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Getting Frustrated, need advice.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Back in mid October, I started a new job at a four star hotel.  When I started, there was no Head Chef and no Sous Chef.  There never had been someone with the title Sous Chef and the hotel had fired their old Head Chef a month or two before I started.  The place had a bad reputation in town for their food.  I took the job, only because I was unemployed and needed work.  For the most part, I was the most stress free Chef job I have ever had.  The food was very, very easy make and it was hard to get behind even when busy.  They all seemed to be really high on me, they put me alone doing Main Courses for the Bar and Restaurant.  Everything went fine until March.  In March, the hotel hired a new Head Chef.  He had worked with us on New Years because where had over 200 people having a new years party at the hotel on top of the 150 residence booked into the restaurant.  Everything when perfect while he was there so needless to say, I was happy to hear that he was applying for the Head Chef job and gave him a lot of encouragement.  When they hired him I was even more excited.  He texted me right away and told me he got the job and started talking about what he wanted to do to revamp the menu.  It all sounded very good and I was very excited to be a part of it.  Then, the first night of Service with him at the helm came.  It was pure Chaos.  It wasn't even all that busy, we only did around 50 to 60 covers but I was just on the verge all night of falling behind.  Before he came, all of us in the kitchen would flout around.  If I noticed the starters were getting backed up, I would move over and help, same goes for the person running the pass, desserts.  They would even give me and hand sometimes when it got busy.  But this new Head Chef just doesn't work that way.  The first and second nights of service (in March) with him at the helm, he ran the pass, I was on main courses, and we had one more chef doing both starters and desserts.  We did about 70 covers that night but he just wouldn't move from the pass, he would just stand there barking orders and didn't step in to lend a hand even when he saw were busy, he would stand there talking with the Restaurant manager.  Finally we got so busy that I asked if he could help.  He said "Yeah don't worry man, I've got your back".  So when a main course was called he away, he would cover over a get it out of the over/steamer ect. and plate it while I continued to start the new orders that were coming in.  The problem started when a main course would be called away, he wouldn't tell me, he would just go to the oven/steamer, get the item and plat it and I would never even know it was called away.  We have three dockets in our kitchen.  On goes to the Restaurant Manager so they can keep track of the orders, on goes to the pass for the kitchen to keep track of orders and then one goes to the main course so the chef can make sure he has everything on.  Well as the head chef will platting my main courses, he would not tell me they were away or pull town my docket.  It got to the point where my docket board was completely full.  I realized then that something was wrong.  I went up to the pass to go over the tickets that were there but it just wasn't making sense.  I told the held chef that I was confused and lost, he responded "Sort it out" Needless to say, I couldn't I had no clue were I was at.  I asked him again for help a few minutes later and he did not respond.  I finally just jumped in and started putting cooking items off but by the last few orders, there were a few that were never put on.  I was given all the blame for the night going bad and was moved off of main courses to Starters.  The head chef then took over cooking mains.  Again though, all he would do is cook mains and shout out orders, still just total chaos.  He would even order me in the middle of a busy service to do some of his main courses for him or a least part of some along with putting up the veg that accompanies the main course so on a night doing about 70 people on a 8 starter 8 main course restaurant menu and a 5 starter 7 mains bar menu.  I was responsible for ALL starters Bat and Restaurant, All kids orders from the kids menu.  Putting up the Veg that went with the main courses along with the Burgers for the bar, sautéing the Mushrooms and onions for the burger, toasting the buns, frying fries, making sure the garnishes for the main course was hot.  It was just too much, I couldn't do it.  So again, I was given most of the blame for things not going well.  This time the general manager of the hotel stepped in and told me that he knew it wasn't all my fault but that things had to get better.  He didn't know what the problems was but that I needed to talk with my Head Chef and get the problem sorted out and then basically told me that I was on strike 2, one more and I was out.  So I tried talking with the head chef, did absolutely no good what so ever.  He asked what I thought was wrong and said "You can tell me anything chef".  So I did, I was honest.  I told him that I didn't know why but that since he took over, things were just chaotic.  He got very offended by this starting saying things like "So what your saying is, you don't think I'm doing my job huh?"  It just got really ugly and Now, I have been moved to deserts during the busy days.  I have never denied when I make mistake, I have always owned up to them but I can't help but feel like I getting for of the blame for all this than I should.  Last night (Sunday) we did about 140 covers bar and restaurant combined with the Head Chef off.  Everything went very, very smoothly, the night before, the Head Chef was on again chaos.  Luckily the General Manager was acting as the Restaurant Manager both nights and I heard him comment on how much smoother everything went Sunday night compared to Saturday.  

I keep hoping if that keeps up that the General Manager will make the connection but I don't know if I will last that long.  The new head chef is a brilliant Chef, his new menu is good, his dishes all look and taste incredible.  He is just no good and running and managing a kitchen.  I mean the night that everything went bad for me on starters, he had a Barbary duck starter.   It was a sliced duck breast with a salad and cumberland.  He wanted use to cook the duck to between Medium and Medium Well to order from raw for this starter.  That really contributed to everything going wrong.  And that also got me in trouble with the General Manager.  the Duck just took to long to cook for a starter and one fo the guests eating was the owner of the hotel.  He ordered the Barbary Duck Starter.  There isn't a stove in the Starter section so the Head Chef was pan frying the ducks off as they orders game in.  I don't know why but over 10 minutes had went by the duck was still not ready.  He told me to go with it.  Pulled the duck breast out and started slicing it.  It was still very, very rare.    I bought this to the head chef attention.  He said "Just cuts sides off where it is cooked  and use that.  But the duck was still way to rare.  I only had like two usable slices.  Again, I let him know and went to put the duck back in the oven.  "There's no Time" he shouted.  "Just put it up!"  I did as I was told, I put up a duck starter that could only be described as very rare.  The General Manager ripped me a new one and deservingly so but when I tried explain that I was just following orders, I was told that he didn't what to here excuses.

Needless to say, we are only now just starting to get busy.  When the summer gets into full swing we have bus tours come in just about every night during the week on top of doing 150 covers a night and weddings of 200 plus people.  

I am just really frustrated now that I seem to be getting blamed for everything that is going wrong up there now.  And I am so afraid, afraid of losing my job.  I would just go find other work but I am an American living in another country and I am required to get a work permit to work legally.  I have lived over here for two years now and I love living here.  This hotel took care of my work permit for me but made me pay for it which was 1000 Euro.  If I lose my job, I don't get that 1,000 Euro back plus if I go to find another job, I'll have to come up with another 1,000 Euro which at the moment, I don't have.  If I were to have to go back to America, where would I go?  I don't really have any family or friends around my area I grew up in anymore and there is not much work there for a chef anyway.  So if I did have to go back to America, it would be like me relocating to another country.  

I am just getting very nervous and terrified and I am hoping that someone has had a similar experience and can give me some advice because I honestly don't know what to do at this point.  I feel like it is only going to be a matter of time before something else happens and I get fired.  Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated.  

post #2 of 9
The Emerald Isle- are you in Ireland?

If you are, I could be wrong (check out citizensinformation.ie) but if you have been working here for 2 years, your work permit will be up for renewal soon anyway- 6months - 2 years renewal fee costs 1500Euro. After 5 years working here you won't need to renew.

If as you say you can't afford this, you may have to leave anyway.

I don't understand why returning home to America is so daunting-sure you've moved to a foreign country two years ago, if you were brave enough to do that surely you are brave enough to face the prospects of heading home.

As for jobs, well isn't everyone in the same boat-there are better chances of getting a job  in  America than there are in Ireland at the minute.

Originally Posted by Ohoopee View Post

  If I were to have to go back to America, where would I go?  I don't really have any family or friends around my area I grew up in anymore and there is not much work there for a chef anyway.  So if I did have to go back to America, it would be like me relocating to another country.  


Now maybe you aren't in Ireland at all, thereby voiding almost all my post so far, but where ever  you currently are, if you were brave enough once to establish a new life for yourself on foreign shores, then you are brave enough to either fight your corner in work or if the worst comes to the worst face the prospect of going home. Come on man/woman!

Maybe this isn't what you were looking for-but I am trying to rouse your spirit here!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello cakeface,

I am still in Ireland yes, so far I have managed to avoid getting fired.  Since he moved me to desserts, there hasn't been anymore problems on my end.  I still wouldn't say that means my job is more secure or not but...  Yeah my first work permit expired back in March, this hotel got me another one for two years.  Since I changed jobs, it was not considered a renewal.  

Thing is though, I have kind of built a life here in Ireland in these last two years.  I have friends, a girlfriend, a car.  I am just not prepared at the moment to leave all of it and go back.  Moving to Ireland was my child hood dream you see and I gave up so much in America to move here.

But also, I just plain like it here, I am happy with the exception of this work thing now.  I am just fearing what will happen when this kitchen gets really busy starting next month.  This head chef is really in over his head I think and I am just getting concerned not just for me but for the hotel, for everyone really.  I don't know.  Things have gotten a little better than they were when I first made this post but, I still believe at some stage they are going to get rid of me now and all this after they were just so high on me.  I will admit I have a lot to learn and I always try to put myself in the position to learn.  But a busy service is controlled Chaos anyway which is fine, but I just can't work in un-controlled, random, Chaos.  There has to be some system in place.  I don't really know what I am trying to say anymore.  I am just concerned, thats all.
post #4 of 9
It seems to me that during a service the chef should be calling orders and running the kitchen, not cooking on the line.  Things are going to sink if the chef has to call orders and cook during a busy service.  When service is just beginning he can do that but once things are in full swing he should be making sure things run properly.  Do you have a shortage of manpower in your kitchen?  Maybe hiring another cook part time would make things go smoother?

I like the idea of floating, and that is what we do during the week when it's not busy but on the weekend, everyone has their stations and we have a designated floater person who will move from station to station and help when things are getting backed up.  Sometimes the floater has to take over for me on eggs if the fruit station is backing up as only the KM and I know fruits.

Is this the first time he has been completely in charge?  Maybe he is doing what he has seen others do that works well but in the case of your kitchen it isn't the right fit.  It would be good practice for him or the hotel to either hire or appoint a sous.. I agree that he sounds like he might be in over his head and he needs help and support to get his kitchen back on track. 

How are things in the rest of the kitchen?  Is he having similar issues with his other cooks as well?  If he is then sooner or later management will take notice of this (especially when it hurts in the pocketbook) and take action.  I'm glad for you though that things are going better since you are on desserts.

Keep us posted!
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well see that has been my biggest observation of Ireland.  Working as a Chef in Ireland is deffinatly a learning curve if you are coming from a country like America or at least it was for me.  I never worked in any of the big kitchens up in New York or anything like that so I can't speak for someone who has worked in one of those.

This is the 4th Kitchen I have spent time working in in Ireland and they all had one thing in common, they are understaffed.   When I first came to Ireland, I worked for a five star hotel.  The head chef, ordered, made roster, all other head chef duties, plus during service ran meats, veg and the pass.  We had a fish chef, then one person on starters and one person on pastry and a comme who floated. 

This place is no different.  If we have every chef on, we do have enough to do like you suggested but the problem is days off.  As I said in my first post, this place does tour groups coming in, yesterday we did 3 different tours totalling 123 people, plus we did a wedding of 138 people along with doing 60 covers in the restaurant.  How many chefs were working?  4, we only had 4 chefs on to do all that plating a prep.  Again though that has been the story since I have been in Ireland.  All the chefs over here think it is just normal because that is the way they have always done things.  In fact, every kitchen I have ever worked at in Ireland, the head chef was a cooking chef, he ran a station or section on the line.

So in answer to your question, yes we are understaffed but they don't see it that way and so are not going to hire anymore people.

And yes, there has been a few other issues with other people.  Nobody ever knows what is going on is the big thing.  Everyone comes up to me now asking me about an event we have coming up and what menu we are useing ect.  Of course I have no idea either.  I don't worry my self about that stuff anymore.  I just stick to my work, keep my head down, run my section, jump in and help other sections if they need it, and keep my mouth shut.  That is all I know to do at this point.  The head chef did come to me earlier this week and was just talking.  He told me that he is afraid they are going to fire him.  Now I haven't taken anything that has happened personally so I don't wish anything bad on the guy but at the same time I was kind of thinking, "Well if they do, they need to do it soon so we can get someone else for the busy season and before you take someone else (like me) down with you"  So it looks like maybe management has noticed whats going on. 

He is a nice guy outside of work so I feel bad about things for him but he is in over his head.  It is not all his fault.  The hotel should have never hired him to be head chef, sous chef maybe but not head chef.  I was talking to him and learned that before this job, he had only been head chef one time in his career, it was at his own small restaurant that went under at the beginning of this year.  Now he is head chef of a busy Resort Hotel that not only has over 250 rooms but also 150 holiday homes on the property and also does these busy weddings and parties and tour groups.  I just think this job is beyond his experience.  I mean this is a learning experience for me as well, this is hard core stuff.  I have never worked in a place that was this busy with so few chefs. I mean if everyone is at work, we only have 6 chefs total with one part time guy we call in only if we are busy.  That is counting the head chef and sous chef.  It is crazy, honestly. 

In my experience, I could probably be a Sous Chef of a smallish stand alone restaurant myself.  But I would know better than to go for a sous chef job at a place like this right now because it is just beyond my experience.  I think that is just what happened to this guy.  There is still confusion around the place even though things have gotten better.  I'll come in at noon to start preping for a group and the head chef will not be there till 1.  Yet knowbody has any idea what is going on, what the group is getting (usually because it is a last minute descision)  So basically we really can't work on the group until the head chef gets there to tell us what is going on.  Crazy..... oh well.  I am counting it as a learning experience anyway.
post #6 of 9
ssounds pretty rough but stick with it, sounds like you got the passion and good work ethics. good luck, hope everythting works out for the best
Chef it up errrrday!!!
Chef it up errrrday!!!
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the well wishes.  Yeah, the head chef was off last night and I was talking with one of the other Chefs at work as we were prepping for a tour group.  He told me he has recently had some problems with the new head chef as well.  The only things is, i don't think his problems have been bought to the direct attention of the General Managers like mine have.  Still, I have been problem free since I made my initial post here.  The only thing about it thought that is bothering me a little bit, I dislike work so much now that I am afraid it is making me lose my passion a small bit.  I noticed the other day, I have a DVR, and I have this group of about 5 cooking shows I always record while I am at work and watch when I get home.  Since all of this trouble started, I gradually got where I watched them less and less and now I don't even bother recording them anymore.  I also use to cook a big dinner and invite people over at least once every two weeks.  I don't really do that anymore either.  I am just so stressed out at work worrying about what will happen when we get truely busy this summer, and also about losing my job that when I am off work, I just have the need to seperate myself from it.  That worries me a bit to be honest.  I am hoping that once things get better that I will get the desire back to at least have these dinner parties again as I use to really enjoy them.
post #8 of 9
same here man whenever i have trouble at work i get like that aswell, since i got into it with some dude from work that wasnt even worth the fight, but its good talk to your girl about it or get mind off it. try doing something besides cooking maybe go check outsome sites or just go hang out with some friends and drink or play some cards.
Chef it up errrrday!!!
Chef it up errrrday!!!
post #9 of 9
Your head chef sounds extremely insecure, and seems to have the knowledge/experience to run a busy kitchen. Every restaurant I've been in was understaffed and we ran like hell when service was busy.

If you're concerned for the HC, meet him after work and have a couple of beers. You might be able to get some insight into his views, and give some advice based on your experience.

NEVER work where you can't feel good about yourself and stay on your passion. Passion breeds excellence in food.

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