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I need some help

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am 22 years old and i am in a kitchen that i love but i feel that the chef is just a little lax. for instance when we run out of pasta we just run out and that is a friday night doing 150 covers it takes no time to make but he just says it is ok it will make them order something else. The reason I am posting this thread is because i want to do a externship in italy and france I am new to the kitchen world and i dont know how to get my foot in the door. I am also looking to stay in the country if anyone would like to take me on for 2-3 weeks. I have been cooking for about 2 years i read all the time i just cant find a book that tells you what to do in this situation.
Thanks
James H.
post #2 of 18
Interesting question James

The quick answer is that Chef is the chef, and it's his decision.

It's also possible that the chef's decision makes good marketing sense in that it might drive the customer to buy another, higher ticket item instead of the less expensive pasta dish. He might also not want to engage the cooks in additional prepping that could lead to a "weeds" situation in the short term future.

One thing running out of items does do, in a marketing sense, is create the impression of quality and desirability in the mind of the customer. If he orders a dish that looks good and it's sold out, he might think that other dishes are just as good and desirable. It creates a sense of demand for your cooking, so to speak.

Of course, if you are running out of lots of items, you give the impression that you're just plain disorganized-not a good one. It's a fine line to tread, but some chefs do it quite well. Stick around and see.

Of course, the chef could just be a lazy slacker, but don't jump to that conclusion if otherwise, the kitchen is a tight ship.

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post #3 of 18
Unfortunately foodnfoto, I have to disagree. That would never fly in my kitchen. Ever. I have ran out to grocery stores at 11 at night if we were running low on something. If somebody comes into the restaurant looking for Penne ala Vodka for instance, they are getting it. Same goes for everything on the menu. The only way I would cut slack is if it is a brand new restaurant, which in this case, it is not. As for ''running out of items giving the sense of high demand for your cooking", I have to disagree with that. Let the line out the door on a Saturday give the sense of high demand for your cooking.

Just my 2.

ChefTorrie
post #4 of 18
I'm curious... what sort of pasta is it? If it's fresh pasta made in house then unless you're doing it during the prep time before the rush I don't see how you can possibly tell a customer to wait an hour for them to make and roll new dough. If it's dried pasta then it's less unreasonable to as someone to run to the store to get some unless you have a particular philosophy of putting out only certain ingredients and whatnot.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #5 of 18
Even if it is fresh pasta, it is still ridiculous. Does the chef not look at numbers from previous weeks or previous years?

It just doesn't make any sense to me. You should always prep extra for the day. Way extra. What doesn't get used gets used the next day. If you normally look at your paperwork and see you get 40 orders for some sort of pasta dish on any given Saturday night, you should prep upwards of 60. I think it is unexplainable to tell somebody that you don't have what the want to eat. Unexplainable.
post #6 of 18
Chef Torrie apparently recommends you fire your chef. On the other hand, you might try keeping your head down, your knife sharp, your station wiped down, and your mouth shut. Unless you're related to the owner, there is absolutely no one in a position to do anything to whom you can pass your opinion.

Do not go over Chef's head. At best, the one to whom you blabbed will let it go no farther and you'll only be considered a whiner by one person. Don't make suggestions to Chef about this policy -- not even in the form of a question. Don't share your insight with anyone who could possibly share it with Chef, either. I'd hate to see you discover things about the way the world works best learned through someone else's experience..

Your plan to work in Europe implies ambition. If your restaurant doesn't have a good reputation, or you feel compromised by what you consider to be sloppy practices, by all means look for work in a restaurant more in line with your expectations. Wherever you try to go next, you'll do better with an enthusiastic recommendation than with an explanation of why you were fired.

Just STFU and forget about it. Don't worry, be happy. And you wondered why so many cooks drink. :beer:

Salut!
BDL
post #7 of 18
Does that happen a lot?

I'm just a customer, but when I'm eating out, "Running out" of pasta is simply unacceptable, even if it means that you have to give the kid who sweeps the floor $20 and send him to the grocery store or somebody has to stop what they're doing, crack a dozen eggs and make some fresh dough.

Running out of a sashimi-grade Ahi says "It's expensive and perishable." Running out of dried pasta says "The chef is a moron, or his supplier cut him off or the restaurant is broke."

None of these would encourage me to come back soon.

Terry

PS. As boar_d_laze said, never go over anybody's head for any reason anywhere. If something is intolerable, you can quit, but never go over anybody's head. You'll get a reputation for being a back-stabber and malcontent and nobody will want to hire you for anything (they'll be afraid you'll do it to them). This applies to any job, not just cooking.
post #8 of 18
Basically, we can't answer your question James, without a clearer description of the situation. Being out of dried pasta is one thing and kind of bone-head management.
However, if it is fresh pasta, that's another. Dropping everything to make a fresh batch could, I mean could, compromise all the rest of service.
If it's the components of the rest of the dish, say, some special sausage that is served as part of the dish, or a prepared sauce that gets tossed with the pasta, making the diner and his guests wait an inordinate amount of time so you can catch up is a recipe for a ticked off customer and negative word of mouth advertising.
The answer to these questions is.."it depends."
It depends on the reservation load that night..
the speed or even existence of the prep cooks..
the mise on hand..
whether the dish is a special or regular menu item.....
etc.
etc.
etc.

Boar d Laze offers excellent advice. You really are not in a position or experienced enough to make an accurate call about this particular decision of the chef. There's a lot more for you to lose by speaking up than just keeping it to yourself and making mental notes of the whole situation.

ChefTorrie-you run your shop in a dedicated and well controlled manner, that's clear. All I was asserting was that there could be situations where a business- and profit- minded chef might make an informed marketing decision to let a dish run out to assure freshness, quality and excellent service of everything else.

Lines out the door on Saturday night tell different people different things. Some may interpret it as desirability. I, on the other hand, look it as a pain in the neck (and feet) just to get a meal. I abhor dining while waits and other diners stare at me wishing I would eat faster and get out so they can turn the table.

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

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

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post #9 of 18
If the chef says they'll just order something else, and they do, and they keep coming back, then I'd say the chef knows something you don't.

Normally it means the restaurant is too successful for its own good. ;)
post #10 of 18
I haven't been in the "biz" very long but I'm with boar_d_laze on the "Do not go over Chef's head" suggestion. Your in no position to make an impact, he or she may have a boss to report to but in the kitchen, they're God and what they say are the commandments. Besides, since you've mentioned that you wish to extern in Europe, it tells me that you're not going to stay there so I wouldn't invest too much effort into that restaurant.

As for the chef's call, he could be right as much as he could be wrong and since I don't know the whole situation, I won't speculate too much. I would give the chef the benefit of the doubt, they usually have been working in the industry longer then I have or have at least done something to earn the title of chef that I have yet to do (and don't really plan on doing) so I rarely question them. I may throw in my 2 cents and let them think about it but ultimately, its their call and reputation on the line.
post #11 of 18
Ah! Grasshopper (says the blind monk to Kane in the movie "Kung Fu.")

Read the words of wisdom contained in these post from some very experienced and knowlegable chefs (I'm not included). From my own experience I offer this humble advice:

Don't spit into the wind.
Don't take the mask off the Lone Ranger.
Don't tug on Superman's cap. (Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Crouce)
&
Don't p**s off the Chef.

Bonus advice: Hope your Chef or your fellow employees doesn't read Chef Talk. You never know who whats to stab you in the back in this business.

This might not get your foot into any doors but might prevent getting your butt kicked out of some.

Have a nice day!

Bill
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry for not being very descriptive, it is a dried pasta called strozzapretti. and as for the going over anyone's head there is only 2 other cooks and i am the main one i know all the food and his front of house service aspect so i try to talk to him but he just blows me off. for instance tonite at work we will run out of potato's for our bistecca and they are only boiled pot. so i do not know what to do he asks me questions about his menu and i am honest with him but he does not like it.
Thanks
James H.
post #13 of 18
If you are the lead line cook, I have a fairly obvious solution for you. Prep more before the shift. Obviously the running out of mis is a regular problem. Prepare better and you won't run into the problem again.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #14 of 18
I remember having this "running out of pasta" problem when I was on the line at a chain. On busy nights, I would "float" between stations, running back and forth from the cooler to keep them stocked.

One of the nice things of the job was that I was eventually trusted with keeping pars of the entire line without supervision. If we needed pasta, I got a pot boiling (while the saute cook is screaming and swearing at me) and made a quick guess about how much more pasta we would need for that night.

Maybe you can politely ask his reasoning the next day. Be respectful, do not overstep his authority, and (as previously suggested), pay better attention to your mis setup.
post #15 of 18
Reminds me of when I was younger, and was asked how many prime ribs I had fired for the night.
I told them I looked at the reservation book, looked at last nights numbers, last weeks numbers, and the numbers we did on this day a year ago.
So I fired two.......'cause that's how many we had.

It's a little harder to plan for an all-you-can-take buffet. I never know if tonight they are going to be chicken eaters, or beef eaters.
I usually just roll a pair of dungeon dice to decide what to prep.
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 #16 of 18
OK I admit it. The guy is a bone head manager. How hard is it to count the number of steaks you have on hand and boil enough potatoes to serve as a side? Sheesh!

Strozzapreti is another thing though. Few grocery stores even carry it. If you run out of this particular cut, that's too bad. Even so, it's a dried pasta that keeps easily in the store room. Order plenty so you don't run out.

www.foodandphoto.com

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

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www.foodandphoto.com

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

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post #17 of 18
So who makes the prep list or decides the par?
post #18 of 18
You often run out of food in your kitchen? Just tell people to order something else? Good thing I've never eaten at your kitchen. If I ordered something, and they didn't have it, ESPECIALLLLLLLY as something as simple as pasta, I would probably not return to the restaurant.

Just keep your head down and your knife sharp? Good way to live life huh? Just get trampled on. Shaking my head... Literally.

I never implied on firing the chef. But, I know that if we ever ran out out of pasta in my kitchen, I could only hope that somebody had it in them to report me to the owner. I really do. I honestly, in my heart boar d laze, don't see how you see it fine. Nothing wrong with it. But thats okay, "Just keep your head down" Again, shaking my head.
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