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I can't believe what my Chef did yesterday

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So yesterday was Valentine's Day and as you all can imagine it was extremely busy. I work in a restaurant located in a casino and we were open from 11AM to 11PM and were busy from the opening minute until closing. I got in at 4PM and the rush was on and didn't stop. And the way it works in our restaurant is they seat as many people as they can, put in all orders at once, and basically turn the tables as quickly as possible. Which makes them a ton of money but the quality suffers, and on a day like yesterday the result is complete chaos. Because it might take 15-20 minutes just to look at a ticket before you can even fire it and then it sits in the window for another 20 minutes because the servers and runners are unable to get to it. Then you add in the times you have to refire because they took the wrong food out or else they don't pull the expeditor's copy of the ticket so someone's asking for food that's already out. And it was so busy that every station was running out of prep yet you couldn't leave your station because of all the orders coming in. So after we closed tonight and cleaned our stations we all spent close to 3 hours restocking our lines and doing all of our backups.

Anyway, here is the issue I have with my chef. All the line cooks and the 2 Kitchen Supervisors worked an 11 hour day yesterday or close to that. Our Chef came in at 1PM and left at 6PM. That's a 5 hour day! And he left when the dinner rush was starting, although we were already busy at that point. We had to have chefs from other outlets come and help us out. I know it's Valentine's Day and he wanted to be with his wife (or mistresses, whatever). But it's his restaurant! He should be there running it. I know that once you create the menus and you train all the cooks properly you should trust in them to do their jobs. But in my mind if your the chef of a restaurant it means you're there making sure everything is being run properly and that no plate goes out unless it's to your standards. Am I wrong? Is it acceptable for him to cut out after 5 hours on a busy day while the rest of us have to work 11 hours? I'll tell you one thing, no one in the kitchen, whether it's the cooks or supervisors, has any respect for the guy after yesterday. In fact if there were any justice in the world he'd be fired immediately.
post #2 of 11
I know for myself I would never cut out on one of those huge day's, valentine's, mother's day, easter ect....I would'nt want the cooks do do anything I would'nt do. If it was slowing down and things were under control I could see getting out of there but if my crew was still slamed I would be right there with them setting the pace....
post #3 of 11
I am sure that this has been told to upper management, they will take steps, not you.
CHEFED
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post #4 of 11
Sounds like a harsh day; I hope having a good vent helps:), sometimes you need to get things of your chest before you can move on!:beer:A few beers always helps!
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #5 of 11
I really think it is a nunya point, nunya business. You had a full staff and 2 kitchen supervisors, ther food sitting seems to be more of a FOH issue to me. I am sure as a chef he has worked 10x the holidays as you so why do you care? Sure it was busy, sure it was not fun but you wrote it is his restaurant-I am assuming he is the owner?
This anger and bad feeling just perpetuates the "everyone must suffer" syndrome that is so prevalant in the industry. I could see this being a sticky point if your chef did this every single holiday-you do not mention that. Don't you think everyone is entitled a day once in a while? don't you agree? Sure working the holidays stink but he is the chef too. I am sure he had faith in his crew or he would not have done it, it was busy and you made it throught right?

Maybe the chef had something worked out ahead of time with MGMT? Maybe he is having problems with the wife and needed this day to help things with her (who knows?).
I remember way back when, a guy I worked with was off Christmas eve and EVERYONE made such a stink about it, they even went to the AGM and chef.The employees were generally pissy about it not being fair etc. They messed with his locker, trashed his setup, it was ugly. It turned out a family member had been killed driving to his moms house for Christmas, no one knew about it because he was not the type to bring personal stuff to work. The GM and exec-chefk knew about it and when they caught wind of the bitching and what was going on they really laid into the crew, the guys who messed with his stuff got terminated.

Either way keep your nose out of it or it will affect you more than the chef. You are still here, you still have a job and are still getting paid.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
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Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #6 of 11
I disagree with this "none of your business, suck it up" sentiment. I'm assuming from the level of frustration that isn't a one-time situation. I would totally understand if there were an emergency, or if it were just a well-deserved day off, perhaps the first Valentine's the guy had taken off in a decade or something, but I'm getting the sense that this wasn't the case. I'm also assuming that since this is a casino the Chef is not the owner, though I could be wrong.

I totally respect the kitchen brigade system and believe that it's necessary for a kitchen to run smoothly. However, I don't think it excuses the head chef from pulling his weight just because there's no one above him to reprimand him, and I think it's totally appropriate from his crew to react to the chef dropping the ball at their expense. I'm just the *sous chef* in my kitchen and I don't ever take off important days off without a really good reason, and even then make it my business to let everyone know that I won't be there and to help arrange things so that the people who do have to work aren't burdened.

I've been in this situation. We had a head chef who was pulling salary plus making overtime for every hour over 40. He made a point of showing up at 6am every day and eating breakfast on the clock so he could leave me (first cook at the time) and the sous chef for dinner and still pull in 60 hours hours a week. He was costing the owner a huge amount of money and making the rest of us do the hard work, while also preventing us from getting raises and forcing us to work with too little prep time to keep the labor cost down. Out of respect, the Sous and I both attempted to talk to him more than once. When it became clear he wasn't going to change his ways, we got together and staged a kitchen coup. We were totally ruthless and deliberate about it and I don't feel bad at all. He would have dragged the business down and lost us all our jobs selfishly if we hadn't. We made it our business to show the owner that he wasn't pulling his weight, and that we could run the place without him more efficiently.

The former Sous Chef is the head Chef now and I'm his Sous. You could have said it wasn't my problem and I should have let the management handle it, but I don't agree. I think every employee in a strong business should feel like they have a stake in it and take personal responsibility for it. I'm not suggesting you should be defiant or disrespect to your chef, but I certainly believe in speaking up when I see something wrong.
post #7 of 11
Sounds to me like the front of the house is poorly run, and that had the Chef been there the only difference would be that he went through it with the rest, but nothing else would change.
We're just seeing one small window of the operation, and through the OP's eyes.
He could be completely justified in his feelings or way off base.

I too work for an Indian casino, been here over 7 years.
I've worked longer and harder than anyone else here, there's nothing they do that I haven't done.
I took last Christmas off for the first time.
I'm sure someone thought I should be there.
Screw them, I earned it.
Every now and then I'll hear someone say "wow, leaving already?", or "must be nice to have a 3 day weekend".
They never say "wow, you haven't had a day off in weeks?" or "I can't believe you pulled a 22 hour shift".

Back to the OP.....if this is a regular thing, I wouldn't be happy either.
But there may be extenuating circumstances.
Only you, or actually, the Chef really know.
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 #8 of 11
If the Chef walks out on a kick *** night, then why should the front line guys give a ****. A good Chef gets respect by walking the walk, not by leaving his crew during a crazy, busy night. If he wants to take his wife out for Vday, maybe he should work a 9-5 Monday through Friday job....I wouldn't work for a Chef that walks out on his crew. ...Chef Bill
post #9 of 11
Personally, is the Chef a hands on person?, or are they more of a managing type. I worked in a place where the executive chef only showed up during daytime service, rarely at nighttime. I put it down to whatever was negotiated when said Chef entered their contract.

On the other hand, if the Chef is hands on, then it shows. From what I can ascertain, the Chef is not the owner of the operation.

On top of that, there can be other factors. My chef at work cops a mouthful for working over 38 hours a week. So if the impression is that there is no accountability as the Chef, your mistaken.

As Rat said, at the end of the day, you still have a job and are being paid.  Move on and learn about the experience. Is there something else about what happened on this day?
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
 I've had a couple of days off and I'm pretty much over it.  I guess I should clarify things though.  The chef is not the owner, he's just another casino employee.  Although he's paid a whole lot more than I am.  And if he was the owner I'd think there would be more incentive for him to stay.  Either way it's still his name & his reputation on the line.  Also, he's hardly in the kitchen and on the line less than that.  Which I understand, he's not there to do the grunt work, we are.  But those are normal days.  When it's extremely busy though, he'll at least expedite tickets and on occasion make pizzas.  It's just when I say it was busy I mean reamed with a baseball bat busy.  And yes we got through it and we did as well as we could, but did we do a good job?  I don't know, I can't imagine anyone being impressed or wanting to come back again.  I think we've got a whole lot of problems at our restaurant, some of which the Chef can control & some that are beyond him.  And despite my original post, it's not something that consumes my whole life.  I just try to do the best job I can.  But I do have some pride.  And I don't want people to say "You work at ______'s?  Oh that place is horrible.  I'll never go back there again."  
post #11 of 11
One of the places that I work at gets crazy busy. Just like your place.  Yes there is an element of pride in the job done there. And there was an exec just like you described. To me its more about knuckling down and getting through it, and then doing it again. With regards to the exec, no one really thought much of him. Yeah, he was getting way more than I was paid, but then again theres both people who get more than me, and those who get less.  Where Im at, is more my problem than anyone elses, including pay.

With respect to the statement that the Restaurant has "a whole lot of problems', so do a lot of other places. Sure, you could rid yourself of the chef, but I doubt that would address the bigger picture. Unfortunately, the solution would be more far encompassing and far sweeping. From what you say about the Chef, it may be that He is also over it.  This is a symptom, rather than a cause.

End of the day, a poorly managed situation shouldnt occur, but when it does, it does offer an opportunity to dissect, rethink and alter future outcomes.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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