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Sous Chef issue

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I recently accepted an Executive Chef position at a hotel. I have been having serious issues with the Sous since day one....first coming and going as she pleases(she was interim chef before I accepted) I spoke with the Sous my first day and stated that the scheduled shift has to be adheared to...no exceptions!!
The Sous was very disrespectful of my authority, I had a private conversation with her and there are always excuses for this and that not taking responsibility for her actions...everyone elses fault!!
I am doing all ordering, I stated so, yet items still arrive that I haven't ordered and my Sous says..oh yeah I thought we needed that!!
I think that the Sous has something going with the produce and meat companies!!

I am not a pushover...have never been!! The Director of Ops & GM had a meeting with she and I and gave her a last chance agreement. I don't trust her, the staff can't stand her, she is disrepectfull to them, and frankly she causes chaos!
I just wanted to fire her but was told that we have procedures, and she did take care of business for 2 months while there was no chef!!
I just want a Sous with passion and desire....I am asking for any advice?


post #2 of 18
Those kinds of situations are always sensitive, JB. And there are resentments when somebody holds down a job and somebody else is brought in.

I'm confused about one thing, though. This specific issue aside, do I understand you correctly? You're the Exective Chef, but do not have absolute hiring and firing rights in the kitchen? You say, for instance, "The Sous was very disrespectful of my authority."

Well, in all do respect, without absolute hiring/firing rights, you don't have any authority. What you have is a lot of responsibility but not much control. And no way to enforce your decisions.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #3 of 18
Follow the procedures the hotel has for firing people. They more than likely have legal and financial reasons for those procedures.

Since she did take care of the place for two months, most likely without complaints for the GM and Director of Ops, they will now probably need to have supporting documentation to defend the decision to fire her.

Bide your time and let her, figuratively speaking, have enough rope to hang herself.

Be careful what you say around her and don't ever be alone with her.
post #4 of 18
There is no doubt that she is angry that she didn't get the exec chef position.
She has demonstrated that she is capable.

You have been told that there are "procedures" and if you don't follow them then you may be looked at in a negative light and may cause the hotel money in higher unemployment ins. fees and other potential issues.
Tread lightly.

If she comes and goes as she pleases and you have put her on a schedule then you need to write her up. You have already counseled her on this two more written notices you can fire her. You may also have some footing on the ordering of extra product although that may be tenuous. You have to put it in writing that she is not allowed to order product no matter the circumstance.

I would also look at "last chance agreement" and see if there are specifics that you can look at.

One thing I can tell you is that you can't fire her for attitude. The State of Mich UA will not allow that as a reason for firing. You can only fire for infraction of rules and you must apply those rules equally to all and it must be documented.

I would also be careful about cutting her hours and making her life miserable.
UA definitely frowns on that sort of treatment.

In my exp. the UA will most likely give the full 26 weeks benfits even if you follow the rules, document, cross your I's and dot your T's.

Good Luck
Life is like Plastic Wrap!
Life is like Plastic Wrap!
post #5 of 18
What every one says, especialy the part about the Hotel HR's "rules"; covering your hiney can be very expensive and very, very frustrating. The only silver lining is that the Sous position is mngmt--Union free! Not much of a silver lining, but honestly, most of us here would rather stroll butt-naked through a gay bar then deal with a Union on "terminating" an employee....

In the meantime, make sure ALL of your suppliers will only accept your or a designated person's order. I think someone wants to sabatoge your food cost before you can even get it established. And every time you even look cross-eyed at the Sous, make sure you have at lest one--if not two people present.

Whenever you move into a new postion, always assume--no, always take it for granted, that you've un-intentionaly stepped on someone's toes.

Welcome to management......
...."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 #6 of 18
Sit her down and explain your vision and rules for accomplishing your vision and what the resulting actions will be for not adhering to those rules. That way there are no suprises, no misconstrued versions of being blindsided. She will be solely responsible for her success or failure in your regime. Then proceed to document every infraction. Not following schedule, write up. Insubordination, write up. Etc., etc., etc.

As to the ordering, call every purveyor and tell them that orders are to be submitted by only you and that includes any additions or subtractions to those orders as well.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #7 of 18
good points. I agree with cutting her totally out of the decision making loop for now. Insure that only your orders are filled with vendors, and that she knows its that way now.
Document, document, and document some more, any infraction of the rules. As was mentioned, sit her down, along with everyone else involved, and make sure that ALL know what is expected, what will be tolerated, and what will NOT be tolerated.
Just make sure you apply the same standards to all, and your life will turn out fine.
The best possible outcome is that she falls in line, realizes that you are working with her, not against her, and she becomes a valuable team member again.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice, I greatly appreciate it!
As far as the sitting her down...I've done that and told her what I expect.
I just don't trust her at all...she's hanging herself.
Also the upper mgt said they don't trust her either!! She only did the interim chef job cuz they had no one else, not cuz she did a good job at it!

post #9 of 18
Do you have a contract? Sounds almost like mgmt. might be holding her in reserve in case you don't work out. Keep your ear to the ground for any up-coming jobs in your area. If something crops up, tell her what a great job it is and that she should go for it. Then give her a glowing reference. Result: Adios problem sous.
post #10 of 18
No experience as a sous neccessary? I have 6 months as a line cook and I'm fininshing a degree in hotel and restaurant management.

As far as passion and desire are concerned... I instituted the saving of Fois Gras fat at my current restaurant. We were (and admittedly still sometimes are) throwing away the world's best cooking fat :cry:.

As far as your current situation, PUT IT IN WRITING. It will always be easier if you have it on paper than if you just verbally indicate there is a problem.
post #11 of 18
I feel upper management is exhibiting extremely poor judgement in discussing whether or not they "trust" her. They are just adding to the veil of mistrust in the kitchen. If they say that with one employee, they will say similiar things about other employees. Before you think "trust," think what you mean by trust.

Remember, everyone has strengths. Your job as a leader is to find them and figure out how to work with those. She did manage to keep the place from burning down for two months before you got there. What did she do? Was food cost OK? Labor? How did she schedule? Does she understand the culture in that kitchen? She's the sous. She must have done something right to get to that level. Don't let it all go to waste.

I always figured it was my job to make the sous chef into an executive chef, like my chef did for me. Like it or not, we are all brothers and sisters. Unless the harm is grevious or she's so incompetent, I'd take a look at myself first. Try to trust but verify. (in Ron Reagan's words) It just seems that you feel the need to have total control right now. That's simply inhuman and IMO hurts yourself as a person.

YOU have passion and desire. You want other people to be just like you. Just like having kids, not everyone loves kids and puppies. See what she wants. Maybe her needs are different from yours. Give a bit, give a bit more, see if she gives back, and see if you can handle it.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
During a meeting with the upper mgt when I started they stated that the Sous was a line cook for 2 months and when there were issues with the Chef on his way out they put her into the Sous spot because there was no one else!!
The upper mgt is very dedicated but weaker in the culinary area.
The Sous is not competent, I am not on a power trip, I appreciate the advice.
When I delegate a job description and it is ignored, with absolute arrogance and know it all, it's difficult to deal with.

post #13 of 18


****I agree whole-heartedly document everything. ****
post #14 of 18
It's true that there are corporate hurdles to firing people... but she needs to go.
Keep recording everything that happens. Let her know by writing her up and likely she will quit after a while.
post #15 of 18
Sorry. Management is incompetent and has no clue. You don't make someone fill a job just because there is nobody else.

Speaking from experience, when you walk into a new place you cannot expect everyone buy into your brand new master plan. Even small changes will be greeted with skepticism. If you want your sous on your side you're going to have to do more than simply declaring that things are going to be this way from now on.

Been there, done that, been that sous chef you're talking about.

But you've been a chef probably longer than me. Maybe you're just fed up with employee issues. I totally understand that too.
post #16 of 18
Don't let this thing fester. It can be like cancer. If you can't find a way to properly dispose of her in a relatively short period of time I'd do it the old fashioned way. **** the unemployment.

恵守 世羽棲知安

恵守 世羽棲知安
post #17 of 18
I agree. If you do decide that the both of you cannot work together, then it's time to have the talk. Do the difficult things now. Waiting will only make them harder.
post #18 of 18
Give her crappy hours.......then she will leave...works every time.
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