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Dealing with a control freak chef.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
How do you all deal with that kind of situation??
The chaf at work has to control everything to the extent he gets bogged down doing everyones work and gets frustrated he cannot do the stuff he needs to do. In my case he does not like pastry and has very little knowledge with it. The pastry stuff he does do like choux paste and pizza dough isn't exactly the best so when he is not there the cooks come to me for the recipes to make the items because they don't have the chefs recipes, he forbids them to use my recipes-catch 22. Yesterday he freaked out on a garde manger cook who used a pizza dough recipe I gave him saying never to use any of my recipes because they all suck (this was in front of all the kitchen as well-very professional). Keep in mind it is pretty hard to screw up pizza dough but his recipe is uber complicated and involves vitamin C powder and pre-chilling the water and using half AP and half HG flour. I later found his original recipe which came straight fromm the internet LOL! I told the cooks that if that was the best recipe out there every pizza place would be using a similar recipe. He doesn't even know what vitamin c powder does to dough or why you use it.
What gives? What do you all do in this situation? It is to me borderline harassment as this seems to happen more and more and I seem to be the target of his venting and passive aggression. I want to confront him about it but I don't want to get the cooks in trouble.

I don't want this to continue as it makes me not even to want to go to work.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
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Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #2 of 17
if you are miserable and you are no longer learning anything from this chef, then maybe its time to move on. i have had jobs where i didnt want to go back, and sometimes i didnt. there are plenty of jobs out there for you,- where you just might be respected. i see it as there being two options, leave, or put up with it. i doubt that if you confront him he will change his attitude toward you and the rest of the staff. but thats just my opinion.

we need workers, are you anywhere near seattle ? :D
post #3 of 17
the bad part is there are a lot of control freaks out there, but this seems a bit overly agressive, idk though, if you want to confront the chef then do it, but the real question behind that is, will you still have a job afterwards? or do you need one?
Some people go to culinary school and become great chefs, others don't and still become great chefs.

Some people never went to culinary school and cook at Mcdonald's, Others went and still cook for Mcdonald's

Its all in the individual.
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Some people go to culinary school and become great chefs, others don't and still become great chefs.

Some people never went to culinary school and cook at Mcdonald's, Others went and still cook for Mcdonald's

Its all in the individual.
Reply
post #4 of 17
Alaska's hit it pretty much on the head.

You know the guy's a control freak, you know he hates pastry, and he's not good with pastry 'cause he hates it and is afraid of it. Ergo, he hates you because you like it and are good with it. Now let's crawl out of Cheffie's head before we all hurl.

Confront the guy, and the fecal matter will really impact the impeller, he's allready demonstrated his character and logic very clearly.
...."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 17
When I first started in the industry, my boss told me this, "Once you learn just one position in the restaurant, you will always have food on your table." At 14 yrs old and living at home, that does not really mean much. However, as I look back, that little piece of advice really struck me. I have never been without a job. If I happen to loose a job, I would have another the next day.
Even in PA, there are probably more restaurants looking for trained, qualified professionals than any other type of work out there.
Run. Run like devil and don't look back. And if the cooks are loyal to you, take them with you. (ok, that may be a bit much. haha) Don't let it get to you so much that you loose the love of the kitchen.
jessiquina, chubyalaskagriz, soma, and foodpump have all hit it on the head.
jessiquina, are we ever going to see the sun here in NW for more than one day at a time? lol

Good Luck, Rat! Make sure you let us know what end up doing and how it went.....
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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post #6 of 17
i had a boss like that once, he was yelling crap at me in the kitchen (which im ok with i have been working in kitchens for almost 10 years i know people swear and people get yelled at) but this guy just took it to far, one day he pulled me off my station for no reason( he had personal issues with me) and put me some where eles, this really pissed me off. after the shift he tryed to tell me why he did it and about 6 months of agression came out on him( it was great) but he dosent mess with me any more i work his shifts all the time and when he is in the office i run his shifts. once he knew i wont take his BS he backed off a lot. personaly i dont see this working for you, right now im looking for a new job( but in a stubbern ***** hole) and going to stick it out here till i get one.
me personal i will not work for a chef that is not willing to teach me, there is no point it working for them, if i did that i would not be doing anything for my carerr but just wasting time. i talk to the chef during interviews and see if there willing to work close with someone and teach me stuff, if not then its time to look some where eles,

excuse the spelling its 4:30 am and i just got off a shift.
post #7 of 17
The more controlling they are the more fear they have. This is coupled with a true understanding of what needs to done. This is true for all walks of life. The true professionals are more secure in thier abilities, and don't fear competition. He views you as a threat. Real, or not this is how he views it. Hit him with a 2x4, and convince him you don't want his job LOLOL

Mike
post #8 of 17

control freaks = insecurity

Having worked in many places, I have seen this often. Asside from conrol freak one should ask themself that possibly the patron enjoys what the chef throws together, even though you know yours is superior.
The other factor is paranoia. He knowing yours to be better is scared to be exposed. For him to claim "his way is the only way is wrong,' it stops all further learning in both yourself and your staff. In your head as well as your fellow employees you know yours is better. Dont try and teach him anything, just chill out and eventually you may have his job.:chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #9 of 17

control freaks = insecurity

Having worked in many places, I have seen this often. Asside from conrol freak one should ask themself that possibly the patron enjoys what the chef throws together, even though you know yours is superior.
The other factor is paranoia. He knowing yours to be better is scared to be exposed. For him to claim "his way is the only way is wrong,' it stops all further learning in both yourself and your staff. In your head as well as your fellow employees you know yours is better. Dont try and teach him anything, just chill out and eventually you may have his job.:chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #10 of 17
chubby, you are so aware!!
I am a control freak, however, this guy is a effing jerk!
I work with very small crews in the galley, sometimes one or two people. So, if they don't get the job done, I must do it. So I will hover. Otherwise I am in the galley 1-2 hours after service and cleanup are over catching up.
Also about safe food handling, you have to be a control freak, this is not negotiable!!
But where I differ, is, we do things my way, unless you can show me a better way.
Gosh I could not work like that, so sorry for your situation,
keep us posted,
Nan
post #11 of 17
The chef may be a control freak, an effing jerk, and lots of other ugly things, but it's his kitchen. Why on earth would you think it was okay to try to change his recipes in his kitchen by getting the other cooks to use yours? It doesn't do you or anyone else any good to try to get them to choose sides. How long have you worked there, anyway? If you feel harassed, leave. If you have no where to go, get your stuff together and plan your escape, but in the meantime, I'd suggest you remember whose kitchen you work in.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been there almost 10 years, i love the job and I don't want his.
I am not trying to change his recipes or put them down. Garde manger simply did not have the recipes because the chef had not given them out or the people who did have them were not there. I do not have his recipes either, he was not there and we had to have dough for lunch so, that is why i gave the other recipe, should I 86 pizzas all day for the sake of a 5 lb batch of dough? I would get in trouble for that too i'm sure.

I do learn how not to manage people for sure, I support the chef like a good soldier and don't undermine him, believe me I don't want his job. I am just having a hard time trying to deal with his constant digs, even the sous chef asked him why he says the stuff he does, he just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know if that makes sense. He does the same to the sous as well though not to my extent.

I am good at what I do, really good. I could get a new job but I don't want to, besides my benefits are great and so is my check so why quit?
I just don't like being a punching bag and I should not have to deal with it.
I run an independant shop, I make what I want to, do my own menus and as long as I keep in my parameters the chef keeps his nose out of my business. The kitchen has lately been short staffed and not prepared for large parties and services. I usually am on time and ready to go, maybe that is the cause of the tension? Who knows?

Cooks usually have it out for pastry for one reason or the other, part of the reason is they don't see you prepping and assembling all day for service so when time comes plate ups are fairly straightforward and easy. The cooks are the ones sweating it out. I like to think I am so good I make it look easy LOL
Fluctuat nec mergitur
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Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #13 of 17
You're right, rat, 86'ing the pizzas wouldn't have been the smart thing to do. I stand corrected. Sounds like the guy is a jerk, but short of quitting, what else can you do? Pray every day that he moves on and keep your head down. Maybe he's jealous of you or sees you as a threat.


And the pastry station is NOT something I would ever want to do. If you can make that look easy, you deserve a medal!
post #14 of 17
You know the only reason I have ever left jobs is because of personality differences? The only thing that motivates me to find other employment is my realization that there's no way I can put up with or find a solution to the B.S. being dealt to me by a boss or co-worker. I've never left a job because the work was too hard. Ever.

That control-freak chef is going to burn out fast if he insists on doing everybody's work for them. A good boss/chef knows how to make his crew's talent work for him. Your chef is just shooting himself in the foot. Poor bastard. Terribly insecure is how he strikes me.

One thing I'm wondering about is why the recipes he uses (henceforth, the "house" recipes) aren't fully accessible to everyone. They should be, for the sake of consistency. Every formula in my shop is in a book for everyone to reference.....no secrets.....that would be detrimental.
post #15 of 17
Rat,

Fluctuat nec mergitur, indeed. Interesting situation to say the least.

Considering all the circumstances of your job -- the re-interview, the bonus, etc., I can understand your reluctance in considering going somewhere else.

But you're working in a situation that is sufficiently stressful to get you venting here -- and you're not much of a whiner.

You describe chef as someone with a paranoid personality. I'm not saying he's an out-of-control madman, do parlor psychology, or present expert opinion. But I've had experience working for and with a few of these jokers and even had a few work for me. What's typical is that he'll rotate his focus from one person to another, with each facing his displeasure for some given period of time, and then he'll move on to the next.

The vitamin C in the pizza dough is very revealing. I'm not the world's greatest baker, but he is obviously clueless. Exciting the yeast by acidulating the dough is exactly the wrong thing for crust. WTF?

The be-yotch of it is, that there's no reason for him to be unhappy or fix blame. He just does. In fact, he'll create situations in which other people are forced to do things that make him unhappy. He'll also change his standards for success in the middle of a task, so that no matter what was done it was wrong. It's the only way he can justify his feelings that he's being undermined. It's not pleasant, but it's something a team can put up with, because the rotation makes the onus temporary and the burden shared more or less equally.

Unfortunately, at some point one person increasingly becomes the object of unhappiness. It sucks generally, and sucks even more when it's you. It sounds like your kitchen is moving into that phase, with you cast in the role of victim. Your choices are limited. You can either put up with it, try to go over his head, or move on.

Your statement that you like your job, salary and benefits and don't want to change are pretty much, "It's not fair." You're right. It's not fair. But it is what it is, and fair or not it's something you're going to have to deal with if only by deciding to tolerate it.

Sometimes, a person like your chef will find someone else to hound. Unfortunately, it's rare. Once this type finds a principal object for his feelings of betrayal, it's unlikely he'll move off. Even if you were willing to push the misery on to someone else, there's not much you can do to make it happen. It seems counter-intuitive but although he wants you unhappy and he constantly prods you into opposition, despite its effect on you, your reaction isn't important to him. No matter how well you take it, he won't ever get bored. His satisfaction comes from being unpleasant and arbitrary. The source of his unhappiness is pure fantasy. That means, "putting up with it," probably means putting up with it indefinitely. You may or may not be the type of person who can just shrug it off.

Whether you are, or are not, you're neither thrilled nor desperate. It is a very good time to look around and see what's available at other restaurants. You're lucky enough to afford the luxury of being very choosy. If and when you find something interesting, only then talk to management at your current restaurant about the reasons for your unhappiness. It's never a good thing to force them to choose, but it's not that bad if you have someplace good to go.

I feel your pain,
BDL
post #16 of 17
Yup again. The other part is that many cooks are scared shi*less to go near flour or sugar, and you can't let anyone know you're afraid, so you direct as much anger and contempt towards the pastry dept as possible.
...."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 #17 of 17
Rat,
Give it a few weeks....at times I have wanted to jump ship, but, have ended
up having the prescence of mind to give it some time. Sometimes Chefs come
and go....if he's truly so irrational and abrasive without reason...he'll be gone soon. Another tact might be to emulate him.....work as you think he might work.....as a sous, or pastry chef, I've always thought it my duty to do as I think the chef might....picking up what I think his style or technique is....its a
compliment to him and the right thing to do.....I say give it some time.....and no matter what happens....unless you are willing to take his job, which you said you were not, stay absolutely loyal....good luck and take it easy...just lose yourself in your work and perhaps lend him a hand once in a while.....by the way....love your pics....really nice work....
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