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well, i guess this is it...

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
i handed my 2 weeks notice yesterday. the exec. chef told me good luck.

the chef de cuisine took it pretty hard. gave me a huge guilt trip about me giving up, screwing the kitchen over, and wasting his time and effort. so did the second-in-command.

truth be told, i came into the kitchen not knowing how to dice an onion. everything i know about sauces, cuts, and all my skills were learned in the kitchen. i worked my way up from a dishwasher to a prep slave and made the line 3 months ago.

i guess it was the additional hours i put in without pay, the stress, low pay (the hours i was putting in when compared to my paycheck revealed that i was working for less than minimum wage), the loss of my girlfriend due to lack of time spent with her, and the fact that i just couldn't imagine myself doing this for the rest of my life. i'll probably shorten my natural lifespan by a decade.

i'm pursuing a more professional job. one with regular hours, OT, benefits, and PTO. i'll probably be working with people 10 years older than me, with boring stories and no swearing, but i'll appreciate the increase in pay.

i still love to cook, but i guess i don't want to BE a cook.

i most definately will miss the lifestyle. the swearing, the burning of each other, the afterwork drinks, but i just hope this all works out.
post #2 of 20
It's the choice I made, and I'm living with it. I Miss the business. I'm angry. Yeah, and I have some bitter hurt feelings too. I'm trying to get past it and move on, but I sacrificed too much for too long to let it go easily.

I don't miss being broke, exhausted, and and absentee husband.
God's truth: For five years I never had a twenty dollar bill in my wallet.They sure look funny now. Now I go to the atm anytime I want. My bills are paid. I can go to the doctor if I need to.

I threw down as hard as i could. I met the irrational demands. I dealt with an insane chef, who used me, abused my friendship and good nature, and took advantage of me. I went throught the same with an owner and GM as a chef in my own right.

Talk is cheap. And it's cheapest of all in ther food business.

I worked like a coolie. A galley slave. And in the end, was considered the betrayer, not the betrayed. I was cut loose whan I gave my 2 weeks notice. Nice huh?

You know what? Screw them. If they aren't good enough people to recognize what you did for them, how hard you worked, and are man enough to wish you well, they can just go to.......

I learned one very important lesson in my time as a cook and a chef:

The industry runs on BS. Trust nobody. Be loyal to yourself and your family. Because your bosses and coworkers will throw you under the bus at any time they feel it's convienient for them. Always take the best offer. Always be a free agent. NEVER become attached to one place, one crew. Your job search should NEVER end. Always have outs, and options.
post #3 of 20
Its difficult and a shame, because the folk you share the ****** hours, abuse and general slave labour with, become your compadres. When you leave them, you never see them again and you miss the whole thing you left. I speak for myself... I thought i'd made life long friends 30 years ago. The only female in a testosterone fuelled kitchen, I loved my ****** life. I had no time for friends outside work.( they were on a different planet) My social life revolved around work and chilling with work mates when we were done, (mostly talking about food ) ( how sad)
I now look through rose tinted glasses at the good old days, Would I do it again?... Not bloody likely
Im sorry you've had such a crappy time 9Ball. Not all kitchens are so bad, would you not give it another go?
What do you mean by a more professional career? If you don't want to BE a cook, I hope you still enjoy a life of cooking.
"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 #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
well, what i mean by "professional" is a suit and tie job. with an office and some place i can apply my shiny college degree to.

you're right. i miss the kitchen already. i was put on prep as soon as i put in my two weeks. i guess they rather me do what i can do well instead of putting me in a more "developmental" position like the line where i can still learn something.

i will most definately miss the people. i can't imagine more interesting conversations occuring in any other setting. but then again, some of these people turned on me when they found out i was leaving. i made a mistake yesterday (bad habits i guess...) and was called on it, but it was followed by, "never mind... it's not like it matters anyways". i guess i wanted to leave on good terms... hopefully, they'll come around on my last day.

and of course i still love to cook. i have something in the oven right now being braised....
post #5 of 20
i left the industry once, i got the suit and tie job, i worked through my lunch breaks there got everything done, and in the end i got bored... i came back to this 4 months ago... and now i wish i could leave again... always understaffed, underpaid, underappreciated,

my headchef gave his 4 weeks in yesterday... says in 13 years hes never had it so bad.... see we were bought out by a large new parent group... they plumped £750,000 $1.5m to refurb the place, and then tell us we cant have more paper towel (blu roll) and degreaser... just use the sanitizer and a tea-towerl... we had a health inspection say stop using sanitizer and a tea-towel.... you cant win... you can only ever lose in this business... unless you make it like gordon ramsay or aldo zilli


if i had somewhere to go, and didnt have a child due in less than 3 months.... id leave... but probably come back in a year or so... bored


i have a shiny univeristy degree in networking platforms and computing concepts with an extra component in java and VB programming... id rather do that tbh... but can i find a job doing it that i wouldnt be bored at? would i f**k
post #6 of 20
I also have left the industry in the past, and after about a year and a half "on the outside", I had a realization that any day on the job, no matter whether it was as a cook or dishwasher, never felt like work. After returning to the industry, I have a new found appreciation for the industry and all people who dedicate their lives to it.
post #7 of 20
youll have people who are jerks too you, oh well there are alot of bad places but some are good there just few and far between.
post #8 of 20
I'm currently in the works of leaving my job and planning for the next step but I want to try to stay in the industry.

Like yourself, the place I work for was total BS and barely worth while even on resume: cooking for a cafeteria doesn't shine bright IMO on a resume. But I feel your pain, I started off working the grill, then learning all the other stations within a couple months, covering the chef being absent literally 2 months after being hired so I learned his job the hard way with no backup...within 3 years, my repertoire of knowledge and responsibility increased 4x (the bulk of it all recently) with only an extra $1/hour to show for it all.

But I can't see myself doing a desk job so for now I'm sticking to what I trained for and what I know. I'll look int other trades later.

From experience, if a place asks you to bust your balls over frivolous things then its not worth it, especially if your doing it for near minimum wage. I have this "more work means more pay" frame of thought. You don't go anywhere asking for more without paying more, a job isn't any different. But as soon as you do extra for free, you'll notice how much those extras start piling up and your being taken advantage of.

Cheers and good luck.
post #9 of 20
I strongly second that statement.

Doing extra for free in this business only proves that you are willing to do extra for free, and remain available to be taken advanatge of.
post #10 of 20

It will pay off

If you are in the restaurant business for the immediate money you are in the wrong business. If you are in it for the love of the food and lifestyle especially the food then the money will come. It may take awhile but it will come.
I have worked countless free hours but I made **** sure I soaked up as much food knowledge as possible during those hours.

I will say it again If you are in it for the love of the food the money will come.

Just imagine making good money doing something you love. Not many people in this world can say that and really mean it.

Either way good luck 9ball
post #11 of 20
I would think the vast majority of us here figured this to be a low paying profession, high stress work place, long hours...essentially a thankless job. But theres a fine line between doing a job you love and being miserable doing a job you love because of idiotic greedy management who takes those kitchen job pretenses a little too far, sometimes to the point of breaking labor laws. I knew from day 1 that I wouldn't be getting rich doing a kitchen job, I knew that I would be working some pretty long hours, all on my feet, and its going to be stressful. But sometimes, a lot of it is unnecessary like abusive chefs.
post #12 of 20
HC-

If you were to ask any successful chef today about unpaid hours and abusive chefs they worked for. I'm sure they would have a few stories for you.

I think that the Chefs world today has been glamorized by certain channels on the television and by the media in general so much so that a lot of people have gotten themselves into the business under extremely false pretenses.

Its a TOUGH business but if you stick with it the rewards are limitless.

If you don't like the particular management team in your kitchen, then learn as much from them as possible as fast as possible and move on. You shouldn't be in the same kitchen for more than 2 years at a time when you first start out anyway.

When I say learn from them I mean learn what to do with food and just as important. Learn what not to do as a manager. So both can be applied later in your career.
post #13 of 20
Theres a saying known by a few of us that goes..."those who can, do. Those who can't, review." a few who replied to this thread, sound like they're just not cut for this biz. Much like AA, realization is 90%. Best to find out early.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
well, i've started to look around for jobs. unfortunately, a psych degree doesn't really get you anywhere unless you pursue a PhD. my choices so far: working with autistic children, retail, a receptionist at a optometric office, or back into another kitchen.

i think i have a good chance of getting far in this other kitchen. in the kitchen i'm leaving, i'm a guppy in a pool of sharks. in this other kitchen, i'd be a shark myself.

the restaurant i work at does some serious stuff with food. foie gras, wagyu beef, foams and emulsions... pretty cutting edge stuff. my prep skills are second to none (at least i'd say so myself), and i've become competent on the line these last couple of months. nothing to brag about, but when crap hits the fan, i'll be able to hold my own.

this other place that a friend is trying to get me into is kind of a chain restaurant. kinda cafe-like feel to it. not fine dining... no elaborate plating. sandwiches, soups, salads... a lunch-like place... she took my resume and passed it along... now the chef over there wants me to come in for an interview... now i'm confused...

should i pursue another industry altogether, or stick with this one? less pressure, but better hours, better pay, and from what i understand... legit. no implied expectations of free labor...from what my friend says (she's front of the house assist. manager), i'll be working 9 hours max. and i get full benefits. medical, dental, vision. PTO and 2-weeks paid vacations a year.

so i'm just scratching my head here. it's new restaurant in a highly known mall inside a new, but highly known department store.
post #15 of 20
So what do you envision learning at this new place?

Chains can provide valuable learning experiences......

could be that you'd be supervising staff
learning management
Operating procedures
costing sheets
direct customer service maybe
how they market

Seems like there would be alot of opportunities if you'd look at it that way.

One of my friends worked at Inn at Little Washington, they worked on a new dish for months.....I asked if he didn't get bored making the same food day in day out and he said, that the challenge was to keep up the standard and work faster (improve himself).
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 20
A psych degree plus food service experiance says grocery sales to me.
Try applying for a sales position at a broadliner like sysco or FSA.
post #17 of 20
I have to use that on my director before leaving.
post #18 of 20
As a former owner, and manager of restaurants, I can sympathize with the plight of bright, motivated chefs.
I know that successful owners also work hard, don't make all that much, and live 'on the edge' for years at a time.
Food service is a rough job. No one should ever think otherwise. It also is one of the most personally rewarding. Some folks can take it, and thrive in the enviroment. Other's can not.
post #19 of 20
...amen...
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
it may be the case that i can only work in food service. i mean, there's not much out there for me with a psych degree that i'm interested in. i guess ideally, i'd like to be one of those guys who work in test kitchens for large food corporations like heinz or nabisco and just playing around with food and trying to create new recipes. or those cooks that publishing companies hire to test out all the recipes in a cook book that's coming out so they can be sure the results are consistent. and ideally, the pay is more than 30k a year.

as for this other place i'm looking at, i'm not sure there's much to learn other than efficiency. the restaurant does about 1500 covers a saturday (breakfast lunch and dinner) as opposed to my 200 covers i do now at the fine dining place i work at.

in many ways, this new place offers me a lot of what i'm looking for. legit work hours and pay, opportunities to move up, health benefits, PTO and OT. new kitchen equipment an a guarantee that the place will be clean and up to date. 30% off the entire dept store's merch. and most importantly, the flexibility to make my own hours so i don't work just nights and the dinner shifts so i can go home, have a social life, and commit to my religion.

the bad part is that i lose out on the "name". right now, the kitchen i'm leaving is a big part of why other kitchens are giving me a chance when i apply. there's a presitige or respectability that comes from the kitchen i work at, and other restaurants know it. they know the cooks over here to be hardcore. my chef basically told me that if i stayed for 2-3 years, i could've probably made "sous" at the place i'm going to now. i just don't know if i can take 2-3 years of the abuse.

the chef is kinda making my life hard for me since he knows i'm leaving. i get blamed for a lot of stuff i didn't do, i get "last minute" jobs right when i'm about to leave that makes me stay another hour or two. no pay of course. worst of all, the guy has just taken a malicious attitude towards me and doesn't even recognize me as a cook in the kitchen. i just hope everything gets better before he gets calls because i listed him as a reference on my resumes.
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