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The love is gone...I think

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I absolutely have no idea or maybe its just me. (RANT WARNING, skip the next 2 paragraphs for my question)

 

. I've been working with Chartwells/Compass Group for almost 5 years now. I've gone from working the grill to learning the aspects of all our food serving stations, kitchen supervisor, and catering services. I've worked extremely hard to maintain things around; I help ordering by listing everything and organize all the storage plus inventorying everything, I help keep catering services on track and on time, I help prep about 2 stations and the "On the Go" foods, on top of all the extras like covering breaks, covering absences (which happens almost every day), maintaining and cleaning of all storage areas, I honestly can't remember every single thing I do because half of it all is done instinctually. Now we weren't really hit the same way by the recession like everyone else was. People weren't really laid off but rather temporary lay off earlier; the school slows down early May but our workforce was reduced to 30% mid April not to come back till September. On top of this, the workload has increased tremendously (estimate about $60% busier around the same time as last year). We're accepting more last minute catering orders and the size of the orders are sometimes ridiculous; early this week, we took in a last minute 300 person breakfast order to be delivered off site, all pastries with only 15 hours notice with not enough raw produce to deliver...barely made it on time, the whole thing had to be ordered through a very expensive bakery supplier.

 

I'm also finding that sometimes, s**t don't stick to some people. Rather then laying off some of our workforce, we introduced a wider variety of food to our menus which of course, means more work per person on a typical 8hour day, some reduced to 7 or 6 hours. Problem is, 2/3 of our workforce is unionized who refuse to do more work so most of the extras fall on the chef and me to do with the rest being completely by those who we can rely on. It doesn't help that my upper management is incompetent beyond belief; a couple weeks ago, they believed 7 people can prepare and deliver enough food for 1300 people spread across 10 different catering orders on time, some off site, without losing anything. I went 2 full weeks doing a full 12hours each day straight, no break with barely enough time to walk away for a piss.

 

(END RANT)

 

All this has really drained all the passion I have left in my workplace while at the same time leaving me with a lot of doubt about whether I can hack it in a real kitchen. Most of these I believe are common problems amongst 80% of all kitchens so I'm wondering what some of you other professionals do to re-ignite your passion or at least, faith in yourself to continue on. I know now that I can not land another job so please don't simply say "Quit and work somewhere else" because I've been trying to every summer for the past 3 years. Or are I just a single use battery that can't be recharged, just tossed to start-a-new?

post #2 of 24

work 12-14 hours a day, get drunk, get divorced because your never home, and when you are, your drunk. happy to see you kids born, now get to see them after school on your only day off, Monday. Most of your cooks say " just call me, I'll work any hours"  then they call in sick, or drunk, twice a week. The early morning cook that said he was dependable, doesn't even show up for his first day of work. Everyone in the kitchen is going to quit, for one reason or another. The one guy that shows up all the time is promoted to a new position weekly. The company hires a new GM, he doesn't have any loyalty to the Chef that has been there for 15 years, great job security. The Chef is working 12-14 hours a day, the head office calls and tells him to cut labor and food cost. Now you ask, how do you keep your passion, you really have to love this kind of work, or it will kill you...................................over 30 years as a Chef, have seen it all, would never ever think of doing anything else..........................Chef Bill

post #3 of 24

"you really have to love this kind of work, or it will kill you" ....I hear you both!

Is it more like a marriage or an addiction...

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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post #4 of 24

It seems like,  a long time away, but things will probably get better rin september when the staff numbers increase again, your work load will ease and your passion will reignite.

 

During such busy periods, the hours are long and frustrations build.  Incompetent or lazy workmates make your blood boil even more than usual, you can't enjoy your work because you are so busy churning out  the food while still striving to maintain quality, you don't see friends or family, work basically becomes your life and you can resent it.....for a while.

 

Don't doubt yourself, what you are experiencing is normal, it does not mean that you can't hack it, work through this busy period, give it your all- it won't go unnoticed.  Then, if possible, arrange for some time off in September- even two days off.

 

When you return from a break or when the work load eases, you will recharge and be fighting fit once again.

post #5 of 24

All of these big chains are the same Chartwells, A.R.A, Levy,Marriott ,Deleware, anything for the sake of profit, they take from you but do not give. Most unit managers bonuses, promotions etc are based on unit profit. They don't care about you even if thy call you associates or whatever, that's just P/R. .You may even be employee of the month and get a special parking spot, it's all for show and P/R..                                                ALL PLACES OR KITCHENS ARE NOT LIKE THIS.

Do the best you can,thats all you can do. Tell them you need a hand and thats it. The days of 70 hours a week are over. Good luck 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 24

PHEW!!!  It's threads like these that make me feel good to know I am not alone. 30 years I did that. It does take its' toll but as has been said before, each new morning brings a renewed strength to face it all over again.  Thank you.

post #7 of 24

What Ed said, Chartwell's and Compass here in B.C. are no different.

 

Want a little "Zip" back into your life?  The spring back into your step?

 

Do some cheating...

 

Well, not cheating, really.

 

About 20 years ago I was in a similiar situation as yours, a private club the whole place was run by the F&B. Exec.Chef could't even pee without the F&B's permission, and one of his Mantra's was "Never give 'em the same day off".  Which basically meant that after two years of working in that place, the only time I could spend time with my wife was when she would call in sick at work.  And I knew if I wanted to stay married, I would have to do something.

 

Back in those pre-e-mail days, it took a lot of doing to arrange interviews, arrange cooking trials at prospective places--especially when you work 80 hr weeks an never know when you'll get a  day off .  Took me over 2 months to find a peach of a new job, but I did it.  And not only did that new job job boost my ego, my carreer, and give me a whole new outlook on life, cooking, and married life, but it put a sh*t-eating grin on my face the whole two months.

 

Every time a cook or lower ranking guy would quit at the old place, I would be forced to take up the slack, and while the F&B was rubbing his hands in glee with the prospect of lower labour costs, I was dreaming of the last interview and how I shold prepare for the new one, and what to cook and the trials and how to make it back to work in time.

 

So, Mr. Headless, smile and nod at your workplace and plan your escape.

It's what you NEED to do, and you'll look good with a sh*t eating grin on your face too. 

...."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 #8 of 24

Foodpump good commentary  . The day the F & B  comes in kitchen to tell me what to do is the day he will wear my apron and he better have his own knives and know how to use them.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 24

Quote:

they believed 7 people can prepare and deliver enough food for 1300 people spread across 10 different catering orders on time, some off site, without losing anything.

 

In my experience the max one person can do offsite well is 30-40.  Two people can do a hundred but one person is tough.

 

Problem is if I know you, chicken, you're a chef, and this is what chefs thrive upon and also what kills chefs.  You need to move man.  Try putting out your feelers with the suppliers and see what's out there.

post #10 of 24

Uhm, do you work weekends chicken?

post #11 of 24

Chicken I think you have been given some good advice here and you need to definitely get looking.  It will take time to land the better job but foodpump described it perfectly.

 

Here's my story...

 

A year ago this week I gave my notice at what is the absolute WORST  job I have ever had in all of my years of being employed.  I worked nightshift at a hospital cafeteria/snack shop and while I worked in the hospital I was not an employee of the hospital but an employee of the volunteer association that ran all of the retail outlets within the hospital network that makes up Hamilton Health Sciences.  I needed the nightshift job at the time as our son had just been diagnosed with his brain tumor and when he was released from MUMC someone needed to be here with him during the day and I was .. I slept on the couch so I was nearby if he needed me but once he got better and was able to manage on his own I was on the hunt for a new job..   Anyway I was the one with the cooking experience and OMG my managers were useless than tits on a bull.. they knew squat about food safety and sanitation and it pained me to have to follow their direction.. apparently to them it was OK to have fruit flies in the display case with the muffins that were unwrapped and OMFG did I catch it when I refused to sell any muffins out of that case as they were exposed to freaking fruit flies!  Management of that place started to hate me and I think they were relieved when I gave notice as I was a mega thorn in their side but hey.. we were serving FOOD to people and we need to be safe and those two bitches (manager and assistant) just did not get it.  I knew what needed to be changed at that place and made more than one request for changes but nothing got done.. I was a loose cannon in their eyes and best way to get rid of me was to fault  me in my review... funny thing was I had my interview with the place I am at now already set up when I went into my review and I was ready to ditch the job as soon as I could so I went into it with the smile foodpump described.. I let them diss me and I accepted it knowing I was on my way out and not even a week after that meeting I gave my notice as I got hired where I am now. 

 

All that just said it took me six months to land the job I have now and I have not looked back.  

 

You need to start putting feelers out there.. you can make it in this business and you have what it takes to succeed.  Do  not let your current situation beat you down.

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #12 of 24

All this has really drained all the passion I have left in my workplace while at the same time leaving me with a lot of doubt about whether I can hack it in a real kitchen. Most of these I believe are common problems amongst 80% of all kitchens so I'm wondering what some of you other professionals do to re-ignite your passion or at least, faith in yourself to continue on. I know now that I can not land another job so please don't simply say "Quit and work somewhere else" because I've been trying to every summer for the past 3 years. Or are I just a single use battery that can't be recharged, just tossed to start-a-new?

 

. . .

 

a couple weeks ago, they believed 7 people can prepare and deliver enough food for 1300 people spread across 10 different catering orders on time, some off site, without losing anything. I went 2 full weeks doing a full 12hours each day straight, no break with barely enough time to walk away for a piss.

 

I can tell you why this is happening. Money is tight, profits are squeezed and everything that you do, that they don't need to hire someone else to do is "free money." The reason they keep giving you more to do is because you keep doing it.

 

Unfortunately, you really can't slow down now because they'll label you as a slacker. My best suggestion would be to look for another job, leave when you find one and at the new job, keep your workload to a reasonable, maintainable level. The underlying problem is that management assumes that extraordinary efforts are maintainable indefinitely, when they actually aren't.

 

Good luck!

 

Terry

 

 

post #13 of 24

I don't come to this site very often.But good to read the comments.After 4+ years sitting on a beach,I'm going back to San Francisco to help a friend open a place.Why? to quote what I've heard a million times "Mike,you realize you're completely ****ing insane"

post #14 of 24

You're caught in the cafeteria 'do loop' and can't get out.  The chichi joints you want to cook in (and that's where you need to be) don't particularly value what your resume will say you have to offer.  

 

Ask around to see if you can do a stage somewhere on weekends (stagiare) in order to get your foot in the door at a place where people pay real money to eat real food in a real restaurant.  You might find a nice little place that could use the extra help.  Make sure you know  your chops, though.  Buy a food dictionary and know every term and ingredient in it and have at least a vague notion of how you'd cook the ingredient if you had to.  As you know, you are not seeing it all at a Compass outfit.  Get your head in the books.  Nothing beats real experience but nothing is worse than a cook without any intellectual curiosity.  What books about cuisine are you reading right now?  What's the last killer dish you made at home?  What's the last killer dinner you put together at home?  I tell you, there are a lot of home cooks that would be in better shape for a job at a starred restaurant than some people with marginal positions in foodservice.  Cook like hell at home.  Be fearless.  Try new stuff.  Excite yourself.  Don't wait for Compass to put a terrine on the menu (they never will) before you learn how to make one.  Can you bake?  Can you discuss baking?  Can you make a pate brisee/sucree for a 9" tart pan without looking up how much flour and butter to use?  What are the standard proportions for a quiche in a nine inch shell?  If you know this, you can create your own and they'll come out flawlessly the first run through.  Yep, people still eat quiche.

 

How many sauces from the classical French repertoire can you pull off flawlessly and off the top of your head without notes?  Can you put a nouvelle cuisine tweak on all of them?  What's a beurre noisette?  What is it's Indian equivalent (more or less)?  I'm telling you that a guy deft with sauces and things related to sauces is worth hiring.  You need to be able to fabricate chicken, bone beef, pork, veal, and lamb, filet fish, the whole bit. 

 

Oh and you'd better be able to julienne a hair off the top of your head too.


Edited by CStanford - 5/12/10 at 8:24am
post #15 of 24

You just made my day with this.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CStanford View Post
Oh, and you'd better be able to Julienne a hair off the top of your head too.


 

post #16 of 24

CStanford.  That's excellent advice.  Thank you.

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions, sorry for the slow response as its been hectic.  Sent out about 5 resumes, I will also be reworking my resume a bit more.  I use to be able to spit out the mother sauces after finishing school, now I can barely remember their names let alone make them.  Much of my knowledge base is very rusty because I never got to put it to use at work, guess I gotta get back to hitting the books if I intend to aim higher. 

 

I have been finding out a lot about my unit...none of it flattering.  The moment I mentioned some of the issues we have here to static workers at head office, they automatically mention my boss.  We are a running joke at the office, its sad.  Because of this, I am also looking at internal transfers.  I now know much of the problem here is because of the unit.  I never had these issues when I did sit-in-jobs at other units that needed extra hands. 

 

Again, thank you all.

post #18 of 24

Sorry for your suffering Headless, but in a way it's a relief for me to know I'm not as incompetent as I thought I was. I tried two different institutional jobs where they expected more than a person could possibly do. I had always been a fast and hard worker. I felt like I was running a marathon every day where I always finished last. I know I'm older, but I didn't think I had slowed down that much. One of these jobs was at a place overseen by Sudexo. It was the biggest mess I ever saw, but they gave the guy in charge (who never did anything but sit in his office) an award. I figure if he'd been any more worthless and imcompetent they probably would have made him CEO. The entire management staff suffered from a anal/cranial inversion. Their idea of management was to come around and tell me I had this, this, this and this to do, and did I have it done? Not yet. Well, you need to get that done (no s**t, why don't you do something useful like tell me how when I only have two hands.) Then they'd go sit in their office. I was recently sorting through some paper work and came across their job descriptions. I started laughing so hard I had tears rolling. There were descriptions for two different jobs, and I had been doing both. No wonder I was always behind! This is not the way things are supposed to be, and it's time we collectively told these people to stuff it. You're management, you're so smart, do it yourself if you think it's possible. I'll stand here and drink coffee and tell you what you don't have done. My sixteen year old dishwasher knows he needs to wash the dishes. He doesn't need me to tell him that, but what he might need to get it done is me to load or unload dish racks, so that's what I do. Anyone who doesn't have that much sense is too stupid to be breathing my air, much less be my boss. Sorry for the rant, but it makes me feel so much better. We all need to demand better management. I hired a guy today just because he worked at the two worst places I was ever at. I figured if he could work those places, he could do anything. Maybe you'll be interviewed by someone else who worked where you do that will be impressed that you made it this long. We can only hope.

post #19 of 24

Think I need to post this again for the chicken man. 

 

Chicken_head.jpg

post #20 of 24

Quan, you are pure evil!

post #21 of 24

 

Great picture, Kuan!

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #22 of 24

wow, severe excema issue with that pet chicken of yours Kuan. they have a lotion for that now ...i think.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post

wow, severe excema issue with that pet chicken of yours Kuan. they have a lotion for that now ...i think.


Mmmmm... Hot peanut oil?

...."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 #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Looks extra crispy.

 

I may have landed an internal transfer but I need to hear if their district director will allow it.  On top of that, the place is managed by someone I worked with so this person knows what I am capable of.  Biggest problem where I am is how unorganized and incompetent the place is at ever level.  I had hoped head office would make necessary changes but it doesn't look that way which surprises me because  I know for a fact that the client isn't happy with our management.

 

Even if it doesn't fall through, I'm hoping I can land something in August.  Took up people's advice here in taking time off.

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