wonder why he won't cook? He's been there for a few months and I have yet to see him so much as heat his coffee in the microwave.

Thanks for whoever made this place, and the moderators. I'd probably go crazy if I didn't have a place to come and vent and talk about all this.
post #4 of 22
One thing I would suggest would be to document everything crazy he does, be sure to include witnesses as well. After you have a number of incidents it can work out better if you do get fired. The minimun wage poster he ripped up has to be posted, it is illegal not to have it on display.
Also breaks are mandated by OSHA he could get in lots of trouble for all that.

Your chef is a joke if he says he trained master chefs and uses instant cheesecake?!!. I wish I had some extra vacation time so I could come down and take his job, get him fired and roll out of there 2 weeks later. LOL
You should ask to see his resume, it must be quite impressive you should tell him.

Sorry if I sound hostile I hate jerk chefs like that, now I am older and not too wizer I have mellowed out. I lost my second kitchen job due to a chef like yours though I lost my job because I punched him out in the walk in and quit. He said I hit him I said he slipped on the spilled soup on the floor which started his rant. But boy it felt good!!
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post #5 of 22
Draiodoir, I hope I'm not intruding. I'm not a culinary pro, but that is absolute BS! Nobody deserves to be treated like that! If I ever was in a position like yours, I would quit, and I would let the owner of the resort know why I quit, in person or with a hand-written note.

He is going to ruin the place, and when the owner figures that out you will likely be welcome back and you will have done your part refusing to be a victim to that jerk.

P.S. I admire your restraint. I would have "accidentally on purpose" put my elbow in his face by now, when he snuck up behind me.
post #6 of 22
I agree with rat; that guy is covering up his incompetence by trying to do a bad Gordon Ramsay impersonation. By ripping down the OSHA posters he shows he has no respect for workers or the law.

And any chef that tells you to forego real cheesecake for the instant gelatin kind, is really full of it!

You have two choices......either fight to get that bastard out by documenting incidents and reporting them to the right agencies, which might get you fired anyway, or just quit and look for a new job. You might have to leave WV, though if you can't find a suitable job in your area. What about resort places along the eastern seaboard? I'm sure they have a need for pastry cooks all the time (in the summer at least).
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks people. He called and gave me the next few days off. He loves the fudge I made though. (eye roll) Another group canceled so apparently he's decided to eat it all. Is it bad for a resort that caters to ski groups in the winter to have cancellations, during a snow storm? LOL I cant wait till late March when the golf courses open back up. I hear the NCAA already canceled, but hopefully all the other members will come back. Words out that Glade isn't a good place to work, so hopefully when he realizes nobody will work for him he'll calm down a little. In the classified adds he's got "need experienced chefs with degree, starting pay $14 an hour" I checked with payroll downstairs, and nobody's even filled an application for a few weeks.

I'll buy a digital voice recorder latter today, witnesses are going to be hard to come by. He's already fired everybody he feels is a threat, and everybody else is scared to do/say anything.

LOL, and just my luck. My car is down, it's the transmission, so I just had the cafe position taken from me. I still make everything, but my new supervisor gets to tell me what to make, take it over and has her name on the paperwork. (shrugs)
post #8 of 22
Wow.. I totally feel for you. Sounds like you need to get out of your area and be your own boss, even if it is making cakes on the side out of your home or apartment. 8.50 an hour is not enough to get by, at all. Anyone that helps me in my kitchen is paid 12$/hour regardless of their experience, if they have great experience I don't mind paying a lot more if needed. However, my business is still part time because I have a fulltime job that pays the bills.

I think you need to work towards your own business and be creative to keep all of the costs down :)
post #9 of 22
Guy's a fool, driving up labour cost like that.

Listen, don't want to be the one that explains that you can't see the trees because the forest is in the way, but what's stopping you from going to larger, more heavily populated areas? Play it smart, arrange for some vacation time for a month or two later, and send out resumes and e-mails now. Once you've got one or two interviews lined up, take your holidays and see what's happening. If things don't pan out you've still got your old, albeit crap*y job to fall back onto for a while.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 22
I feel your frustration and how much you wish things were as they were before the lout took over. It's easy for us to say, but you're the one who has to be brave.
If you really feel it's worth it, then you have to make a change and i reckon thats with the owner.
If it's not ... then get the **** out. Driodoir, you seem to have standards better suited to an establishment that values talent and loyalty
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #11 of 22

come to Texas!!!

I don't know your circumstances but move to a larger metro area if at all possible!!!:bounce:Consider carrying a voice activated tape recorder and try to get the Chef on tape. Sounds sneaky I know, but you need to document everything for change to happen. Keep a daily diary of everything that is said (or yelled) to you. It will come in handy. Do you have a HR department there? That should be your first stop. Perhaps a lawyer should be consulted as well.:chef:
post #12 of 22
Hey everyone,

Put in a comment saying how bad the food is so Draiodoir can get a new chef. Say how bad the savory items are, but how good the baked items. Also, lament that you can't get any rolled fondant cakes, they used to be so good, but now they aren't available anymore. :D

All joking aside, I'd ask your 'chef' to name the 'master' chefs he's trained. If he trained master chefs, he wouldn't be working where you are. My suggestion is to keep your nose clean and wait it out. I don't think a chef who conducts himself they way you describe could last very long. He'll hang himself soon. Also, start baking on the side while you still have some income. That way if the axe falls, you have income.

Another thing, I have a restaurant in a 'right to work' state. Yes, I can fire anyone for any reason, but unless that person violated a documented company policy, you would still be entitled to unemployment. Not to rely on it, but it can help.

Click on the 2nd link below - Are they still open? Even though the review is old, it appears to be good.

Keep doing the right thing at work, even though your immediate supervisor is less qualified, she'll remember you for helping and if the chef goes, then she'll be looking for you for help again.

Besides, as far as I'm concerned, Anthony Bourdain is a big windbag. Television is not what it seems to be, you don't see what they don't want you to see. If you can run a great operation, you would only give it up if you aren't making money or you really aren't that good.

Keep the chin up, let karma work in your favor.
post #13 of 22
I tried to post some links, but the site says I can only post links after making 5 posts. Well, I'm up to 14, WTF?

Anyway, Google Glade Springs Resort and click on the comment card. Have some fun, anonymously.

Also, for the bakery near you, it is called Delightfully Yours.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey everybody. Sorry it's been awhile since I've been back here. I've got a super bowl party to set up for. The chef wants chocolate cake and bread pudding for it...doesn't seem like football food, lol.

You got to hear what happened today... I was cutting croissants for the bread pudding when the new girl asked me if she could use some of my knives. She still hasn't brought in her toolbox. I shouldn't have let her, but I did. I now wish I had gotten it for her. I hear a banging noise and look up. You know what I see? My $150 black ceramic knife that I only use for fruit and my clear plexiglass fondant roller being used to hammer through a 25lb block of chocolate. We keep our chocolate in the freezer... Before I can say anything the blade shatters like glass, and obviously the plexiglass rod isn't gonna be used for fondant anymore..:cry: I cant replace the knife, it was a gift from the last head chef. I only made $300 last payday so it's not like I can buy another... I hear this stream of obscenities come out of my mouth, Im not sure if it was over the loss of my tools, or because, in looking up I had cut myself. I don't cuss, well, hardly ever. It went right through my fingernails on my index and middle fingers. Luckily the bone stopped it or I would have lost them. I swear this place is gonna drive me nuts. I had to take a nitro after all that...I'm just glad I'm not a free bleeder, lol. At least she's got the next two days off. You know she didn't even say sorry?

Chef also decided we needed vanilla sauce for the bread pudding. Enough for about 400 people. No problem. I got out the heavy cream and egg yolks and he stopped me. He had me take old, left over vanilla pudding and add milk to it and beat it with our "boat motor" ewwew....I don't even know when we made vanilla pudding...whoever made it didn't date it...

I'm trying to save up some money to get out, but I cant even keep a car on the road. There isn't much hope for opening up my own bakery here. I've got the idea, plans, even costs for my own place ready to go. I'm not sure where to go yet. My dream was to open a coffee/tea/bakery/small brewery near the cliffs of Mohr in Ireland. But thats never gonna happen, :lol:

Chefs taken a new attitude. He isn't yelling at us anymore, which helps my heart condition, lol. He's just not talking to us. He says a head chef should tell the supervisors what to do then go take care of business. (which apparently means playing PC games)

Already ahead of you there, we've been sending in anonymous comments for a few weeks. Unfortunately he's decided to close the coffee shop for a week and redo the menu. Raising all the prices to. So far I know the cookies are gonna be $3.50 each (there about 3oz) Somehow I've got to figure out how to make breakfast items that can last at least three days for the case...and he still wants puff. (eye roll) He also wants me do redo my scone recipes. He said the flavors were right, but they were "to biscuit like" So, I know I'm new and all, but isn't that how a scone should be?

I checked at Delightfully Yours, but I didn't go in. I've been by there a few times and I've never seen a car out front. I thought they were closed. I'll have to go check the place out my next day off.

Thanks again people for everything. It's great to have a place to come and vent. I just hope nobody at work finds this, probably shouldn't have posted where I work...anyway, whats the worst that could happen?

Latter everybody, good vibes your way. :cool:
post #15 of 22

my sympathies

I saw your post and just had to respond. I have never worked in a kitchen (ok, does waitress count? I didn't think so) and am not a professional chef, but I do have something to say about your situation. LEt me preface by saying I'm also not an attorney, but I do know something about what you write.

Despite the fact you are in a right to work state, there are laws about a hostile work environment and it sound like that is what you have. No one should be expected to put up with abuse in any situation, let alone at work. The unemployment office is not the right place--the EEOC office is. Or you can call the state wage and hour board. If it is a profitable business, you may even want to consult an attorney.

If it were me in that situation, I would approach the owner of the business and let him/her know of the situation and let them know you expect them to correct it pronto. It has to be in writing. That 'puts them on notice' and makes it impossible for them to claim they didn't know. Let them know that your next step will be to EEOC. As someone else mentioned, if you have an HR/personnel person you will want them in on this. If they are smart, they will intervene and make it stop. If they fire you for reporting the abuse, you should know there are laws against retaliation.

People go out on stress disability all the time, and if it gets too hostile that may be an option for you. The main thing to know is that staying in that environment is just not good for anyone.

If there is a need in your area for the kind of work you do, why not try and pursue your own business? Perhaps you can rent out a church kitchen or partner with another business in your area who has a commercial kitchen and focus on what you do best. Become their competition!!!

I often wonder what makes people behave so badly, and all I can surmise is that they are miserable with their life. And raised to be a bully. Call him on it. Next time he yells or behaves in that manner, tell him you're sorry he's so unhappy with his life, but you'd appreciate it if he didn't take it out on you. Maybe it is about time someone alerted him to the fact that his temper tantrums are totally inappropriate.

Oh, and as to your broken knife & fondant roller. Tell her where she can buy replacements and tell her you need it by tomorrow so she can either buy it herself or give you the cash to do it. Do not under any circumstances let that pass. She broke it, she buys it.

Good luck....
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, replacements are a no go. She still seems ticked at ME for some reason over it...? I checked with chef and was told that I shouldn't bring my own equipment to work, that I have everything I need with the provided kitchen supplies. (eye roll) We don't even have a set of tips there. Now if could do everything I needed to do with a 12 inch chef knife I'd be good...

Stress disability? I''d just get fired. He's fired two girls for maternity leave so far. One of them just asked for two weeks. I didn't think even he would be able to get away with that. I have been doing a little snooping around though. The owner bought the place three years ago, but he hasn't yet made a payment...the Sous Chef asked for a meeting with the owner, the food and beverage director (I didn't know we had one...) and the head chef. He tried to explain how were getting complaints, how the new head chef didn't even change the menu, just started ordering cheaper stuff to make them with, how the last head chefs signature items were still on the menu and the new head chef was taking credit for them, all kinds of stuff. I was told they were in the office for three hours. Well, the owner didn't want to change anything because costs were down so the Sous Chef gave his two week notice in writing. Right after the meeting the head chef ripped it up in the kitchen and fired him. We have also lost our stars, were not even a 1 star now...I'm not sure how that works. I also called a few friends who gave me some case numbers, and called a few lawyers anonymously with a few questions. Once they hear Glade Springs they act like they cant help me. No small wonder since there are over 30 open lawsuits against that place. Most from the kitchen. (granted, most are years old) I'm wondering whats going on...? Are they just getting paid off or do we have a bunker like Greenbriar? LOL

I did go googleing to get some "dirt" on the head chef. He did go to CIA, but his name isn't listed in any of the teaching stuff like he said. He didn't go to "finish up" in France. In the last 20 years he's worked at least that many restaurants. He's done everything from being a baker to being a cattle rancher, which he lists as cooking since he said he can "change the flavor of the beef by feed and breed" and according him in a newspaper article from his home town he is the founder of "Chef's Choice Beef" but he sold it back in 2005 to start his own restaurant. Since 2006 he's opened up three restaurants. The only one I can find that may still be open is called "Flair" but he's not an owner, and if you look as the online reviews there were all horrible till just a few months ago. Lots of other stuff, I signed up on a public records site and I'm waiting on his police reports. I'm doing LOTS of digging. I won't do anything with it unless I need to, but looking as his work history I doubt he'll be here long. For now I'll just keep my head down and hope.
post #17 of 22
Call your former chef.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
She knows, she said there's nothing she can do. She named her signature items after our golf courses.

She's in the local newspaper at least once a month, and the new head chef is doing his best to stop that. He's been talking lots of crap about her. She's been nothing but nice to him, but I'm sure she's pilling up all kinds of stuff go get him back. Every day he puts her down. He's trying to get in the paper but so far they haven't even interviewed him. LOL I swear, the more I hear about all this, I'm glad I'm not the only one that has problems with him, lol, this is better than watching reality tv.

I'm just gonna sit back and watch and try and keep my head down. I cant wait till karma catches up with him. :lol:
post #19 of 22
Start printing up your "dirt" on the chef and post it in different places in the restaurant.

Firing a pregnant employee is a violation of the Americans with disabilities act as well as illegal as places have to provide maternity leave if requested. Tip off the cops on that one too.

The more I read about the guy the more of a tool he sounds. You should call the CIA and pretend to be a news reporter asking about all of his teaching credentials, that would be a good one. I'm sure they would have somethign to say about that one.
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post #20 of 22

current suggestions

I would suggest that you NOT follow Rats's advice or you can end up being sued by the chef for defamation.

Also, violating the American's with Disability Act is not a criminal act, so the police have nothing to do with it. They will not and should not get involved in that type of issue. You'd have to go to the state or federal EEOC and file a complaint. Actually, the people fired need to file the complaint, all you can do is file complaints for things that happened to you. The folks asking for maternity leave may be protected under FMLA rather then or in addition to the ADA or EEOC. And I'll say it again--they cannot by law fire you for going to EEOC or AA with your complaints. If they do, it is called retaliation and it is illegal. Stress disability falls under ADA, so you'd be protected under those laws.

As to the person who broke your knife, I would still present her with a bill and let her know you expect her to pay it or replace the knife she broke. Let her be mad at you, who cares? Just get your money. If you don't want to pursue it, that's certainly your perogative....

You've gotten a lot of good advice on this board, but it sounds to me like you aren't ready to do anything about the situation yet. I'm sure if the situation becomes unbearable, you'll get to the point where you'll want to make a change...
post #21 of 22
In this business there are always chefs who are tirants. This is unprofessional and childlike behavior - but it exists. The bottom line for you is - you can either stay there and ignore him or you can seriously think of moving to another area where many more opportunities exist. But to do a power strugle with him is a waste of time.

Your wage is low, but maybe not for the cost of living in your area. I would suggest you begin applying for jobs outside of your area. Explore and see what comes up. As for degrees in pastry - it depends. Yes, the higher paid jobs usually require a culinary degree especially in larger corporate companies such as hotel chains or prestigious pastry shops. But in smaller companies and shops it is not so important - but they will want you at a lower wage than somone who has paid $50,000 for a CIA degree. But even CIA graduates are not paid well right out of school. They usually apprentice at very low wages such at $8 an hour and then work their way up.

I own a chocolate company in Colorado and I have personally found that chefs with experience and without a degree are usually much more valuable than those with a degree and no experience.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I've tried everything I know. I hate to leave, I love what I do and where I do it, but I was just written up for doing my job. Here's a letter I'm giving to personnel tomorrow morning. (I may make a few changes, like taking out Miranda's name, maybe not though) I just got out of the ER, my heart is acting up again and the doc tells me it's stress. (eye roll)

Thanks people for the advice. I guess I knew this was coming. I did make it longer than most, there are only two of us left without degrees. I hope he knows what he's doing though. I just had to train my supervisor in how to properly make biscuits. LOL She put the 15lb of flour, shorting, milk, well everything all at once in our big Hobart mixer and turned it on. Maybe she knows a way to make a nice fluffy country biscuit in a mixer instead of my hand, but she probably shouldn't have had it on 3 when she turned it on, LOL. I've never seen a cloud of flour and a spray of milk that big before. :D I've got my CDL, and a spotless drivers license. This is WV, so I'll just go drive a coal truck or something till I get the money to finish that last few years of pastry school. I think you again for all the advice.

Here's the paper I'm giving to personnel tomorrow. What do you think?

"I am sorry to quit without a notice, it is not something I wish to do. Chef and a few supervisors have made it clear that I am not welcome in "his kitchen". I have wanted to be a baker since childhood and I will make a career out of doing what I love to do, but working for this man is not the way to do so. He is condescending and treats everyone who asks for culinary advice like a child. He doesn't seem able to train people to do things the way he wants them done, but does not hesitate to penalize those that don't.

Kevin (the food and beverage manager, chefs boss, not in the letter BTW, just reference to you guys), wait staff, customers, kitchen staff and other kitchen passerby compliment me on my work, so I had assumed my work was satisfactory. Apparently I was wrong. Chef refuses to talk to me unless I do not meet his expatiations, which has been rare. Instead of telling me himself he tends to leave a message with another person, so I am not sure whether it's really from him, or just someone trying to make me do things there way by using his influence.

The rules constantly change without me knowing. I was written up by Chef without being allowed to explain myself, so he does not know what actually happened. I was not allowed to put on paper an explanation. In his usual style, chef left the actual write up to someone else.
Our production list had a carrot cake and some mini heart cakes for the Cafe. The cafe changed the order and asked for something else. I checked with the person in charge, Miranda, and was told to do what they wanted. I was written up for changing the order. I did not change the order, the Cafe staff did. I have had the authority to do changes to their order since July 07 in Monica's absence. This is for the company's benefit so things we make don't get trashed, thus reducing food cost. If this changed I should have been told before being written up. I would not change what I did, in Monica's absence I did what I thought was best for the company. Miranda, who was also responsible for that production list, and the person who gave to go ahead to do what the cafe wanted was not disciplined. This is why I believe I am being singled out, and not just poor communication about changing rules.

I have made quite a few friends here in my short career, I will miss Glade Springs and I wish the staff at Glade Springs luck and good health and hope business will do well in 08' and beyond. I have held out as long as I can under him but the constant stress is taking a toll on my already poor health. I would love to come back one day and work for Glade Springs, but not until the attitudes held by Chef are gone. "
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