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Annoying Classmates/Anger in the Kitchen

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Peace!


I'm into my 4th week of Culinary School in Philadelphia, PA. I need some advice on dealing with annoying classmates. I travel each morning at 5:45am by train from another state just so that i can start school at 7:30am. In my class there are many disruptive 18-21 yr. old students. The "theory" chef instructor has to constantly tell them to stop joking around and quiet down. It pisses me off that they dont seem to care. I'm 28, I've changed my career, unfortunately at this time dont have a another job, living off of the goodwill of family and friends and GI Bill "leftover" money. Today, I reached my boiling point(yes, after 4 weeks). My Group was in the kitchen and the assignment was praticing our "cuts". Some young Kids 1 female and 1 male kept sing loudly some rap song ( I listen to "good"hip-hop, I even make hip-hop music) where every other word was some cuss word. when the "kitchen chef" came in they laughed and joke with him untill he left and they continued their nonsense. It bothered because i dont have my "cuts" down and i cut my hand 30 or so minutes earlier and every time i tried to concentrate, loud cuss words would be flying through the air. It bothered me because a young woman was willfully disrespecting herself while the young man joined in with her ( both of my culture). I kindly asked them to quiet down or stop singing and even mentioned that it offended me. Did They NO! They felt that what they were doing and saying was perfectly fine. Another female (with a slight hygene problem) in my class made a direct statement asking if i was a "p". I was shocked, because me first reaction which i saw in slow motion mentally was to do something with my hands and fists. I simply stop cuttingput my knife down and took a couple of steps back and told her peace! peace! peace! while she laughed at her own ignorance. I packed up my knives and left. The "theory" chef instructor asked me what was wrong and i told her that it was nothing. She told me that whatever it was ignore it and let it roll off my back. I've decided not to associate my self with those whom i would not want to work with in any kitchen outside of school. Is this a wise thing to do? How can i learn to control my anger better and become less reactionary or at least develop thick skin? This is My Life and i made a decision about where i want to be and that's in and on top of the Culinary World.

Help!

Peace!
Fredrick P.
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Fredrick P.
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post #2 of 22
Ouch.

Anyone who has been on Cheftalk for more than a year will know that when it comes to school, Anneke rants. And rants and rants... That has been my ointment.

Born2Cook, I feel your pain. I was in the same situation. I still get riled up by immature students. But you need to find a way to deal with this ASAP!! You are allowing them to injure you in your learning process. Hence, they win. In a professional kitchen, you will also get annoying distractions of all sorts. The sooner you learn to focus and phase them out, the better off you'll be.

The truth is, many of these "children" will weed themselves out. Others will hang on and you might find that some may be the most talented (albeit annoying) people you've ever worked with. You CAN rise above all this. In the beginning I was frustrated all the time; I felt that I was the only one who had any real passion for the business, and wished that the rest of them would just shut up or go away. Now I just do my own thing. People see how intense I get when I'm working and they leave me alone. Talk to the teacher, stay after class, get them to show you things again, or to show you more advanced techniques. Teachers adapt their style of teaching to what their perception of the class' level is. Maybe your teacher thinks that level is pretty low right now and thus tolerates lots of BS from his students because he doesn't expect any better. If you and the other good students of the class show an interest and "take over" so to speak, the level of intelligence in the class will go up, garanteed!

Be courageous and patient. Good luck and keep us posted!

A.
post #3 of 22
Very good advice! I second that! Yeah there will always be problems like that in the industry. Sometimes it can get to you and affect your stress level throughout the day. Yeah you should inform the instructor of the unnacceptable bahavior taking place, and the instructor should be willing to comply with your desire to learn in a healthy environment. I have learned to deal with some people through different experiences (by having a good talk with them and explaining my opinion of their actions that take place). In the kitchen there is alot of things that can cause stress, but if someone is a constant cause of that stress, purposely, I belive we
have to find a way to get that person to understand our
position on their behavior, but not in an overly aggressive way. If we are ever in a conflict of some sort or dissagreement, being over angry and aggressive adds more to the problem, making it even a bigger one! So I say have good talk with the person(s)...just my opinion.
When your calm and cool, everything should be calm and cool! :cool:
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Another Day, Another Battle.
Don't Ride A Boat Without A Paddle.
If The Water Is Not Too Deep,
Take A Little Swim But Don't Fall Asleep!
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post #4 of 22
All good replies! I'd also like to say that you're PAYING for your education - if you're not getting the education due to 'environmental' reasons, you need to do something about it. I would first talk to the instructor about keeping a modicum of control in his classroom. If that doesn't work, i would go to the administrators of the school, and ask them to maybe 'drop in' unexpectedly to see for themselves.

My first kitchen job was one where I was the only female in the kitchen, among 4 Latinos, American head & sous chef, and two young - very young - line cooks, who ran over the kitchen with their crude talk about women and almost obscene music on the tape player. All the other 'guys' sort of made these embarassed laughs when something was said. Because it was my first job, I felt a little intimidated about speaking up, and so just learned to focus on my own tasks and not let it get to me. But eventually, one of the young guys made a remark about women that I just couldn't let go - I quietly went up to him, told him what an immature &#*#(^ baby he was, that I was not a prude, but WAS old enough to be his mother and that I didn't want to hear anything like that again. He totally changed his act after that!

In the meantime, when you're in class, learn the fine art of 'focus, young Madawan'! It's true, you will need it when you're in a kitchen getting slammed. You'll come out better for it in the end, and the trash in the class will probably end up flipping burgers somewhere. ;)
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post #5 of 22
Why do I feel as though I'll encounter the same problems. B2C let me know the outcome via post, PM or e-mail. It sounds like you're going to a community college. I am also of the same culture (and 26 btw)and it annoys me (the foul-languge laced rap music). In a true kitchen, concentration is key. It would bother me as well to know that I have a sharp knife in my hand, learning intricate cuts, and suddenly get regaled with "the foul-languge laced rap music". Stay strong and hang in there. Feel free to get in contact with me and let's get through culinary school in spite of the distractions. :chef:
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
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Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
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post #6 of 22
I experienced the same low level of maturity in chiropractic school. Boy am I ashamed of my contemporaries. Such a poor attitude permeates most schools, however.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #7 of 22
Dear Born2cook,

You ask what you can do to control your anger, and develope a thick skin. Well you have taken the first step to controlling your anger simply by informing us of your delema. The thick skin comes as you grow as a person and a chef. This skin you cannot put on like a chefs coat, it needs to grow, so patience is very important.

I am someone known for wearing my emoutions on my sleeve, everyone knows what kind of mood i'm in, and they reacte accordingly. Over the years I have learned valuble lessons from my peers who I felt were less then dignified, They actually helped me become a better person...you see, I never wanted to see myself like them. Trash smells my friend, truth and purity do not.

may I recommend to you, like said before me, you are paying for this education. You deserve the right to learn in an envirement that fosters positive growth and open discussions on your chosen field.

Yes you should talk to your teachers for guidence. It may unsettle you abit because you do not want your classmates to think you are a stooge. Well this my friend is there problem, Believe me when I tell you that eventually the cream rises to the top.As the garbage is taken out back and discarded.

Believe in yourself and go with your heart. Please keep us abreast of your progress.
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #8 of 22
born2cook
I'm a little confused. Are the other people in your class paying for their education? It one thing to remain calm but if you can't concentrate on the things at hand you need to go directly to your instructor. If the responce is "get over it" then inform him or her that they will be personally responsible for your safety and go to the administration.
I know this may seem harsh, but d--- it, this is not the first time I'm hearing of this. Your paying for something, you get it! Don't be afraid that instructors might not like you, your not there to make friends, your there to learn. There is enough friends of the industry right here.
These are just my opinions. I never think before i write :D
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #9 of 22
boy this hits home today...i started the culinary program at my local community college 5 weeks ago. I'm 34 the oldest in my 15 person group...most of the others are between 18-22. I chose the community college as I felt it was the best choice for my goals(personal chef) at this stage in my life.

I'm actually pleased with the program and have been learning a lot but the last few days I've had it with some of the young kids...like many schools ours centers around a functioning restaurant and when someone isn't pulling thier weight it's really felt...when a group of folks isn't pulling their weight...well you can imagine. Of course, predictably it's the same ones standing around doing nothing all the time. Personally, having been a manager for 15 years before this I find it frustrating that I can't just fire their A$$es(they've had plenty of counseling and opportunity to improve so they'd be gone if it were my decision to make)...and knowing that it's affecting their grading doesn't make it much better. So what if they pull a "C" for just standing around...they're still standing around while everyone else is busting but to get ready for service...

Lately I've been annoyed that the school isn't coming down on them harder. The teachers are aware(i'm certain this isn't a new problem for them of course!) are I'm sure it will reflect in marks and recommendations but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

We start a new rotation next week and the new chef is known to be one that separates the men from the boys so I'm keeping faith in the fact that most of these kids will have to either shape up or ship up soon....

I have no words of wisdom other than to say I feel your pain!
post #10 of 22
If there's one bright shining star I can see in all this, it's that all of you who are in school, and have posted of similar disruptions, think of the valuable lessons you're learning in dealing with other people; there will be jerks no matter where you go - the sooner you can learn to tune 'em out and get your work done, the better!

As for pulling someone else's weight during service - the only person that helps is the customer. Yes, the customer IS important; but - these 'students' are learning that if they don't do their work, someone will cover their butts and do it for them. It may not be in your ethics to do this, but the next time it happens, don't do their work - if the lettuce doesn't get washed for the salad and they're the ones supposed to be doing it - let THEM suffer the consequences.

Stand tall, and stand proud, do your job, and maybe the dummies will sit up and take notice. If they don't it's their loss.
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post #11 of 22

I agree with the Chili Queen

Look at it this way. When I went to college I got called the 'Ice Queen" (well that's a little tamer) because I was there to learn not mingle with the kids. Learn the art of Igging B2C. Don't wipe anybody's a** for em. If you spend your time thinking about them then your studies will suffer and Im sure youd wanna make sure your money doesn't go to waste. They arent there to learn just to spend their parents money.

And if you dont learn the art of Igging NOW you will suffer for it later when youre on the line. Some of those people on the line will be kids or immature adults. That's life.
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #12 of 22
Born2Cook,

You will find many people like this as you go on in your career. I can only echo the sentiments of what others have posted, but I will add this. The chef is the one who sets the pace whether it is in the kitchen or in the classroom, and you should always remember that. I can't stress this enough simply because like most cooks you will probably find a chef who will take you under his/her wing and train you. If that chef has no backbone and does not command respect in the kitchen then the type of people you are dealing with in your classroom will also be in the kitchen.

Do yourself a big favor and take time, find a good chef, find a good team and have a great kitchen experience (it is possible).
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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post #13 of 22
Hi I understand to well, about what you are talking about. But you need to let everyone of your teacher know what is going on. I have had some trouble with one student going very were I was following me home, and it was not male it was female.
She thought that she had a right to do so. she is now not even allowed to take the same classes I take or talk to me in the halls or she will be out of school. I am an older student too its hard to be older then some of the students. but look at it as a job and you sould be ok. i know its hard when there is an age gap but, we need to look at the bright side you are in school and that's the best part of it all.
Ronnie
I understand were you are comming from
Ronnie
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Ronnie
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank YOu

I would like to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. I've talked to my theory chef and she told me to ignore them and she is finally throwing disruptive kids out of the classroom. The kitchen chef had a talk with us about kitchen behavior and teamwork and attitudes.

Note: one of the young women (the one who was singing so loudly earlier in the week) in my class, was too busy talking and not paying attention to what she was doing, cut her finger and was ready to faint. I asked her if she wanted me to bandage her up(hey,I was trained as a combat lifesaver in the army!) and she told me that the chef said that he would tape her up after she stopped bleeding. So, was it a lesson in Karma for her? I guess we'll wait and see.

I'm working on my patience and by the time school is over i will have a couple of layers of "thick skin".

To all those who replied "THANK YOU"

Peace!:smiles: :smiles: :smiles:
Fredrick P.
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Fredrick P.
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post #15 of 22
I know exactly what you mean. I've been at the Culinary Insitutute of America, a place where I did not believe this type of behavior would occur, however, it does on a regular basis. My class is full of 18-20 year olds, with only a few older people, myself included (30). I am also from a similar military background, having been a combat veteren in the Persian Gulf.

The situation in my class came to a head a few weeks ago when two students began fighting in the walk-in. I found them, broke them apart and reported the incident to the Chef/Instructor. As one of the older students, it automatically becomes our responsibility (like it or not) to be the mature one and to draw the line in the sand and say "This far, no further!" Although I don't always feel like being the "Dad" of the group, I have found myself in just such a role. I had to set my group down, confront them with the cold hard reality and essentially put them on notice that I was watching everything they are doing and that the reprecusions could be dismissal from class or school, as the Chef's choice.

I pay an aweful lot of money to go to, what I fell is, the best culinary school in the nation and cannot afford to piss it away on a petty argument between students. I sounds like you are at the same breaking point. Speak with the Chef/Instructor if any problems arise and if you feel this problem will persist, try speaking with the Chef BEFORE starting a new class or block, letting them know of the existance of a problem before hand. Hang in there, because those that cut up and play alot, don't tend to last very long - of our original 32 people in the group, 14 remain!:bounce: :rolleyes:

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of help in any way. I honestly know what you are going through.

Bill Mullins
Culinarygeek@aol.com
If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary's. But if it deals you a truckload of hand grenades... now THAT'S a message!!
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If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary's. But if it deals you a truckload of hand grenades... now THAT'S a message!!
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post #16 of 22
born2cook
i'm glad you're feeling better about things and how the chefs are responding. I'm glad in the environment at our school the chefs aren't willing to put up with any non-professional behavior. We still have the slackers but things will catch up with them I believe.

I see encouraging signs where I am...we spent the today working on wedding cakes...how to assemble, etc. We have a regular bakery/pastry rotation but because of the way we're set up not a lot of chance to focus on somethign like a wedding cake so they take a day for us to learn and do some hands-on work with them....anyway, we've got one 19 yo smart-*** who is fortunate enough to come into the class with good experience and talent. I admit he's quite talented...if he adjusts his attitude he'll go far. He made a beautiful cake today...really stunning...and then in a touch of real class wrote "eat me" on the top and said it was for his roommate....well the chef of course saw this and really let him have it...and dropped him an entire grade for the bakery class he'd just finished with same chef. A real blow considering he was the top ranked student. Hopefully he learned something...
post #17 of 22
hey ziggy,
if that guy isn't bothering anyone while being a smart a00, then I find a lot of humor in what he did. If it was his to take home. I came from a food family in culinary school and some times I would do things like that if I was bored and not being challanged. His grades will not effect what kind of skills he will leave with, heck my grades were not that good but I left with a lot more knowledge than most. corse we are talking 30 yrs ago.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #18 of 22
B2C, you have been given a lot of good advice here. I agree with everyone that developing a thick skin is of absolute importance in this profession. On the other hand, you are paying for your education, so don't let these idiots stand in your way. Not only should you report their disruptive behavior to your instructor, but you should crush them beneath your shoes as you climb to the top. This is also the way to get ahead in a real kitchen. Use your co-workers laziness and lack of focus to further your career. Show your chef how well you can work, by staying focused, and always give a hand to those in the weeds. The chefs notice these things, and often times will promote the less experienced cook who shows focus and drive, over some slack-*** with years of experience. Use these people as your stepping stone. There will always be plenty of them.
post #19 of 22
Anyone catch the series on Navy Seal training? See what happens to slackers there? People know a slacker when they see one. Supervisors, instructors, chefs, they can spot a slacker a mile away.

Kuan
post #20 of 22
sorry panini, but i respectfully disagree with you...a 19 yo kid having a crass laugh with his buddies about his witty double entendre on his cake has no place in a classroom kitchen. Maybe that's how things are in the real world kitchens but this is a classroom and learning environment. I feel fortunate that our chefs make it a priority to keep the atmosphere professional and put an end to any unprofessional behavior. They tell us frequently that what they care most about is putting out students who have good attitudes and can conduct themselves professionally. (quickest way out of the school? snap a towel at someone and see how quickly you're escorted out never to return). If he's bored and underchallenged, perhaps his time might be better spent sharing some of his knowledge with others. I know I would appreciate it.

I agree grades really mean nothing once you're done....but it hurt this kid's ego to go from being the top ranked student to being knocked down to a "B"....the grade change didn't matter but perhaps the lesson in professionalism will stick....
post #21 of 22
ziggy,
I understand what you are saying fully respect that .If he is preventing others from learning, it's one thing. But at 19+ he will learn many more lessons in life. I can't get 19 yr. olds to understand that coming in at 7 am means 7 am.
I understand your point about the classroom, but its still higher education, no different from any other college. It not up to instructors to have the job of maturing kids.
I fully respect your feelings, and just wanted to show another side of learning, ****, I can remember famous chefs I've3 worked for and instructors scheming and pranking. Not all the time though. I guess I just saw a little of myself in his act.:D
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #22 of 22
i can understand why this student was disclipined.

Whether or not, the end product was his to keep, the concept behind production is to turn out a salable product.

i think if he wanted to write that on a cake, he should of done it later (outside of the kitchen)

obviously, he was after attention. (nothing really wrong with pranking)

As for being the most mature in a kitchen, ive done courses in the past where by default, ive ended up in a leadership role by proxy. Funnily enough, breaking up fights, or whatever goes to those who have been delegated this because they show leadership. So if you end up with these "responsibilities", dont shirk them, because learning these skills, or applying them if you already possess them, are going to help you in the long run.

To me, certain things come quite easily, so i suppose that the above skills are easily implemented. By the same token, if i dont practise them, then they are lost to me.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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